May 262007

firenze florence firenze florence firenze florence firenze florence
Photo album of Florence/Firenze, Italy.

March 28-30, 2007

Florence is an amazing city. Of course the art collection is the main draw, but the city itself is also wonderful. The view from Piazzale Michelangelo of the city and Arno river is worth the hike. Sunset gives the whole city a golden glow. The view from the top of Duomo is worth all those stairs. The city was understandably touristy, but not oppressively so. The food was wonderful, of course, though I never got around to trying the tripe sandwiches. David was one of those things that really held up. This is an image that has been with all of us since childhood, yet seeing the sculpture in person still blew my mind. Good to know I’m not quite a cynical old codger yet.

May 242007

How’s your day going? Need a downer? Though not really news, this article sums up the situation quickly:

Our oceans are turning into plastic…are we? A vast swath of the Pacific, twice the size of Texas, is full of a plastic stew that is entering the food chain…”

“Except for the small amount that’s been incinerated—and it’s a very small amount—every bit of plastic ever made still exists,” Moore says, describing how the material’s molecular structure resists biodegradation. Instead, plastic crumbles into ever-tinier fragments as it’s exposed to sunlight and the elements. And none of these untold gazillions of fragments is disappearing anytime soon: Even when plastic is broken down to a single molecule, it remains too tough for biodegradation.

Truth is, no one knows how long it will take for plastic to biodegrade, or return to its carbon and hydrogen elements. We only invented the stuff 144 years ago, and science’s best guess is that its natural disappearance will take several more centuries. Meanwhile, every year, we churn out about 60 billion tons of it, much of which becomes disposable products meant only for a single use. Set aside the question of why we’re creating ketchup bottles and six-pack rings that last for half a millennium, and consider the implications of it: Plastic never really goes away.

May 142007

St Josep Market, Barcelona, Spain St Josep Market, Barcelona, Spain St Josep Market, Barcelona, Spain
Photo album of St Josep Market, Barcelona, Spain

Gaudí's Barcelona, Spain Gaudí's Barcelona, Spain Gaudí's Barcelona, Spain
Photo album of Gaudí’s Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain Barcelona, Spain Barcelona, Spain
Photo album of Barcelona, Spain

March 22-24, 2007

Early in the morning we pile into the car and head north from Tarragona north to the Barcelona airport. Why the airport? Well, it seemed the easiest place to return the rental car and head into the city. Ahahahah, how wrong that was. In case you wanted to know, airport construction is going great. Also, don’t take the overpass near the new buildings unless you have a 4WD and can drive around the concrete blocking the perfectly good entrance to the terminals. I now know the business parks next to the airport far better than I should.

After that we took the airport bus into the city and joined the crowds hauling their bags down Rambla to their hotels. Checked in, got settled, and headed to the St Josep market. Though some things were ridiculously expensive (85 Euro per KG cherries anyone?), most offerings were fresh and cheap. Mmmm.. I could go for some agua de sandia right now.

So, it turns out I don’t like pig’s trotters. They aren’t horrible, but there is just something about a meal composed of 90% fat and skin that just doesn’t sit right. Such is the cost of adventurous ordering. After lunch we wandered around the city and checked out outside of Sagrada Família and toured Casa Batlló. I’m not always a fan of his constant curves, but the innovations in his designs were amazing for their day. In fact, many of the designs I like are quite derivative of his work. The audio tour at is worth it to see the roof, but the audio is laughable – “this is the most grand room you will ever enter”, “Gaudí was the most brilliant genius of all time”, “this design is the most modern of all time”. God, what a bunch of fat heads.

The next day we wandered over to Sagrada Família, saw the elevator wait times, and decided to climb up Montjuïc instead. A train ride later and we were climbing up through the gardens to the castle at the top, as the tram is under renovation. The views of the city and harbor are worth the climb.

From the south end of Montjuïc we walked east back into the city and rambled through the Gothic quarter for a while. We explored the roof, cloister, and coin operated tomb at Santa Eulàlia. Eventually running out of change, we spent the rest of the afternoon in Museo Picasso, before catching some tapas. On our way back to the hotel we picked up some late night gelato to go with a bottle of muscetta we still had from Valencia. That’s an excellent nightcap.

Our last day we rushed over to Sagrada Família to be some of the first in the church and up the lifts. It definitely made a difference, we had plenty of time to see the top without fighting our way through crowds. There is nothing better than leaving just as the giant tour buses start to show up.

After that it was time to say good bye to Anna (she will be in Spain for the next week and a bit exploring on her own), check out, then take the areobus to the airport to head to Rome. Walking through the airport I had to laugh that entire legs of jamon were available in duty-free type stores. Wonder if that’s carry-on? Temping…

May 142007

Perhaps it is a simple case of too many projects and not enough after work energy. Spring weather? Netflix and documentary overdose? Maybe. Maybe I’m just lazy. Either way, I’ve been taking a bit of a break from posting travel notes & organizing photos. I find myself already thinking about future trips. Itchy feet. I’m hoping a bánh mì and a Stone IPA will give me a bit of motivation on it tonight. We shall see…