Saturday, January 31, 2009

Snails in Marrakech YUM!

Yan trying some snails in the market square, Djemaa El-Fna. I had some too :)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Arm motions and handwaves

Sometimes when I'm talking to people who don't speak a word of anything I speak or I'm just not sure if they understand me anyway, I feel like I'm Mr. Bean. I think I would be qualified to be one of Rowan Atkinson's backups given how much experience I've gotten at it.

I've even gone as far as using sound effects, such as making chicken noises, pig noises, lamb noises, cow noises, portraying the peeing position while making a water leaking noise, making hand gestures as if I'm eating, doing the "I don't know" pose with my arms to my sides with my hands in the air, giving the solemn and direct open palm "no" when I don't want attention, smiling when I want to be friendly or approve, and giving the thumbs up for the "ok". I've pointed at my watch when asking for the time, and made the 1 finger horizontal twirling beside the head when I wanted to tell the hostel person that my friend Jo was crazy (as a joke).

Body language really does go a long way.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


This was the scene in Tarifa today, about 2 hours before we got on the ferry to Morocco. It had been a couple of weeks (since Dahab)since I'd seen a nice ocean view like this, so it was notable. The palm trees on the reflective water added a little miami-esque touch too.

Tarifa was a tiny little Spanish town. It was very colorful and the architecture so different it didn't even feel Spanish anymore. It felt like a smaller less classy version of the art deco district of Miami Beach. So much so that when I heard people speaking Spanish it raised a brow on my face.

The fact that the first real sign I noticed was for a Mexican restaurant only added to that impression.

Morrocans are nice (so far)

I'm going to say I'm a bit surprised, but the touters here in Morocco so far have been very friendly so far. I had expected what I got from Egypt (where I was jumped on like greasy potatoes from the very moment I stepped out of immigration).

The guys that were trying to see if we wanted a taxi when we came out of the port smiled and when we said we didn't want their attention they said, "ok no problem. Thank you" and smiled over to the next person. In fact, I was probably ruder to them than they were to me. Hehe call it "lessons learned".

One random guy asked us where we were going, we said "Fes" and he told us to take a bus instead of a train because it will not require a vehicle change and that the bus station was a short walk away as he pointed in the correct direction. I just kinda stared at him in disbelief for 2 seconds when he said that before I thanked him. That was *not* what I expected to come out his mouth. I half expected him to rob me after we started walking.

We met a nice guy in our train car who gave us information about taxis here and how to get from Fes to Marrakech tomorrow (whether by bus or train). He works in an upscale hotel in Marrakech so I figured I'd ask him about hotels too but he said he didn't know of much in Fes. We will need to stay 1 night in Fes.

I don't think his wife knows any English so she didn't say anything to us, which is understandable. The guy told us that Moroccans learn French in school but in the north, Spanish is used more, so he knows Spanish too. Why couldn't it have been German geez? Life would be so much easier for me if Germany had imperialized a bit more in the middle ages.

We're going to take the train tomorrow as well, because the man told us that everyone is returning to school this weekend for the 2nd semester and so the cheap transportation will be incredibly packed and uncomfortable. He told us they sell more tickets than they have seats in the 2nd class section. So Yan and I are going to try to buy tickets for tomorrow's train before leaving the station in a couple hours to see if we can find a place to crash in Fes so that we can do some sightseeing tomorrow morning before we go.

The guy who served us food at the train station cafeteria was also super friendly. Our nice veggie and egg salad cost us $2.50 and I tipped him about 70 cents. I felt like he deserved it. I got to practice my absolutely limited Arabic by saying "chokran" (thank you) to the man.

A rock and a soft place

We're on the train in Morocco right now headed from Tanger to Fes. It is a remarkably comfortable and quiet train, even considering we bought first class seats for about $20 each for the 5 hour ride. A step up from Egypt I have to say, though Egypt's sleeper train was comfortable too.

We're in 6 person compartments. Yan, me, a Moroccan couple and 2 empty seats. The seats are pretty and soft, have headrests, and are plenty wide enough for the average traveler.

About 20 minutes after we departed, we heard a loud bang on the car cabin window, like something had hit the glass from the outside. It sounded like a bullet hitting glass except nothing was broken and nothing had entered the compartment.

The Moroccan man told us it was probably some bad kids being troublemakers and throwing rocks at the train. One had just happened to hit our window. He let out a sigh of relief after looking around to see if everything in the compartment was ok. The noise startled me but once we knew nobody was hurt it was ok.

Another bus coincidence

A similar thing happened again. I met a Spanish guy outside the bus in Porto right before we jumped on together to head to Malaga. I never got his name but he spoke some English and was very cool. He gave me some tips such as to eat fried fish in Malaga and to make sure to go to Tapas bars in Granada. He told to spend less time in Malaga and more time in Granada (which we were going to do anyway).

Then we got on the bus 2 days later to get from Malaga to Granada and he was on the same bus! He told me that he was going to University in Granada. I was surprised. That was weird. Spain must be a really small country :)


We only spent a night in Sevilla so I don't have a full impression of the city but for the few hours that we used to wander around it felt like a smaller Barcelona. This was expected because it *is* the capital city of Andalucia. It had some nice architecture and quite a large shopping district and looked very much like a metropolitan city after coming from Granada, which just seemed like a large town relatively.

The streets in Sevilla were wide. It has a nice clean tram and 2 bus stations. It has it's own airport. We saw the cathedral and the bullfighting ring from the outside at night and walked past the bar district as well. I wouldn't have minded staying there longer but I felt like if I stayed in Barc or Madrid it would be similar, though much more metro.

Salamanca and Granada so far have been the most different small cities that I've enjoyed. Granada seemed to have more to see than Salamanca though.


The large area in Southern Spain is called Andalucia. It covers the last couple cities we have visited: Malaga, Granada, Sevilla, and soon Tarifa. Cadiz is also a notable city in Andalucia but we don't have time to visit there.

The name Andalucia comes from the Muslim name Al-Andalus which was given over 1300 years ago by the Muslims when they conquered the area. As a result, there are some notable places in each of these cities that have Arabic influence. You can see it in the architecture and in the types of buildings that are there, such as the Arabic baths, and even with names of the streets. There were even Arabic baths in the Alhambra in Granada.

The weather the last few days has been relatively comfortable. Somewhere around 15 degrees C in the day which was a nice change from Porto and upper Spain of somewhere around 4 degrees C.


That's what Granada means in Spanish. I'm not sure what the history of the name is yet though. We found a large fountain while walking through the city that had a couple of big pomegranites that were half cracked open in the architecture of the fountain.

I didn't know what they were at first. I assumed big cracked heads with brains falling out until Yan corrected me. Haha

I can't believe I didn't take a picture of it. That annoys me.

Granada was my favorite city in Southern Spain. With a small population of only 285,000 (from lonelyplanet) and it being a college town, there was a lot of life, a shopping district, a view of the Sierra Nevada mountains that was spectacular, vibrant nightlife, in a small city setting.

I really like to visit small cities though I like to live in big ones. It's funny that way. When I'm living somewhere, I want to be where it's convenient and there's easy access to everything you need, sort of like LA. When I'm visiting though, it feels a lot more cozy and romantic being in a small town where locals are more genuine and the prices are generally lower.

One of the biggest things that draws me about small old towns are the cobblestone roads. They just look very pretty and old school and walking on them feels very nice and romantic. I think that they add a lot to the views on the streets when you look down them from one end to the other. I took many pictures of city streets with narrow alleys on this trip that I will hopefully be able to compare later. I even took some in Egypt and China, and even Thailand.

Tarifa, Spain

Yan and I spent the last couple days rounding around Malaga, Granada, and Sevilla. Today, we're on our way to Tarifa and in a couple hours from now we'll hopefully be on our way by ferry to Morocco. So I'll be entering Africa for the 2nd time!

The ferry will take us to Tangier, and from there we'll take the train to Fez. We are planning to spend a night in Fez and then tomorrow we will head to Marrakech. That city is our final destination and from there we have a flight booked on the 1st back to Barc.

My flight from Barc to Buenos Aires is on the 2nd at around 5pm.

We've had fun running through southern Spain although it's been pretty fast. We've seen quite a few tapas bars and seen some excellent Spanish architecture.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Note to self:

Never drink cups of hot water all day long before getting on a long bus ride with no bathroom and stops only every 3 hours.

Peeing in public

It's strange what you learn sometimes. I met an Irish girl named Sive that works in the hostel I stayed at in Porto. She and I had some interesting conversation over the last few days and she took me out drinking to the local cafe (which she called the center of the universe because everyone goes there before going out) every night after midnight when she finished her work hours.

After that cafe she would take me to another bar that closes later in the night (4am). The 2nd place was a dark little bar with some chairs where it seemed only locals would go. The sign on the door of the bar was about 3 inches x 2 inches large.

2 nights ago she took me and a girl named Sarah (from Kentucky) to a dance venue after we drank together in the hostel. It had 2 floors, reggae and R&B. It was another place where it would be hard to tell it was a nightspot unless you already knew about it.

Yesterday evening we were talking and she told me in most European countries it's illegal for a man to urinate in public but it's ok for a woman because of medical reasons such as the possibility of a ruptured spleen and other infections. Did you know this? I didn't.

Egyptian foreheads

When I was in Egypt I noticed a lot of men who had large plateu-like bumps on their foreheads. Some were pointier than others, some were discolored. Some were wider. At first I thought it was makeup or something at first or some kind of birth defect. Later on, I asked someone and found out the bumps are from their heads hitting the ground when they pray 5 times a day.

I was told that people who pray more usually have larger bumps so sometimes the men purposely hit the ground harder to give themselves a larger bump to give the impression that they pray more. I don't know if that part is true, it could just be a myth.

Check this out

The bus just stopped in Lisbon to pick up and drop off passengers. I stayed in my seat because I didn't need to go anywhere.

I woke up when the bus stopped so I was still in a slight daze. I was watching the new passengers get on, walking up the aisle. I thought 1 person looked familiar, it was Jo! The girl I had met in my hostel in Madrid, then had met up with in Salamanca, and then met her again in Porto.

She left Porto several days ago to visit Lisbon and I had stayed. Not only did she get on the same bus (she's headed to Seville), but she was going to sit in the seat next to mine when I called out her name after I let out a huge "WOAH!". She turned around, yelled out in glee and gave me a big hug as we both started laughing.

It was an awesome coincidence. I had no idea she was going to get on this bus. Right before I saw her, I was thinking to myself, "so this is Lisbon huh? I wonder what Jo is doing right now?"

I need food

I'm on a 16 hour bus ride heading from Porto into Malaga, Spain. I'm hungry but I was told that the bus would stop to eat dinner at a service stop. I've been hoping it was going to be soon but it's 9pm now and we're still moving.

I forgot I'm in Portugal/Spain. I guess even the busses have dinner late in the evening just like normal Spanish schedule.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


If you havenºt noticed yet, the apostrophe key is not where itºs normally at on the Portuguese keyboard, so Iºm getting the little degree symbol in itºs place and Iºm too stubborn to fix all of them, so Iºm going to leave them the way they are.

So I really enjoyed Barcelona while I was there. It was a combination of everything. I was there for NYE, I got to see a lot of interesting sights in the city, and Renee met me there, and it was fun to hang out with her for almost a week, since I hadnºt seen her in 5 months.

Barc is a major city with the shopping and the malls and the wide streets. Itºs also got the narrow alleyways and a bit of cobblestone, though not really enough to mention. Itºs very modern and very Spanish. Well, I guess you would have to say itºs more Catalonian than Spanish.

The northeast section of Spain calls itself Catalonia, which is sort of like how old school Texans feels about being part of the United States. Thatºs what I heard anyway. They know they are part of Spain officially but wouldnºt mind being their own country either because they consider themselves pretty different. Hence the different language. I learned Spanish while I was in Barc but not nearly as much as in Madrid or Salamanca.

When I first stepped into a museum in Barc, I noticed that there were 3 languages on signs that were written in multiple languages. Before I knew what was going on, I thought the first one was Spanish, then French, and then English. But after asking somebody, I found out that it was Catalonian, Spanish, and then English. I was surprised.

I enjoyed the Gaudi architecture in the city, if you remember from an older post I made. The museum of contemporary art was cool, even though there wasnºt that much art to see. I missed the Picasso museum, but that didnºt bother me that much. I will be able to see Picassoºs art in other places in Spain hopefully.

I did a LOT of walking through the city. Every chance we got, we walked instead of taking the subway. I only used the train when I was short on time or really tired from walking too much that day. I was glad that Renee had the same viewpoint on walking as I did.

The beach in the Barceloneta area was very nice. It would be a sweet place to hang out in the summer. When we were there the sand was cold and wet. We took a lot of pictures as a group and to say we saw the beach.

The water fountain light and music show was a must see for me. Since I like water and all. I would definitely go see that again if I went back.

Overall I think Barc is a great place for visitors to go see. Thereºs quite a few attractions and a lot of nightlife. The tapas was excellent (though more expensive than other ones I had, although Iºm sure there are cheaper places too that I didnºt find).

The staff of my hostels and the other travelers in met at the hostel were probably the best part of it all. I seriously never thought I would meet that many cool people at once.

I donºt know why this makes me uncomfortable

People who sing random songs at public computer terminals are weird. I got a guy doing that right now next to me and itºs making me really uncomfortable... to the point which I am going to leave this computer and come back later.


It means thank you in Portuguese. Quite different from "gracias". I expected Spanish and Portuguese to be more similar but they're not. Especially when I hear the locals talk. I can't pick up anything anyone is saying in Portuguese except for single word answers.

I don't know exactly why, but Portuguese sounds a bit like Russian or eastern European to me. It might be because they pronounce the letter s as like "zgsh".

When walking around town looking at signs though, it's a bit easier to see similarities to Spanish or English. Also, many of the citizens of Porto seem to know a little bit of English, and so I've had a fairly easy time here.

Like I said before I entered Egypt, I look like an obvious foreigner now, and so most people know to automatically speak English to me, so I don't have to walk around guessing who might speak English and asking them. The ones that are able to address me in English give me the sign with their body language that they are open to conversing or helping me out.

I've enjoyed Porto quite a bit. I stayed here longer instead of heading to Lisbon for a few days. I'll write my summary of Porto tomorrow after I leave on a bus for Malaga, Spain to meet up with my friend Yan.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I'm riding my bus to Porto still and we're in the back hills behind Viceu. Outside I see stacked layers of green hills of farming everywhere, like China or Korea but a darker green. It's raining outside today, but the weather is warmer than it was in Salamanca the last few days even though the sun is not out.

The bus is playing the Cranberries on the radio and I'm feeling pretty good. :) it's been a long time since I've heard this voice.

Just entered Portugal

Stayed in my seat with my passport as 2 men came through checking everyone's IDs and stamps. Then they checked under the bus in the luggage area and off we went! Took like 5 minutes max.

There *are* some advantages to having a European Union. Woohoo. Porto here we come.

Running around even though I'm early

I'm supposed to be catching a bus going from Madrid to Porto in 30 minutes but I can't tell where to go because the monitors don't show the gates where each of the busses depart and I don't know enough Spanish to ask if anyone knows which gate.

I asked some bus driver with "porto?", he told me to go to the other side. I went to the other side and didn't see anything obvious so I was walking around the outside of the building in the light rain and came back. Finally I asked some lady who has bags with her about Porto and she says, yes, wait here.

So I'm sitting on the bench next to her. We're the only 2 people so far. The bus isn't here yet. I was worried because the ticket says boarding closes 30 min before departure. It's now less than 30 min before departure.

I guess either she's right or we both miss the bus :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Amazing canines

Most of the dogs in Spain don't have leashes on them. It's very impressive, almost to the point of being freaky. They are so well trained that it's like being at a dog show. They just walk with their owners and hang out. They don't bark, they don't fight or growl. They don't even run at eachother when they pass by another dog.

You don't have to worry about stepping on dog crap everywhere you go. They don't piss on every fixture they can find to lift one leg on. I'm not sure how these owners do it but it would be cool if they could teach Americans how it works, especially me. :)

Sundays in España

I figured out how to get Spanish characters out on my bb so I'm taking advantage of it daily :)

So Sundays are an interesting day in Spain. There are tons of people outside walking around, just like Saturday, but most people are not shopping, because most stores are closed today. Even the big department stores, cafes, restaurants, and markets. These guys take the "day of rest" thing to the max.

I'm not completely sure, but I think they are just taking strolls, walking outside, seeing people and being social, because I don't think there's anything else to do (as far as I can tell). I'm basically just sitting on a bench in the sun blogging, hoping that somebody will walk by and enlighten or bless me. Either that or they're walking to/from church.

I wish I had the ability to do a poll. Sometimes I wish I was a reporter, so that I would have an excuse to be invasive and advertently act like a curious foreigner without getting too many stares and people thinking I'm a strange fellow.

I did find an open café this morning though and had 2 tapas with 2 coffees (one espresso and one with milk) for about $4.50. I had paella and a ham pizza. The paella was much better.

I'm an American non-American

When I have been out meeting people, some have asked me where I'm from. About half the people I meet accept the answer "USA". But the other 50% look at me and shake their head and say something in their language that comes across as, "no you're not. What are you *really*?" And then I smile and say Korean (Coreana while I'm in Spain) because I half expected it and then they nod and smile saying "ahhh" because that's the answer they were looking for. I've had to look up how to say Korean in every language I've passed through this year.

If you saw a muted video of our conversation it would seem like I told a sarcastic joke and they caught me fibbing. Hehe

Of course I totally expected this before I started this trip. It's nothing surprising. It works in my favor anyway. Most of the time I prefer to tell people that I'm Korean, because "American" sparks emotion that can be good or bad depending on the person, but Korean is pretty neutral no matter what and is just safer on an averaged basis.

Plaza Mayor

As I write this I'm sitting in Plaza Mayor in Salamanca drinking a liter of OJ I puchased at a nearby convenience store. I felt the need for juice this morning. Speaking of OJ, the Spanish clementines have been really good here. I've eaten about 4 kilos of them in the last 2 weeks.

There's another Palestinian Anti-Israeli demonstration here today. I guess they must enjoy doing them on Sundays. The last one in Madrid was on Sunday too. It's interesting to watch and read the signs and to try to understand the chants. The crowd isn't as large because this city is much smaller. If there was ever a chance for violence this would be the place though. I wonder if there any Israelis here that feel aggressive.

I don't see any anti-American signs today though. I guess they are happy that Bush has decided to stay out of the conflict. That's sort of a positive thought.

The original point of this post was to say that there are many public squares in each of the Spanish cities I've been to. Most are small and called plazas or puertas (doors) or plaças (in Barc because it Catalonian). But each city usually has a couple bigger ones such as Plaza Mayor. This Plaza Mayor has the city hall in it.

The Spanish seem to like to name different parts of each city with the same names though, just like we do in the States (like broadway, central, grand). Each city seems to have a big street named Gran Via, and a street called Ramblas.

Woah the sun just came out. The world looks completely different.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dinner isn't served until 8pm

So if you go into the Spanish restaurants here in Salamanca at 7pm, they don't have the menu available. They will only be serving desserts and pastries. Tapas is available though, because it's premade and sitting on the counter. They just heat it up for you when you pick and order.

Not only that, some places are closed during siesta hours (around 2 to 5 pm), which if you're like me and prefer to eat when you're hungry and not at set times, can be a bit annoying.

While we're on the topic of food, I might as well add that I've found Spanish food underwhelming. I had assumed that it would be more exotic (I hate using that word but it sorta fits here). I expected spicier, more flavorful, more ingredients that I wouldn't see in other Western countries. So far I've just seen a lot of potatoes (even french fries which is weird), eggs, flour, thin meat steaks (pork, chicken, beef), ham, bacon, some cuttlefish, a bit of rice, and some calamari. Salads are lettuce with a piece of tomato. Even the tapas are a bit boring.

Oh, the paellas have been good though they are usually a bit expensive for the ingredients and are not always available because they take time to prepare and isn't considered good unless it's served semi-fresh. At a tapas bar called Bambu here we were recommended not to take the paella because it was too late in the night and it wouldn't be good. The paellas have a nice spicy (not hot spicy but just flavorful) twist that I have enjoyed.

Wine and beers are plentiful, which is ok but you can get that anywhere.

The wine is the same price as the water and cheaper than the beer you can order at a bar or restaurant, so I've been taking a lot of red wine when I eat out.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Chicken breast, french fries, tuna salad, green chili, white rice with tomato sauce. A piece of bread on the side.

I wish I knew of a Mexican food restaurant in Salamanca. I expected there to be more in Spain. They're very tough to find. I am yearning for something spicy lately. I haven't had spicy food since China (Hong Kong) in December.

We got served tabasco sauce with our tapas last night but I forgot to take advantage of it because our conversation was so serious.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Important stars

Not sure if it's required or not by law, but most hotels in this country (if not all) have signs posted under their names that show how many stars the hotel is rated with. The one in this picture happens to be 4 stars. I didn't stay here, just took the picture.


Renee has told me that H&M is actually a Swedish company, not Spanish. Woops! I should have remembered this because a Swedish guy in Barcelona told me that it was Swedish. I think I got the 2 confused, because, you know, Spanish and Swedish are like the same thing. haha

Zara is still Spanish though.

H&M is Spanish

That's what I heard. I never knew that.

Also I think Zara is Spanish too. I didn't hear that but there's like 4 Zara stores everywhere I go so I'm going to assume it.

I bought a t shirt, a pair of boxers, and a button long sleeve shirt today for $25 on sale. The t shirts I brought from home are starting to deteriorate after being worn so much and washed in 40 different ways by 40 different people, so I'm going to have to start throwing them away and replacing them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Direct from Salamanca

Of all the things I could be doing right now (eating, drinking, pickpocketing tourists) I am watching the Simpsons in Spanish.

They've picked dubbed voices for the characters that sound similar to the originals but not right on, so some of the characters sound a little odd to me, especially Homer. He sounds like a Mexican gardener that I used to talk to when I was a kid. His voice is too high pitched, too enthusiastic and not nasaly and pathetic enough to be Homer.

I checked into a private room tonight (aka hotel) because the hostels here have low ratings on cleanliness and I don't feel like risking itching all night for 15 euros less.

My bed is totally awesome. I already lied down on it and could feel a good night's sleep coming on. :) The sheets feel soooo nice. I also took an hour long hot shower just now. I feel so clean I could lick my own feet. I think I will. J/k

I ruined somebody else's life too :)

There was a girl named Donna that I met in Sydney that emailed me a month ago or so and told me that she had big news. She told me she had recently quit her job and was planning to travel around the world. She told me that I had somewhat inspired her. Is that scary or what? I inspired someone? Wow.

I checked her on facebook yesterday. It looks like she's currently traveling through the states. It was pretty cool to see. I'm happy for her and I hope she has the trip of a lifetime.


Jo and I took a walk through a part of the city 2 days ago. It was a nice comfortable walk. Lots of trees, plenty of parks, nice roads, and cute shops and buildings. It's a nice city.

Not much to do for tourists in terms of interesting things to see. I think living in Madrid would be comfortable and convenient. It's a full out city just like NYC but much smaller and less metro-ish of course. Plenty of things to do in the evening and restaurants are everywhere.

There are a couple of art museums that are famous in the city. I only visited 1, Prado. It had quite a bit of old Italian paintings in it, as well as a Roman sculpture exhibition. I really enjoyed the paintings by Goya. I've decided that I don't get bored by all old paintings anymore. I am really starting to enjoy the ones that have incedible detail in them. It's amazes me what painters can do with a brush. They provide detail like you would see in an ink pen drawing.

I used to find almost all old paintings boring. Maybe I'm maturing as I get older? Probably not. :)

The old paintings are not as entertaining as contemporary art, but they certainly make most contemporary art look really cheap. You can tell just by looking at these paintings that it took the painter a year or 2 to draw it. Most contemporary art looks like an emotional outburst of 3-5 minutes. Haha that's my opinion anyway.

I had a good time in Madrid for the last 5 days but it wasn't like Barcelona. In Barc I felt like something kept pulling me outside, but in Madrid not so much so. I know it has a lot to do with the hostel I'm in, the weather, and the people I'm nearby, so I can't say it's entirely because of the city itself.

I'd visit again sometime if I was nearby and especially if I had a friend there. It's one of those places where if you know a local it would be a lot more interesting.


I've noticed Spain likes to use those take-a-number-and-wait systems for queuing, which is great. It's the proven method for keeping everybody served as quickly as possible on average.

I think I remember using this kind of stuff in the states, but I don't remember where. I've been fighting for a place in line through Egypt and China and so I've forgotten everything.

I just used one this morning to get a train ticket. I'm headed to Salamanca today. I just read that it's a college town in my Lonelyplanet that I "borrowed" from the Mambo Tango hostel in Madrid. A girl from my hostel in Madrid who came from Alaska (Jo) told me it's supposed to be the prettiest city in Spain, so we'll see if she's right.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


That's the code to the men's toilet at Starbucks on Gran Via St at Plaza De Espana. It's written at the bottom of the receipt if you purchase something at the register to prevent people from only coming in to use the bathroom.

This picture is the view from the Starbucks 2nd floor window. On the right side is the largest car ad I´ve ever seen.

Anti-Israel Demonstration

In the center of Madrid, Puerta Del Sol, 2 blocks from my hostel.

The sign stands for itself. PAZ means peace in Spanish.

Normally I like a little funny business but that day I didn´t try anything. There was quite the mob of people marching through the square and they didn´t look like they were looking forward to any of my jokes. We just walked through them trying to get to our Paella restaurant for 5.5 euros :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I saw a Lionfish!

Catching up on older news:

That's right I did! It was while I was diving at a spot called Bells in Dahab.

Here's a pic of a lionfish if you´ve never seen one before:

This place had a huge reef wall next to the shore that went so deep I couldn't see where the bottom was even from 30m. I had been talking to the divemaster leading our dives that day at lunchtime and I had told him I´d never seen a lionfish before, so during the dive he happened to see one and he pointed it out to me.

Bells was the 2nd dive spot of the day. It was world class. The reef wall had a LOT to see, more than I had expected from a dive where you jump in off shore without even using a boat. Oh yeah, when you first dive in, there´s a 25m deep tunnel crevice that you swim down through head first. That was amazing. I felt like I was in the middle of a Jacques Cousteau movie!

I would recommend any experienced divers to dive that spot if they found themselves in the Sinai peninsula. The dive ends at a spot called Blue Hole, which is a 110m circular hole in the ground right on the shore. It´s hard to understand how that one formed.

The first dive spot of the day, The Canyon, was pretty cool too but not nearly as mention worthy as Bells. It had a little canyon crevice area where you drop down and then swim out, but it didn´t seem as scary as it sounds, and there wasn´t too much to see down in the canyon itself, so it was just a drop down to see the ground features and then a pop out.

Mambo Tango

When I first got to Barcelona I stayed in a hostel called Mambo Tango. I remember thinking the name was unique when I booked it and when I got there it was exactly what I expected. The whole interior of the hostel was decorated differently from most hostels I´ve ever been in.

You know those coffee shops that you walk into that have multi-colored pillows, drawings on the walls, pictures hanging in non-singlecolor frames and posters decorated in different places? The furniture doesn´t have sharp edges, looks more handmade, and doesn´t look like IKEA shopping was done? That´s the impression that I got from this hostel. The difference with this one and other artsy hostels was that this one looked clean and well kept. That was nice.

And since it was 3 days before New Years day, there was a bustle of people moving around inside trying to figure out things to do and places to see before NYE, because most people were checking out and leaving Barcelona on the 2nd.

Even though it felt very busy inside, after I checked in, the girl that owns the hostel (Marina) offered to describe for me places to see in Barcelona. I agreed, she pulled out a huge foldup paper map of the city and began to tell me what to see and what not to see (in her opinion) for the next 30 minutes. Seriously I felt like I sort of knew the city already and I hadn´t even done anything yet. She told me the prices of some of the exhibitions and also what to see when it´s sunny outside etc. She turned out to be a super cool host.

That evening I met a cool guy name Rohit from Texas and we went out to get Tapas. I paid a lot for that dinner ($35) but it was worth it for one of my few Tapas experiences that I will probably get to enjoy in Spain itself. The restaurant was called Irati, and it was recommended to us by Marina. It was near La Rambla and was really fun when we got there. The crowd was heavy and all standing around chatting and drinking while enjoying their food. They serve plates of bites using toothpicks. Basically you walk around as long as you want picking up toothpicks and eating, and then you pay at the end based on how many toothpicks you ate. All based on the honor system. They even took my empty beer glasses away when we were done drinking them and then asked me during bill time how many I drank. A concept which works as long as everyone stays pretty sober :)

At the Tapas place we met a cool girl named Olga from Australia that we walked through the city with the next day as well. She is one of the biggest camera hams I´ve ever met. More than most asians, even. She would actually choreagraph scenes for herself to be in and then ask you to take the picture for her. haha

She was cool. I´m just teasing her here.

When we got back to the hostel in the evening, the hostel was going to show the movie ¨The Motorcycle Diaries¨, which is a movie about Che Guevara, the man who led the socialist revolution in Cuba. I watched it, and during that movie I found out what Mambo Tango meant.

The movie itself was great. It´s about 2 guys traveling on the road through South America, with no goal but to reach a certain location and see what they find along the way. It´s a perfect movie to show at a hostel where people are all traveling somewhere. It made me re-think about what I´ve been doing the last 7 months.

I think the most special part about the whole day for me was that I had talked about the Motorcycle Diaries with Mario in Egypt about 2 days before. He had recommended that I read the book. I had written it down in my bb and we had parted ways. And then I find out that the hostel that I had booked for NYE for the last month was based on the same book that we had discussed. And then I saw the movie that night.

That was really remarkable.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Antoni Gaudi and his architecture is part of the fame of Barcelona. There are multiple buildings spread throughout the city that were designed by him.

Probably the most famous one is La Sagrada Familia, or the Sacred Family in English. It's a massive church that hasn't been completed even yet. It was the last thing Gaudi was working on when he died from a tram accident.

His architecture style was a bit surrealistic. He claimed he modeled everything after nature, so he disliked straight lines. Curves and twists are everywhere in his designs. From my point of view, I'd just guess he was probably doing shrooms or acid. That's a joke of course. If you look at his buildings you can tell there were some calculations done to make sure they stood up.

His style was groundbreaking for the period that he lived in. He helped to bring in the modern era of art.

At Sagrada we just walked around it to see the different sides, and then went inside, took a look inside and then declined to pay more to go up one of the elevators. In the basement there was a decent museum which we enjoyed walking through.

Park Guell was an area where Gaudi was planning to build a small city, but ran out of funding. The buildings there look like something out of a fantasy movie, although there aren't that many of them. The view at the top of the park is nice.

In La Pedrera, there was an attic area with arches that you could walk over on the roof side. The roof scene was totally funky. We took lots of pictures from up there as well. The attic area held a lot of information about how Gaudi created his sketches. He would model his catenary arches by hanging chains upside down and then viewing them in a mirror to see them right side up. That way he could see how to perfectly counter gravity.

I just gandered at the outside of Casa Batllo because it looked pretty but I did not want to pay the $25 admission to go in and look inside another Gaudi building.

If you look up close at his works, you can tell he was a genius, although a kooky one. The detail that he's applied to each of his works is amazing. Everytime I turned around and looked back, I discovered something new in the scene that I hadn't seen before.

I think it was his genius that amazed his fans, but it was his kookiness that made him really popular.

Stuck in a storm

The Spanish highway officials won't let large vehicles through outside the Madrid metro area so I'm stuck in this bus and we've been sitting in one place for nearly 5 hours. I've now been in this bus for 12 hours. It's still snowing pretty good even though the thermometer says it's only 0 degrees C outside.

"I really like the fog stuff"

There's a big fountain in Barcelona in front of the National Museum of Catalunya that rages with a color and light show every Friday and Saturday night from 7pm to 9pm.

It was like the Bellagio hotel fountain show but a little smaller, rounder, more lights, more color, and with more spectators. Another cool thing was that they lit up spotlights behind the museum building as well so the pictures in that direction came out amazing.

Renee and I made it out there upon recommendation of our hostel and when I asked her if she was enjoying the show, she nodded and smiled like a little girl and said "I really like the fog stuff."

What she was referring to was during part of the show, instead of shooting the water high into the air, the fountains would spray a strong mist that filled the air and looked like a very thick smoke. The smoky misty water was better at capturing and reflecting the light from the lamps, so it certainly looked more colorful and vibrant.

The show indeed was really nice. And as always I enjoyed being there with hundreds of people watching it together and wondering how other people had found themselves there with me that night.

European license plates

I think they are cool looking. Much more attractively masculine than our license plates.

I guess the ones we use look more "american" though, which for me equates with flashy and colorful and easygoing.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Years Eve

I woke up that morning with plans to walk around the city with a girl named Kristen from Oregon that I had met the night before in the hostel. She and I really got along great right from the start. She's convinced we think similarly but I'm still not sure if it's just that she is so easygoing that it's tough for anyone to not like being around her.

Before we headed out we found Krista, a girl from Australia lurking around in the hostel and somehow convinced her that she would have a fun time checking out Park Guell with us. So the 3 of us headed out.

Park Guell is a free public park which has works of Antoni Gaudi, a famous architect from the 19th and 20th centuries. I'll tell you more about him later but at this park we found architecture that reminded me of the movie Alice in Wonderland.

We took quite a few pictures that day that I will attempt to share later.

I had to leave them at 2pm because I needed to buy tickets to the nightclub that night and to get to my haircut. The girls moved forward to visit Sagrada Familia, a church that was worked on by Gaudi as well. I had already seen part of it the day before and I was planning on seeing it again when Renee came to visit so I didn't worry about it at all.

I did some socializing with people in the hostel after my haircut. I escorted Krista and a guy named Eugene (that I had just met) to the music store so that she could purchase her ticket (she changed her mind :) ). I took a 2 hour nap after that so that I could last the night. Rohit, a guy from Texas that was like my long lost cousin, Eugene, and I went to a Punjabi fast food place nearby to pick up a quick bite, beef durums. Basically kebab sandwiches with another name but wrapped like burritos. They were excellent.

Soon after that it was time for all of us in the hostel to go downstairs and start drinking together. I had opened a bottle of wine myself. We hung out as a group of 20+ people until right before midnight when the hostel owner Marina brought out bottles of champagne and we passed it around to everyone. She brought out canned grapes with 12 in each pack and then at 12 seconds before midnight we started swallowing one per second for good luck during the new year, timing each one with the countdown on tv.

One grape for each month. That's the Spanish belief. I would have preferred throwing them at people but it would have made too much mess indoors.

After that of course the champagne toast, and just tons of pictures and more socializing. Around 1am we started forming the group that was planning to go clubbing and by around 2am we were finally out the door. The subway was going to be running all night so we used it to get there.

Clubbing went on until 6am when the club was closing. I was walking around the 5 floors of Razzmatazz getting lost a couple of times and recognizing people a couple of times. I had let a couple of girls, Jenna and Sam from Missouri, check in my jacket when we got in, but then didn't see them with Eugene until the very end of the night. I had already given up on getting my jacket back because I couldn't find them all evening, so that was a good thing.

I got home at 7am. I drank water quietly until 8am when Marina offered me breakfast early with Eugene. After having breakfast with Jenna and a guy I'd never met before that liked to debate with Jenna, I went to bed and ended my night at 9:30am.

Jenna had gone up to bed when she came into the hostel but ran down to the kitchen about 30 minutes later claiming that she was extremely hungry and needed breakfast. That scene was good for a serious laugh.

3 hours later I woke up and went out to the beach in the Barceloneta area with the same people.

Bus drivers have balls

It's snowing right now on the way to Madrid. Pretty good too. There's 2 inches on the ground but the driver is keeping a 70 km/h pace straight through the snow. I'm impressed and slightly scared. I took a short video clip to share later.


On one of the days that Renee was in Barc with me, we took the subway to the bottom of the hill at the edge of the city, and from there walked up to the top of the hill where there sat a church with an amazing view. The church is called Tibidabo and it is viewable from the water. It's one of those buildings that stick out majestically at the top of the hill and draws you to it when you have a chance to get up there.

The inside was very clean, quiet, and nice. We had chosen a weekday with less than par weather to go in and so there were very few people there. One of the trams that take you there wasn't even functioning that day, because it was the Three Kings holiday.

When we were inside, it felt amazingly majestic and wonderful to me, the way I had always expected a church to feel but hadn't. I think I liked this one because it was so clean and there were no people inside the 2nd floor other than Renee and me. It felt so different than other churches I'd been in in the past.

The church had multiple stained glass windows like any other church, but this one had a sign and markings showing how some of its windows had been sponsored by other spanish speaking countries.

Clouds rolled through and eventually it started hailing before we started walking back down. While we were walking, hail turned to rain and that's when we got soaking wet. That's how the gross foot story came to be.

The view from the church would have been amazing had the clouds and fog not been covering the sky. It still felt magical though.

Amazing disappearing demon

In Barcelona, there's a main street called La Rambla which is considered the main public tourist area. The shops there close late and are expensive just like you'd expect a good tourist trap to be.

The other thing that this street has are people with specific talents putting on shows for donations. There are the normal musicians, gymnasts doing flips, people standing still in costumes (like statues) and people dancing like Michael Jackson. It's like good old 3rd street Santa Monica in some ways.

But another type of performance that La Rambla has are people sitting still in very large costumes that incorporate some sort of gadgets or other play articles like wheels and furniture. They have a coin purse on the ground in front and when you put money in the purse, the person performs some kind of physical motion using her/his props to provide some sort of incentive to keep donating money. Most of these acts have some eccentric costumes.

Well during one of the first days I was in Barcelona, I was walking through La Rambla in the evening and I noticed some people donating money into a purse but the performer was not moving. After waiting and wondering for 5 seconds, I could tell people were wondering why nothing was happening there.

At that point, my eye caught something to the right side. I looked and noticed that there was a man wearing a demon mask on his face and he was chatting on the public pay phone. On his body he was dressed like any other person. That's when I realized that this ground setup was actually that guys! He had left it temporarily to make a phone call.

I pointed at him and started chuckling. The people around me started laughing too. They had been donating money to someone who wasn't there but it was even funnier to know that demons need to use public pay phones too. I wish I could have taken a picture good enough to capture the moment but I knew I couldn't, so I didn't even try.

Perspective: everyone needs some

You know what the funniest thing about this awesome bus ride I'm on is? Earlier today someone (another traveler) told me to prepare myself for a bad bus ride. I did prepare myself a little.

This bus ride is like heaven compared to the one I was on in Egypt. But this kind of thing has already happened multiple times on this trip. People telling me something was good or bad but when it came down for me to experience the same thing, I realized that the other person's account of the experience was skewed due to lack of experience.

So now I don't take other people's opinions very heavily. I have to find out for myself. Someone told me back in NZ that the Tongariro Crossing hike was super tough. It wasn't. Someone told me that seeing the pyramids was amazing, it wasn't *that* amazing. Someone told me the Nile cruise would be truly memorable. I met cool people on that cruise but the cruise itself was just mediocre. Same thing with the hot air balloon ride.

I probably do the same thing and don't realize it. There are probably lots of people out there with even more perspective than I have, but it's not common.

For example, if someone tells me not to pay to go into a museum I think about why they said that and whether I think their opinion has any validity. If I have the chance to do so I ask them why and ask them about other places they've been to to see if they have an idea of what they are talking about. I just can't take anyone's word for it anymore.

All bus rides wish they could be this bus ride

You know those screens on the airplane where it shows you flight information and also a map of your journey so that you can tell if you were headed to your destination on time? This Spanish *bus* has one!

The ride is very very quiet. There's an external temperature gauge. It reads 0 degrees Celsius. The seat is comfortable and the bus is clean. The people around me are quiet because it's a night bus. Seriously, right now it's kind of creepy because I can't hear a single person talking and it's only 30 min past midnight.

The roads are nicely paved and reflectors are well placed on the sides of the road. It feels like I'm on the 5 freeway between LA and the bay area. The only obvious giveaway that I'm in Spain are the signs.

There's a nice Korean girl on break from Sweden sitting next to me, so I don't have to worry about weird smells or someone hitting me every so often or boxing me out of the seat.

It just feels like the way bus rides should be. I never finished the post about the bus ride I had in Egypt, so I will finish and post that later.

Last day in Barc

I met a duo of cool guys from Sweden today at lunchtime because I was sitting on the computer in my hostel trying to upgrade the software on my phone. (I was trying to reinstall Korean so that I could read emails from my dad)

The hostel owner lady invited me over to join her for lunch (salami and cheese sandwich with some canned tuna) because there are very few guests at the hostel these days and she wanted to make it more fun for us. These swedish guys were sitting next to her so I started talking with them.

I had been feeling a bit alone since Renee left yesterday so it was exciting to meet new people. Not that I had fun with Renee or anything of the sort, she was just sucking up so much of my time that I wasn't able to meet anyone else while she was around. :)

One of the guys was feeling sick so after lunch I went out with the other one to get my tax refund form completed by the department store that I had purchased my camera at yesterday. I couldn't get it done yesterday because I didn't have my passport on me. I went back with my passport today. They make you do that to prove that you're a foreigner. I thought I was going to get 20 euros back, but it ended up being only 14.5 because they charged me 6 for going through the process. (That annoyed me)

We then walked outside to the big square in the middle of downtown, called Placa Catalunya or the Triangle. I say "big" but it's only relative. After seeing Tiananmen Square no other regular square can be considered "big" anymore. That's where we found 2 guys feeding a frenzy of pigeons and I had this picture taken.

I love being around birds and taking pictures with birds. I even love chasing them. I never thought about why before, but I think it's because they symbolize freedom to me. They go up down left right wherever they please. They are not bound by gravity. It makes me feel good just to think about it.

I am now Madrid bound. I just boarded my night bus for $43 and will arrive in the morning. I've heard that Madrid is just like any other big city and not very Spanish so I don't have high hopes of liking it there but I will see in a couple of hours.

Crappy keyboards

While I´ve been traveling I´ve had to use a lot of different keyboards. I´ve probably touched about 100 of them this year alone. I hated the ones in Japan, if you remember. I found out the ones in England are even slightly different than American keyboards when I was in the British Airways lounge. Did you know that?

Today I´m having type on a keyboard that has 2 keys that stick a bit. I never realized I used the letters "z" and "l" so much (I just had to use the z key twice again to write this sentence).

Having a less than 100% keyboard has been a mildly common thing for me, which I took for granted. It´s like being healthy. You don´t realize you´re healthy or if your keyboard is good and how good that feels or how easy that is until one day you get on a computer and the keyboard has a couple keys that are crap, and so you have to watch how you type the whole time instead of just relying on your typing skills and assuming what is showing up on the screen is what you were planning to write.

But I´ll probably never learn as well. I´ll sit on the computer at my next hostel and the keyboard will be working fine and I won´t even notice. haha You could continue the health analogy and assume that most people hate it when they´re sick but they know they´ll be healthy again someday so it doesn´t stick in the mind as something to appreciate.

It´s quite a bit more stressful to have to watch the spelling of every single word you type. :(

Three Kings Parade

Here in Barcelona, on Jan 5th, the "three Kings" (or three wise men of the new testament) arrive by boat on the downtown marina shore. It's called Cavalcades dels Reis Mags and in English it means Three Kings Day.

Apparently Jan 6th is a bigger holiday in Barcelona than Christmas. Tons of people ride the metro into the city to greet the kings and then watch them parade to their destination. Everything was closed that day, even the bar we wanted to see that evening.

Renee found out about it online before she came to visit so we headed down to the marina area to see the event. We had apparently gotten there early because there there were few people when we showed up but when we tried to get into the subway station to go, the entire area was jammed with people arriving for the start of the parade.

We had heard there were going to be fireworks. We were standing/sitting there in the freezing wind for an hour waiting for it but it never happened.

At some point a sailboat arrived from somewhere and 3 gentlemen disembarked dressed in fancy clothing. The whole festival was in Spanish and we were away from the speakers so we didn't really get to understand much of what was going on. There was quite a bit of dancing and singing though.

On Jan 6th, the actual holiday, the children get gifts, and so when we tried to go shopping for my camera on the night of the 5th, it was madhouse inside the store.

We should have probably waited around for the parade to start but I had forgotten my gloves and hat and so I was starting to freeze up. I would have had to run laps to stay warm, and that just wasn't on the agenda.

I also didn't have a camera. I could feel myself getting annoyed everytime I wanted to take a picture but couldn't :)

Green men

While I´ve been in Barcelona, the stark contrast to Egypt and China of walking on crosswalks and cars stopping for me has really been noticeable. I´m sure you could tell from the posts I´ve made already about it, such as this one.

What do you see when you get to a crosswalk though? And with my impatient post-Egyptian spirit all I see is a red figure of a stick man across the street telling me I can´t cross. And when the red man disappears and the green man shows up with his open stride, it´s time to make progress, or let my life move forward, to put it in more selfish perspective.

So as I´ve been wandering the streets of Barcelona, as there have been a lot of streets and a lot of crosswalks, I´ve taken the habit of finding the green men that are available to me and taking advantage of them as often as possible. Green men have become a sign of goodness and have brought me immediate elation, as it meant that I didn´t have to wait for traffic to pass and my progress would not be stunted the least bit.

We´ve noticed while touring about a 10 square km area around the middle of the city that depending on which area you go to, the green men look different. Some of them are taller, some shorter, some stockier, some more athletic looking (wide shoulders and small hips). Some look like bodybuilders, and others just look happier too. I think there were 4 different ones in all that we came across.

Bought a new camera

It's a Canon IXUS 80 IS which is the same as the Canon SD1100 in the states. It cost me $204 because it was on sale at a big department store called El Corte Ingles.

But I will get 19% back as a refund on the EU tax when I leave the EU, so I will get $39 back. That makes the camera $165 for me. I bought the same camera for my dad online 1 month ago for $150, so I think the price works itself out ok, considering I had to buy it in a store with Euros.

Since I got the same type of camera as before, I now have 2 extra batteries and an extra charger (Renee's idea). All my memory cards still work too.

I'm going to buy a case for this one again soon. Hopefully I won't lose it this time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dow Jones bar

Renee and I found out there was a bar called Dow Jones in Barcelona where the price of the drinks fluctuated, and because we're both engineers (though she's nerdier than me, haha), we *had* to go check it out.

Sure enough, they had multiple LCD flatpanel screens hanging up above the bar displaying the prices of about 50 most commonly ordered drinks at the bar. The screens were up in place in a similar motif that you'd probably find in the securities floor in NYC on Wall St.

The way it worked was with each number of drinks ordered, the prices would fluctuate up or down. If a couple people just ordered your drink, the price went up some and those drinks that hadn't been ordered in a while dropped in price just a little bit.

They also added a nice touch with a set of wooden boards on the wall that held the highest and lowest prices in the bar's history for each of the drinks, so that you can do some head math to see what was probably a good deal and what probably wasn't. (I thought I took a picture of these boards but it looks like I didn't)

I don't know what exact formula for calculation the bar was using, but in general the prices were not cheap and I'd even say they were somewhat expensive. Nevertheless it seemed like the type of place that would fill up in the late evening because the concept was fun and the name was catchy.

It would be a fun place to bring 100 friends and try a couple of social experiments too. I'd do that but unfortunately I only have 99 friends in Barcelona. :)

I just ate a pistachio shell

I thought I was supposed to because I bought this little bag of bbq flavored mixed nuts (including corn nuts) and the pistachios were in it and they were unpeeled.

And since I'm in another country I thought, "hey maybe you just eat them in Spain?" The answer is a heavy "no." It was extremely crunchy and hard the whole way down, just like in the states. I would have spit it out if I wasn't sitting on a train.

Common sense told me "don't do it" but I tried it anyway. It's just another example of subconsciously becoming open minded when you're traveling in a foreign country.

Movistar = phone company?

Yep Movistar is the name of the GSM mobile company in Spain that I have been using the most so far.

If I was them, I would have preferred to name myself something like Rockstar, or Badass, or ThePhoneCompany, or maybe even TomKat, because I enjoy overused cliches.

Edit: I just did some research and found out that "movil" means mobile in Spanish, so now it's been proven that I was being stupid because I was wrong but didn't realize it. Awesome.

Gross foot story

There's been this section on the back end of my right heel that has been sorta covered with dead skin for a while due to excessive walking on it and repeated wetting and drying, such as walking the rain, crossing rivers, showering, swimming, snorkeling, and diving.

That part isn't as gross as it sounds. It's just dead outer skin. But I did notice starting about a month ago that there was a dark area underneath the skin that looked odd, like I had gotten a tattoo or I had had internal bleeding. I assumed it was internal bleeding and forgot about it assuming it would fix itself eventually.

Well yesterday Renee and I had to walk around in cold rain dropping on us for about an hour on the way down from Tibidabo. (Tibidabo is a big church on the highest hill in Barcelona) We were pretty much soaked. My shoes are still wet today even though I've been walking all over Figueres with them on.

So after walking around in wet shoes for half a day, I took them off and examined my feet to check for major issues and noticed that the back part of my heel had gotten very soft, so I scratched it a bit to see how soft the skin was (to make sure it was ok), and a chunk of dead skin fell off the back, and along with it, the dark spot on my heel!

I was like "woah!" I picked up the dark part that fell off to take a look at it. Guess what it was? A large piece of lint off my socks. It must have formed from rubbing against my socks a long long time ago when I had cracking there from dryness and I didn't realize it. I had lint in my foot for months! Yummmy! Gross?

Awesome story I know. :) sorry no autographs today.

P.s. I should have taken a commemorative picture but I forgot to :(

What's more strange?

Me, or the Dali figurine with peacock feathers behind it?

Dali = Complete nut

He was 3 bread baskets short of a loaf as a surrealist painter.

I've never seen someone more obsessed with things standing on naked women, body mutilation, and dead animals.

Some of his stuff is tough to stomach, like drawings of rats crawling through holes in a woman's torso and a horse on top of a body of a mutilated women being pulled in weird directions, and other stuff was just really cool: a drawing of his wife in the center of a blurred block frame that if you step back from looks like Abraham Lincoln. He also arranged furniture from a room to make it look like a woman's face.

At one point I approached a firehose in the wall because I thought it was one of his artworks. It took me about 5 seconds of close examination to realize it was just the firehose.

Even the museum building is a work of his art as he created it himself in the 70s. It's called Teatro Museu Dali.

Dali called the painting above "Happy Horse." How happy does that horse look to you? Haha

Was it worth the $25 train ride (return trip) and the $16 admission? Sort of. If you don't use that much money a day you can't do anything in Barcelona.

Day tripping

I'm taking a regional train today to Figueres up north a bit from Barcelona to check out the Salvador Dali museum.

I'm so ignorant all I know is that he's some famous guy who was wacky. One good thing about being stupid like me is that I'll get to learn a lot today. :)

There's snow on the ground ouside. I haven't seen that since New Zealand so this is pretty cool.

Speaking of snow, have you seen the movie Transsiberian yet? Ungh that movie was disturbing.

This is a webpage that provides a free service currently. It used to be called before it was renamed.

What it does is allow my blackberry to constantly update the website with my phone's location at an interval rate that I specify so that someone who is wanting to know where my phone is/was at a given time can look it up and find out. The map backbone for this service is google maps.

Ever since it changed over to (I'm going to assume they did it to gain more support), they've had an uptime or Mean time between failures (mtbf) equivalent to an 250kg person standing up, aka almost never.

I'm not sure why they need to keep it down for so long to improve their services. It's almost like they don't have enough money for the bandwidth or they don't know how to set up a server that doesn't crash repeatedly.

I signed up for this just in case I go missing or something, my parents can find out where my phone is. Whether I'll be with my phone or not is a different story. Do you want the login information so that you can see where I am at all times? You can't have it, stalker.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cool people come to Barcelona

Some of the cool cats I hung out with on NYE standing in front of our fun hostel on Jan 2nd.

From left to right: Kristen from Oregon, Ana from Argentina, Sam from Missouri.

Camera is dead

This also had a good percentage chance of happening this year (along with the broken glasses). It sucks that it happened in Spain of all places, so I'm going to have to pay plenty of Euros to get another one in Barcelona.

I was taking a video of Renee and I laughing our butts off on a seesaw in a random park in Barcelona when all of a sudden the lens wouldn't close when I turned the camera off and that was that. It won't turn on without error ever since.

Oh yeah I got my glasses fixed for free on New Years Eve as well. That was sweet.

Cut my hair

I found an English speaking barbershop following a recommendation of my hostel. It was about a 5 minute walk away. The guy who cut my hair was actually from South Africa.

I got it cut on New Years Eve but here's a picture of me from today, though unstyled. They basically did it exactly the way I like it, after a 5 minute discussion on what I was looking for.

The good look is priceless, well worth the $23 I paid for it. I will make sure I get my hair cut there one more time at the end of the month before I head to Argentina.