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One weekend in Paris...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Well not that Paris but you get the idea…

Anyway, Paris was absolutely wonderful… Sure only two full days was a little short to say the least but WOW what a wonderful place… I wrote some stuff while I was there so I submit for your enjoyment a few reflections of Paris from Paris but posted in Madrid… Well you get the idea…

PARIS: DAY 1

So I’m sitting here in Paris...

(no not that one!) and it’s absolutely gorgeous… Today we got an early start and went, after tea and croissants for breakfast, to the Mussay D’Orsay. All I can say is wow… It’s such an amazing museum not only due to its collection but the architecture of the place (it used to be a train station, hop over to my pictures and take a look). The cool/weird thing about Paris is that they are absolutely fine with people taking pictures in the museum; something in Madrid is a cardinal sin… Anyway after the Mussay we headed over to the Arch du Triumph and climbed all the way to the top (284 steps to be exact) and took some pictures of the pretty city ☺. After that it was a small trek over to the Eiffel Tower which we, once again, decided to climb up rather than wait in the extra long line and pay the extra price to take the elevator (the total number of steps is about 7.5 bajillion…) Anyway, needless to say our feet were tired as all hell…

The food is amazing even though I’m sure we’re not hitting up anywhere near the gourmet level… I had onion soup (it’s just called onion soup here because, well, we’re in France) and some lovely pastries… Oh and did I mention crepes… YUM!

PARIS: DAY 2 (MORNING)

When did it get to be December??? It’s unbelievable how quickly time flies… Today we’re off to the Louvre, Notre Dame, some other church (cuz you can’t have enough Christ here in the EU) maybe even Napoleons tomb (which we attempted to go to last night but it was closed for some private mass…). Should be interesting, no?

PS: I would like to take a moment out of my morning to discuss the electric toilet that is currently residing in the bathroom of the apartment in which we are staying… IT’S SO CREEPY!!! So, allow me to explain. You do your business… Fine… Good, even… Then you push the button and that’s when the crazy starts… The thing fills up with water to the point where you think that you’ve clogged it and just when it seems like it will over flow, the motor starts… That’s right, there’s a motor and attached to that motor are blades that shred whatever you put down there… It sounds like the apocalypse and scared me half to death… What happened to a good old flush?

PARIS: DAY 2 (EVENING)

So tired… Can’t type… Louvre pretty… big… so much art… Church good… [EDITORS NOTE: Look at the pictures, it really doesn’t do any justice to try to describe the place, just go if you haven’t been… Oh yeah and Notre Dame was also pretty…]

So there you are a little taste of Paris…

NO NOT THAT ONE! Okay, talk to you soon! Byeeee….

Hey remember me? Yeah... I know...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

So hey… Remember me? I’d like to say that I haven’t written in a while in honor of the WGA strike but that’d be complete BS. A lot have things have happened (surprise!) over the past however long it’s been since I’ve written. For example: I went to Pisa/Florence, Segovia, and today I’m going to France. I got mugged in Retiro and got my camera stolen and my face punched (yay!). I’ve seen an opera (bad…) and a couple of plays (even worse…). Laura offered me a good deal on pot from a friend of hers and today I found a jar filled with the stuff on top of the cabinets in the kitchen… The foods been okay; the anchovies hadn’t made a come back until two nights ago but oh well, you win some, you lose some. I actually had to do some schoolwork (SHOCKING! I know…) and that might have been another reason I haven’t written (when the bullshitting muscles are working full force sometimes it’s hard to be creative when writing…).

Anyway, why didn’t I write? Well to be honest, I was tired, bored, a little over being here (I still am, I mean I’m really glad I chose to come here and all that jazz but when it comes down to it, I need to get back to my real life, to the real world. You know me, I like to work. As much as I complain when I’m super busy, I’m happy.) SO yeah, I’ve been a little down (nothing bad) and some people here have really started to bother me to death (I cannot tell you how much this feels like I’m back in high school, or really more of what my junior high experience was like, but anywho…) and I really can’t wait to get back to my norm, what’s comfortable, and most of all to feeling like I’m accomplishing something again.

On a side note, I haven’t been reading as much lately but I have developed a strange affinity for Japanese animated movies dubbed into English (say what you will, but they’re pretty and relaxing…) I’m not talking Dragonball Z or stuff like that, more along the lines of Spirited Away…( PS. The not-so-legal downloading of movies, which I don’t really support, is pretty much a way of life for American students in foreign countries…) I also watched Sicko, you know the newest Michael Moore rant-a-thon… Well let me tell you something, I’ve never been so affected by a movie… And I know that it’s not the most unbiased film on the matter, but still it’s a must see…

Hmmmm….. Other things on my mind while I procrastinate packing and showering and going to the institute to see if my happy pills and Laura’s iPod have arrived… Well, I miss my grandma a lot… (sappy personal time…) I guess ‘cuz I haven’t really had the time to go through some of those 5 stages of mourning (AP Psych, anyone?) since coming here has kinda been a whirlwind of craziness and all… So yeah, that’s something that I’m dealing with a bit… And, um, let’s see… The regular life shit too,. You know what I mean. Oh! I’ve been listening to Christmas music a lot lately (you gotta love it, I mean come on, holiday spirit!) And the Starbucks’ here all have a really great Christmas loop that they play so I’ve been doing the tall (which can I tell you, they can’t say here and you always look like an ass if you don’t just order a pequeño…) vanilla soy chai thing again.

Other than that… Let’s see… In like under two weeks the program is done and my mom’ll be here and we’ll be doing the European tourist stuff so that’ll be good and then it’s back to America. And school (last semester, what!!?) and stress (can’t lie, I’m kinda excited…) And then finding a job… YIKES!

So there’s the rant/explanation of my MIA-ness… Anyway here are some stories:

So, let me re-introduce you to Jasoñ (or me in Spain): big loser, with too much free time who has kind of lost the will to go out much or drink (I mean, why? I normally go out or grab a drink if I’m stressed to help me relaxed. When everything is relaxed what’s the point? I mean, I’m really over the drinking-to-get-drunk-so-I-can-pretend-that-stupid decisions-I-made-were-not-my-fault phase of life… So what have I been doing? Still going out and stuff… Not as much, lot’s of Laura and me time. And like I said I’ve been going to the opera/theatre/dance (BAD. WORSE. AMAZING respectively). I went to see the opera alone which was actually really cool for me… I like doing things on my own, it kind of reaffirms my independence… Funny story actually: the opera (which, if you’re under 26 and show up 1:30 a head of time, you get a 90% discount. So yeah I got a €145,00 ticket for €14,50) was the Rape of Lucretia which we did at BU 3 years ago... And when I saw it I sat in the front row... Once again, I sat in the front row... Oh well... So yeah so that was the opera…

Laura and I went to see a play. It’s called Las Persas (supposedly based on Escoles’ [sp] play of the same name…) Basically it was an hour and a half anti-war rant/actors get to (figuratively) masturbate on stage time from the Spanish soldiers point of view… It was so Spanish in fact that they sang a lot of American anti-war songs from the Vietnam era… (oh did I not mention that it was a rock-opera??? Yeah…) Well let me tell you, after it was over (Laura and I were sitting in different places) we met up in the lobby and the first thing she says to me, in English, was “Great high school play, huh?” and I quickly responded with “You’re giving it too much credit…” Anyway afterwards Laura, her friend (who she swears is an actual bruja (witch)) went out for some food/drink. Laura asked me to, please, express my complete and utter distaste for the play to here in English so I could express myself to the fullest… 20 minutes later we had some wine…

Dance. I went to see some dance. Pilobolus? Never heard of them? They’re an American dance company based in NY (remember the Oscars when the people made shapes with their bodies? That was them…) It was absolutely GORGEOUS… See them if you can…

Okay, so I got mugged… Yep… Fun times… anyway I was sitting in Retiro park on a bench by what I like to call my “magic fountain” ‘cuz it’s super pretty and likes Lord of the Rings-esque… Anyway for the first time in a while I was starting to feel pretty good again… I had bought a tortilla sandwich and was sitting there feeding the birds and humming or something and taking pictures of my new pigeon and sparrow friends (Hi my name is Jason and I have a problem. I take too many pictures of f-ing birds…). Anyway there I am being relaxed, enjoying nature, and feeling pretty good about being alive when all of a sudden I see these two kids walking into the area of the fountain. I told the birds (yeah, I was talking to them… I told you I’m a little looney…) to watch out for the people as they walked by when all of a sudden one of the little punks comes up to me. [Everything was in Spanish, you get to read it in English]

“You got something for me?”

“No”

“Give me some money…”

“I don’t have anything…”

“It looks like you got something.” As he grabs my camera…

“Give it back!”

“If you give me a Euro I’ll give you the camera…” Now I can bee pretty stupid so I gave the kid 2 Euros and then asked for my camera back.

“The little mariposa [Spanish not-so-nice slang for gay] wants his camera back.” At this point friend to says they should leave and little punk 1 says no… I reach for the camera and he reaches for my neck. While kinda strangling me he says:

“You don’t wanna mess with me man… Yo soy Latin King!” And he then proceeds to make some sort of hand gesture… Anyway, I’ve had enough so I decided to cut my losses (at least he didn’t get my bag with my laptop in it…) and get the hell out of there… As I grab my stuff and stand up WHAM! He punches me right in the left eye… Now there were people watching the whole time, like across the fountain... People walked by as this was happening… I guess good Samaritan is not a real popular thing here in the ‘Drid… Anyway I walk away, they (and my camera) walk away… I get a little pissed/upset so I throw the tin of haring in dill crème that Laura gave me into the garbage and walk off… Not knowing exactly what I should do at that point… I call my father and then decided to go to the Institute… I got there, went to the police station, filed a report and expected nothing to come of it… Anyway, when I got home and told the dynamic duo (Laura and everyone’s favorite Edson) some hilarity ensued… Edson was sure that it was foreigners that did this to me… Not Spaniards! Spanish people don’t mug people! Only Latin American foreigners do that… Oh Edson… Laura got pissed at his blatant racism (which is really fashionable here… If you’re Asian, I’d say you’re better off in another country… Also they don’t love the Jews or African Americans…) and they yelled a little… So there you have it: the mugging story.

What else…. Hmmm… Next week before exams I’m going to Bilbao… That should be fun… I’ve seen some Spanish movies in the theaters (most of them bad… there’s a trend with Spain and the arts that I’m discovering)… And, um… I bought a new camera… It’s okay… And, oh Pisa/Florence! I’ll spare you the reading time, but go. To both. If you can, they’re both super pretty and amazing in there own ways, and let’s face it, Italian food and wine in Italy… Does it get any better? I think not…

So there you have it… An update on the gran viaje… Ask me questions I’ll tell you stories. I can’t wait to see all of you (if anyone still reads this) soon!

Much love, Jason

OH! London! Did I write about London? Well I loved it there! Absolutely loved it! Like I-could-live-there loved it! Super fun times! Okay… Sorry… BYEEE!

Oh, I also went to see an amazing photography exhibit with Laura… It was wonderful. And one of the headlining photos was one of my grandparent’s and then another headlining artist was from the good old HP… Crazy, I know! Okay, now I’m done… For real…

London OR “What?! People speak English?”

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

So I went to London over this last weekend and let me just say, I absolutely LOVED it…. Anyway, I’ll start at the beginning.

After my lunch of Tortilla (thanks Edson!) I headed to the airport. Now not knowing how long it would take me to get there or if the airline would have a problem with the fact that my ticket listed my name as Jason Taylor instead of Jason Vanderwoude (darn double apellidos… and we won’t even get into the three hours I spent on the phone with EDreams and Air France, all in Español by the way…) So I arrived at Burjas at 4:30… One problem, my flight didn’t leave until 7:30… Oops… So in a true Vanderwoude fashion, I had a good 2:40 to kill in the airport. Security there was an absolute joke. I went got my ticket, was never ID-ed, walked up to the metal detector, beeped as I went through, and then had them wand my belt, never once asking a question… So I spent my time in the magical world of Duty-Free everything and playing solitaire on my phone… Woot! Anyway, I finally boarded and began my journey to London.

The flight was fine… Just me and a bunch of English businessmen and women with around six bags each of duty free alcohol… We arrived on time and I deplaned thinking that Heathrow looked a little small… Anyway my bag came super quick and I went to find the Heathrow Express train that Ashley told me to take… Well funny story… Lately I haven’t exactly been thinking a lot so I’m a tad bit slow... I actually arrived in London at London City Airport, not Heathrow… Hey, to my defense I don’t know London, never been there before, so it was easy to confuse the airports… Anywho, a nice older man working at the train station helped me plan my route.

I was on the train for about 1:30 when I arrived at Wimbledon… Now I had thought that Ashley was gunna meet me at the Tube station so I got there and waited around for a while… Now, my phone was out of money and since I was on roaming I couldn’t receive calls either… Oops,! Never mind the fact that I didn’t have Ashley or Taylor’s numbers in my phone… AY! So after about another hour or so I decided to go get in a cab find a hotel with internet access and try to contact the girls… So the cab takes me “about six or seven quid” from the station to a Holiday Inn Express and as we pull up (miracle of miracles) my phone rings. It’s Ashley (thank GOD)… So long story short I pay another 10 quid to head over to their place…

It was super great to see both of them and their flat (the penthouse) is super cute and the neighborhood is even cuter (so many little British children!!!). After a bottle of wine and some tortilla chips we settled in for the evening.

The next day Taylor had to go to work early so Ashley and I decided to do a little shopping/exploring the city and met Taylor for lunch at a cute French bistro. Now I won’t go into every detail of what I did while there, but I found it very hard to communicate with English speaking people the first day and a half I was there… Yeah… Anyway over the weekend I saw some of the sites, did some super expensive (have you seen the exchange rate lately?!?!) shopping and tried out the night life a little… Again SUPER GREAT TRIP…

I’m sitting in class as I write this so I should probably cut off this entry here… Suffice to say I love London and can’t wait to get back there at some point and explore some more!

Oh yeah, on the way back I stopped in Paris (Charles Degaul [sp?] Airport) for about an hour and a half. Very friendly people, couldn’t really understand them… Anyway, I had a pastry, bought some magazines and then headed back the Spain… A good end to a great weekend!

¡Chao!