Wandering in search of......

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Jew, A Muslim, and A Christian walk into a bar!

So I left Prague and headed to Barcelona for two days, wow, what a crazy country! The Spanish are full tilt man they do not rest at all, well for about 3-4 hrs in the middle of the day, Siesta!! But beyond that they are up at all hours, I was staying in a little apartment. On Las Ramblas in Barcelona and they did not sleep at all, the quiet came at about 8AM, serious! Very cool city, though I really liked it alot, had a lot of culture and cool modernism going on within it, went to the Picasso museum and was amazed by all the styles that he went through! The next stop was Madrid, but only for a day so really did not get the best feel for it, however, I did get to see Guernica by Picasso, and many other of his works! The Sophia Reina museum is very cool! I walked around Madrid and saw the interesting architechture and modern buildings, plus they had a "football" match, wow I thought Americans were a bit nuts for sports man I forgot how intense the rest of the world is for this very international sport. They were running through the Metro station hootin and hollerin their Madrid soccer team chants and just havin a blast, pretty cool to watch!! Well, I had to break down and get something besides the local fare for dinner and went to ol' faithful, yup, Chinese food!! Was pretty good, course twas not Gary Chu's, but what is! Then went to the airport just barely makin the flight, literally by ten minutes, nothin like makin it a bit interestin right!! So I was on my way to the oldest region of the world, least when it comes to civilization!! Arrived in Tel Aviv and went to the ol' cousins house! First impression, looks like America to me, but you have to remember that Tel Aviv is only about 60 years old! So I hung out for a couple days on the beach on the Med, Israel style, very chill, warm water and relaxed setting! Then it was time for some serious history! So yesterday and today I went to Jerusalem! Whew, talk about serious intesity, no messin around there! I always said that the three big religions were school yard buddies and each one took its turn at being the bully! After going to Jerusalem I realized its a bit different. The emotions I felt there, not because I'm Jewish, but the emotions I felt for the people who have been supressed and controled over the many years is everywhere, in the air, in the walls, I mean everywhere!! I have never felt anything like it before. When I went to the Wailing Wall and touched my hands and forehead on it, after a couple of minutes I began to feel this strong sense of release, not me pursay but all the thousands of others who have gone and done a pilgramage or whatever to get there have created this strong energy flowing through the air and bricks. It just felt very sureal and almost ghostly. After having my time there I went and walked around the rest of the old city, there are 4 quarters to the old city, a Jewish, a Christian, an Armenian, and a muslim quarter. They all have distinct characteristics but they all are so close it is very interesting to see the changes within a few hundred steps of the different lifestyles they all posess. I wanted to see a monument of the old city so I went and took a tour of the Citadel (King Davids tower). It was really enlightening and frightening at the same time. I asked a question to the tour guide of what Jerusalem stands for and he said that it stood for the city of peace, which is a hell of an irony since the city has been sacked 39 times over its existence. I was really able to get a better understanding of the history of the city from this tour and also a better understading of sense of hatred that all these peoples have for each other because of the constant changing of ruling over the city. Basically all three have had there fair share of intense brutal ruling over the people of the city. These days though it seems that it is relatively peaceful. I say relatively because there are still soldiers with machine guns walking around and you have to go through check points in each quarter!! There is a lot of check pointing goin on in this country, most folk just go with the flow but for me it was alarming to see so much security, don't get me wrong I am not ignorant to the fact that there is a constant threat of terrorism here but to see it first hand and feel it first hand was a whole other ball game, and the players in the game are not swingin bats but using guns instead!! Anyway, it still with all the intensity has been a great trip, and I have yet to go to the Dead Sea!!! Can't wait for that one, they say the average sea has about 6% percent salt in the water but the Dead Sea has about 30% so basically you literally float on top of the water! Hopefully I can get a pic or two of me floating! Ok time to run and eat some hummus, by the way the hummus here is not like the stuff back home, it feels like mortar for bricks and when it is in your stomach you feel like a brick is in there!!!! But it is absolutely delicious!!! Best kababs ever too!! Ok everyone miss ya'll and I'll be home very soon about 2 and1/2 weeks to go!! It has been a long 5 months!!! Till the next time! The pics are of Jerusalem, the old city and monuments within!


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bumblin around

Well its been an interesting time since I left my mother on the 6th of June. I was able to hang out one more night with my cousin Jared in Lyon. After that I went up to Paris for a couple of nights where I stayed with the sister of a good friend of mine and old coworker, Marty! She hooked me up with her sister, Ellen and her family, Veit her husband and their daughter, Sophia Louise. She was a funny little one, she is 5 years old and of course speaks French, German and English. She took me right in and wanted to teach me how to speak French!! Funny little girl! So while they did their things during the day, I went to the Musee D'Orsay and the Louvre. Both of those museums are amazing and the Louvre is absoulutely enormous. I barely touched the surface in the 5 hrs that I was there. Interesting history in both but I really liked the Orsay, it has many impressionist paintings and that is what I like the most. After those two days of looking at paintings and having good food with them at night I headed out again. This time it was to Cologne, Germany to mainly see a band, Gov't Mule and of course the city as well. I really did not know what to expect when I arrived in Germany and boy what that a world apart, it was another one of those I cannot understand a lick of anything countries! I had a very, very fun first day. It was coincidence but there was a huge Protestant Evangelical festival when I was there so it was a huge crowd of religious folk but they all seemed a bit different than your normal run of the mill, Jesus lover! They had a street festival in one area and they had music, food, and stuff for the kids. Anyway, I had some really good German food for lunch and I wanted to wash it down with a tasty German brew! So I headed over to the beer stand, which was a kinda of makeshift bar, so I ordered a beer and was just checking the crowd out and next to me were these two black dudes speaking in some very cool language. The one facing me held his beer up and said, "Prost", which is cheers in German. So that was that and the next thing we know we are having a blast chattin about this and that, it turns out that they are from Mozambique in Africa, been in Germany for awhile and one spoke very good German, actually he spoke 4 different languages! He is an artist, his name is Kitu or Vasco, depending on which country he is in!! And his friend, is Adetito, A-ded-eee-to, both were great guys and really took me in. At one point when we were just chatting something very interesting happend on one of the stages in the street, mind you this is a Protestant event, some music came on and all of a sudden about 12 transvestites came on stage and pretty much put on a drag show!! It was very odd sight seeing all these family folks just jammin out dancing and singing with their kids, all the while these drag queens just singin away on stage, the only thing that came to mind was, "Only in Germany" So after many good beers we split up for a while and were to meet later for more chattin and what not. They met me again at the same place then they took me to their local bar, Klein Pub, which was not too German but more African, there were no Germans there only Africans!! Really cool scene and everyone was very nice to me as they obviously could see that I was an outsider, in many ways! So we had a blast all night hanging. So after a long night I went back to the hostel and then got ready for another day. So the next day I walked around Cologne and took some pics of the huge cathedral in the center of town and then I was to meet up with Adetito for some chiliin out! So I wanted to get a real German Bratwurst, so I headed to the festival and after getting the sausage of course I needed a good beer to wash it down and there at the beer stand was Vasco and Adetito again, funny stuff! So we just chatted there again for a long while and met this really nice girl Evelyn. So we all laughed and joked, then it was getting near the time for me to go the concert! So I said my goodbyes and took emails and was off! Then I went to the concert! The show was great it was actually four shows. Three openers then Gov't Mule. They played all good songs, kinda weird though not being able to talk with that many people cause they all spoke German!! Anyhoo, great tunes and a great night!! Then I headed to Munich the next day! I went to the Hoff Brau house at some sausages with sourkrout and had a liter of beer in the biggest stienglass!! After that I headed on a train to the small village called Bernried. I was there to meet up with a coworker from Antarctica. He was working a new job, I met up with him and his coworkers, they were all Brits, funny as hell guys! We all had a great time chattin it up over some pints! The next day I went on a bike ride to the next village and had lunch. After I sat down and started to look at the menu I realized that it was goin to a fun lunch, I could not read the menu, so I pointed and came up with what I thought was the coolest looking German cause at that point you might as well choose off of asthetics! So I was then delivered a tasty brew and a bowl that looked like soup but it was not steaming! It was lunch, jello soup with pork slices and an egg! YUMMM! So that was a fun one. So after a couple of days I headed to Geneva to suprise my dad, gotcha dad, stayed there for a day and some before heading off to Prague, which is where I am at right now! This town is great! Im here visiting my old boss from the Juvenile Center in Boulder, Kristine! So she has shown me what Prague has to offer. Pretty amazing architechture and old world feel! Plus, a very hip night scene!!! Lots of young people and beautiful woman on each corner! I just got my camera stolen a couple of days ago so I have no pics of anything before Prague! All's well ends well! Well folks till the next time!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Va Bene!

The beginning of this grand time with mom began in London, both mom and I happy to see the cuz, Sasson and his wife Kissley. They were doing quite well and it was great to see them, they took us around and Kissley was a great tour guide. High tea was very fun. We filled are days with much and ate good English food, hahaha, no really it was good. Then mom and I took off to Neverneverland, seriously it feels like it for grown ups at least. Ok so here it is, im in Ittly as my grandma calls it and its been about two and half weeks and ill know is for the first time in my life ive got love handles, i know i know, i should not speak about such things being skinny and all but let me tell you, the amount of food that i have eaten is kinda gross. my madre and I have been eating our way across the country and it has been quite the adventure. I love pasta, i love tomatoes, i love basil, i love olive oil, i love balsamic vinegar,I love the wine, but most of all in the whole wide world I LOVE GELATO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This stuff is way too good, I remembered that I used to eat this stuff 5 times a day and now I realized why I did that. It is the best and normally I dont even like ice cream type of deserts but let me tell you it must be in the water or the cream or the way they mix it but its somethin! I have been goin head to head with mom on who can eat the most, i will have to say that lately she has been edging me out, she found the perfect combo, the nociolla (hazelnut) and super chocolate, i say super because they do not mess around with the coco content of the chocolate, has to be close to around 80-90 percent, which is obviously quite high!!!!! The journey was great from the beginning, we went went through Rome and saw all the sites and coincidentally were in Rome on a Sunday so we went to the Vatican square and the man with the plan came out and blessed us, so that has to be a good start to the journey. We then started driving from Rome to Tuscany, where we went to a few small villages, but first let me tell you something, so last blog I mentioned that the Vietnamese take the cake on crazy drivers, well they might have a run for there money, these Italians are nuttso!!! I see why they do so well in the racing circuits, its just like driving back home everyday!! I tightened my knuckles and bore down and did my best to not freak out, meanwhile, mother oh mother, she was lucky all she had to do was just look out at the beautiful Tuscan countryside and not have to pay attention at all, of course if she did she probably would have had a nervous breakdown!!! So we journeyed up to the first village\town called Montepulciano, where the whole city is walled and is completely old world, it has no modern look to it at all. So we went there and checked it out, ate our first oh my god meal and then drove around the countryside where we saw so much beautiful scenery that we just wanted go to the nearest realator and ask to buy a villa. Its interesting, Tuscany and Sonoma County are very similar in the environment aspect but in the man made aspect they are worlds apart. Sonoma County could have easily gone the old Italian way and made probably the best place in America but of course they sold out to the corpos and built, built, built and basically totally ruined it. The countryside was just blissful, then after doing the small towns of Pienza, San Gimangno, Montalcino, we went to Siena! Another beautiful spot in Tuscany. We ate well of course and saw the mighty Campo(center square) and watched all the festive Italians do there evening activities, which of course was eating on the square and drinking large amounts of wine!! Man I have had the best wine, every night we order a half caraff of the house red and are never let down! So after a day in Siena we contacted my old friend Giuseppe from Florence and wanted to meet up with him before he left out of town so we went to Florence for dinner (its only like 50 miles) and had a wonderful time. We met some of his friends Gene and his daughter who are from LA out here for fun as well. We all had a great time and enjoyed ourselves over good wine and really good food. Then we got lost on the way out of Florence, boy let me tell you how fun that was! Italy at night with crazy drivers all around oh and your lost, huh!! So, back to Siena for the day, then off the Florence. Back to where I studied for 3 months and man it was if I had not left at all, well maybe just a little, it had been ten years!! Holy moly, time flys when life moves and groves! So we wined and dined and checked out the birthplace of the Renaissance, ah what a city to be in! I could easily see myself living there!! Well after two and a half days there we went to Parma, where they specialize in Prosciutto di Parma (aged ham) mmmm.. The best dish they have is Prosciutto e Melone, which is the ham wrapped around cantelope. The sweet and salty mix is divine!! So after the night we went to Cinque Terre the next day, Five Villages, translated. Right on the coast and it was beautifull and quite stormy, they had waves crashing up on the coast bigger than I have ever seen. Had to be about 15-23 feet, no joke. We walked a couple of villages and then went to get gelato of course. After some yummies we headed back to Parma where we packed up and went to Venice, ah Venice the city of romance. Mom and I both had been there but this time was a bit different, a lot more people but we still had a great time. We walked alot there since it is the most confusing city on the planet, more twists turns and dead ends ever!!! But all in a days works,,,,,,, so you can eat gelato..... Ha, ok after we did the Venice thing we headed to Milan where we found the best little Italian restaurant, where all the patrons were Italian and the menu was in Italian, I say that because many place, while they may be delicious and wonderful, still have and English menu or French one cause of the language barrier, not the Osteria dell Oca Giulivia(Talking Geese). Totally Italian, ah the food was divine and wine was excellent. It was so good we ate there both nights in Milan. And the first night I tried this dish that was pasta but had saffron in it, normally you get saffron in rice not pasta but this was oh my god good! The second night after gorging ourselves once again there was a man behind us that mother was asking if they were speaking English, he was a black man but had a very interesting accent and also was speaking Italian. We began to speak and he was from Boston and worked with kids who are troubled a bit but had a talent for boxing. I told him about my experience with troubled kids and we hit off and began a really nice conversation, long story short, he himself was a boxer from the past, I thought I had recognized him but age had changed him a bit, but it was none other than Marvelous Marvin Hagler, the man who was the World Champion and fought Sugar Ray Leonard all those times and years!! Pretty funny! Anyways, we said good by and waddled home. We headed out to Lake Como, which is where we are today! To say the least this time with mom has been unforgetable and she has no idea how special it has been for me!!! Not too many kids get to travel with there moms without being annoyed with each other, not us, and to travel for so long was just as awesome!!! Anyway, the fingers are dead so time to run but the pics are from Italy of course, the special of all special pic is the pope blessing us!!! Till the next time!