hasta luego BCN, merhaba Istanbul

July 11, 2007 - Istanbul, Turkey

HEY EVERYBODY! So this blog has suffered from some neglect, but as I have left Barcelona and recommenced travels in Turkey, I am determined to keep the dream alive. Below is a recap of BCN memories, emerging inspirations, and Istanbul encounters.

When I last posted, Gretchen was on the arrival...for ten days we: discovered DENVER, a fantastic local bar resembling a 50's Lyon's Club meeting hall but with foosball, ping pong, pool, darts, air hockey, and good country music; went gallery openings with enormous, expensive paintings; did a trashy pub crawl; ate lots of onion pizza; played ping pong in parks; and much, much more. I did not take many photos, but check out Gretchen's online gallery of really well-framed images (http://picasaweb.google.com/gretchenmer/Spain) (note image captions...). After we were sufficiently annoyed with each other, she took off to visit friends Beth and Dominique in Italia and is now back in TX.

At some point there was free day at the science museum where I learned about the origins of all existence and an exhibition on cacti (I donated a strange, tiny succulent garden to the Barcelona apartment). Lots of reading in sunny parks, eating delicious greasy food on Sundays from the food store around the corner from the piso, and wandering around new parts of town. Once I happened upon a man playing the hell out of a saxophone on his fourth story balcony- the small audience that had gathered gave a standing ovation. Lots eating of chunky monkey in my favorite internet cafe- perfect.

Eventually I came across an inspirational interview (http://www.new-territories.com/split%20the%20wood.htm ) with Francois Roche of French architects R&sie(n) with statements like, "My position is use science in an indeterminist way, using indeterminism as a way to produce knowledge." & "A situation is a perfect way for me to understand how I could move around in a new way and to understand a situation of complexity. But without this situation, I'm just a child dreamer. I prefer to surf with the Valley boys in Malibu. I prefer to waste time than to be an architect." The R&sie(n) project "I've heard about..." makes my heart race even faster: (http://www.new-territories.com/). Coincidentally and without me realizing it at the time, Enric Ruiz-Geli (my d boss) gave a lecture in Japan with Francois Roche while I was still in the Cloud9 office.

For the last month and a half Barcelona´s new Bicing (http://www.bicing.com/) became as often my mode of transportation as walking. Bicing is similar to Austin´s Yellow Bike Project (http://austinyellowbike.org/), except for with Bicing you pay a fee (in the beginning only 6€ for the whole year!) for the service and bikes are standardized and located at automated locking stations (http://www.worldchanging.com/archives//006444.html). Just before I left Barcelona, several new stations opened making it possible to reach all over the city center. For example, I could get a bike from home to work, work to Spanish class, Spanish class to climbing gym, and climbing gym back to home. The only problematic issue is availability of bikes or open docks. More often then not, stations in residential areas are emptied and those in commercial areas are filled in morning rush hour. The opposite is true for evening rush hour. Regardless, the idea is totally rad and works really well as an alternative to walking/metro/moto, assuming you´re a little flexible.

Katie Hurbeck of the Castiglion Fiorentino crowd and her two friends from Santa Chiara were in town for a weekend. Upon seeing a familiar face, I basically attacked Katie in the street. Good times wandering around and watching the port at night while catching up and talking about politics and potential futures.

Concerned for my bowels, their regularity, and my general well-being, I did a two/three week "Master Cleanse" of yoga instructor Bekir´s design. Just about when I started to love the morning ritual of shooting a concoction of grapefruit/lemon juice, cayenne pepper, syrup, and olive oil it was over with Primavera Sound (http://www.primaverasound.com/) which had me gorging on jamon, cheese, white bread, meat spreads, beer, and early morning burgers with fries. Workmates André and Javi had talked me into attending this enormous music festival next to the sea, and what resulted was an insane, debauched, totally sleepless weekend of vague recollection. What memories I do have are fantastic :D

For the last month and a half or so there a Spanish class twice a week. What began as an extremely international 12 person class dwindled to a two person conversational session with Spanish instructor, German oral surgeon girl, and myself. Towards the end I was getting pretty decent, but by no means fluent....some day. From the classes I met fellow Texan Ellen, who was studying abroad with the Graduate Architecture program from UT Arlington. We quickly got real good at drinking on the beach.

The Saturday holiday of Dia de San Juan (http://www.spanishunlimited.com/spain/fiestas/sanjuan.asp) got off to a rocky start, as I worked all day and most of the night. However, at 1:30am I locked up the office, ran to the nearest Bicing station, and bulleted for the beach. On the way there were intense blasts, bonfires in the streets, and shrapnel flying from every direction. The beach was like a war zone with even louder, closer explosions and passed out bodies strewn about as if casualties of a battle over Barcelona. I eventually met up with fellow Texan Ellen and her architecture friends, becoming a small part of the sea of people partying on the beach until sunrise, ending the shortest night of the year. There is a mysterious scabbed injury from that night still healing on my left elbow.

Several weeks ago there began a ritual of pisomate Anna, her boyfriend Jaume, and I getting burgers and frankfurts at nearby "El Pibe" every week or so. At Pibe, the "American Burger" has a fried egg in it, and though I don´t recollect having a fried egg on a hamburger ever before, it´s really delicious and I am happy to be associated with it.

Eventually it was my last week in Barcelona, and Kate of Austin renown visited from Paris. We danced at THE Razzmatazz (http://www.salarazzmatazz.com/), did some shopping, ate at delicious Juicy Jones, saw the movie "Infamous" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0420609/) in Spanish (Historia de un crimen) which, by the way, is much better than "Capote", and burned every inch of our bodies at the beautiful beach in San Pol, just north of Barcelona. Kate was a great help in my last week of frantically mailing, cleaning, throwing away, and saying goodbye to BCN life. For a going away dinner, Anna cooked her specialty of Tortilla Espanola, salad, Pa Amb Tomàquet (bread pummeled with tomato and drizzled with olive oil), and Cheese Cake for Jaume, Kate, and I. It was so delicious- gracias por todo.

The night before I left Barcelona was André`s birthday, which means there was double the reason to have fun. The Cloud9 gang, Kate, and I had a grand finale night of tapas on Rambla Catalunya, and an after party of sorts at André/Christina/Elin´s apartment (images courtesy Elin, til I upload mine). As intense as Cloud9 might have gotten at times, the experience managed to become increasingly meaningful due to the fantastic people working there. I miss yáll already, but look forward to seeing each of you when you COME TO TEXAS or wherever.

Last Thursday Kate took a plane back to Paris, and Ellen and I hopped a plane to Istanbul, Turkey. Actually it was a flight Milan with an all night layover spent sleeping under a return air duct in a temporary building with a small army of other onward travelers. Friday morning we caught another plane to Istanbul. For the past week we´ve been living beyond our means, walking around seeing the impressive Aya Sophia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagia_Sophia), less impressive but still operating Blue Mosque (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultan_Ahmed_Mosque ), Grand Bazaar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Bazaar) and Spice Market. One night we took a commuter ferry to a still unknown dock where we found a lively festival/concert with young and old dancing together in circles. There have been loads of really great food and beer at various patios, terraces, and windows (the weather is hot and fantastic). Several games of checkers over apple tea and a watermelon hookah. Yesterday we took a government-run "Public Excursion Boat" to the Black Sea and explored a castle and ate sardines and calamari. Twice we took a Hamam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammam), the second of which had me drowning in a mountain of foam while a burly Turkish man pinned my arms high behind my back and violently rubbed my resulting shoulder blade cavities (http://www.gedikpasahamami.com/)- simply awesome. In general it´s been good times, minus Ellen´s allure to mosquitoes and my two days of explosive diarrhea. This morning, after a ridiculous schedule misunderstanding and taxi goose chase, Ellen and I found her shuttle to the airport with 45 seconds to spare- she is now on her way back to Barcelona. Full of kebab, a large poof of sesame pita bread, and traditional chewy ice cream, I am now waiting for my clothes to dry and planning for the next destination: Cappadocia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cappadocia)- land of underground cities, troglodyte dwellings, and fairy chimneys that just so happens to by cited in R&sie(n)´s "I've heard about..."


Pictures

André, Elin, & i
on the bottom...
Elin´s Swedish Balls
 
 

2 Comments

André:
July 14, 2007
hhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllleeeeeeeeeee!
or shouls i say ginger hale ;)
a smile come upon my face after reading this last post you did.
It was great to work and to know you .. blablabla.. u know.

Marvellows times you´re spending these days as you tell. GOOd.
I wish inpiring moments of joy.
i will keep coming here to know what you are up to.
a big hug from barcelona. André
Anna:
July 21, 2007
Haaaaaaaaaaaaale!!! Soy Anna de Barcelona! Que bueno...! Com estás? He puesto tu nombre en el google y me he encontrado con esta página, donde lo explicas todooooo...! jajaja
Cuidate mucho!! Un abrazo muuuuy grande!!!!!
P.D. VIVA "EL PIBE"!!!
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