sábado, 5 de julio de 2008

Roll along; there's nothing to see here.

I'm sure that by now, everyone knows that Spain won.

After an overnight train to Frankfurt, waiting around in Chicago all day, I've finally made it back home (with a sweet tax refund from the Spanish government to boot.) If you're heading to Madrid anytime soon, you might check out a few favorite places. And while you're at it, why don't you join the community as well?

If that's not your thing, then I have a few other choice links that may provide some sort of information and/or entertainment:

Vegan Foodism - Pretty self-explanatory, no?
No Good For Me - Witty fashion/pop culture blog.

Or maybe you want to read:

Or perhaps you'd much rather find the closest body of water and relax. In any case, thanks for reading, and wish me luck as I prepare for the next chapter. As a friend says, "Viva poor grad student life!"

miércoles, 18 de junio de 2008

Seeing stars

Seeng as how I had little time before I left for good, I thought I'd go out with a bang: Granada. I had originally planned to visit in March until I lost my camera. Echoing Icaza, the trip down south might not have been worth it if I couldn't record its beauty.

Luckily, a friend gave me his, and so off I went to enjoy my last weekend in Spain. A relatively smooth five-hour bus ride later, I was deposited at the city of a certain palace-fortress and a reknowned poet. The hostel was located in the Albayzin, making for a lot of narrow, windy streets, and the usual rowdiness associated with twentysomething revelmakers. Despite this (and finding out that I'm allergic to peanuts--long story), I managed to relax and take advantage of the local offerings, including the famous Alhambra.

I'm going to assume that most of the few people who read this blog have either been to the Alhambra or at least have seen photos/read literature that sings its praises, so I won't even go there. Let me just say this: it's definitely one of the maddeningly, achingly beautiful places I've ever experienced in my short life thus far. In true Bill & Ted fashion, dudes, it totally blew my mind! Of course, I took a ton of pictures, though none will truly capture its glory.

After spending most of my allotted time at the Alhambra, I mostly just wandered, as I'm wont to do, especially as a lone traveler. I forgot how hot it can get in Andalucia in the summer, so I was melting and was ready to pass out even before I made it back down to the Plaza Nueva. Among the treats that remedied this constant problem was an ice cream from Los Italianos (overheard as the "most famous" heladeria in Granada city) and an "antioxidant" smoothie from a random juice bar near the cathedral. As friends will be able to tell you, finding a smoothie was no small feat, considering that I've searched high and low for that perfect fruity antidote to the summer heat. After properly quenching my thirst, I was mostly all smiles (at least on the inside!) and didn't care (too much) that no one ever bothered to say "Excuse me" as they brusquely brush past you, that I was overcharged at a terraza ("Disculpa, no pedi tres jarras!"), or even that my bus back to Madrid was overbooked, forcing me to get on the next one an hour later and pushing my return to one o'clock in the morning.

Maybe it's a stretch, but I give props to the smoothie anyway for endowing me with enough confidence to write an hoja de reclamacion, my first full-length composition in Spanish since my school days.

Now I find myself quite tired because I haven't given myself any rest para reponder las fuerzas. It's just been non-stop errand-running and farewell-bidding, which wouldn't be too bad, if I wasn't just now recuperating from the illness I developed over the weekend. Good thing that it wasn't too debilitating as to impede me from getting things done...or else I wouldn't have had a very random sighting of Gael Garcia Bernal (and a girl who looked like Michelle Williams) at FNAC.

I tell ya, it was quite a fortuitious event. I'd been stalling on buying First Aid Kit's Plaits (the Barcelona duo's sophomore effort) and the much-touted Russian Red's debut, I Love Your Glasses, but I figured that since they've been on oferta forever, that I could wait until the last minute. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing on Tuesday; I was down around Sol and I had no desire whatsoever to find myself there again before I left, so I figured why I just not pop in to FNAC and pick up the albums.

20 or so minutes later, I'm riding the elevator to the ground floor, gleeful about the CDs and also the copy of a French literature magazine (really, that's the title) with a feature on English novelists, when I happen to glance to my left and notice a very cute, sort of floppy-, raven-haired boy with thick black glasses. He looks A LOT like Gael Garcia, I thought to myself. Before I walk out of the west doors by the steps up to the digital camera section, I spin back around and realize that it is Gael Garcia, as I watch him absentmindedly sign a notebook a girl had given him. In a frantic rush, I call same smoothie-loving friend, walking in circles and stalking from the same position for another 15 minutes, babbling and repeating myself.

I wonder why no one else recognizes him and understand that perhaps some folks to do, but don't want to disturb his privacy. Like me, maybe they want to stalk in close vicinity. Y'know, like Michelangelo's "David," look, but don't touch. We debate on whether or not I should approach him and whether or not I ought to take a picture (my camera has a great zoom!), though we agree that it was best to gawk (however discreetly) from afar and rather, pledge our ultra-nerdiness online. As you can see, in no way does this prevent me from sharing the "news" with all who'll listen, even the ones who've never heard of the actor, or who don't care, through whatever means. More than being starstruck--which I obviously was/am--I'm reminded that "celebrity" is created, a process of which us "mortals" are part and parcel. By this, I mean to say that celebrities have power insofar as we accord it to them. With this philosophy, one would think that it would've been easy to approach Gael, but at this juncture you readers should know that I have communication deficiencies ESPECIALLY with utterly beautiful people, so I probably would've just done like Lars and run away, or worse, pull a Stan. Best to keep this one as a nice memory, I'd say.

jueves, 12 de junio de 2008


Just a quick note to let folks know (if you didn't already) that tomorrow is the Noche de la Fotografía. I'm sure lots of places have offerings to coincide with PHOTOEspaña, but it seems like the bulk of tomorrow night's festivities will be happening in the Barrio de las Letras/Huertas. Also, if you're in Alcalá de Henares, make sure to check out the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit at the Antiguo Hospital de Santa María la Rica, near the Cathedral.