Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A more brief review of our 3rd and 4th days in Paris. Sunday (3rd) began with a trip to the Rodin museum and gardens. Like Monet, I had known that Rodin was famous, but never studied him or gained any kind of appreciation for him. Well I certainly appreciate him now. His gardens were extensive, containing the statues of the Thinker, and many other less famous works that are just as amazing. His gardens consisted almost exculsively of his bronze casting work, which is often more rough and tragic than his marble work. The inside of the museum has the marble, with pieces like "The Hand of God", "The Kiss," and others.

After Rodin we went to Montmarte and saw many flights of stairs, and the huge new cathedral from the late 1800s at the top of Montmarte. It was gorgeous, huge stained glass, very open space (kinda like our catalan gothic Santa Maria church outside our apartment), with very clean brick work. We wandered around montmarte, got crepes in a small cafe, mulled wine at this cute christmas wine outdoors thing, and saw great views of the city.

Monday, our last day, was spent primarily at Notre Dame and Sant Chapelle. Notre Dame was about as incredible as expected, especially the Rose windows, which were just enormous. Also, it was nice to get away from all of the gold plated alter work in other churches and see more stained glass.

Sant Chapelle was something of a mystery to me. My mother sent me an email which I got the morning of Monday that said "Go to Sant Chapelle. When you go inside it'll be dingy and the floor dirty and you'll wonder why I sent you here. Then you go upstairs and you'll understand." Intriguing description, don't you think? Well, sure enough, the first floor is dingy and dirty and I wondered what I was doing there. Then I went upstairs and sure enough, I understood. The upstairs is the chappel and it is a huge room that consists of 30 foot stained glass windows that make up ALL the walls. It is breathtaking.

Then we went to the Maret to do some shopping, met Rebecca for lunch, and then got ready to leave. I'll write the story about the trip to the Ryanair Paris airport another time.

Now pictures.
Rebecca and the Eiffel Tower

This is the Arc de Triomf (spelled somehow), as seen from the courtyard of the Louvre. The whole tim we were in Paris the skies were this dramatic, it was quite impressive.

In the Louvre this is the Winged Victory of Samonthrace, a spectacular statue from an ancient Greek temple.
Rodin Garden, you can see the tragic expressions, the incredible gestures, the musculature that is so unusual and overemphasized.


A happy Margrit.

A constrast between the controversial glass pyramids in the Louvre courtyard and the more traditional facade of the old Palace.

Notre Dame.

Hehe. The Mona Lisa as snapped from my hip.


This is the grand gallery in the Louvre, you can see the parquet floor and the walls lined with all the paintings you have lodged somewhere in your subconcious from constant exposure over the years.

More Arc de Triomf, this time with company.

I liked this shot.

Talia crouching down on a really cool miniature representation of Paris in the Musee d'Orsay.

One of the Rose Window in Notre Dame.

Sant Chapelle. Hardly does it justice.

Eiffel from a Distance. I know, there are lots of shots of it, but then again, it is rather huge and important.

So there are pictures. More to come as I get time to post them. Today is crazy hectic because, well, tomorrow Talia, Carla, and I leave for Italy. We had two days home between Paris and Italy. We're going to Pisa first, which is near Florence, so we'll spend two days there, then to Rome, then to Naples (pompeii, paestum, etc.) Should prove to be fun, we hope. :) Wish us luck. I may not be able to post the whole time, unless we take some time to visit an internet cafe, which may or may not happen.

Cheers to all,

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Paris days 1 and 2

Rebecca happens to have internet here at her apartment in Paris, so I thought I'd take some time to relate our experiences so far.

For one, breathtaking. For another, cold.

Our plane took off at 7:55am from the Barcelona airport, which required getting to the airport by about 6:15-6:30, which required getting up at about 5:15am. This would be made less gruesome if the Spanish time schedule wasn't so slanted to the late. Thursday night our program had taken all of us students out to a wonderful thanksgiving dinner. It was really sweet of them, because they obviously don't celebrate thanksgiving in Barcelona, and the resteraunt served us turkey with mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, apple torte (not pumpkin pie, but still delicious). We also got free wine and bread etc. etc. It was really delicious and a good time.

However, the spanish didn't start until at least 10:15pm, so by the time we had our fill it was around 12:15. We got home and into bed by 2:30ish (I still had to do some packing and call the rents etc.). Then of course I was still jet lagged from getting back to Spain on Monday, so I slept little. Thankfully the jetlag is JUST going away.

But we got up and to the airport and things went surpirsingly smoothly for a group of three (us and Carla) very tired people. We arrived in Paris around 10:30, and took the RER into Paris. Apparently the RER was the train we WEREN'T supposed to take according to the US despartment of State's warning for the riots that have been going on, but at 10:30am and with all the other people that were with us it seemed perfectly safe, and was. We got out at Sant Michelle/Notre Dame and ascended the steps to stair straight at two things. One is the Seine, in all of its river wetness. The other was Notre Dame, which was gorgeous. We marvelled at that for a while, then met our friend Margrit (remember she came to visit from Sienna, Italy before?) because she had arrived the night before (Thursday). We gawked at Notre Dame, then went to Rebecca's apartment to drop off our stuff. Rebecca had class, so we made some tea, unloaded, and then set out for the Louvre. It is walking distance from Rebecca's apartment, whcih is wonderful and cute and small in a perfectly french way (the apartment, not the Louvre). The Louvre is not small. The louvre is about as small as european waiters are friendly (read: not at all). The building is simply massive, situated right along the Seine. It has an enormous inner courtyard at the beginning of the building, and then you go inside and there are three wings: the Dennon, the Sully, and the Richelieu. The three wings all together make up a floor, and there are four floors. Each wing has the equivalent of about 40 large rooms full of works X 3 X4 = somewhere around 280 large rooms FULL of art. It's incredible, from early etruscan artifacts to Pharonic Egypt, to 19th c. French Paintings, to etc. etc. Then there is the Grand Gallery, which is a huuuuuugely long hall with a parquet floor that ends in the Mona Lisa. When my parents went they (and others) said the Mona Lisa had her own little room off the Grand Gallery. Now she is in the center of the Gallery on a HUGE wall with only her. You can't get too close to her, maybe 5 feet away, and then she is of course covered in lots of everything-proof glass. I have to say I loved her. I didn't think I would, as others had mentioned that she is much more unimpressive that you expect with all the hype. And maybe because of that my expectations were low enough that I could be more open minded, who knows. But I loved looking at her, wondering what she was looking at, where that devilish smile came from, why the background was so oddly tilted and dark, etc. etc. etc. Go read a book on her if you want, I'll spare you my ramblings.

some other wonderful works we saw include: The coronation crown of Louis XV (which looks like the tackiest plastic crown you've ever seen, but then you realize those diamonds are both real and the size of your thumb and you mumble i'm sorry), the Winged Victory of Samonthrace (and amazing statue from antiquity), the Venus de Milo, The Dying Slave, Psyche and Cupid, pieces of the Parthenon, The code of Hammurabi (wow, actually the real stone and writing carved by those around a king of Babylon. its unreal), La Grande Odalesque (that woman with way too many vertebra), and more and more etc. etc. It was really a maze, we got lost quickly and quite enjoyed wandering our way through.

Then we met Rebecca outside, but as we stepped out of the Louvre's fantastic glass pyramids we noticed IT WAS SNOWING. Large flakey pieces of gorgeous atmospheric precipitation. None of it stuck, but it added an ambiance that was truly romantic and very surreal. Paris in the snow. On the downside it was freaking freezing, but it was worth it. We also, from here, got to marvel at the Arc du Triomf (sorry for my murderous spelling of french), which stood across the Seine and was a gorgeous blood red against a dramatically setting sky.

Rebecca then took us to a super posh grocery store (kinda like El Corte Ingles, but more gourmet, for those of you in BCN). Margrit flipped out completely and must have lost her voice oooohing and aaahhhing over the tea gathered only by specially trained monkeys, or the mineral water in bottles more beautiful than wine decanters. It was really incredible. We loaded up on vegetables, some turkey filets, spices, and other yummies for dinner which was a very special (2nd) thanksgiving celebration. Margrit cooked up a vaegetable sautee with nutmeg and other wintry spices, which was surprisingly good (surprising because any good vegetables surprise me). I made some garlic mashed potatos, and then sauteed some turkey with lemon juice and white wine. We had MY FAVORITE CRANBERRY SAUCE IN THE WORLD which is Ocen Spray canned (with the ribbs from the can when you put it in a bowl). In the words of Alton Brown from the Food Network - "Some things you just can't gourmet-up, they're perfec the way they are." Too true, Alton, too true. The meal was also a Shabbot service, it being friday and among the five (Rebecca, Margrit, Talia, Carla, and I) of us a total of 3 jews (both margrit and I were raised jewlicks, and thus only constitute half a jew each). We had wine and cranberry juice and Rebecca made a delicious milk and pumpkin spiced drink after dinner. we. were. stuffed. and spent about 20 minutes after dinner rolling around on the floor in wonderful full stomach pain. Worth it . um, yes.

That was last night. Then this morning we woke up at 9:15....zzzz..zz...make that 9:45, and left the house by about 11:00am to go the Musee d'Orsay. This place is incredible. It was a train station during World War II, and was then converted into a Museum. It is a fabulous display of Industrial Revolution architecture (which I think I've decided I really like), full of steal beams and glass, with a ceiling of scuplted gilty things. As you enter, there is a huge vaulted gallery ahead of you, filled with statues. Then, if you turn around you see the most AMAZING clock in wthe world. Its this golden masterpiece, the size the a giant stained glass rose window. It struck me as a rose window, and gave this very wonderful feeling of rose windows in churches, and that clock is like a rose window, but made of gears and very industrial, and of course we're in a museum, not a church, so it's the mechanically holy temple of art and history that just worked very well.

The museum was, of course, also huge. On the advice of my mother we went to the top first and began with the prizes. Monet, Manet, Renoir, VanGoh, etc. etc. They were unbelievable. Monet, particularly, for me at least, was truly intense. He's so famous, and you see his stuff everywhere, I didn't expect to be moved by it - but in person...the colors, and the brush strokes, with the light and the shading and the, ugh! His haystacks are what gold is to lead - a transformation of paint into something you can look at for hours and sink into. Degas' pastells were gorgeous, and his work with Ballerinas in particular caught my attention, the way he showed stage lighting. yada yada.

Then we had lunch.

My mother, who had eaten at the resteraunt in the Musee d'Orsay previously, was incredibly generous and kind, and gave me money to take my friends out to lunch at this incredibly extravagent dining room. And extravagent it was. Straight out of the opulance in Versailles and the Louvre, this dining room is a giant long rectangular room with ceilings probably 100 feet high. Paintings the likes of the Sistine Chapel adorn the tops and all the wood-work is gilded in gold. The tables are beautiful marble, and periwinkle blue wicker chairs match the deep carpet. In all we were six, the five from the previous dinner, plus Carla's uncle, who lives in Paris, and came to join us. It was wonderful meeting him, and getting to know more about Carla and her family.

I must explain the menu we went through, one for my mom, who will want to know, but also the explain the grandeur of this place.

We started with a platter of cheeses, which contained brie, camembert, a bleu cheese, munster, and a few others we couldn't recognize. Along with the cheese we had duck foi groi with crystalized and sugared mango on petite toasts. I had never had foi groi before, and did not know what to expect. I was blown away - the texture was of the richest thickest, smoothest butter you can imagine (very similar to avocado, actually), with a taste that reminded you of something meaty but also with a sweetness leant from smooth fat. The cheeses were each unique and all delicious. We got a bottle of champagne to enjoy during appetizers, and Carla's uncle was kind enough to follow this up with a bottle of deliciously light and smooth red wine for the main course. And what a main course. The one complaint I have about this place, though, was their lack of a vegetarian option. Talia had pasta with tomatoes, and she maintains that it was delicious, but I wish she could have had something a bit more special. She made up for it with desserts, but we'll get to that later. Carla had a yellowed rice with anice stars and filet of Hallibut, which was delicious and very light. The rest of us all had the same thing (for good reason) - Duckling served with fruit of the season and scalloped potatos in a foi groi sauce. It was incredible. The duck is served with a rind of its own fat on the top, which was repulsive at first, but had sooo much flavor and its chewy texture complimented the soft meatyness of the duck, which was a perfect gradation from red in the middle to grayish brown towards the edges. It was tender and had a wonderful gamey flavor that usually gets lost in most duck I've had in the past (usually had in oriental resteraunts with lots of sauce). The wine was delicious witht the meat. Then dessert. Wow, the dessert. For the six of us we got to share: a chocolate mouse cake of unparalleled taste and texture, a raspberry torte, an assortment of peach/coffee/chocolate ice creams, and 6 perfitteroles (chou pastery balls filled with vanilla ice cream and smothered in melted dark chocolate. It was unbelievable. Thank you mom, for your generosity in letting us experience this meal - it was something I will not forget for a very very long time. I love you.

We then saw more of the Musee d'Orsay until it closed (we had spent over 3 hours at lunch). Afterwards we walked along the Seine to the Eiffell tower at night and marvelled at it. I assumed I would think it kitchy or overdone, but again I was amazed at, like the Mona Lisa, how much I loved it. It is GORGEOUS. Unbelievably large, completely made of steel and air and height, lit up like a beacon of yellow metal. It was marvelous, stupendous, phallic, and moving.

Then, amazingly, we had dinner, which was some of the best sushi I have ever eaten. I had sashimi style salmon (just pieces of raw salmon with seperate rice that you combine with soy sauce and ginger/wasabi if you like), and everyone else had various seaweed covered delicious looking things.

And then, not-amazingly, we were tired. Rebecca and Margrit somehow had the energy to go to a movie (the new Woody Allen flick I think, which they just told me as they walked in the door was not very good), and Talia and I came home to relax a bit. Talia, sadly still with a cold, is zonked out besides me, and as I write this I am smiling to myself just thinking about how I am surrounded by friends, filled with amazing food, and thankful to all the people that have allowed me to be here right now. Mom, Dad, Kierstn, other family and friends, thank you all for supporting me through college and providing me with the tools to have such wonderful experiences. Know that I'm not wasting the time.

I can't post my pictures here, but I'm getting some great ones, and you'll see them as soon as possible.

I hope everyone is safe and warm,

Friday, November 25, 2005


Talia, Carla, and I are going to Paris. See you Tuesday.

Monday, November 21, 2005

back in spain

Well, 2 plains a metro and a taxi later I am back in my apartment in Barcelona. I was incredibly relieved to see Talia, and we enjoyed a brief time together before she had to rush off to class, as I must do myself in an hour or so.

I don't know how on earth I'm going to recover from these 2.5 weeks of school I've missed. At this point I have about 7 more classes until finals. and I haven't even taken midterms! Well, it'll pan out somehow for better or worse. I'm trying to stay as detached as possible.

The apartment is still beautiful. Talia did a great cleaning job while I was away and it shows.

Ohhh, I'm exhausted, so I'll stop now.


Jaimie's homecoming

Yes, it is wonderful to have Jaimie back in the apartment. It is no longer silent (save for music), and the most amazing thing happens: if I leave the apartment with dirty dishes, they may actually be clean when I get back! How fantastic!

On a completely different, but happy note- I found brussel sprouts in this vegetable hating city! real brussel sprouts!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Took a while

The wedding went fantastic. My sister is no longer a Harrow, which is a bit strange to swallow, but she seems happy.

i had a lot of much-needed rest, and am actually still in the States as of right now. Tomorrow, Sunday, I go back to Barcelona, and will arrive midday on Monday, ready to resume classes. I have 2.5 weeks of classes that I missed, and god knows how I'll even begin to catch up from this, but I'll try.

Things begin to get crazy now. I go back to BCN tomorrow, then this weekend Talia and I go to Paris to meet Rebecca, and we're being joined by Margrit, which will be wonderful. The week after is Italy for 10 days, then we get back, have finals, and voila! we're done and ready to take europe by storm.

maybe its just the dizziness from the dayquil im on (yes, i got a cold, of course), but its all a bit overwhelming.

pictures and all that later, even Morocco pictures which I know I still need to do.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

off we go

talia and i are about to leave for Boston (2 flights, three countries, and around 10 hours later).

i'm actually feeling a bit better - i've kept the few bits of potato i ate last night inside, and so far sipping gatorade to keep hydrated hasn't been a problem. Oh ya, that was the problem - not being able to keep food in. i was hospitalized to be put on a very uncomfertable drip where they pumped me with the aquatic equivalent of 3 burgers and fries a day (or so im told). i'm skeptical though - i never tasted a damn thing. not even on the re-burp.

terribly excited to see my family and Data. ill post all kinds of happy reunion pictures. And i promise i'll do a big entry about Morocco as soon as I can.

so off we go, and next time you hear from me i will probably have a new brother-in-law.



Well, i got to learn all about spanish hospitals, and not by taking a tour. I've been in the hospital since sunday, and just got out because Talia and I are going back to the states for my sister's wedding. I'm still sick, and may end up at another hospital in the states, we'll see. anyone want a stomach? Because mine may be out of a job soon. It's latest progress report is very poor indeed.

excited to see my family and of course witness my sister do the whole marriage thing.

miss you all.


ps. if anyone is near amherst over this coming weekend let me know. ill be super busy and super sick, but we may be able to fix a time to meet up. id love to see anyone.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Mas Enfermo

Sorry for the lack of posting. Two things have conspired to bring this about. 1) our internet connection has decided to go fritzy. 2) im still sick, and talia is not well either. I had to go into the hospital on Friday so they could get some nutrition into me bypassing the stomach. Nothing serious, I just can't keep food in me, and 8 days later they begin to worry about certain things. We'll see how this pans out - I have the ISA directors to handle all the details and Talia to make me some potato mush. thank god I aint alone here.

Another oberlin visitor - Margret was here! She (i feel comfertable saying) had a lovely time, or at least we had a lovely time having her. she saw a bunch of stuff and we hung out with Carla and carla's friend who was also here visiting. bad timing on my part for sickness, blech.

ok, gotta go rest more.


Thursday, November 03, 2005


Still pretty sick. Talia is taking care of me, which is wonderful, especially considering that she's a little sick herself. blech.

don't have the energy to write up anything detailed of morroco yet, so I thought I'd put up a few pictures to tantilize your tastebuds.

Enjoy. Explanations to come.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

We. Are. Back.

We're back. Morocco was amazing.

Unfortunately I'm very sick at the moment, so I don't want to talk about it because my opinion is a bit tainted at the moment.

but it was amazing, and we are (relatively) safe.