Wanderer Returned

And just like that, my blissful 2 week sojourn around the Mediterranean and Adriatic has come to an end.  People have been asking me for photos since the day I’ve been back; patience, good friends!  We took a couple thousand photos, it’s going to take me some time to cull through them all to find the best ones (and ones where I don’t look a hot mess because believe me- it was hot.)

In the meantime, some highlights and thoughts:

-If I was in a post-apocalyptic world, running from aliens/terrorists/swarms of killer bees, I would pick a taxi driver as my companion.  I don’t know how they do it.  They drive with reckless abandon of a teenage driver and the skill of a stunt car driver and the reflexes of a cat.

– Going to Dubrovnik, Croatia where they film Game of Thrones (King’s Landing, if you know the show) was pretty geek-tastic for me.  Counting the days until Season 4 begins…likewise, visiting the Parthenon in Athens was a lifetime wish fulfilled as well, though it was so hot and crowded up there, it probably made my visit shorter than I would have wished.

– In some parts of Europe, you binge-tour palaces filled with gold and brocade and fine china.  In this part of Europe, I toured my fill of ancient ruins and perfectly preserved mosaics with colors so bright and beautiful that they look like they had been made by machine and cemented in yesterday.

– There were tons of stray cats and dogs, mostly in Greece and Turkey.  The cats were all skinny but didn’t have that starved look in their eye.  The dogs all seemed to be the size of small ponies and all sleeping in identical positions in the middle of busy walkways.  I think we might have taken more pictures of animals than of ourselves.

– Favorite city I visited was (no surprise) Venice.  It had this otherworldly beauty about it; the old buildings with wooden doorsteps slick with salt water; the crowded hubbub of St. Mark’s Square; the wind whipping through your hair as you take the water taxi (also known as a vaparetto), the gondoliers singing through the canals and young lovers lingering on steps and bridges.  It’s almost enough to make you forget that the entire city is still sinking into the ocean.  I hope they’re able to salvage some of the buildings, it would be a pity to let them sink to the bottom of the ocean (though maybe the fish have been craving an underwater palace.)

– The food was of course incredible.  I ate too much feta cheese and seafood and gelato.  I have no regrets though.  NO REGRETS AT ALL.

I promise I’ll post some pictures soon; up next- Venice!  (To see some photos I posted on Instagram, click on the link at the bottom of this page!)

Ciao! Ecco un elenco di riproduzione.

Hello!  Here is a playlist.  (Blame Google Translate for any errors.)

Remember when I mentioned that I was off on a trip again this summer?  Well…it’s actually happening.  Like in less than 12 hours.  Yeah.  Still have yet to pack those pesky toiletries, but no matter.  ‘Tis only a matter of time.  Off to the Mediterranean this time, a place that has been the number one destination on my travel wish list for ages.  Countries that I’ll be stopping by this time: Italy, Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece.  EEP!  So ready to stuff my face with delicious Italian food.

I’m off for two weeks so there will be another blog drought…in the meantime, why not go back in time and pretend you’re traveling around the Baltic sea with me last summer?  Might help you if you read my blog posts so you know what our itinerary was for each summer.  😉  If that doesn’t strike your fancy, I suggest jamming out to my delectable playlist.  It was a summer playlist but here in SoCal, we always get a last punch of heat before mild summer autumn hits.  So it’s still summer here.  Autumn proper doesn’t really start until late September.   If you’re not going on a trip and you’re not stuck in school/work (which I daresay is not many people) I suggest playing this as you lounge by your pool, sipping a perfectly sweet glass of sangria or while you take a drive at night with your convertible top down, blasting the music loud while the hot air blows on your face.  (But don’t do this in residential areas, as I do not want angry citizens coming to stone your car.)

Summer 2013 Playlist (aka Get Up And Dance, Because Why Not?)

  1. Harlem – New Politics (I am a sucker for a strong jawline and whew- does NP’s lead singer have a chiseled chin or WHAT.)
  2. Spectrum – Zedd ft. Matthew Koma (“Clarity” seems to be all the rage on the radio lately, but this song was my jam first.)
  3. Can’t Hold Us- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  4. Stars Come Out – Calvin Harris
  5. She Blows (The Whistle Song) | Dillon Francis Remix – Time Takers (What a misnomer.  No whistling at all in this song.  Heh.)
  6. Heartbeat – JJAMZ (Getting into a chunk of slower songs, but you need a breather after dancing nonstop, am I right?  Plus, I like my fair share of singable songs.)
  7. Lasso – Phoenix
  8. Pompeii – Bastille
  9. Polish Girl – Neon Indian (Is it Polish like the country, or like the nail coloring?)
  10. A Tattered Line of String – The Postal Service (They’re back!  Kind of.)
  11. Bright Whites – Kishi Bashi
  12. Little Numbers – BOY (Contrary to their name, the band is a pair of German women.  Saw them live earlier this year and they are adorable.)
  13. Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood (While I prefer sundress weather, I am a sucker for British spelling.  I didn’t like this song at first when I heard it on the radio, but I’ve been won over.  Could be the way he says “it’s too cold for you here.”  He’s probably right – I think everything below 70 degrees is cold.)
  14. Kangaroo Court – Capital Cities (This song is so deliciously crunchy and blippy, and I am obsessed with the entire album.)
  15. Changing of the Seasons – Two Door Cinema Club
  16. The Only Place – Best Coast (The title of the song and indeed the band’s name can only refer to one place- Southern California.  Though I will always love traveling, there’s no place like home.)

Arrivederci, dear readers.  See you next month!

Weekend in Review: Books, Paintings, and Sushi

Spent last weekend with a whirlwind trip to San Francisco that mostly involved a lot of traveling as this time I took some public transportation and drove up with 2 friends and a cat (not my own) instead of flying.

I attempted to make sushi for the first time with my friends with the help of a sushi mold (ie a plastic tray where you place the seaweed/rice/filling and it helps you keep it all nice and tidy when you cut it) and although it wasn’t very professional looking, all that matters is the taste, right?  And you definitely can’t go wrong with fresh fish, rice, and veggies.  The purple in some of the rice is from furikake we added.  Behold!

SushiI also stopped by the de Young Museum and saw a painting that I’ve wanted to see for years: Vermeer’s “Girl With A Pearl Earring.”  I first saw the painting on the cover of a YA novel was curious about the beautifully mysterious girl.  I read about the equally mysterious painter Vermeer and read the novel of the same name by Tracey Chevalier (which imagines who this model was and her relationship with the painter) and then subsequently watched the movie based on the novel starring a young Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth.  I love the movie.  Not because I think that it’s the greatest film of all time, but I absolutely love the way it was made.  Every scene in the movie is shot like a Vermeer painting- the posing, the colors, the lighting.  If you watch the movie and pause it at random spots, the probability of it showing a scene that Vermeer would have painted is high.

So I’ve been dying to see the real thing for years, but resigned myself for a long wait since I have no plans to visit The Hague anytime soon.  Imagine my happy surprise when I heard it was visiting SF!  When I saw the painting in person I wanted to just stand there for hours (like a creeper) and soak it all in- it was smaller than I imagined (most famous paintings usually are) but it was so perfect.  The restoration really made it seem brand new.  The invisible brushstrokes, the lighting, the flawlessness of her skin and the pearl earring- it was beautiful.  I highly recommend the exhibit for anyone in the Bay Area.

In other literary news, I just finished the fantasy novel The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card.  I rate it a “meh.”  Mostly because the magic in it required me to consider physics, and out of all the science classes I took in school, I bombed physics the hardest.  I spent a good deal of the book trying to wrap my head around the magical concepts, giving up (because my brain is no longer wired to attempt advanced scientific possibilities anymore) and then moving on without fully getting what was going on.  And the protagonist is a smart ass 13-year old.  If I was a teen, I’d probably be more sympathetic to his character and find him funny.  As an adult, I just find it annoying.  That’s not Card’s fault, I will admit that I was just as bratty and exasperating at that age as well.  But that doesn’t mean I want to read about it.

I also realized I ate out five days this week.  Wow.  New record for me (and not in a good way.)