Bonjour! (Day 37)
It has been so long since the last post that I have actually written two posts since the last one. I just never had enough internet time or energy to post the first entry, so this one will have to be a double whammy.
I’d like to start by thanking Pat for the last post – I’ve spent many a long train ride the past week pondering how my travels (and posts) had become much less thoughtful and much more focused on survival (or more specifically, the moment in front of me). I suppose Maslo and the Buddha were right; when one’s basic needs are not being fulfilled it is impossible to focus on the more complex needs. But anyways, Pat has certainly revitalized our efforts with his last post and moreover I am glad to hear he is alright.
In terms of our survival, David and I are slowly learning a few tricks of trade: sometimes from helpful locals but sometimes the hard way. For example, this morning we discovered that the slower moving regional trains are completely free via our Eurail pass (as opposed to the surcharge of a couple euros for a typical train), but this lesson was only made possible by missing our previously reserved normal train. I may be out 3 Euros, but it seems a small price to pay for the lesson of double-checking your ticket and the knowledge of free local trains.
Last night I recieved a similar travel lesson from the Universe, in Barcelona. This lesson begins after a wonderful evening of tapas and wandering around “Las Ramblas” (the downtown stretch), when David and I returned to our hostel to drop off 5 litres of recently purchased Horchata (yea, 5… I know). I decided I wanted to visit La Temple de Sagrada Familia, and David decided to stay behind and research our next hostel, so we split. Something I should have checked before I left was the metro times for getting to and from the Temple. To sum up and interesting night, my metro ride to the temple was only about 10 minutes, but my walk back (because the metro had closed) was about an hour and about 5 miles. No worries though, “none can tone me.” I think this was simply a reminder that while this is a vacation, I can’t always act as irresponsibly as I do in San Diego. Perhaps I’ve been slipping up a bit because subconsciously I have developed the belief that I will always be alright if I just go with the flow. Maybe I have taken that to an extreme. What I need to cultivate is a balance between disciplined structure and acceptance of what is around me.
Barcelona was beautiful. Spain has been beautiful. And delicious. But it has been a week and it is time for us to move on. We are in Marseille tonight, begining an 11 day tour de France. I have high hopes for the cheese…The post below is the post I had written on the 2nd, immediately after our Burgos trip.
Hola Mujeres! Soy el hombre a su hombre puede oler a! (Day 34)
I’ve been sick the past couple days so we have been taking it slower (mostly staying in Madrid), but there is still stuff to post nonetheless! First, some pictures from our trip to Burgos today, the former capital of Spain and the home of El Cid.As you can see, Burgos boasts impressive whether, an impressive cathedral, and an impressive amount of statues. One of the first things I’ve noticed about the Spanish style is that sculptures of people and their expressions are commonplace. Not just castles and cathedrals, but the sidewalks, bridges and even convenience stores. This results in extremely ornate and passionate designs – very different from the geometric (and yet equally impressive) Celtic or Saxon styles we’ve been seeing. In fact, Spanish cathedrals seem to be made up entirely of sculptures on the outside and are consequently less focused on the size and geometry of the church, and the interior is usually painted and gold (as opposed to marble).
I’ve been to a fair amount of services at cathedrals and churches now, and I certainly think it is one of the more interesting ways to get acquianted with a culture. For example, the day before yesterday I attended mass at the Catedral de Valencia. Even though it was Halloween night and people were out partying in the plaza, the congregation was still full (every Church of England I went to was at best, half full). Moreover there were lots of families and children and couples were holding hands during the service. This was very different from the Evensongs in the church of England that I attended, where I was at least half the age of the next youngest person, and the people never touched each other. I don’t believe any one attracts or repels me more than the other, and I can honestly say regardless of the various cultural elements, I have always had good meditations in all these 700+ year old sites.
On this note of communal and family ties, I think I should also mention that the Spanish are far more expressive than Americans or British – every time I walk out on the street I see dozens of couples making out in the middle of the plaza, middle of the restaurant, middle of the sidewalk or whatever, and the most foreign part of this to me is that they are not all my age. In fact most of these couples are my parents age.
In other news, I’ve developed a 2-liters-of-Horchata a day habit. On our walk around the Castle de Leon of Burgos today, I decided to spontaneously express my love of this drink via an emulated commercial. If you saw the video of the previous post, or even briefly have watched telemundo, you may appreciate the over-the-top style of these shenanigans:
Lastly, my Spanish, though still limited to about 100 key words and phrases, has gotten … smoother? I regularly carry on conversations with strangers now and its not too terrible for them – this morning I talked for almost an hour and a half with a nice man who apparently has a nephew from Florida. In fact, almost everyone I have met has been warm and inviting, as long as I am trying in Spanish. Because ‘como se dice’ is a completely useless phrase in a country where nobody knows the English word I’m trying to learn, I have developed more and more creative ways to express my ideas with my limited vocabulary. Hopefully I’ve (at the very least) entertained some locals with my unconventional means.
Janak (or as some may know me, Juaniak)