Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stats!!!!! How could I forget!!!!!

So far:

Coolest church: Monastery in Belem.  Vasco da Gama's buried there!
Creepiest church: Sacre Coeur.  Amelie lied.
Creepiest tomb: Christopher Columbus... google it
Sketchiest place: Madrid at 3AM, or Gare du Nord Metro stop anytime.
Coolest palace:  Quinta in Sintra
Best view: Lisbon from the Sintra hills
Most badass tile:  Palace in Sevilla, those Moors were so cool even if they couldn't keep their lands together
Best hostel:  Travellers House in Lisbon
Worst hostel: wherever we stayed in Madrid, I honestly think it was just some guys' house
Best pastries: Pasteis in Belem, it's like french toast in a puff pastry cup and it's crunchy and gooey and amazing
Best art museum: Modern art museum in Belem
Most boring art museum: Louvre.  Thank god we got in for free.
Best place to wander: Three way tie: Alfama in Lisbon, Paris, Seville
Weirdest meal:  Lisbon; Huge essentially raw steak covered with a thick slice of ham, a fried egg, and coated in some salty sauce.  Served with french fries and white rice
Weirdest encounter at a restaurant: Same place that you can get that steak, I was conversing with a wasted old man in French (he was talking, I was nodding and saying "oui") and Julie had a peddlar come into the resaturant and try to sell her a wind up guinea pig that squeaks.
Most Proud Moment: Having Brits tell me my British accent was perfect, just a bit posh.
Actual Most Proud Moment: When we climbed onto some rock cliffs in Sintra for a view of the Pena palace.  It was reeeallyyyy high/windy/awesome
Best meal:  Pl. St. Pierre in Bordeaux; sauv blanc of glory, goat cheese salad, some sort of chicken deliciousness, profiteroles
Best meal on accident: Sevilla tapas tonight, we ended up with some amazing food!
Best snack: crepes duhhh Paris :)
Most adventurous thing I've eaten so far: seafood paella in the dark in Seville, and octopus salad in Lisbon
Worst food: Lisbon
Most beautiful park: Luxembourg in Paris

Thevilla, even though they don´t lithp here

Barthelona tomorrow!

I don´t really have a coherent plan for this entry... so let´s see how this goes!

Lagos last weekend... not much to report except that we were both so exhausted that we watched Spiderman and TLC (ten channels that only played four programs.  on repeat... haha) in our pensao (inbetween a hotel and a hostel) and carried pizza to our room because we were sick of doing stuff.  We laid on the beach on Sunday for about four hours and got appropriately crispy.  The Algarve coast is really, really beautiful; it's cliffy and coated in signs that say DANGER, but everyone picks their way down to the coarse sand beaches and swims in the gorgeous water.

Praia |Dona |Ana, Lagos, Portugal

Seville was only a five hour bus ride away (this time there weren't screaming children or adults shouting into their phones, so yay....) so we got here Monday evening, immediately met some timid American girls and cocky English guys in our hostel and went on a bar tour that night.  Insanely fun, we went drinking and dancing until 7AM.  

Something that really struck me though, was how much people wanted to debate American politics and values with me.  Even more surprising, I had no idea I was so patriotic until I was hotly defending our political system and those who voted for Sarah Palin to a Dutch guy.  This is coming from a person who actually wants to move to France (although Lisbon is currently in the running, and Seville would be fun/great too...) but the US is my home!  And while I haven't agreed with much that happened during.... The Bad Years... (the Reign of Cheney), I appreciate the fact that America chooses to vote for a dumbass to be head of a world super power.  He and I were both struggling to understand how I can say I hated Bush and dislike so many core beliefs of the polticial right, but at the same time defend their right to have insane mindsets.

It is disheartening/disgusting/hilarious the awful shit that pops up if you type "american woman" into Google images.

Another thing:  Americans seem to go one of two ways abroad; 1. super obnoxious, disrespectfully loud, and inappropriate, which honestly I've experienced to be in the over 50's crowd; or 2. super timid, deer in headlights, and overly apologetic.  These people seem to be fake-tellectuals in their 20s.  

Fake-tellectual: a person with very little sense of humor, educated at a just-missed-Ivy or actual Ivy league school, who believes that they are culturally relevant by reading books about places and seeing sights, but way too scared to actually experience the places and people that inhabit them.

Probably a douche, who does that kind of crap on purpose?!

Julie and I have no intention of calling ourselves "cultured" because we went to an art museum and an old church.  We meet the people we encounter and are just trying to have fun and be happy.  We met a couple of American girls that are in Sevilla to teach English, but they are scared to party late (despite the fact taht they have nothing to do the next day), whine about drinking (then don't!), and look down their noses at Julie and I because they went to Tufts.  Yes, your school is more acclaimed then JMU, but so what!  I guess having a good time makes you stupid, whereas sitting in your room by yourself because you're scared makes you smart.  Life is about experiences, baby!

We saw flamenco tonight for free and it was badass.  It's got such a fierceness to it!  I want to learn, but Julie thinks I'll suck hard.  It's just so cool to see a dance that's not about being pretty or graceful, it's about being alive and rhythmic.

The only reason I'm posting so much is because there is a guy snoring in our 10 person dorm room.  He is about 18 inches from my face and I'm not having it.  I'd get ear plugs, but we have to be up at 7 to eat and catch our train to Barcelona.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ten Facts About Right Now *in Lisbon*

10.  I look awful.... I have an eye infection and the world's biggest pimple at the same time!!
9.  I hiked a mountain in flat sandals from Target today.  It was like, 560 km UP.  STRAIGHT UP.  So badass
8.  This hostel (Travellers House) is nicer than my home in Arlington
7.  I think the Netherlands are stalking us, I have about six friends that hail from the land of blonde.
6.  Portugese is a weird language, it's like Spanish with a Russian accent with a couple of French words tossed in the mix.  Why did no one take them over (oh wait....) and make them learn a more valuable language?
6. b.  I am not French, but people seem to think saying "yes" and "thank you" and nodding and smiling qualifies so I let them rest easy.
5.  Alfama is the most confusing place in the world.  The only way we don't get lost once we get out the front door is because of the 1755 earth quake.
4.  The food here sucks, except for the pastries (pasteis??) which are heavenly.  Vinho verde is good, but it's just sweet white wine.
4. b.  (i know it doesn't work, but i don't care) I am adventurous with food in Europe.  I ate octopus salad today.  TWO separate bites!  It wasn't bad, just too bouncy for my poor teeth.
3.  I bought a sweater with dorky professor elbow patches today.  So glad I did too, I froze my ass off on the top of the Sintra hills, but man did my torso/arms/elbows stay cozy!  *totally worth it, wait until you see the pictures of us on these insane cliffs*
2.  Everything should always always always be tiled.  Even streets/sidewalks.
2. b.  It is really hard to walk when tipsy here... see above.
1.  I never want to leave here.  It's wonderful!

Friday, September 17, 2010

real(ly) madrid?!?!


it's unfair, but we hated madrid.  i wanted to give it a couple of days and see if Lisbon softened the blow, but in fact it did not.  Lisbon is wonderful, and the juxtaposition is only made more and more apparent.

madrid smells like pee, it's hot as hell (at least ten degrees hotter than France), we got lost so many times and every time we got lost people stared at us, and some guy called my face funny.

to be fair, i also met the most beautiful man in the entire world.... his name was Alejandro and he was Brazilian and he sucked on my shoulder and whispered things in my ear that made me laugh in embarassment.  My thing is, I don't want to have some guy drool all over my eyes *one of which is currently infected... in case you were wondering...* and tell me I look beautiful.  What ever happened to people befriending members of the opposite sex?  i already have a hubby plan, thanks, and it does not include someone who used to be a footballer/swimmer (which might be a mistake on my part).

we befriended some dutch people (we make friends with the Dutch where'er we go... maybe it's just that Arians can afford vacation time??) and Julie reeealllyy befriended some.. hahaha.  Basically we watched dogs fight over bones and then went to the Prado, which was surprisingly wonderful.  and we got stuck in the airport for four hours before flying to Lisboa.  pronounced like lish-boa.

portugese is the only bad thing about lisbon.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

bordeaux or bust.... or inbetween...

which was not the city's fault, but our poor planning and naive trust in the european rail system.
a train (tgv is the most frequently running and fastest) from paris to bordeaux takes about three hours.  however, due to countless improbabilities against us, julie and i depart two hours later than planned on the slow ass train.  eta is 7:00 and we left at 1:30.  double dangit.  after spending the majority of those hours discovering how our rail passes actually work, we depart and tackle the ticket window attempting to get from bordeaux to madrid (an over night train for monday).  turns out irun is as close as the french can get us.  and it won't be a night train, it'll be in about 15 hours from that moment.  great.
we steal a tram ride and would have been fresh frust, but bordeaux is so beautiful!  it reminds me of rome with narrow windy streets.  despite our heavy backpacks and the fact that our hotel is weeeeeeeird (not like, slasher film, more like why-in-the-hell-is-there-a-mammouth-tin-circle-in-the-fireplace-oh-must-be-the-shower kind of way) we are determined to drink wine, eat food, and see frenchies.  went to place st. pierre and ate a badass dinner and drank the best bottle of sauvignon blanc... ever...?
some guy sends me a rose as i'm working through the business end of a plate of profiteroles and almonds and the waiter delivers a speech that i'm sure should be charming and hilarious, but my french vocabulary does not extend to woo-ing so i stare like a moron with ice cream all over my face.  the guy (his name shall be Hot Rose Sender from Bordeaux) waves and julie is dying and the rest of his party stares at me until we pay for our meal.
i wander over (because social constructs and my friend are bullies) and slur some french to the effect of "we're americans, and i don't speak french, but thanks!" and we peace out to drink wine at a church/movie theatre/bar.  should have stayed and made friends, but i was so embarassed that.. yeah
luckily,i deleted all my pictures from france and broke my purse... hahaha

but bordeaux was cool, even though we were there for 15 hours.

posted from madrid, written on the train to irun

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Paris is Boss because....

1.  asthetics, baby.  absolutely everything is beautiful and absolutely nothing needs to be functional.  women, men, streets, clothes, this keyboard-beautiful.  and yet i cannot find the shift key for the life of me.  who cares if streets go in circles, and women teeter cobblestone streets in towering heels at the end of their fat-free legs?  they look good.  and they know it.

2.  men wear purple unabashedly.
3.  being a student forever just means free/discounted things, not that you're simply too dumb to complete undergrad in three years.
4.  even commonplace words sound beautiful.  english can only boast of "cellar door" whereas even "car" (voiture) sounds ballin'.
5.  mayonnaise.  mayonnaise is not mayo, it is delicious-light, buttery, and divine.  bread has become a vehicle for it.
6.  it's socially encouraged to eat huge sandwiches where'er you go.  sandwiches of glory!
7.  no high fructose corn syrup.  means coke and nutella taste amazing.
8.  nutella
9.  crêpes.
10.  tiny portions means you can taste everything, you don't need to confine your buds.  and even though wine glasses are smaller, they pack more punch.  i got tipsy off of 1 teensy restaurant recommended bordeaux red.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Paris, Bordeaux, Madrid, Lisbon, Lagos, Sevilla, Barcelona, Cadaques, Aix-en-Provence, Genoa, Cinque Terre, Florence, Venice, Verona, Lake Como, Chambery, Paris.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Packing Dilemmas

I pack late.  I wait til the last possible second and throw every possible combination of outfits into my bag, jump on it a few times to mash everything down, and run off.  This has resulted in 22 years of over-packing and extremely wrinkled Anthropologie dresses.

NO MORE I SAY!  I shall pack in advance.  I leave for the airport Wednesday around 2:00.  This gives me 37 hours.  I'll be at work for like twelve of them so 25 hours.  Plus I really do need to sleep tonight and tomorrow night so let's say 7 hours.  And well, showering and eating and things makes it more like 5.  Okay, 4.

All I really need is my camera and my journal and some face wash.  I'm so nervous I'll look like a dorky American.  And with that backpack on... well, I'm definitely gonna look like a dweeb.  Je wanna be hip, garcon.  I'm already twice the width of the French and twice the height of the Spanish.