Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blah, wrap that map.

Done with traveling, staying put. It's been a while since you and I spoke, or since I spoke at you. Well, here in Spain, we like breaks. Yes, I do enjoy a pause here and there. Sometimes a little excessive here, and not incredible productive with construction sites and so on. But, we will take it. First, let's gallivant in Barcelona. It's always a time. In typical style, we show up about 11:30, looking for a place to feast. The day was Saint Jordi, which is the equivalent of Valentines in the Catalan context (which the exchange books for roses; I like that). Went to our fusion dig, chock full of vietnamese, catalan, and new orleans' fare. What a treat is was. The owner at Me was a curious fellow, architect turned teacher turned food connoisseur. He basically gave us some life lessons, and enchanted us with interesting experiences. He was equally intrigued in the roaming vagabonds who seemed to stumble on his quality establishment. I am fascinated by interesting people, mostly weird. We just work a little differently.

Next day we did the Barcelona things, which are all things that are good of course. Boquería, Gaudí goodness, and the whole bit. Off to Nice. Very relaxing, lounged in our risqué attire. It was more than appropriate for the south of france. We delighted in the market, and then toured through the opulence of Monaco, which triggered my gag reflexes. Just too much. Materialism at its finest. It was a spectacle no doubt. Great crepes that night, and for whatever reason, my dorky 4 color Bic brand pen is very popular in France. The waitress offered her´s as an olive branch of peace. Frenchies treated us well. Language barrier, not so much. I feel like the waitress and I had something special.

Next day we were screwed. Just poor luck, missed th
e bus, and cut line to get on a train leaving in 3 minutes. The weather stunk. "I thought this place is warm." Well it is, in the summer. We are idiots and we pressed forward. Things just seem to work out (or screw up) so well that we were destined to meet up with our friend (kind of but not really because we didn't know him). His name is Dell, not the computer. Dell is an interesting cat. He is in Marseille as a missionary, and he is a stud. He also happens to be a wizard of all things American. We kicked back to some pizza, and American television. This felt right and comfortable, after a day we weren't prepared to handle. You know what else felt right, Jesus. He always feels right. What a champ Dell is. He has hope, France doesn't seem to really be looking for Jesus right now, but just continue to pray for them.

Off to Aix en Provence, we wandered, no plans again. The tourism off really forgot to tell us things are not open this day. "What the heck, we can't win. Let's just hike." So that is what we did. First dropped off at the wrong trail (that we couldn't find for a while). Once we made our way to the right one, we could find some peace. Montagne St. Victoire was spectacular. Then we took the bus to our prison hostel. At least we had somewhere to stay after our hammock failure. If you've read this far, you probably realize that we really thought this one out. Despite our misfortune, there was no shortage of culinary blessing. Pasta Cozy rocked our world. I'll leave it at that.
Next day, we vespa'd all around Provence and stopped at a vineyard. The owner showed us around, told us stories, the whole bit. She had a thousand other things to do, but why not enjoy three americans stumbling upon my hidden gem? Just a good time. Back to Marseille, Calanque hiking, Indian food, and a Man United victory. I don't really ask for much more than that. Back to Barcelona. Off the metro, and our invincible friend Ryan was caught in the middle of a grand heist. Luckily, they were kind ladrones and returned his wallet promptly. Shell shocked to say the least. We then proceeded to our sketchy hostel, where we found a Norwegian acquaintance, Johannes. He followed us coincidentally everywhere somehow. He left us with some simple advice: "When you look into the that a word?... the abyss looks back into you"quoting Nietzsche. I'm really not sure if he knew what the heck he was saying, but I took it for what is was worth. We all felt like better people for it. Sevilla felt right coming back, Feria and all. So that's the deal.

The moral of the story: I am a changed man. I react differently to situations. In the past, I would have stressed, and freaked, and been more than likely extremely perturbed on this trip. Then I realized, well it's out of my hands and the man upstairs is always good. God has given me perspective folks. Just know that I am in good hands.


p.s.- photos courtesy of robert, because my camera deleted itself. Serenade, by definition is a piece of played or sung in the open air, typically by a man at night under the window of his lover. This is not exactly that- but Ben Harper is working magic again, check out the jams.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Recap Attack:Italia Week. Check below too, way more news!

Well, God really just worked this one out. Andrew, Ryan, Markus, and I just went with the flow (more or less). Flew into Milan, only to leave on that train to Monterosso, Cinque Terre. Oh how wonderful it was. We hiked through all five towns, seeing some of the extravagant and visual stimulating nature in the world. So wonderful. Besides the tranquility of the nature, the little towns rocked our socks. World’s best gelato in Corniglia. We felt “five steps closer to the Good Lord”- Porter Frasier. It was definitely a euphoric experience. We then proceeded to have two great dinners as well (and the best shrimp ravioli on the planet). Couldn’t ask for more. Off to Florence.


Lost my jacket at the restaurant the night before, so we wandered down to see if somehow, someway it would be there. There was a strange Italian man outside and I told him the deal, first English, then Spanish, and he finally caught on. Then he proceeded to inform me that the tiny little old lady walking up at 9 in the morning was the owner. She got my jacket and with no time to spare we caught our train. God is good.


We then went to Pisa on our way to Florence, because well, you have to. It was chock full of awkward tourist posing, and it cracked me up. Lets get out of here! Then we arrived in Florence and we were greeted by some friends who took us to their place to stay, for free! We did all Florence had to offer, it was really wonderful catching up with the Clemson crew, and meeting the Clayton family as well (great folks). I saw enough Renaissance art to blow my brains out, although it was appreciated. We also got janked into buying scam gelato. I asked for a small and the man gave me a mountain of gelato and charged me nine euro. I almost proceeded to throw it back at him in my outrage, but when in foreign parts I have to be careful. We met lots of interesting people, including a child prodigy from Seattle named Caedyn, whose parents are in a Heart Tribute Band! Very sweet girl, and a goofy fam for sure. Hooray for washed up tribute bands. Power to the people. Great dinners, great company again, and I can’t really ask for any more.

Well, caught the slow train to Roma. It was a beautiful ride through Tuscany. We got off the train and went straight to the Vatican. It lived up to all the hype. Go and see for yourself, I can’t describe it and do it justice. Couldn’t take pictures of the Sistine Chapel… so just google it. Next day we did the whole coliseum bit. So solid! Then as we were getting a tour of the Roman Forum and ruins, our Australian tour guide David got arrested. Bummer man. We then ventured to meet back up with friends after they got out of their architecture class. Oh, I forgot to mention we also got to stay here free. So huge. Besides that we met some great guys in Eric, Allen, and John (Giovanni). Pretty cool how you can just meet people and already feel like we are pretty tight. I guess doing things on strange terms in Italy will do the trick. Then a long tour to see every site in Roma, and bam wind up with another great idea, brie and pancetta pizza. We about lost it. All has to come to an end. If you thought this was remotely interesting, then great, because it was better than this. If you didn’t, then… it was better than this so there is still hope. Well folks, that’s all I got.


James Dolph-Gooford Stark IV

Recap Attack: Paris

So, let me just start off by saying there is nothing like good company. It has been incredible getting to meet people, people who know people I know, strangers, and the whole bit. We got to meet up with a couple friends dear to our hearts, Graham and Mary. Also it was a pleasure to meet many of Robert’s friends Clemson. What a blast.

Paris never seizes to disappoint. This was my second adventure into this grand city; this time about 4 years older and with a level head (perhaps). If there is a city that I love getting lost in, it is Paris. Eclecticism defined, there is always something new to dive into, whether art, music, gastronomy, or just living. I couldn’t be more content. We dominated crepes and bakeries could not handle us. We could not handle them. The feelings were mutual.


To all the naysayers, I’m here to be a proponent of the Frenchies. They were good to me, and provided an excellent experience for all. No me puedo quejar.


What an excellent time seeing all the sites, and everywhere we walked, I just was taken back by every ambient surrounding.  Whether a monument or an office building, it was all so spectacular. Versailles was so peaceful. The ostentatious presentation of royal regalia was ridiculous. The garden is what did me in. I got to pretend to be a professional photographer. Good convo, good café, it was real.

 The picture to the right is the typical spirit of protest manifested in the people of Paris---------------------->

Topped things off with a day of just me, wandering and exploring. It was due justice, as a city like Paris deserves that individual attention. I am dying to go back, pronto!

Recap Attack:Granada

Hooray, Mom’s in town! It was such a blast getting to spend some time with her in Spain; such a surreal experience. I did my best to give her an experience a la Espanola, and I think it lived up to the hype I gave it (minus erasing all of her pictures). We spent the weeke

nd strolling through Granada. What a place. The Alhambra was spectacular, seeing a flamenco show in a cave was as well. Our aimlessness in this far out place really was incredible. I feel like Mom stepped up to the plate when it comes to trying some new stuff, although I couldn’t talk her in to trying the bull’s tail (which is actually pretty solid if you ask me). Also, I got to be her sorta, kinda, not really, licensed guide through Sevilla.


I was really taken back by a couple things: Foremost, this life in Spain, well, has become my reality. It felt like she was infiltrating my reality. I have not forgotten that there is another life at home; I still care about it. It’s more of an issue of knowing that things are going to be okay back home, because I have faith in it.


Secondly, my Mom is rad. She does not get enough credit. She was such a good sport and really willing to go with the flow. It’s cool growing up and to watch your relationship with your parents evolve into more of a friendship. They have done all they can up to this point to raise me well, and now it’s time to let loose; it is up to me. So know we just have a blast and be as nostalgic as ever, just for her sake. Times were good then and they are good now, so let’s keep the jams rolling.

Recap Attack: Morocco

Today I woke up and didn’t feel right. I felt like I was shortchanging people. I can’t look myself in the mirror and try to justify not doing this anymore so here it is. I’m going to give a breakdown of my past few trips. So, lets embark.


Yes, I can now say I have been to Africa. But, I still believe I haven’t really gone to Africa. Let me explain.


Well, crossing the Mediterranean is quite magical, especially if your ferry almost capsizes. As we crossed the Moroccan border from the Spanish protectorate, we picked up an Moroccan tour guide that claimed to be Michael Douglas. Oh man, Michael Douglas was a character, taking us through the cities and teaching this culture to us.


It was so interesting experiencing Arabic culture. I know what all of you are thinking; yes I rode a camel. I ate some interesting foods and had some great tea. The experience was much different than I thought it would be. It was very intriguing getting a peek into an undiscovered world for me. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

That's just curious.

I've got something interesting. First of all, I expect to have no offering of support after my long hiatus, so anything more is gracious.

I have found that when something is perceived as interesting in Spanish, se dice que "it's curious"

In the States- we choose to say that it is interesting.

In fact, the majority of the time it is not really interesting, not interesting at all. Shouldn't it be intriguing if it is declared interesting; it is just an issue of  doubt.

I think that is pretty curious, don't you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Check the books.

BIG 'OL Photo overhaul on the book. check it out. I am all caught up. Gooford Observationals (created that word (observation testimonial)) to come. And i'll just let you know whats up.