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9 Search Results for "bittersweet"

  • Bittersweet Snow Bittersweet Snow

    • From: woobiecat1
    • Description:

      A recent snowstorm in Middlebury, Vermont, covered the bittersweet vines with a dusting of wet snow.

    • 3 years ago
    • Views: 1104
  • Awaiting Sunrise Awaiting Sunrise

    • From: jorgeq
    • Description:

      Walking up on our last day on the curise in Puerto Rico. Bitter-sweet moment.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 369
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  • Dessert at Acacia Restaurant i Dessert at Acacia Restaurant in Tucson

    • From: Megtff
    • Description:

      This was dessert at Acacia Restaurant in Tucson AZ. Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse, frozen Catalan Custard with candied orange, grilled fig and fruit caviar. Paired with Castano, Monastrell (Yeda) 2007 wine. To die for!

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 312
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  • Swirlz's bittersweet chocolate Swirlz's bittersweet chocolate cupcake

    • From: Cheryl Lemanski
    • Description:

      Swirlz Cupcakes (swirlzcupcakes.com) is located a 705 W. Belden in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. They bake up ten tasty flavors a day, including a gluten-free and a vegan-gluten-free variety. This flavor - bittersweet chocolate - is available daily; my favorite is the "Twixie", available on Thursdays and Saturdays. They are worth searching out if you're in town!

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 816
  • Royal Hawaiian Royal Hawaiian

    • From: evbk
    • Description:

      As you may have learned by now, we like to end a beach day with a Mai-Tai, so here we are back at the Royal Hawaiian for what is indeed the BEST Mai Tai ever!!!! Unfortunately, this is a "farewell Hawaii" Mai Tai, and thus a bittersweet moment.

    • 5 years ago
    • Views: 190
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  • Royal Hawaiian's Mai Tai Royal Hawaiian's Mai Tai

    • From: evbk
    • Description:

      As you may have learned by now, we like to end a beach day with a Mai-Tai, so here we are back at the Royal Hawaiian for what is indeed the BEST Mai Tai ever!!!! Unfortunately, this is a "farewell Hawaii" Mai Tai, and thus a bittersweet moment.

    • 5 years ago
    • Views: 235
  • Nine Days With My Brother Nine Days With My Brother

    • From: willbros
    • Description:

      We left Rochester, New York early in the morning of May 26, 2008, and crossed the San Francisco Bay Bridge eight days later.  Here are a few highlights of the trip that encompassed 3300 miles, four time zones, 106 Canadian flags, two two-pound cheeseburgers, and a seemingly infinite amount of bison scat.  While reading this, keep in mind that we drove a very small Ford Escort ZX2, slept in a tent, and have an average height of 6'5".

      NEW YORK

      We got out of the Empire State as quickly as possible - save for a last minute stop at Aldi's to buy rations and a saucepan.


      So technically we didn't stay in the US.  We bypassed the well-known roadside sights of Pennsylvania and Ohio in favor crossing the border into our northern neighbor, Canada.  When we were planning this trip, Reid and I had asked friends and family members for "challenges", a directive that was kept secret until the day of the trip it was intended for.  The first challenge came from our mother: count the number of Canadian flags we saw.  Surprisingly, in just 192 miles, we spotted 106 maple leaf monstrosities.


      Despite getting a little closer to Detroit than our directions suggested, we made it across the Great Lakes State by the end of the first day.  This was the only night of the trip we didn't stay in a tent, as we visited my fiancé and her family.  Coincidentally, this was our best meal of the trip.


      Driving through the Northwest corner of the state didn't take long, and most people were still asleep, since this breakaway region is on Central Time.


      Had we known that Barack Obama's Hyde Park neighborhood is now permanently cordoned off by police, we would have stopped to see the future president's house.  Instead, the only stop we made was at a Rockford Verizon store to get Reid a new phone.  This seems frivolous, but in fact was imperative to keeping our family and fans abreast of our travels.  We updated a Google group of our trip daily via text.


      Here we detoured off the interstate to find a family-owned creamery in the small town of Shullsburg.  Reid called ahead and arranged for a personal tour of the cheese-making facilities. This was a great exhibit of the Midwestern hospitality we encountered.  Upon recommendation of the third-generation cheese maker, we visited Gravity Hill in Shullsburg.  According to legend, if you stop your car at the base of this hill and let it roll backwards, you will feel the sensation of being pulled uphill.  Even with positive-reinforcement, Reid and I could not find a way to confuse the laws of physics.


      We spent the second night camping at a KOA in Rochester (fun fact: this city is named after Rochester, NY).  To our surprise, this site had wireless internet.  This would be the most luxurious campsite of the week.  On day three, we walked around downtown Rochester and saw the shining buildings of the Mayo Clinic.  After this, all we saw were miles of farmland, dotted with large wind turbines.  Being engineers, curiosity got the best of my brother and me, so we exited I-90 at Beaver Creek, and did some exploring.  We followed a quiet dirt road to a cornfield, where we drove up to the base of one of these energy-producing giants.  Taking this trip at the beginning of the summer that will be remembered for its record-breaking oil prices, it was good to see that alternative energy investments were already underway.  The windmill wasn't the only "green" giant we met, however.  In Blue Earth, Minnesota, we saw a sixty-foot statue of the Jolly Green Giant, smiling as happily as ever.


      Driving through this large state that is split by the Missouri River gave me lots of memories.  One that stands out is a challenge that Reid and I bestowed upon ourselves.  We stopped for gas and lunch at a restaurant that featured a two pound hamburger.  The waitress told us that if we finished the burger - which weighed four pounds when cheese, lettuce, and pickles came into play - within an hour, we'd get our pictures on the wall.  With fifteen minutes remaining, we had both finished more than 75% of the meal and hit a wall.  We didn't eat dinner that day or breakfast the next morning.  Visiting the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, we learned that the local high school basketball team (whose mascot is named Cornelius) plays here.  This unique structure didn't seem too far out of place in a state whose highway vistas include rusted fire engines, giant dinosaurs, and billboards touting attractions some three hundred miles away.  We did eventually make it to Wall Drug Store, which I assumed to be the world's largest gift shop.  We spent two nights camping in Badlands National Park.  Highlights of this park were the bighorn sheep we tracked, the towering buttes we saw, and the friendly people we met.  We talked to many other folks who were also driving across the country (and one who was bicycling!).  One young couple was driving in the opposite direction as us, and alerted us of the blizzard that forced them to leave Yellowstone early.  After Badlands, Reid and I stopped in Rapid City for another meal.  A friend's challenge was meet the mayor of a Midwestern town - a task we had given up on after the Corn Palace mayor's office failed to return our calls.  Surprisingly, as we were eating lunch, a candidate for United States Senate walked up to our table neighbors and filmed them for a commercial.  We didn't speak with Sam Kephart, but decided that just seeing him trumped meeting a mayor.  After seeing Gutzon Borglum's most famous sculpture, Mount Rushmore, Reid and I spent that night in the Black Hills National Forest.  Park rangers allow visitors to camp anywhere in the forest, which allowed for some great off-trail exploring.


      At the Powder River Pass (elevation 9666 ft.), we saw snow for the first time (at least in June).  This is almost twice as high as any mountain in New York.  The highlight of Wyoming was clearly Yellowstone, though, where we camped for two nights.  The ice-covered lakes, lodge pole pine trees, canyons and waterfalls provided breathtaking views all around the park.  Even more breathtaking, however, was the masses of bison that weren't scared to come within feet of our car.  Yellowstone, which hosts more than 3 million human visitors every year, is home to many other species (we saw elk, a heron, and a bear), but the buffalo stand out due to their sheer size.  It's hard not to ignore an animal whose scat is larger than both my feet.  The park has some great ranger stations, where we learned about bison population growth and the giant volcanic caldera that runs under much of the park.  This is responsible for the awe-inspiring geysers and hot springs that are prevalent in the park.  I'd definitely like to spend more time in Yellowstone in the future.  Hopefully next time the drive won't be so long, though.


      We spent even less time in Montana than we did in Indiana, but at least now I can say I've been to the Treasure State.


      After finding out about the gigantic burgers we had eaten in South Dakota, our aunt challenged us to do push-ups and sit-ups every time we filled up the gas tank.  Driving a small, fuel-efficient car was a mixed blessing - we got good mileage, but had to fill up often since the tank is small.  This led to lots of dirty palms in gas stations.


      Seeing vast stretches of emptiness in Nevada, it's not hard to imagine why the Department of Energy has proposed a permanent nuclear waste storage facility in Yucca Mountain, 80 miles from Las Vegas.  We spent the night camping in the back of an RV park in Elko, a small town that featured at least three casinos.  The next day, we were fortunate enough to eat lunch at the Reno home of family friends we had known overseas.  It reminded us that no matter how far you drive, there's always someone you know when you get there.


      Crossing the border into our last state gave us the opportunity to see Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America.  From there, it was a bittersweet last day's drive to San Francisco.  Reid and I talked about all the great memories we would have from this epic journey.  We also made sure to text the Google group and thank them for their challenges along the way.  That evening, we arrived on the doorstep of our uncle's house, having completed a trip of a lifetime.  Now bound to engineering jobs, neither of us foresees nine consecutive days of vacation in the near future, let alone an opportunity to drive across the country.

      There were so many great sights along the road that I didn't have room to mention here.  Now I can say I've been to a little more of my own country - mission accomplished.  But even more importantly, I spent nine days with my brother.



    • Blog post
    • 6 years ago
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  • Espana! Espana!

    • From: PhebeSchwartz
    • Description:

      Phebe & Richard’s Tour of Spain 12-24-05 – We started our trip with our usual panache – we got a ride with friends to the airport, checked in, made it through Customs, and had about an hour before the flight. We sat down to relax, and I suddenly realized that I hadn’t checked that we had Richard’s meds – I asked, he also had forgotten them in our 6:30 AM departure! It took several minutes to find an airline agent to unlock the door and let him out of the airport – he found a taxi driver willing to take him up to the house (on the back roads), wait, and madly drive back to the airport. I was waiting, ready to tell the ticket agent that he wasn’t back yet as they called for the final boarding of our flight to Miami – but Richard miraculously appeared in the Customs area, they waved him through, and we rushed onto the plane. The rest of the trip overseas was uneventful, but with that start………….

      12-25 – We picked up our EuropCar rental – got a Yaris! Standard, 4 door, but otherwise much like my car. Started driving out of Madrid, and tried to find a place open for a bite of breakfast – at this point, the suburbs we were in were very arid, barren, and ugly! We wound our way through and managed to get back onto the highway. We drove, periodically going to rest areas (“area de servicios”) for bathroom breaks, stretch our legs, maybe a café con leche and a bite to eat. The first service area was in a small town, and the way back onto the highway wasn’t clearly marked – somehow, we ended up on an old dirt service road that paralleled the highway, and we drove along for several miles before we found the entrance back onto the highway. After that, we kind of got the hang of it – drive into a small town for gas station and café, stand at the bar having café and a sandwich or pastry, nod to the other patrons hanging out, and then drive through to catch the highway entrance on the other end town.

      By late afternoon, we reached the town of Trujillo, home of some of the famous Spanish explorers, and some famous matador. The Plaza Mayor is the center of the old city, built around a Moorish Castle; the plaza has a beautiful center square surrounded by picturesque buildings, with the castle making one side of the square. We had pizza at a place owned by, get this, the former girlfriend of a guy we know here on St. Thomas – such was the reason we stopped there!

      We finally reached Lisbon in the evening – a dark and stormy night. We didn’t have a map of the city, so became totally lost and couldn’t locate any of the streets mentioned in our directions from the hotel. People kept giving us directions, and then saying “and then ask someone else when you get that far” – we finally found three young women who lived near the hotel, and they told us to follow them and they’d lead us right there, which is what we did. Madrid to Lisbon – 627 km.

      12-26 – Monday, plus a holiday in many areas, so most museums and historic sites were closed. We drove from Lisbon to Sintra, a very pretty and quaint town that also houses a Moorish castle that the subsequent royalty turned into a palace. [Note here, because I didn’t know all of this – Spain was ruled by Arabs for several hundred years, and was a center of Islamic culture and learning for a long time. Then the Spanish rulers united, and kicked the Arabs out (and the Jews at about the same time) and have ruled Spain since, except during the time of Franco (fascist dictator, and ruled from after WWI until his death in the 1970s. Just to confuse matters, the Spanish kings/queens were related to the Hapsburgs of Austria – but so many of the European leaders intermarried – so it’s kind of confusing to someone who didn’t grow up with it.]

      Okay, back to Sintra – We were high in the hills so everything was misty with passing showers; the palace and castle, and the palaces nearby (which had housed the various nobles and courtiers of the king) were closed, but we were able to wander through the outside area of the lower palace. We walked through the town, also, and bought some ceramic tiles from an artist with the musical name of Orizia.

      We drove through the rest of Sintra and the woods, saw the upper palace and mansions, and various gorgeous gardens – and kepts driving through various villages and a tangle of impossibly narrow roads flanked by walls and houses growing from those same retaining walls – on and on to Cabo de Roca.

      Cabo de Roca is the westernmost point of the European continent – a lovely place, high on a rugged and dramatic coastline of sheer cliffs falling straight down to rocks and pinnacles and barren spires jutting out of the ocean, crashing waves on the coast, huge white splashes of foam, and wind whistling through and blowing around everything. Very dramatic, almost theatrical – very end-of-the-world feeling place. The sun came out, and the day was glorious!

      We had lunch in the restaurant looking over the valley and hills opposite the shore – I had huge shrimp (with the heads on) grilled in olive oil, spices, and tons of garlic – served simply with lemon and wonderful rustic bread to soak up the juices. They were the best shrimp I have EVER eaten!!!!!!!! Absolutely fantabulous! (And probably totally fresh, too!) I grossed out poor Richard by popping a few shrimp heads onto my fingers and having them talk to each other. Poor guy, doesn’t like to play with his food.

      We drove along the coast and looked at the beach and ocean, which were okay but after the Caribbean we’re just spoiled; drove through more picturesque fishing villages; and managed to get somewhat lost getting back to our hotel. We truly need a map. At least we’ve learned to pronounce the name of the street (Visconte Valmor, with the “s” pronounced in the Portuguese way of “sh”). We wandered through the neighborhood, and visited a posh mall nearby.

      12-27 – We were staying at a small, local hotel, so there wasn’t a car park – so we had our car parked nearby at a parking garage (named Park Valbom, which cracked us up). Richard went to get the car and opened the driver’s window, but it came off the track and was stuck halfway down, and sticking out at a strange angle – so we called EuropCar and they sent out a mechanic who had a little mechanic’s shop in the back of his Toyota, complete with a swing-out vice grip. We spent the morning in Park Valbom, but finally the car was fixed.

      Another aside – our hotel was Hotel Residencial Italia, a very nice place in a quiet neighborhood. Included breakfast. We can give anyone the website if you want.

      So we finally got on the Metro to downtown, wandered around a bit. Took a tram to Castelo de Sao Jorge – while on the crammed together crowd, a man tried to pick Richard’s pocket, and was standing in back of him reaching out backwards – but, as Richard said, he was a really bad pickpocket, because Richard could feel him doing it (and I could see this, too) – besides, R’s wallet was in his front pocket, so it was kind of pointless. Everyone was looking at this man, and another guy started yelling at him – they got off at the top of the hill with us, still yelling at each other, and our potential pickpocketer immediately jumped onto another tram.

      We wandered through another labyrinth of meandering narrow roads in Bairro de Castelo, got to the Castle, which was very cool. [All of the Moorish castles are traditional crenellated fortresses and towers, all made of golden brown rock – I don’t know why, they all seem to be the same color!] Huge rooms, thick walls, towers and walkways and ramps – and a beautiful view across the city, all the way to the Atlantic. [Lisbon is divided into two parts by an inlet and river, which create the port.]

      We climbed around the castle for a while, then went to the restaurant for lunch. [We had agreed ahead of our trip to eat on the Iberian schedule – meaning lunch would be the big meal of the day, breakfast would be coffee and bread/toast, and we’d have an afternoon snack and very late very light dinner.] The restaurant was very posh, with ceramic tiles forming murals on the walls, alternating with French doors providing a view across the city; and vaulted arches formed of brick for the incredible ceiling. (I had baby sea bass with a sliced potato crust; Richard had lamb.)

      We walked back down the hill to the center of the shopping area and window shopped – stores are open until about 8 or 9 PM, and there are beautiful, creative holiday light displays through most of the streets and especially is the plazas and squares – so even though it was chilly and dark by 5 PM, the streets were packed with people shopping and promenading.

      Metro back to our neighborhood; snack at Patisserie Versaille (which looks unbelievably like a place we like in Old San Juan, down to the surly waiters who don’t speak English and take forever to come over to the table); got the car out of the car park and parked for free on the street; and back to our friendly little hotel.

      12-28 – Left Lisbon at 7:15 AM, for a long day of driving to Cordoba – another day of 600+ km, about 350-400 miles. It was an easy drive to Ponte Vasco de Gama – but the bridge and the entire area were lost in fog – we could barely see two car lengths ahead – for about half an hour we couldn’t tell if we were still on the bridge or not!

      Drove through the farmland of Andalucia, farms (ranches?) with steer (toros!), lots of storks circling in the air looking just like Satsuma porcelain – huge (HUGE!) white birds with long necks and legs and beaks, black feathers along the edge of the wings – and monster-sized nests atop chimneys and electric towers.

      There were periodic castles, forts, cathedrals, and monasteries in various stages of use or ruin towering over the landscape, usually atop hills and silhouetted against the sky. We stopped at a few rest areas, and of course a few small villages. Had our café con leche and snacks leaning at the bar, along with a handful of mostly men in town – the lady behind the bar hopped up onto the counter to kiss a few of her local customers.

      At one point entered the province of La Mancha, and finally saw one of those white windmills that seem emblematic of the area – I could just imagine the old Don Q jousting with this.

      We reached Cordoba, but I had booked the wrong night on our reservation – a very nice lady at our hotel (which didn’t have a room for us that night) called a nearby hotel and got us into the Hotel Tablon, right near the ancient mosque (la Mezquita), which is what Cordoba is best known for. We got settle in, wandered through town, promptly got lost (again in a tangle of narrow, winding streets and alleys, some only wide enough for two or three people, a few with cars going only in one direction), had tapas in Bodegha Mezquita, and wandered some more.

      12-29 – Spent the day in Cordoba, began our day with our café and tostada (toast) at a little pateleria across from our hotel. We walked around the old Jewish quarter – known now at the Juderia – and visited Plaza de Maimonides with it’s statue of Moses ben Maimonides, one of the most well-known, prolific, and most influential Jewish philosophers and religious leaders of the Middle Ages (and the reason I wanted to see Cordoba). Maimonides wrote the “Guide for the Perplexed” which I always thought showed a sense of humor along with his scholarly abilities. We also visited the ancient synagogue (sinagoga) in which Maimonides may have worshipped – it’s from the 8th century, and covered with decorative panels of arabesques and repeating patterns, with carved Hebrew running around the panels. There was an overwhelming sadness in the synagogue – it’s no longer used for worship, isn’t maintained by the Jewish community but by the town of Cordoba, has very Arab-influenced decoration, and just exuded a sense of the sad and desolate history of the Jews in Spain, and none of the richness or contributions of the culture. We couldn’t go upstairs to the area that women would have sat in, it’s closed off. This was just one of the three synagogues that survived the Inquisition and the expulsion of the Jews. As I said, I was overwhelmed by the sense of sadness in this place.

      We lunched at the Patio de la Juderia, which didn’t have pastrami, much to Richard’s chagrin! (And, I hade to admit I had shrimp – totally tref!) We ate a few Cordoban specialties, most notably a strange dessert known as tarta de Cordobesa, a nice crust with a weird center of cooked orange or pineapple or something, served with burnt sugar sauce and whiskey-flavored whipped cream – very sweet and a bit overpowering, but worth a try.

      We later visited la Mezquita – this is supposed to be the largest mosque in Europe, when Cordoba was a huge Islamic center and had a major university (roughly 1000 years ago). La Mezquita has very cool double arches inside, in alternating cream stucco and red brick. The size of the place alone is impressive. Very ornate carved and painted ceiling panels of various motifs and arabesques and repeat emblems. But much of the Mezquita has been turned into a cathedral, so the center and parts of the edges have all sorts of Catholic art, paintings, statures, etc, all of which looked anachronistic, out of time and place.

      The place also had a beautiful courtyard paved in a pattern of cobblestones, and planted with orange trees. And occasionally there’d be the ring of bells from the cathedral’s bell tower.

      We had been parking across the river, in a free area; so we walked across, got the car, and drove around the new part of town and got totally lost, eventually found our way back to the old area and parked outside La Mezquita and right by the hotel.

      Had a light dinner of tortilla española (potato omelette), and whiskey cake – frozen cream and cake layers topped with a big hit of whiskey – actually very yummy!

      My new favorite tapas – sliced grilled red bell peppers mixed with tuna, and eaten on slices of bread. We also had bay shrimp fritters, which were excellent.

      My new Spanish word for the day – descaffienado en la machina – con leche – I can now have decaf café con leche, yay!

      12-30 – drive from Cordoba to Valencia, another 400 or 600 km drive. Long day of driving – LOTS of fog, pea soup London fog. Barely a glimpse of the countryside until we got near the coast. Periodically we’d go through a tunnel and come out the other side to catch a glimpse of rocky hills bordering on mountains. Castles on hills, towers overlooking towns that looked like they’ve looked the same for 500 years.

      Fog cleared about the time we reached the province of Valencia – took a while to find someone who directed us to the Plaza de Ajudemente (central plaza) and found a hostale nearby – Hostale Tartessos – it was okay, great for the last minute. Checked in and dropped our stuff, went out to a “fun run” with hundreds of people in the street, some for the run, some to watch – and the runners were either bundled up for the cold, or in running clothes, or in bizarre costumes – it looked like a Hallowe’en or Carnival race! My favorite was the man in longjohns with balloons attached all over – but there were men in dresses, women in swimsuits with floats around their middle, devils, angels, etc.

      Gorgeous old historic buildings were outlined in holiday lights – one in particular (with turrets) became our mark to find our way again. We wandered around to get a feel for the town, and stumbled upon Valor – a chocolateria chain across Spain – OMG, what amazing chocolate! I could live in that store/restaurant!!!!!

      12-31 – Valencia to Barcelona – another 400 km drive, long drive with muchas areas des servicios. Tunnels through the coastal area just before Barcelona.

      BUT - good news, I actually had a map of Barcelona and we located the guesthouse with little trouble. The only problem was not knowing which road was one-way in which direction. I was very impressed with myself, after having been so lost in Lisbon.

      We checked in to Ana’s Guesthouse III, which is lovely and in an old house on Provença Street (which turns out to be a perfect location). Beautiful room with a terrace overlooking the street, lovely owner (Graciella), comfy room in blue and off-white and carved ceilings. Settled in, and then went out for New Year’s Eve.

      We spent the evening between Plaza Catalunya and Las Ramblas – the area to see and be seen. Many people, very crowded, very drunk or stoned – and a lot of loud M-80 firecrackers – huge boom of noise and smoke but no lights – which left Richard and me a bit nervous after our time in Israel, just waiting for the screams and sirens.

      We fought our way through the crowds – the police eventually put up blockades to funnel people into small areas where they could check for bottles and make sure everyone poured their drinks into plastic cups – apparently the custom is to smash the bottle after finishing it, and we certainly saw small piles of smashed glass on the sidewalks. Took the Metro back to Ana’s and came by La Pedrera (one of Gaudi’s buildings) at night by accident – WOW!

      1-1-06!!! – Since it was New Year’s Day and Sunday, most things in Barcelona were closed. We had a nice breakfast with Graciela and a few of the guests, and found that we were located on the same street as two of the major architectural works by Antonio Gaudi, one of Barcelona’s most famous sons. Our guesthouse was about halfway between La Pedrera (“The Quarry” – the famous wavy building with seaweed-like balconies) and La Sagrada Familia – the Temple of the Sacred Family, Gaudi’s famous and unfinished cathedral for the 20th century.

      [I only knew about Antonio Gaudi’s architecture because I studied his mosaics for my murals class at Evergreen, and was intrigued by his buildings. Gaudi’s style shows the Art Nouveau influence of his time, but goes beyond the flowery and flowing ornamentation and actually makes the buildings follow the same fluid and flowing lines. His walls curve in and out like waves, his support posts and arches curve and flow, and his buildings look impossible, as if they wouldn’t stand. He also greatly influenced subsequent architects, most notably Frank Lloyd Wright, who took the same concept that architecture should look like it grew out of the environment in which it is placed, but who became much more of a cubist designer, if that makes sense.]

      Anyway – knowing that things were closed, I had planned on a walking tour of Gaudi’s buildings – I even had everything highlighted on my map. Richard chose to accompany me, and we started with La Sagrada Familia – it still is being built, with fifteen towers (twelve apostles, Jesus, and his parents), mosaics, sculptures, and each façade is different. I circled the building marveling at the details, and Richard waited patiently in the park. We later walked down the other way to La Pedrera, and then down to Avenida de Gracia (or Rambla de Gracia?) for the building where the balconies look like shark jaws, and the pillars and arches on the ground floor look like curving trees. It was a long hike around, but I was definitely in art teacher heaven!

      We had an evening walk to Plaça de Sol, and dinner at Sol Solera with Steven, a young Californian we met at our guesthouse.

      1-2-06 – Shopping day in Barcelona. Started at the Museo de Xocolate (in Catalunyan, that’s pronounced Chocolatte), which was interesting – displays on the history and production of chocolate, and amazing chocolate sculptures including all of Gaudi’s buildings! We had a snack at the café there – OMG what amazing hot chocolate! It was like hot liquid chocolate for coating cookies or cakes or something – liquid dark barely-sweet chocolate about 80%, with no milk added – just pure rich bittersweet chocolate! And they have special machines that are vats with a permanent mixer going, and a spigot on the base to let out a cup of liquid chocolate. Absolutely the best and thickest and richest and darkest chocolate EVER!

      Then to Mara Maxim (or something like that), the mall at the port – with a walk across a very strange curvey bridge (reflective of Gaudi’s style, but in stainless steel instead of his stone) and floating on a dock – kind of bouncy in the center!

      Walked up La Ramblas to El Corte Inglecia for some shopping, lunch in the restaurant on top of the building (lovely leg of lamb in a light tomato and Tia Pepe sauce). Walked up Rabmla de Catalunya, and wandered around the shops. Found another Chocolateria Valor and had a little dessert (instead of dinner), shopped at La Pedrera on the way home.

      1-3 – Barcelona to Madrid, a long 600+ km drive with a few stops – nothing major – though at 7:30 am we had trouble finding our car park in Barcelona! (Turned right instead of left out the front door, and it kind of went downhill after that…..)

      Made it to our hostale in Madrid (again, a map of the city helped!) – turned out we’re in the Plaza Santa Cruz, between the Puerta del Sol and the Plaza Mayor – hot spot of the city, with a huge lit tree, some sort of holiday play going on at one end, stores open late and throngs of people walking and shopping and eating. Pedestrian mall area, interesting shops; had a light dinner (Richard had been ill the night before); walked around and window shopped; and early to bed.

      1-4 – Museum day! We spent much of the day at the three art museums – the Reina Sophia, the Prado, the Thyssen (which had minor works by major artists, often the case when a private individual collects artworks and then creates a museum, though there were several well-known and world-famous pieces – but on the whole, some very mediocre pieces by the major French Impressionists). I was happy to see a number of paintings by Camille Pissarro, who was (finally!) identified as being born on St. Thomas (Santo Tomas) – most American museums label him as French, though French museums label him as Danish (which St. Thomas was when he was born here in 1830).

      We spent most of our time in the Reina Sophia, which houses “Guernica,” Picasso’s famous (and huge) depiction of the town being bombed, and which has come to be emblematic of anti-war art. To say it is powerful is, well, trite and clichéd, but there aren’t the right words to describe the impact of this painting. You see it with your eyes and feel it in your stomach. The painting depicts the horror of war by showing the twisted, dead, and dying bodies of animals and women and children after the bombing, in flat black and white and greys, which seem distant and unemotional and thus they make the pain and drama of the picture all the more disturbing. And only the horse in the center, the horse who seems to sum up all of the pain and suffering in his twisted frenzy of death, only the horse has any shading or texture. Tongues are like bayonets, lips are pulled back in grimaces of death, and you can only stand and stare.

      I hate to say that that night, it was my turn to be ill – I spent the night miserable and sick, and then

      1-5 – I was still sick. Spent the day in bed, and Richard got some over-the-counter meds so I could keep down water. Tried to get rehydrated. Richard spent some time with me, and some time out. That night, our neighborhood was the center of the Three Kings Day parade – it was televised, but we could see it going by our hotel room, from our tiny balcony that we were both too afraid to stand on. Anyway, there were floats with the kings, and various mythical kinds of characters, and marching bands in costumes that looked like soldiers from 500 years ago, and stilt dancers (again in red and gold soldier or guard-type costumes) and ladies on some high contraption that made them look like they had 10-foot skirts as they rolled along. There were Roman candles shooting up gold sparks all over, and gold confetti floating down, and people on floats tossing candy out to the crowds. It was gorgeous, and made our Carnival parade (which is pretty fancy and flashy and amazing) look paltry.

      1-6 – Our last day. We got to the airport about 9:30, but the entrance to the rental car parking area was pretty obscure – so I got out and waited while Richard was supposed to circle the parking lot and re-park inside the gate – but at the round-about, he made a wrong turn and ended up halfway back to Madrid before he could find someone to help him with directions – he finally came back to the airport, where I was waiting by the gate so he would see it (he was about the 5th person to park in the wrong place in the half hour that I waited). We returned the Yaris, checked in inside, and had an uneventful flight.

      Miami – couldn’t find our luggage at Customs, were assured that it would go through to St. Thomas, and not to worry. This was from an Iberian agent. Our flight out of Miami was about 2 hours late, which meant that the airport in St. Thomas would normally be closed. (I’ve been on flights that turned around and went back to San Juan because it was too late to land in St. Thomas!) But the airport was open, we landed, our luggage didn’t arrive, and we went home.

      1-10 – After days of calling the airline and getting “We don’t know, we’re working on it,” Richard went to the airport and charmed the attendant to allow him to check the baggage room. Of course, there was our luggage. We’re glad it’s home, with presents and clothes and dirty laundry.

      In retrospect – we had a great time. Fun trip, saw lots of wonderful things, got a taste for places we’d never been, got a feel for each city. We stayed in small, local hotels to get a better feel/taste of each place, instead of the Americanized version – but sometimes this meant smaller beds (our last place was the worst, we truly need a queen bed for the two of us) or no parking. We also were a bit too ambitious in our plan – it was doable, but we had 5 days that were mostly driving – and if we had to do it over again, I’d do more time in fewer places. Or plan less, and stop along the way more. (Though I do like to know where I’m going to sleep each night.)

      We definitely want to go back to Lisbon and Barcelona – and we want to add Bilboa and Toledo next time.

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    • 6 years ago
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  • See the USA First 2008 See the USA First 2008

    • From: modernclio
    • Description:

      Once I knew I needed to be in Florida in August for my sister's wedding, I decided to make a real trip out of it. I decided a trip along the East Coast would be my best bet. I like art, and there's certainly plenty of it there. I also have a lot of friends scattered around the area to visit. At the time I was planning on starting my master's degree here in Munich and thought it would be a nice chance to get to know my native country a bit before spending the next 2-? years abroad. As the title says, "See the USA first." Well, that's just my plan. Should be a bit of culture shock, and I'm sure my experiences in Indiana with my family will probably be just as enteratining as what I do in New York, possibly more so. Enjoy!

      29 July - Still in München

      What better way to procrastinate on packing some more than making a journal post? It's weird thinking I'll be leaving Munich at the end of the week. This city has really become my home. It's where I feel comfortable, and where I want to lead my life, which brings me to one of my major problems right now. You might have noticed in my intro where I say "At the time I was planning on starting my master's degree here in Munich." I still plan on starting my master's degree here in October, but I don't know if I've gotten into the university yet or not. Everything is kind of hanging on that one bit of information.

      A little background info: I studied here In Munich as an exchange student during the junior year of my undergrad program. During that time I met a wonderful guy and decided to move back to Germany after I was done with my Bachelor's degree to be with him. Three weeks before I was supposed to come here he broke up with me. It knocked me back a bit, but then I realized I liked Munich and that it was big enough for both of us, so I moved back here a year ago and have since been working on perfecting my German, searching for jobs, settling in, and doing what I could to get into school here. Now I'm just waiting. I should know tomorrow, either way. Then I'll actually know if this trip is my last great adventure in the US for the foreseeable future or me checking out cities if I have to go live there for a bit. No pressure.

      30 July - @#!$

      Frustrated? Me? Never! Just really, really doped up on Red Bull. Still have lots of packing to do. I talked to the university today. They say they won't know anything for at least another week. Great. So my hopefully-celebratory dinner with friends tonight is just going to be another going away party.

      For those of you who have never lived as an expat, let me explain that the going away party is just as common here as the birthday party is other places. It's part of what makes living abroad so exciting, but also somewhat bittersweet at times. You spend so much energy developing your "family" abroad; you make friends you know you'll keep in touch with your whole life, but you also know that most people won't be staying put for all that long. It's a lot of goodbyes, some harder than others. I've already been to 2 such celebrations in the past week. But the flip side is that you're continually meeting new people, each with a different and often fascinating perspective on life. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Now to keep reminding myself of that over the next 2 days as I say goodbye to my friends, knowing that some of them won't still be in Munich when I get back.

      1 August - Hello Chicago!

      So before I pass out from jet lag, I have to explain my trip from Chicago to Indianapolis. Flying from Germany to Chicago? Not a problem. Chicago to Indy? Well, it was fun. I took the El (subway) from O'Hare to the city, planning on getting on a bus to Indianapolis. While on the train a young couple offered me a donut. I gladly accepted as I had been eating airline food all day and it felt like years since I'd had a Boston Cream. I still say Americans are the masters of junk food. Then, as I was trying to get off the train, I put my backpack on, reached down and felt my thigh. Not the dress that should have been there, just skin. Apparently my backpack had pulled my dress up, leaving me somewhat exposed to everyone in the car. I couldn't look anyone in the face at that point. Instead I just stood there laughing and hoping that we would reach my stop as soon as possible. I'll have to write part 2 of this saga tomorrow. Right now I need to get to bed.

      2 August - In Indy

      Now that I've had some sleep I can explain the rest of my trip. I got to Chicago's Union Station and thought I was going to miss my bus because I got there so late. I panicked, heard that there was a train to Indianapolis leaving in 10 minutes, bought a ticket for that and ran to get on the train. Only then did I realized my watch had already been set to Eastern Time. Chicago's on Central. I was actually an hour early for my bus. I'm so on top of things.

      I had never taken a train in the U . What really got me was when I asked the conductor when we would be reaching Crawfordsville, the town my family was going to pick me up in. His answer was simply, "When we get there." When I tried to get some more info I got, "Sometime around when we're scheduled. Anywhere between 10:30 and 11:00, maybe as late as 11:30." I miss Deutsche Bahn. The Germans certainly know how to run a rail system. But I'm off to my first baseball game of my trip now! Woo-hoo!

      6 August - I got in!!

      The big news is that I got in to the University in Munich. Good news for me, as it means I get to start making definite plans, and it also means I'll really be able to enjoy being in the US because I know I won't be staying here. I wanted to put some pictures up and a longer entry, but the wireless internet at my parents' house itsn't particularly good and I can't stay connected for longer than 5 minutes or so. Needless to say Indiana is still Indiana. I'm going to go shopping today. I forgot my favorite mascara in Germany and I also still need to buy something to wear to my sister's wedding, which is on Monday. Go me.

      14 August - Is it humid here or is it just me?

      I've been in Florida since unday. Spent the first part of that at Disney World, which was great. My sister had her commitment ceremony there, and we all just had a good time. Disney World is always a bit of a shock, especially if you're not used to Americans anymore. Everyone was complaining about walking so much, but I'm quite used to it. I really had to laugh at my nephew, who had a huge crush on a German girl who was selling beer at the German pavilion. He made me go back to buy another round just so he could go talk to her again.

      Now I'm back in Lake Worth, in South Florida. I've realized that this place is really my second home. I always liked coming down here. It was so much fun to be around different cultures. The different cultures thing might not be quite as exciting anymore, but I am really excited about the place called "Scandanavian Massage." After all the time I've spend in planes, cars, and Disney rides recently, I think I deserve it.

      18 August - Trying to reason with hurricane season

      Well, things certainly aren't going according to plan, but do they ever? There's currently a tropical storm heading in our direction. It's not a hurricane yet, but it has a bit of open water to strenthen up. Now I've always wanted to ride out a hurricane down here so I must admit I'm pretty excited about the idea. The system is starting to move in already and so far we've just gotten lots of rain with a bit of thunder and lightning thrown in. However I did notice at the store yesterday that they were starting to sell out of bottled water. The only real problem is that this means I can't get my SCUBA certification done. Guess that means I'll have to plan a trip to Egypt or somewhere cool...

      The only other problem I've had recently is that when I'm celebrating the fact that I'm back in school and working on my career, and it seems like all everyone wants to talk about is the beauty of the stay at home mom. I guess getting a master's degree in Germany and wanting to work in museums all over the world isn't that exciting to people. Maybe if I said I was getting married and wanted to start a family as soon as possible it would be a bit different.

      3 August - No, I haven't forgotten

      I'd like to start by explaining that every time I've tried to update this in the past week and a half I've gotten an error message. But apparently it works on the computer at my hotel. And so, without further ado, a brief recap on my trip thus far, done geographically-

      St. Augustine - stopped here with my parents. Enjoyed a Corona and saw lots of storm damage. I also lost my drivers licence. Stupid Americans and their stupid carding.
      Charleston - I absolutely loved this town. It's made it on my list of places I would love to live sometime. My parents were still with me, which meant my dad was all excited about reading every historical marker we passed. He also made us go on a ghost tour. I got a little freaked out by the live burial story, but mostly I had nightmares about John C. Calhoun.
      Asheville - Had a nice time with Evelyn, a long-time family friend. It rained the entire time, but we had fun. I had to get a letter from the Indiana BMV faxed to me saying that I had lost my licence. This was also when I left my parents and headed out on my own.
      DC - Honestly, it scared me. I had a great time, but I was a little taken aback by the massive amounts of USA-ness and all the 20-somethings who think their political career is on track because they're an aide for Joe Congressman from Idaho. But I museumed myself to the point of exhaustion and felt like a little kid at the Air & Space Museum.
      Philly - Got to see my friend Natalie :). Saw lots of "old stuff". Sightseeing with another history person can be fun. It was nice to spend time just hanging out and talking. I was quite excited to see all the Duchamp at the art museum, too. I also found my drivers licence. For some reason I decided to put it in my toiletries bag.
      And now I'm in New York. I haven't been here since I was 14. I can still remember the first time I saw Times Square, when I was 13, and this place still makes my heart beat just a bit quicker. I finally saw a show on Broadway, too. I'm awesome.

      So that's a brief recap. Hopefully I'll be able to write again soon. I'll have a few more things to say about New York. And I'll be in Boston. You know what that means - griping about Patriots fans!

    • Blog post
    • 6 years ago
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