Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Chrismas and hurry Krishnas! xxx

Hello hello,
So my best beloved, where did we leave you... in that zoo of a city, Delhi, eating momo's  with Neeraj. Neeraj was a god sent for us, a breath of fresh air in the stifling city smog, my throat is still recovering. As Matt explained in depth we spent a few days lounging in UK high commission and eating fish and chips. After which we were once again ready to explore India, and so off to rajasthan we went.

We've been traveling by train here which is quite an experience of it's own. We take 2nd class (sleeper) where we've found ourselves stacked among layers of beds, usually 3, with an assortment of other Indians (men mainly) who more often then not spend the entire ride staring at me; an hour i could understand but these are 10 hour rides people. The trains have the most atrocious toilets in the world; and if, God forbid you have to use one on your 10 hour ride, you'll find yourself in a little bunker of a room with a rather ambiguous puddle on the ground, shit on all walls, and a whole in the corner. I wont go on, I'm sorry, but i thought a few of you might want to know these things. Though out the ride, at any hour day or night, people will be tromping up and down the train saying "chai chai chai, chitta chai chai." I can't explain the tone they use but it comes from somewhere deep in their sinus, very nasal, almost like a tuvan thought singer, and they all sound just the same. Other than the Chai Guys there are people selling samosa's, nuts, rice, chips, soda's; people shinning shoe's, fixing broken zippers; selling bags and blankets and cloths. All sorts of stuff, we even found a 'pen' sales man, very sweet guy with thousands of pens, he had pen's coming out of his ears.

The train this time took us to the little oasis town of Pushkar, the 'Bhrama' place of India (I believe he's Krishna's brother.) Pusha means flower and Kar is hand; the oasis was said to have been created from the petals that fell from Bhrama's hand. To say the least the spring here creates a very holy lake with ghats on all side, I might venture to call these ghats steps into the water. A good Hindi would make a yearly pilgrimage to the lake to bath in it's water and wash away the sins of the past. It is here that Matt and I fell victim to our fist con, for some reason this village is brimming with crocks and cons. We ended up paying someone about 300 rupees to put a dot on our heads and give us a bit of string. Religious cons are really the hardest to walk away from though we have a new vow "NEVER (ever) pay for religion" and i think it will serve us well. The streets of Pushkar are filled with not only people but pigs and cows and the occasional camel too, and the roofs are lined with monkeys. At dusk the monkeys venture down to the streets to reek havoc and steal from the fruit stands. Perhaps the thought of theft does not cross a monkeys mind but only a innocent imitation of the people they observe all day. Something about how comfortable Pushkar made us feel lead us to think that hopping into the first cafe we found and eating the food they were cooking on the side of the road was a good idea. Our stomachs spent the next 2 days violently rejecting whatever it was we consumed; we made it though, ate a few banana's and drank lots of water and came out 3 days later a little thiner but all in all just fine.

After Pushkar we made our way to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal and Matt's 26th birthday. The Taj Mahal is picture perfect (besides from the swarms of people everywhere.) Something i never new was that it is a Moslem. The king and queen who built it had 13 children, six of which survived and four of those where boys. One of the sons then killed all his brothers and locked his father up in the fort to take over the palace and the Taj. So not such a romantic story but the moral is you can be rich enough to build one of the 7 wonders of the world and you still may not find peace, in fact i would say it lessens the odds. Anyways the original king was returned back to the Taj... after death, and that is now where his tomb lies. One other interesting point here is the Taj cost 750 rupees to visit, which by indian standard is REALLY steep, but this is only for foreigners. Take a guess at how much indian nationals pay? Twenty rupees. Unbelievable! I mean the principle i can understand but lets put the two numbers a little closer together ehh? Anyways the Taj is beautiful and glorious and everything you would expect but Agra is a dirty tourist trap and not somewhere worth righting about at all.

Now we make our way to Dharamsala, home to the Dali Lama. Another train to Delhi and then what we hoped would be a 8 hour ride to Chatty back and THEN a 3 hour ride up the mountains to Dharamsala. As you can imagine we were not looking forward to re-entering the hellish city of delhi but it actually turned out quite well. We found the extremely sought after restaurant 'Karims.' It was opened over a hundred years ago by the man who cooked for the maharaja's of the Mughal empire and since then has been passed down though the family to the current owner who is the great great grandson or something like that. The food is AMAZING! Defiantly, by far,experiences and absolutely the best indian food ever; and damn close the the one of the best dining experiences ever. You see how much of a impression good food can make on somebody. Anyone going to Delhi absolutely must eat here, and it's very well priced, about 10 dollars and we could barely walk away we were so full. So it was a excellent intermission for our journey and a good intermission for us... I'll leave the rest for next time.

Merry Christmas once agin

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holy Cow!

 OK, OK, wow!  The last few days have been a whirlwind of wild experiences, and I think we can say without too much doubt that the adventure has truly began.  I am writing you currently pool side in the safety and comfort of the English Embassy in Deli, India; a much appreciated change from the last few days.  So in true Wains World fashion lets flash back to just 10 days before and get you all caught up....

 The Mini Buss is actually a public Turkish buss in Denizli, we come to realize, and is crammed to the brim with an assortment of very colorful people.  We are dropped off in the quite dubious looking little town of Pamukkale, which happens to look nothing like all the pictures we have seen, but it is the off season so we're gona give it a chance.  Weather it was the ten hour bus ride from Olympos, or the ever growing hunger pit in our stomaches we let ourselves get coaxed into a room at a place that slightly resembled what the hotel may have looked like in the 80's; we were starting to notice a trend.  This coaxing, which is like coning with a smile, is something were are getting good training in dealing with, and let me tell you it won't be a problem much longer.  We collapsed in our dirty bed, and decided better grab some grub and hit the sack, but on our way into town we were coaxed to eat at the hotel, which we were assured would be cheaper and traditional, and we thought what the hell, and i am sure that if we had eaten it within a few days of it being cooked it may have been good.  The next day, when I managed to stay away from the toilet for more than five minutes, we trekked to the famous Roman Bathes, but being the genius that I am, decided to ignore the looming clouds and Nimas advice and just wore my swim trunks, then I managed to use the last bit of my optimism to ginks the clouds into drenching us by saying, 'Hey at least its not raining.'
  The Bathes were at one point very beautiful, and you can still see potential, but make sure your in the mood to stair at more ruins, if you hadn't had your fill.  To go into the famous Cleopatra Bath you should prepared to spend about 80 american, oh and if you want maybe a freekin beer to chill you out or just some stale crappy french fries to fill the burning hole in your stomach be prepared to fork out another 20.  But hey if I were you I'd save myself allot of money and damn near hypothermia and just take a quick trip to the DMV for a similar experience.  I was spent at this point, emotionally and physically, but Nima, who I must say has the stomach of a goat, was pissed and done.  In a gust of feminine glory she went back into our hotel to tell them that we were leaving, but to her dismay there was no one there, so we packed up left a 50 lira note on the bed and bailed to a much better place that Nima originally wanted to go to, and our trip to Pamukkale turned around.

Thanks for hearing me out I think I really needed to vent.

  We spent the night Drinking beer, eating our first veggie meal in Turkey, and playing backgammon with a very nice couple that ran the hotel.  The beds were cleaner and so was the food, both of these things were cheaper as well, plus they ran a travel service and hooked us up with a bus in the morning back to Istanbul.  That place made it all worth the trip.  After another 12 hour cross country trek we were back with our friends Onar and Turan, the guys who generously offered us their couch.  They had kept track of our bags while we paraded around their country, and it was nice to get back to friendly faces and a clean place to sleep.  We had what we thought was the luxury of a few days to spend in Istanbul before our flight to India, but unfortunately we realized that Midnight thirty on the ninth actually came dangerously close to the eighth, which happened to be that day, so we scrambled to see the Hagia Sophia which had a history as long as something really long. The place was a Palace, then a Temple, then after Constantine the Great, it was Catholic, Constantine changed Istanbul to Constantinople, then it got changed back, and the Hagia became Muslim, but now it it is a famous and majestic tourist trap, but a nice place to wonder around before a flight.  We also rampaged through the Grand Bazar, but it wasn't bazar at all, it was a mall, but the coolest and oldest mall ever, lets just say I saw some rugs that would really tie my room together back home and some hookahs to burn holes in that rug.  Cool place.  After a quick bite with Tunar at a place we quickly became locals at; eating there every night, our host took us to eat the best desert, aside from Grandmas red velvet cake, I have ever had, real baklava with whip cream.  Then we grabbed our bags and jammed to the airport for our next three and a half hour time change.  Thanks guys for all the help!  In the line for our tickets I was informed by a representative of Arabia Air that I could not take my guitar on the flight unless I played for them, right their in the airport, in front of everyone.  A rather crazy form of security, by my rendition of Cecelia by Paul Simon seemed to suffice.

  We landed with red eyes to the land of saffron, sorrys, and samosas, but man I felt high from the lack of sleep, so we giggled our way through customs which was surprisingly painless.  Then our adventure truly began, stay tuned after a word from our sponsors.
  With my hectic travel schedule its hard to stay healthy, different vitamins and minerals, its all so hard to keep track of, thats why I put my trust in Citricidal TM.  Just 15 drops in your water every day to keep you off the toilet and on your feet.  Its grapefruit seed extract liquid concentrate, and take it from me, it really works.  That or a shot of whiskey after a shaky meal.
  You know Mr. Toads Wild Ride, it's got nothing on a rickshaw ride through the streets of Delhi. The things you see going down the road; horses, oxen, children on motor scooters, bicycles dragging scaffolding.  Cows with more makeup than Paris Hilton crossing whenever they please, and everyone stops for them, and you know the best part, NO STARBUCKS, I wondered if I didn't survive the ride and I just ended up in heaven.  I will take the poppa squat toilets any day over seeing a starbucks on every corner, no joke.  For the first few days we couch surfed and explored with some other surfers we met, Robert and Jadah, who showed us the wonder of foot travel in Delhi, which I will use my SAT skills to describe.  Foot travel in Santa Cruz is to foot travel in Delhi as driving at Disney Land is to Driving In LA.  Its not the best metaphor, in fact I'm not sure it's a metaphor at all, but I hope you can see what I mean.  We checked out the biggest Mosque in all of Delhi, which I managed to snap a rather imaginative photo of, completely accidentally by the way.  We had bon fires and played music, and one night I got drunk and rode a horse, you know when you get all drunk, then the next morning your girlfriend is like, "what did you do last night?'  but in your memory you had spent it together until you get this flash of riding a horse through the streets of Delhi; it was like that.  I ate something too, but I don't remember what, but I'm alive thanks to Citricidal TM.  Next we caught the couch surfing wave to Neerag's door, he's an old friend of Eve's from her time at the English Embassy.  It was great to meet him, and he's giving us much appreciated local advice, as well as letting us chill at a sweet pool where the hot December sun is warming our souls.

  So it looks like this episode has really came full circle folks, I was a little worried about those two for a while, but I sure am glad they pulled through.  Until next time keep dreaming, and ask your doctor if Citricidal TM is right for you.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Istanbul, Oylmpos, and the Chimera Beast

Turkey, a land where howling prayers echo though the streets and over the mountains three times a day. Where the men bath in fountains before entering a mosque and the woman cover all but the face in shrouds. Where one eats Kebab breakfast lunch and dinner (breakfast might be an exaggeration) Where the Cafes are lined with leathery men smoking nargile (hookah) and playing backgammon, and where to be beat by the likes of me (a woman) is very unlucky. A land where chestnuts roast on every street corner, and the bridges are lined with fishermen.  A world where the Mustache rains, and nobody got the memo that the 80-'s where over.

Matt and me flew into Istanbul on the 27th and stayed with some new couch surfing friends there for 3 days.  By day we explored the city on our own, navigating though crocked streets lined with cons and rip offs; and by night we dissolved into the local life of our host, smoking nargile and drinking salep. For our first step into Istanbul we made our way to the blue mosque. In contradiction to its name it is not blue, it gets its name however from the blue motif of the tiles inside (make's it a bit hard to spot for the likes of our American eyes :P) Right across from the Blue Mosque we stumbled upon, and luckily not into the Basilica Cistern. This was a huge water storage chamber for the Great Palace of Constantinople, now called the Topkapi Palace. Together Matt and me walked down into the Cistern which was one of the most unforgettable images we have found on our travels, a chamber of approx. 450 feet filled with nothing but darkness, 2 feet of water, and rows upon rows of marble columns.  In the far back corner of the Cistern we found two columns which were resting on Medusa's head. Many of the columns and heads a like were said to have been stolen off of old Roman building and brought by the Ottoman Empire to "Constantinople" Istanbul.Matt and I also witnessed the burning of the Historical Train Station. Strolling along the old city walls though the Topkapi Place Gardens we crested a little hill only to be stunned by the sight of the Old Train Station burning from the other side of the Bay.

After a few days in Istanbul Matt and me hoped on the Kamil Koc (pronounced couch not cock) which is an over night train that took us to the southern Mediterranean region Antalia. Matt wants me to let you know that after a long hard journey on the Kamil Koc our bums were very sore, unfortunately it's too true. We had a tip from someone to come to the little valley of Olympos in the middle of no where. We arrived 'there' at 8:30 AM after a 12 hr journey, and when I say 'there' i mean on the side of the road 15 Miles above Olympos with a stack of bags. Luckily this was a common occurrence and due to the regular dismayed backers left on the road a small cafe had opened up. Through our nonexistent Turkish and highly developed expertise of body language we gathered from the owner of the cafe that a mini shuttle bus would come to the top soon enough and we could catch a ride to the bottom of the valley then.

In Olympos we found accommodation at the Hotel California... well that is the name of our room. The place it's self is called Kadir's Top Tree Houses and it's really very special. It's a funky little adventure resort which looks like a mix of  "The Swiss Family Robinson" and "Butch Casady." (if these references are lost on you go ask your parents.) We have our own room here and get breakfast and lunch included in the fairly low price of 20 lira per person. Olympos it's self is amazing, Now it has perhaps a population of 50 but It once was a powerful ancient city filled with hustle and bustle from Hellenistic Period (just after Alexander the Greats conquests.) In the 1st century AD it was invaded by Cilician Pirates, run down and abandoned by anyone with dignity. About 100 years later a Roman commander accompanied by Julius Caesar took the city after a victory at sea. And so the city became part of the Roman Empire and stayed that way until during the civil wars that eventually crushed the roman empire and the city once again fell into the hands of the pirates. In the 10th AD the city was brought back to power by the christian crusaders who built fortresses along the coast. But though all this history and different societies that lived here, Olympos was abandoned by the 15th century. And today there is a little village here supported by tourism from people like me and matt who think the idea of strolling though the ancient ruins and artifacts, sitting on the Mediterranean beach underneath a 500 year old castle, surrounded by renegade grape vines olive and bay trees is about as close to perfect for the time being as one could get.
Matt and me are absolutely loving exploring here, as one could guess. There as no fences, or keep out signs, we're just able to wonder though the old roman ruins of temples and bath houses etc. Climbing though windows and touching the ancient carving in the stones.

Olympos was also home to the great Chimera beast; she had the head of lion, body of a goat, and the tail of a serpent (perhaps the front feet of a bird as well?) It is here that the beast was slain and in the spot of her death the flames of her anguish will forever burn. Science on the other hand has given light to the natural phenomena as being methane gas seeping out from the crevasses  in the rock and this is what causes the eternal flames of Chimera. Anyway you slice it it is very cool. Matt and me hiked about 6 kilometer though the valley and up the cliffy mountains to see the Chimera flames, when we finally arrived at the top of the mountain there they were as they were 2000 years ago. Homer actually wrote about Chimera in the Odyssey. It was truly amazing, an eternal gas stove glowing away in the sunset. We had heard it was a two beer minimum location for anyone who could stomach the climb so at the top we had a nice picnic of snacks and a couple brewskies. Matt actually light one of the flames... the gas seeps from the rocks and a few of the obvious normal flame spots where out so leave it to our Matty boy to take a lighter to them and test his luck. To our suprise one of the holes made a gurgling noise and then shot flames from it's mouth. We tried and tried to recreate this experience with no success. The flame had been light and the excess gas had been used so you will not get to see a video of this but you can hear the story alone.

I think i could tell you stories of the dogs we've adopted here, or that have adopted us; or of the climbers we've met and the people we've stayed with but i'll leave it at this for now and let you dwell on the Chimer Beast yourself. Perhaps you will make it to Olympos one day and then we'll all know that it's not some fairy land that Matt and me created for your enjoyment.

Until we wright again, much more to come...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanks Giving

For this Thanks Giving I think it will be best to make this a cooking blog post.  We have been eating Mexican food, and that just so happens to be what we are making this year.

Today we are making world famous Sinclair/O'Bannon Mexican Gringo Quasi en.  You will need:

4 medium sized onions
6 small tomatoes
1 can minced tomatoes
1 cup of rice
1 stock cube (Veggie or Chicken)
1 bag of beans
1bunch of cilantro
1 lime
4 avocados
1 garlic
3 peppers
flower tortillas
salted corn chips
1 six pack coronas
1 extra lime

First you must soak the beans over night.  The anticipation will make your mouth water, plus it will be good for the beans some how.  A good friend once told me (he was Mexican, so take this to heart) it would be a good idea to put baking soda in the beans, this will help with the gas; at the time I thought this was some kind of Mexican voodoo,but after practice it seems that this is right.

About six hours before serving time, cut 1 onion in half, put it in a pot with twice as much water as the 1 pack of well as the three peppers and about 6 cloves of garlic.  Let it slow cook till dinner time.

Now with a couple of hours to go, and don't get all brain surgeon on me, we're not making a bomb, lets make the rice.  Fry another onion, chopped randomly, with another couple cloves of garlic in the uncooked rice.  Let the onion and garlic get fried first of course, then add the rice.  After you feel; its all about feeling, you know like the force in Star Wars; its fried long enough add the 1 can minced tomatoes, heat up water with the stock cube, add 1/3rd of the bunch of cilantro, and one cup water to the pot of rice.  Let cook till rice is aldante- this is an Italian word which means to the teeth, I'm sure you can figure out what it means.

So there you've got the rice and beans.  Now the Salsa.  Hopefully on the side of this post there is an example of how to chop the onions, this is how you should chop everything, unless of course you have a food processor, in which case use that.  Take 2 onions finely chopped, mixed in a bowl with 4 to 6 small tomatoes, the rest of the bunch of cilantro, half a lime and a few jalapenos for fun, all chopped salsa grade. There ya go.

Smash the 4 avocados, add the other half of the lime, and a healthy couple of spoon fulls of salsa, and theirs the guac.

Drink coronas when applicable.

Before I forget, add salt to all these items to your own taste.  Heat the tortillas in the oven, and be sure to grate some cheese and put the salted corn tortilla chips in a bowl.

I really hope you all had a great thanks giving, I know i did.  Hey and always remember, keep an extra pair of socks in your glove box because you never know when the one you have on is going to get wet.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hamster Jam!!!!

   Hey hey hey, I'll apologize first off as we are about on week 9 of being homeless. I smell, we've been sleeping in the car, in the bar, on the floor, if you can think of an uncomfortable place to sleep we have slept in it in the past 72 hours. Its all melting together, a nice couple knocked on the door of our Mercedes the other morning to give us food; we took it.  All in all its a pretty freeing feeling though. 
   Our first destination on our Netherlands extravaganza was Utrecht, an old city echoing with history dating back to the Romans.  Their are still official buildings where salt; being the valuable commodity that it was, was measured for sale.  Theirs a church, separated from its bell tower by about 50 meters, where a renegade tornado, lost obviously, had ripped through the town destroying half of this church.  The only recorded tornado before or since in the Netherlands, if thats not enough to convert you to catholicism I don't know what is.  Such a beautiful old city complete with canals, and what they call wharfs, to protect the city from the raising waters.  Every building had awesome cellars, leading to even more awesome Roman underground lairs, and I love underground lairs.  In one of these cellars we had some of the famous Netherlands 'Coffee', and man it was great, a little to great, just a couple of sips and wow and we were 'caffeinated' for hours, wandering around the city. 
   We managed to do some couch surfing there as well.  We stayed with a great couple, Jeroen and Sanne, who were great hosts.  They both worked during the days, but at night we ate great Netherlands food, discussed some interesting history, for instance did you know the American dollar came from the German something or others which the Dutch called Dullard which we then changed to dollar.  Also we're called Yankees by the English because many Dutch living in the americas; New York previously being called New Amsterdam, named their children Jan (pronounced Yan) and Kees, hence the New York Yankees.  Also we made Mexican food one day for our hosts, I think we will be doing this a lot.  They took us to one of the coolest bars I have ever seen, Derat.  The name literally means 'the rat' in honor of some previous residents found mummified in the basement once the bar was restored.  We ended up hanging out all night with the owner Eric, who gave us tastes of some of the finest liquors and beers from that area, and being that the best beer in the world comes from Belgium, I'd venture to say it was some of the best in the world.
   After Utrecht, it was a short train ride to none other than the hazy city itself, the Empire of Herb, the Kingdom of Chronic, the Galaxy of Ganja, THE MECCA OF MARIJUANA.... DON DON DON DON DON (theme of 2010 A Space Odyssey) AMSTERDAM!!!!!  DA NAAAAAA.

Hey their tough guy, come on you smoke all the time, you can take it, no problem.  Wrong.  Take it easy, its legal, its not the space race.
I'm not refer-ing to the girl you just met in the red light district, drink some orange juice or perhaps an herbal tea with sugar.  Theirs something scientific about it, but lets just say its the lightning to your flux capacitor.  (watch Back to the Future again)
Really you have all the time in the world, don't be a hero, your not going to impress ANYONE with your massive bong hit.  Its legal and they don't care, your just the guy who doesn't know which way is up.
These business men are smart, they know exactly what you want.  You stumble hazily out of the 'coffee shop' and there it is like an oasis in the desert, a storefront top to bottom with candy, donuts, cakes, pizza, hot dogs, you name it; but it comes at a price much higher than usual, keep track you stoner.
I am speaking of the famous canals, and yes we did see an unsuspecting soul go head over heals into the unexplainably gross water.  This was at midnight and it was freezing, talk about a buzz kill.
Look, your gona be to confused to understand it anyway, and your gona look like a moron staring at it upside-down, so as awkward as its gona be asking directions, the locals are use to it, just stumble in the direction their finger points.
The lines of legality are hazy, like anywhere, and the shop workers 'don't know anything' so just kick back, take a toke and enjoy.
This ones for the older generation, ya you.  I've seen the way you smoke, like your trying to suck a watermelon through a straw.  You do NOT need deep penetration, and for gods sake don't hold it.  We saw two grey hairs being carried out of the shops with that 'man this stuff is strong' look in their eyes.  Just take it easy and don't embarrass us.
Theirs hundreds of these shops, some play techno, some punk, some reggae, it's all about the vibe, so go in, look around and take the time to really pick a winner.
The tenth rule is perhaps the most important rule ever, forget math and really let this one sink into your cranium.  Before you go TELL ME.  I want to go back.  And if you don't because Death himself is threatening you with well, death, then at least have the decency to bring me back a little.

   OK, now that thats out of the way, where were we.  Amsterdam, wright, OK.  To be perfectly honest my memory is a little foggy, but heres the facts.  We went to the Sex Museum, which was eye opening.  These are some open minded people, I think their country motto must be 'whatever.'  It was basically a history of recorded sex throughout the ages, pretty cool.  On those same lines we swaggered through the Red Light District which is defiantly not a lamp store I found out.  Another interesting museum would half to be the Hemp Museum.  You know in that Cheech and Chong movie where they drive the van made from marijuana, well those of us who can remember it laughed at the ridiculous idea, but turns out thats totally possible.  We saw an engine part made by Ducati, pretty nuts.  Oh ya, the bars are nice, but again beware the spins, they can be a duzy.
  Well folks really I could write about it all day, but I got traveling to tend to, so a quick bit that brings us up to date.  We drove from the Netherlands to Belgium, to catch our ferry back to England.  There we spent one smelly night in the car before bailing, it was time.  I made it through customs again, luckily, and now we are back on Camden awaiting our tickets to Turkey, for thanksgiving of course.  I hope we gave you a little insight on Europe the past few months.  I love you all and before I forget, never mind, I forgot.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gluehwein, Schupfnudeln, Schweinsteiger

Hey Everyone! It's been too long! If you may have noticed that i have been having layout problems but it's all back to normal and the post will continue!

Berlin, awesome place. In Berlin I arranged to stay with a guy named Martin though couch surfing which worked out excellent... besides the fact that per-usual we were late. When we arrived he had maps of the city for us and showed us how to use the public tranport. We enjoyed some home cooked traditional german food together and some good conversations. Though he was fairly busy with community projects and homeless aid so we showed ourselves around the city.

In the Czech Rep. we had heard about a wonderful free tour in Berlin though New Europe. Free tour! how can you say no? This was a great experience, the guides do it for tips so they absolutely have to be good. Our guide was a history buff and really took us back to the 2 world war and what it meant to live in Berlin at this time. She took us to the old luftwaffa head quarters which miraculously is one of the only buildings that survived the bombings. Of course if was designed in the typical nazi fashion which was supposed to make one feel tiny and insignificant. The door handles were 3 times bigger than a normal was and loomed above at about head hight. We saw the "monument to the murder jews of europe" (directly translated as such.) This was defiantly something else. It is a huge square in the heart of Berlin, right outside the political offices and 'house of parliament.' I couldn't really explain the way this monument made you feel but i put a photo there on the side, it is a truly moving and disorientating thing. We stood in front of the famous Humbolt University where they are known for burning something other than weed; books. The strangest thing we saw would have to have been a parking lot. We all stood there wondering why on earth we were standing in some smelly dirt back of a building lot. Well it happened to be the location of Hitlers bunker in which he committed suicide. The bunker is still the intact underground rotting away but the German's buried it to be forgotten in the pages of time. No markers and no signs just a bunch of cars. The Berlin wall was a crazy thing to see, it used to stand "protecting" the people and now it stands fenced in to protect it FROM the people. It is truly unbelievable to amount of suffering that one person can inflict on another.
Of course we saw much much more, Berlin is so rich with modern history but i think that if you are really interested you must go for yourself... and take the tour.

On our own Matt and me went to the Holocaust museum which is so true to history it will make you want to puke... but it is beautifully done. The one thing i really appreciated was a whole room full of letters and diaries written by victims of the second world war, it's enough to bring you to tears. The museum follows the life of 6 people who were in concentration camps to try to personalize the 6 million people who died.

Matt and me also went into the Reichstag (parliament house) after waiting for about 3 hours in line! I think we would not have waited if we knew this to begin with, but you get to the front of one line and you think 'thank god I'm going in' but the big door opens and to your surprise you standing now in another line! All in all though it was very interesting. They have a glass dome built on top which you can walk around and from which you can look down onto the elected officials making decisions. This glass dome has a cone built inside of it that makes it structurally sound, it is covered in mirrors by which the building get the majority of their lighting. It also collects rain water which they use, I'm not quite sure for what but they do. The Germans are very ingenuitive people and in this current climate of the world are extremely progressive.

After Berlin we drove to Hildesheim to stay with our friends from L'Borie, Julia, Kai, and Hannah. It was so nice for a change going to place with friendly faces that we knew and not strange 'friendly' faces. They took us out to a local bar the first night where we played a game translated as "don't be angry." Which is exactly what happens to you when you play the game so it a fitted tittle. Good night really! Julia got me hooked on knitting for the first time in years... i've been making all types of gloves.
Our second night there we made them all mexican food and it was fantastic. We had Pico de Gallo, guacamole, beans, and I even made spanish rice with stock and tomatoes. Ohh it was so beautiful! They loved it as well. The next morning we had one obligation for the day, we had to what a soccer game at 4:00, Hannover vs. Bavaria. After a morning of mulling over where to do this we went to Hannover, where it was ICY cold so we didn't spend much time looking at the city and we did spend a lot of time looking at the inside of a bar and a TV screen. Very traditional German thing to do if you ask me, I drank gluehwein  (mulled wine) and the rest drank the local speciality of beer with strawberries in it.
On our last day there Kai showed us all around Hildesheim. I think the highlight would be a rose bush that was probably one of the first things to mark Hildesheim, dating back from before 800 AD. The tale says king of the region hid a relic in a wild rose bush sometime around 750 AD and when he returned the rose bush had entwined around the relic and would not let the king take it. So the king ordained the building of a church which would house the relic and the bush, and there it is still the oldest church and defiantly the oldest rose bush. I really liked this story, obviously we were not in berlin if the most interesting thing to find was a rose bush but a still very special little city.  That night Julia made us Schupfnudeln
 and sauerkraut, which has quickly become our favorite german food; and we played Kings Cup into the wee hours of the morn. For those of you who do not know Kings Cup, look it up online a give it a shot, one of the better drinking games i have played.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Return To Zagan

What's crackilackin everyone back home.  It was great to see some of you on skype the other day, really made me miss home.  Well it's been five months now, and we're still goin strong.  After Prague we headed north, back across the German border to a little town named Jankendorf, where their is a little organic farm named Holderbusch.  We spent nine days their, working in the garden, hangin with the kids, workin in the mud to expand the duck pond; it was great.  We got to know some really cool people their as well.  Josh, a native Amsterdamien, took us on a tour of the near by city, Gorlitz.  We saw the sites, got to stroll into Poland, whispered into the lovers bow, and even got caught by the police on a late night stroll through the park.  Without Josh's help, it would have been a longer stroll to the police station, being that we were in a border town without passports, but he got us out of it. 
  We also got to know Kristen and her wonderful kids.  The kids didn't know much english, but they asked us our names, and they told us goodnight every night before they went to bed, sweet kids.  Nima, Kristen and I went on a walk to a local raver party and man was it nuts.  It was a lot of electronica music, until they whipped out an acoustic guitar.  Man, free beer, campfire, two jimbay drums, an acoustic bass and guitar; the guitar was bloody when I handed it back to them.  They love classic rock everywhere.  That was my kind of night.
  All together our trip at Fredric's farm was awesome, we prepared our meals out of the garden, made rose hip jam and Liqueur, and Nima made her soon to be famous Dulce de Leche.  They make their own wine at the commune, had an out door make your own fire shower, ducks, chickens, sheep, gooses, cool place.  It also was about an hour from Zagan, just over the Polish border, the home of Stalag Luft lll.  This is where my grandfather spent two years during World War ll, as many of you know.  This place was heavy to visit.  The only thing keeping it protected is the fact that it was made famous by The Great Escape, otherwise it might be nothing more than some decaying slabs of concrete in the forest.  We saw the kitchen, the hospital; where I assume they told papa they were going to half to take his leg, the cooler, and of course tunnel Harry.  Their is also a nice Museum and a monument to the men who died at Stalag Luft lll as well as Stalag Vlll A.  They have a full size replica of the barracks and a guard tower, and a miniature version of the whole camp.  It was hard to imagine my 22 year old grandfather here more than sixty years ago, I mean it's not even winter yet, and it's already freezing here.  On a more somber note, I'll say good night, or I guess it's lunch time for you, so Guten Apitite.  Now we are off to Berlin.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Prague: where the beer is dangerously cheap.

Matt and I drove in to Prague once again making the mistake of doing so late night... though after Paris nothing has been too much of a challenge. I have to say we're not very good at planing! We arrived (once again) no where to stay, no knowledge of the language, and no currency. Smart huh? But it all worked out in the end, after a few hours trekking around in the icy Czech cold hunting for a bed. The first few people we asked for a hostile (or a hotel, we weren't being picky) simply said no. Just before we turned back to the car and hit the road again we got a lucky streak and the answers went from 'no,' to 'maybe that way,' to 'yes that way,' to '300 meters on the right.' When we arrived on the stairs of the sought after Czech Inn we were so shocked at our luck. Though out our stay in Prague we saw lots of slummy hole in the wall hostile and the Czech Inn is the nicest, cleanest hostile either of us had ever stayed in anywhere.

We spent our days there strolling amongst the gothic castles and gory statues of clubbing, and beheadings. Strange place, very sinister, full of torture museums and things of that sort.
We spent our nights drinking dangerously cheep beer, i had to have a constant eye on Matt's alcohol intake... though in the end it didn't help. We both ended up incapable of making it 'home' and spending a huge amount on a taxi driver that wanted to rip us off for all we were worth (and Californians come off as being worth a lot.)  We spent one of these belligerent nights on a pub crawl with two very cool Australian dudes. We went from a small church that had been transformed into a dance club to a bar with a stripper and ended our night in the Roxy. Which is apparently 'THE' place to be in Prague, nothing too special if you ask me but the music was good and the dancing fun. This is where Matt did his shirtless head-banging performance on stage! Perhaps he can show you all again one day.

Well other than the strolling and boozing we did find something very special...
A BURRITO! The very night Matt posted 'please sent us a hole in the wall burrito' the it was, a god sent. La Barracuda Mexicana! No where near as good as a Cali wrap but it'll hold us over until the next time. Ask and ye shall receive.
            And untill the next time... Frieden und Liebe
              xxx ~Nima

Sunday, October 3, 2010


  Hey hey all our friends back home, where burritos flow like wine, and your never more than a stones throw from a taqueria.  As you can tell I'm having serious Mexican food withdrawals, someone please open a proper Mexican hole in the wall in europe.  So this is the story of Oktoberfest, and how I survived it.  This year is the 200th anniversary of what I can only explain as a massive party, put in motion by the Bavarian king and queen after their wedding.  This is important that its a Bavarian festival, not a German one.  Their the people who where lederhosen and blow the Ricolla horn, the girls where the cleavage exposing dresses like the girl on St. Polly Girl beer (which is not a German beer) and theirs no such thing as a 'small' beer.  This place is like Disneyland if everyone was hammered, not buzzed mind you, like two gallons of beer each HAMMERED.  There are crowds of people doing nothing but watching in delight as full grown men in leather trousers are tossed on their buts, by every kind of spinning contraption imaginable.  I remember thinking 'look at those fools' but three hours later their I was, minus the leather trousers mind you.
The Bavarian pre Oktoberfest dinner consists of sausage, potato noodles, and wheat beer to give the stomach a good base.
Its imperative to arrive early, get a seat in a nice beer tent, and take your time.  Remember the beers come 1 liter at a time so three and a half and your at a gallon.
This is where the giant pretzels at carnivals come from, the salt and the bread are a perfect combination for longevity when consuming large quantities of beer.
Don't be ashamed to order a mix of lemonade and beer, or at least get one or two waters throughout the night.  You have to stay hydrated.
By half way through the night everyone will be dancing on the benches and they will be wet from spilt beer, be prepared.
Every time this is said, you must smash your steins of beer together with, by this time, your new best friends then drink a few large guzzles of beer.
On your way out, you will want to ride the rides, even though you won't be able to walk very well, and you do not want to be fumbling around with your wallet.
This is the only way to make it to a bed, every day their are drunk americans all around the grounds who did not follow this most important rule.
These are a few rules I would have loved to hear before attempting the Oktoberfest.  I followed #'s 6 and 8 with Nimas help of course, so I at least made it home.  The rest I did not.  I thought I had broken my wrist, after a most excellent tube ride on the table, but I wiped out.  I had a hang over for two days, as well as a tight bracelet on my right wrist.  I think its ok now.  On our second attempt, we had a much more sober time, it was time to see the sites.  This was the first year that they had a replica of what the Oktoberfest might have been like 200 years ago, complete with a king and a queen and horse races, along with beer brewed the traditional way and served in ceramic steins.  This was very cool to check out.  All in all we had a great time, and I lived to tell the tale.
  Oktoberfest is located in the center of Munich, Germany, one of the coolest cities we've seen.  First we stayed with a guy named Adler, one of Pauls old friends from San Francisco.  Adler and his Fathers were our escorts on the first attempt at Oktoberfest, they took us to the two most famous tents, and we had an awesome time together.  Adler showed us around his most excellent city, one of the coolest parts was the English garden, which is apparently the biggest park in a city of over a million.  This place had many Beer Gardens,(which is just like a normal garden, only instead of growing stuff, people drink beer) it had lakes, canals, and even its own surf spot, the eternal wave of Icespa.
  Our next hosts were Steffi and Jens, a really cool couple who happened to be friends with Julia, a girl we met at a commune a few weeks prior.  Together we spoke of Anarchy, played the coolest zombi board game ever (it was in German) and explored the fascinating effects of all of the famous Oktoberfest beers.  We went with them to a friends house where Steffi made us some great traditional German cuisine, already referred to in step one of the Oktoberfest survival guide. Without the generosity of our hosts we couldn't have spent more than an hour in Munich, thanks so much you guys.  And so you all know back home I am currently on a beer fast.  Wow these people know how to party.  Next up Prague, remember to buckle up, and don't text on 17.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Snail Trail

Falling behind here... ahhh...

     Matt and me have been high tailing it all around. When we got back from Rome we stayed with my lovely friend Maya in Barcelona. She showed us a good time there, feed us Tapas and Pilau, which prior to those i had no faith in the spanish cuisine. We spent our nights wondering around Gracia with Maya and drinking Sangria. She also took us to the famous Park Guell, another page in Gaudi's repertuar. It was fantastic, very natural and yet so bizarre at the same time, its home of the famous mosque lizard. So Barcelona became more familiar to us after our second time there, and much harder to leave. I could have moved onto Maya's couch and stayed put for good. But off ward and on ward... always saying hello and then good buy.

    Next stop was Figures, resting place to the late Salvador Dali. His museum stands there, more like a chapel for his work. It is full of sketches, murals, tapestries, furniture, installations, and of course my personal favorite was his Jewels. My oh my that man mad the most fabulous jewelry pieces out of the most valuable materials... a diamond encrusted eye ball, and a ruby heart the actually has the mechanism to beat.  This is a man to be reckoned with in the world of art, a master of so many fields and a complete mad man at the same time. We did a few more things on our way out of spain, namely spent our time in water slide parks :P. Matt got a hankering for some slippery action so we spent a few days getting beat up by the gnarlist slides i've ever been on, ????really make you feel like you getting old. I think in spain they are a little less strict with the building regulations.

    We were now driving back up to france again. Heading for a commune that i had heard about 5 years prior from a man on a train, L'Arch La Borie Noble. This commune was founded by a man Lanzar del Vasto who spent quite a few years in india with Gandhi and later in life returned to france to bring back the non-violent way of living that Gandhi had been teaching. There is no electricity at La Borie, this means every time you want to take a shower you light a fire under the boiler, every time you do your laundry you scrub each piece of clothing with soapy water. We spent our days there mainly building a fantastic mortis and tenon chicken coop (mansion.) But i also milked the cows, helped with the cheese and got my hands in the mud down in the garden. As you can guess perhaps they produce almost all of the own food, cheese, milk, veggies, along with making fresh bread every other day. I loved it there, Matt and me wanted to stay for a few months but Oktoberfest was calling us to Munich so on ward we went.

On the way out of france we went by another commune, Longo Mai, a anarchist haven. This community was huge in comparison to  L'Arch, there were about 100 residents and 100 goats as well, a radio station "Zinzine." Very cool place, a real working anarchist community that is almost self sufficient. Good stories but this is a nut shell cap on the past... who know' s how long.

We also stopped back in Lyon the see Jake again. Where we road the Velove bikes around the city. These bikes are awesome, you pay 14 euros per year and can use them when ever you want. There are stations all over the city where the bikes are kept in the weird locking mechanism. So you take a bike with you ID number and ride it anywhere in the city and leave it at another station in the area you want to hang out in. Awesome idea, seriously. There are so many people riding these bikes all over, and its totally easy to use and convenient. There are now community bikes like this all over europe but in Lyon it works particularly well, it was the first place where it was tried and took off. So we road these bikes up along the beautiful river walks and to the markets. Lyon is defiantly my favorite city in france, if not my favorite in the world. It was in this beautiful city where we tested our stomachs with the french speciality Escargot. Yes i can proudly say we have now eaten Snails, they are really not as bad as you think.

And now one can only wonder where in the world we are. hehe... next installation will be Oktoberfest so you have something to look forward to. Sorry for the brief cap on the last month but the amount of information there was becoming overwhelming.
Love to you all

Friday, September 17, 2010

When in Rome!

ROMA!!!  Yo everyone, writing you from Barcelona once again.  Rome was a trip,  I couldn't imagine heading down town Santa Cruz a seeing something as big as a Baseball stadium that was built over two thousand years ago, but on the flip side I guess they couldn't imagine seeing a tree that started growing over two thousand years ago either.  I'm glad we managed to keep a few of those around.  We flew into Rome with my pops, and after tough negotiations with the Taxi driver we managed to make it to our flat in Rome.  The people are cool and all, but it seems with the city people at least you really need to be a bit stern, its good to make them explain the extra charges to you.
  After kickin it in the room for a bit after the travels, we went out for a meal at a place called Porko Vaco which judging by the sigh means slutty cow, or cow in langere, I don't speak Italian.  Man the food was the best yet, its not like its too much different, they just do it right.  I went for plain old spaghetti with tomato sauce and was blown out of the water.  The food didn't let us down once. 
   The next day we headed to the Colosseum which got its name from a giant statue of Colossus which stood out front for what must have been a thousand years,  and I wonder if thats why all Colosseums have that name.  This place was nuts, to think slaves built it with no modern tools, and its standing today, with the help of a few modifications implemented in the nineteenth century.  Seeing this place really brought into question the whole 'civilized' idea; so we've got these 'civilized' Romans, ya know just feedin people to lions, and having gladiators hack them apart while the whole city watches in delight, then we have savage hordes of uncivilized people doing god knows what, but it can't be much worse.  We continued to waltz around ancient Rome, looking at massive arches, famous rivers, and a square that I cant remember the name of, but where again we had awesome food.  On the way back to our place for a siesta in the heat of the day (which is wise to do here by the way) we saw the Fountain Trevi.  A lot of people had this idea too, but I can see why, its a Fountain depicting the final battle over athens when Zeus cast his enemy and his winged beasts into the fiery depths of the underworld.  I just made that up, but I really wanted to make it seem as cool as it looked.  After our nap  it was off to eat again, but not once did I have Bishkut Ian, are you sure its not a Jewish dish?
  So with the ancient buildings and monuments at our rudder we headed for a holier horizon, and holy it was.  We took Vicadin city by storm, completely ignoring the warning on the internet about being "properly dressed," we figured, hey we're americans right?  Wrong.  Some guards at the door denied entry to Nima on the ground that her almost knee length skirt was too short, and that her shoulders were showing, but with some quick thinking and what looked like a drug deal with a little old lady selling scarfs we were in.  I didn't mention is was about 100 degrees.  Once inside we were stoked.  We saw all the cool sites, and we even saw Pope John Paul, he is still there incased in glass for everyone to see; kind of creepy.  At the top we caught a birds eye view of all of Rome.  The stairs to the top were a little on the sketchy side.  500 some odd steps of twisting winding and ever shrinking corridors.  Dad was gettin a little claustrophobic, and the gung-ho stair masters on our tale really added to the adventure. 
  That night we dined our last night together in the famous Campo De Florie, and were awed again by the food and the wine.  Dad and I had Feticini Alfredo and Nima had Gnocchi.  A great night to end a great trip.  The next day it was off to the airport, to once again say our goodbyes, and it really never gets easier, but we racked up another memory and I know there will be many more to come.  Much love dad and thanks for an awesome time, and to everyone else keep your heads to the east and and don't stare at the TV, you'll go deaf. 

Monday, August 30, 2010


Hola! Saludos desde Espana

Matt and I have been on the road for the past couple of weeks. We took a ferry with the car again from Dover UK to Calais France with no destination in mind except that we had to get to Spain by the 22nd to meet Dan (Matt's Pa.) We drove from the docks straight down into the heart of Paris, it seemed like the most logical first step. Paris, however, was a mad house as you can probably imagine, all the streets are one ways and the majority of them don't go into the center. For every five heading out of town there's one going in. Though after a few tries we were heading promptly towards the Eiffel tower. On route we went quite a few tourist attractions but the most memorable would be the arc de triomphe. That has to be the scariest driving experience i have ever had, forget any accidents. It is a HUGE round-about, with about 40+ cars all shoving their way though the traffic. There are no traffic lights, no stop signs and no lines on the asphalt dictating where the lanes are. Basically a destruction derby but with out hitting anyone. Apparently you just go and so i did, almost getting hit 3 times in the process but I'm still here, and i don't think i'll be heading back past that thing in a car again. We made it safely to the Eiffel tower where by some miracle we found free parking about two blocks away. I have to say the Eiffel tower is much uglier than one would expect but also a lot more powerful, it has this rustic charm that will win you over in the end. It was built in 1889 and makes one think of the wild west (wild france?) It resembles a more carefully constructed oil rig or some thing.  It's defiantly worth seeing... AND every hour or so the whole thing lights up with ferry lights twinkling away in the night, very magical.
After a short visit we left Paris, we had no where to sleep and didn't much fancy setting out tent up in the hustle and bustle of Paris. We'll go back and do the museums soon enough, the Monalisa is waiting for me... along with Jim Morrison!

We head down the road at 120km per hour, sound fast huh? Making good time with a new destination in mind, Lyon. The first night we pulled off the free way in to a pleasant little rest stop where we made a bed in the back of the car and slept very comfortably, Matt and i both have a whole new respect for rest stops. The one negative thing about them is their toilets, i haven't never been in such a uncivilized toilet. I know they are out there in lots of countries but france, the place where they invented bedays? The toilet consists of a whole in the ground and two grip pads for your feet. Matt tried it out so he could tell you more but all i have to say is leave it to the french right. hehe

The next day we head off the main road and drove though a few little towns (Auxilla?????etc) and found a serene little lake with a camp site along one edge of it with a few tipis and yurts as well. We payed to stay there and set up our tent, and put our toes in the lake. That night we went off in search of somewhere to eat and found ourselves in a little restaurant owned by a french couple. It was the type of place where you sit for hours having a total of 5 courses and a few bottles of wine though me and Matt were not up for that. So we poured over the menu not understanding a it at all. Matt ordered the chefs choice (not much room for vegetarianism in france) but luckily ended up with salmon and rice. I ordered a salad that i believed had mushrooms and cheese and toast with it, to my dismay it arrived with raw beef and duck pate. Honestly it was all quite yummy! I tried to all of mine but at least it wasn't snails i guess. Or maybe i would have preferred them to raw beef.

A few days later we found ourselves in the lovely Lyon, a beautiful city in central france. There we stayed with a good friend of mine Jake Russel. When we got there Matt and I spent a few hours wondering around the city, waitin for Jake to get off work. We wondered up the Rhone river where there was a pluthara of entertainment: massive house boats parked all along the walk way that serve food and drinks, two skate bowls built into the river walk, a pool complete with a water slide, a play ground for kids, flower beds bursting with color, lawns and trees and lovely benches, and a creek for paddleing (the roan is a beast of a river, not one you go in.) The city it self has fountains strun about that one can play in, of course full of children and few over heating dogs boucing about in the water. That night Jake took us to quite a strange (but really nice) little restaurant where they served toast! It looked like you grandma's house... if you were french. But we each ate a peice of toast with an assortment of things on it, pears, cheese, honey, tomato's etc. and enjoyed it.
Our second day in Lyon Jake became our official tour guide. We went to the best ice cream place in the city, and the best i've ever had (homemade) where we each got our own luxurious sunday. After we walked though the old town and saw the opra, the gay club (they actually wouldn't let me in,) and the passages of the resistaunce. Lyon  was one of the few cities to have a resistauce against the Nazis, they built little tunnels in between the builings so that people could move about undetected, very cool story.  But last and not least we tackled the most massive staircase EVER! I can't really even decribeit but 1/2 way up you legs were burning and shaking. Our tour guide took it like a real local and ran up a good portion of it though i was a bit worried he was going to have a heart attack after. There was a reason to go up of couse, on the top of the mountain over looking all of Lyon was a magnificent church, with a gold virgin mary perched on the top. It was well worth the stairs and i would do it again in a heart beat.
On the way out of Lyon, heading down to Barcelona Jake took us to a little winery in his home town called Bully there, to our surprise, we were given a full tour of the winery and the storage cellares. No one was about and so we got to sneek around and see the process from grapes into one container and then another to wine. And then to the huge tanks of wine being stored underground. Good french wine expirience! At the end of it all we tried it all of course... not quite but a few different bottles. My favorate would have to be the red sparkleing wine, amazing! We would out with about 5 more bottle then we had intended but now we stop along the side of the road and watch the sun set and drink a bottle of wine so i can really complane.

We drove straight that day from Lyon to Spanish border and then woke up the next morning and hit the road, it was the 22nd and Dan was flying in! We were making good speed heading towards the airport but the road signs in Barcelona were not up to par and we had no map. Doubting of course we turned around, after 10min we stoped for directions. Thank god we were in spain where both Matt and I can communicate on a basic leavel. We got sent stright back where we come from origionaly. Didn't get lost again though we didn't quite make it on time either. By some miricle we intersepted Dan in the airport and all has gone smoothly since.

In Barcelona we were staying on La Rambla, a crazy scene just around the corner from Plaza Rural. Active night life and excillent food and 100rds of street proformers, from Alien (complete with a predator head) to cat woman and a rasata man. Matt found one of his (oh so sought after) falafal huts! We checked out La Sagra De Familia, the most amazing cathedral ever, designed  by  Gaudi. It's construction was started in 1883 and will be finished in 2026 possibly. We didn't go in because the constuction work was off putting and the line raped 1/2 was around the building in the blazing sun; but i'll be back to see it when it's done for sure. We also went to Casa Mila, an apparent designed by Gaudi, there we went in and looked around. It seemed to get stranger and stranger the closer you got to the top and the roof terrice it's self was an amazing undulating shape with spires sticking out.

After Barcelona Dan, Matt and I hit the road again... heading off to the Tomatina in Bunol. A massive tomato fight in a tiny city with people from contrys world wide coming to join in. There I turned 22 (happy birthday me) and almost got stomped to death at that ripe age. The festival was maddness (a controled riot basically,) we threw a few tomato's and then decided to jump into the action and decended down the street not knowing what we were getting ourselves into. The crowd thickened and it was wall to wall people on every side pushing and shoving with all their might; some trying to get out and others trying to get in. I got sucked off into some other direction and Matt and Dan were pulling their selves through the sea of people to try and catch me. I lost my shoe but was reunited with the boys and we made it out of there alive after a good scare. The entire crowd was paniced and if you fell on the river of tomato sause runing below your feet you were deffinatly in dager of not getting up again. So we had our peice of the action, and Matt still wants to go and run with the bulls. I wont be joining him but i think he'll be safer with out me to worry about.

And now.... We're off to Rome and more to come on the colosseum later.

Monday, August 23, 2010


 Hello everyone,
Matt here writing you from a villa in the south of france where the wine flows like, well pretty much the same as everywhere, only you seem to drink it more, oh ya and you talk about how its soooo much better.  But more about france on the next exciting eppicode of Big Sky, the Nima and Matt cronicles. 
  So, our story begins in a crouded mercades station waggon headed west out of london where our Heroes are accomponied by one Noga Cohen, an interesting and self confident young Jewish girl, with an appitite for older men. ( ha HA!)  As the faithful steed barrels for the cost, we begin to prepare for the four hour voyage to the Emrald Isle; forty shades of green and all that.  You know when you've had a little too much to drink and you try to fall asleep, but your head just spins, its never happened to me, but Nima and Noga say the ferry felt just like that.  So 5 hours to the ferry, 4 hours on the Irish sea, and another 2 and a  half hours from Rosslare to Cork later, we arrived to Shelias Hostel, where the sheets were not as clean as I remember.  Nima and I were sick from Immunizations and the beds were made for 5 year olds, but we made it in time to rescue Bri and Lilly from equally an horific travel experience.  Once they made it things started to look up.
  After an attempted mexican meal and a good nights sleep, well better anyways, we ventured to Blarney castel.  We kissed the stone,  checked out the town, and explored the dungon, which was a first for me.  That night we made bangers and mash, which is Irish for sassage and potatos, in the hostel and the next day it was off to Killarney.  The hostel there was quite an Improvement to the relief of us all,  and in Killarney we were guided by locals, Nogas budies, Liam and Aaron.  They showed us to a sceneic lake on the edge of a national park, then took us to the 'best chinese food in all of Killarney,'  and if you lay the accent on thick enough you'll sound just like the girl who said that to us.  Aaron and Liam responded in true local fassion,  "Thanks, were from here"  to which she danced a little jig and scurried away with her Shilalie in hand.
  The next day we went to the guys house, where I eventually had to pry Bri and Lilly away from with a crow bar, if it wern't for that crow bar there would be two families in america minus there daughters.  But seriuosly this house was hippy paradise.  A garden, Liams surf murrals strune about the house and sunsets painted on the walls, a music room with drums of all types, guitars, keyboards, there waas a plethera of circus stough, and bouncey stilts.  The stilts may be the heighlight of my trip thus far, I want some.  All together with a few new comrades Cathy and Abby we rhode tripped it to the shores of Dingelbay for a camping trip.  Tim, Cathy and Abbey were a surfing family.  They had a quiver of boards, a teepee tent, and another guitar.  The weather was great, the scenery was beautiful, and none of us wanted to leave. 
  Durring the trip, Nima and I took Bri and Lills to the town of Dingel, where we tripped arround and had awsome fish and chips.  On the way back we stopped at a Highland Lake and took some pictures.  Bri never whears shoes by the way, like even when your hiking up highland rocky mountains in Ireland never, and thats a big never, what a little hippy; I couldn't be more proud.
  We left our new friends on the beach and headed to Tralee to chase some demons out of my past.  I'm refering to my night alone in a Neogothic Mansion.  Adams mom Diana freaked me out recently and told me I had to go back and face my nightmare, and far be it from me to go aganist a Mexican mothers advice about ghosts.  Uppon my return I found it was haunted, by a nun, nun the less; badabing!
The guy at the front desk told us the whole story, and I freakin stayed there BY MY SELF.  But I digress, I have been perged.
  Now our party of five was headed back,  but weather it be the jet lag, the fact that Nima and I had been sick, or the camping on hard ground for two days, a bug got to Breezi and she was not feelin too well.  For the next day or so we took it easy, in preparation for Bri and Lillys 36 hour jont back across the pond.  In the national park in Killarney we checked out Ross Castel, then back to Cork.  It was tough leavin the young ladies at the gate knowing about there 10 hour ley over in London and their 8 hour ley over in Chicago, but we knew that it was just a matter of time now.  We said our goodbyes and headed east.
  The trip back was long, but the first night in the car with three of us was surrprisingly alright, in the ferry parking lot.  We had a great trip and we found out from Bri that they made it back safe and sound.  Another memory in the bag.  For those of you that don't know, you can check out all our pictures at  So all is well all in all and stay tuned for tales from France and we'll let you know how snails taste.  Love you all and remember, never put off till tomorrow what tomorrow puts off on you.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

City Bugs

It's been a while, my apologies.
Matt and me are turning into city rats here in London, either that or couch potatoes. Pema (my niece) is here now, living with us in Camden. It's good having her here.We've been visiting family and friends and just recovering from from moving around so much. Traveling will take it out of you. One of me and Pema's friends just had a beautiful little girl so we've been ogling over the little new born.

Matt's good friend Elliot was here in London last week so we meet up with him and his girl friend Taylor. We had a lot of fun together, we visited Camden town and showed them the freakiest store I've ever seen, Cyber Dog. Madness. Perhaps a look into a freaky future. We also went and meet up with them in SOHO night life where they have guys riding rickshaws taxis about (a bicycle with a carriage attached to the back.)

 ***It was so good to see you guys! Lots of love and thanks for making time to hang. xoxo

We've been doing the pub scenes around here, probably a bit too much. But having fun.
Matt and me went to a big squat rave last night (don't worry we're being careful and mainly sober.) It was really a pretty amazing party. They had commandeered a massive ware house and boarded up all the entrances, they had two floors of DJ's and a bar set up. The best part would have been the amazing graffiti art work and skate ramps they set up inside. The skaters however had nothing on SC skaters. A shout out to them!

Anywhoo. Honestly there's not much more to say so I'll leave at that.
Lots of Love

ohhh also the new futurama episodes are out and their great!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Barn in Cornwall

Hey everyone, Matt here.  Nima and I have just spent the last week in Cornwall with her super rad family.  We had a relaxing time in there converted barn from the 1600's.  We slept on a huge air mattress and it was great after all the traveling around.  Cornwall is home to the legendary birthplace of King Arthur, and Merlin's cave.  We got a chance to visit this castle which was quite scenic.  On the more modern side of things, I was taught a sword fighting lesson on the Nintendo wii, now I know what it means to be old.  Nima's 9 year old cousin Salomon really kicked my butt at sword fighting as well as one of my old favorites, Mario Kart.  I was so ashamed.  Nima's cousin Reuben is the aspiring director of the family, so together we all wrote a script, and Reuben was off directing the our future cult classic.  The name I can't write here for copyright reasons, but (movie voice guy + theme music from the Exorcist) Donny was just a love struck college guy from the states, blindly following his innocent seeming girlfriend Jen, to meet her unexpectedly odd family in England.  Little does he know the family has a dark past, and more 'skeletons' in there closet than anyone would like to admit.  Will Donny find out the truth in time, or will he become just another mound in the Proctor family garden.  Critically acclaimed director of the Bird Watch Project, Reuben, brings you this terrifying thriller...  This was a blast to make, it really brought me back to my experiences in Hollywood, keep your eye out for this kid.  Gwendoline, Roger, Hermione and I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning discussing science fiction, funny cats on you tube, and William Shatners interesting music career.  We had a great time and ate Hermione's excellent veggie cuisine.  Thanks so much you guys, and Salomon is 10 at this point so Happy B-day, have fun buddy.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

Balkin Fever, Croatia

            On the 23 Matt and I flew from London to Zadar Croatia, a Mediterranean paradise... la pais la bonita (I've had that madonna song stuck in my head for days.) We arrived on in Zadar int. air. knowing nothing about Croatia, no guide book or phrase book , i had expected that english would be vary commonly spoken (as it is in a lot of europe) but due to the fact that Croatia was part of the soviet union they speak: Croatian 1st, German 2nd, and if your lucky English comes in 3rd or 4th next to Italian. So we arrived and could hardly communicate with our taxi driver, thankfully i had the address of a "apartment" written down so we pointed, and luckily the strange series of numbers meant something to him. When we made it to our hotel 'Pansion Marta' in the little town of Bibinje the land lady of the house didn't speak english either so by this point we're a little bit worried about what we had dived into. We made some silly gestures to try and ask where to get food and she pointed us down the marina, and showed us 5 fingers which we assumed to mean 5 restaurants. Finding them was not hard even though it was dark by this point, but once we had found them the menus were written in croatian (everything but english) too. After a long debate and almost resorting to ice cream for dinner we decided on Scampi. Fairly ordinary, shrimp... that's what we thought at least until we were face by a stack of cray fish like things. Little lobsters maybe about 3 inches each, 15+ of them with claws and bogoldy eyes, and shells that we as foreigners had no idea how to remove. You can imagine how shocked we were, all we could do was laugh; we're both vegetarian and had made an exception for shrimp (they don't have vegetarian options here) to be faced will a platter of 8 legged critters. We probably looked absolutely ridiculous trying to get into these animals, and in the end all in all we got maybe a couple ounces of meat each.  As you can imagine we were pretty horrified that first night but it's only gotten better and easier since. 

      Bibinje was great, a small town where we spent our days laying in the sun drinking Korlovaska (croatian beer) but there wasn't much more than that to do so we split after 2 nights. At some point we joined up with these two awesome guys, Jens from Germany and Casey from San Francisco, I guess it was the Cali bond that brought us together. We were all leaving so hoped on the bus together to Zadar (Jens also is a great addition to language skills.) In Zadar we got a apartment together, sat on the beach for a few hours drinking more beer (there's a lot of beer drinking that goes on here) dipped in the Mediterranean, and then hit the city up for it's night life. It was independence day and there were hordes out in the city center where we found a smallish square to sit in, it had a bar on every side and tables with FREE SANDWICHES! Which is apparently the normal thing for independence day. You would not believe the amount of incredibly tall men here, the women too but the men are looming. I think on average their 6'+... Jens, our friend, is 6'' and there we LOTS of guys who had a good head or more on him. It's bizarre, a nation of giants. This is one of the first things we noticed in the city night. We hit up the clubs a bit, danced to euro trash and made a great night of it.

    From Zadar we hit up the costal island right off shore, Uglajn Pasnam, with our new crew of 4, nice ocean per usual but nothing too out of the ordinary for Croatia, I spent the day working on my tan. :)
    On the 28th the 4 of us rented a car and headed north to Plitvicka National Lakes park which was defiantly spectacular. It was a 2 hour drive, on the way we went through a tunnel that was 6 km long... they obviously don't play the game over here where you hold your breath through tunnels, it was truly a marvel of modern engineering. When we finally made it Plitvicka the environment had completely changed from arrade rocky and dry land scape to beautiful mountains covered in thick grass and scattered with wild flowers. It was quite a sight to see. Plitvicka Park itself is by far one of the most beautiful places I have and probably ever will see. A series of Lakes that fall from one to the next. The Water is electric blue and the water falls just spread for 100rds of ft across one side of the lake, crashing into the next still blue pool. I think there's around 15 lakes all in all. We walked for about 10 km  through this paradise on wooden board walks around and sometimes up straight through the falls never growing tired of the scenery. Also the wild life there is something else, it isn't in the least bit frightened of people as in most places. The lakes are FILLED with trout that you could reach down and grab, and the bull frogs just hang out singing on the trail, we also found a shrew type thing just sitting on the trail... that  thing was so adorable. The reality of Plitvicka lakes exceeds in beauty any idea you can get from a photograph.

    After making our way back to Zadar again, Matt and I thought that it would be a good time to check out an island, one a bit further away and smaller than the one we went to before. The locals here all seem to agree that Silba and Olib are two of the nicest islands, though you have to twist their arm to get them to tell you. Silba and Olib both sit in the far north of the croatian islands and are tiny. We said good buys to Jens and Casey and found a catamaran to ferry us there, after a 2 hour journey we arrived in Silba. The boat only goes once a day from Zadar at 2:00 p.m. and then leaves at 5:00 am from Silba, not much option on travel time.  Silba is a pedestrian Island, they have maybe 3 tractors to transport food deliveries and only a hand full of bicycles. We both loved this place, it is amazing, the wild life there is bursting out of every nook and cranny. On our second day there we decided to hike to the "most beautiful beach on Silba, Pernastica." We had been offered many boats but figured it was only 2.5 miles away so why not walk. We soon realized why the locals were so adamant about boat transport. The town on the island is a very small section and the rest is 'forest.' The first thing we found on our walk was a massive brown snake, I almost stepped on it as you usually do with snakes. The way out of the village was scattered with fields of beautiful flowers full of butterflies. We also managed to fine a lovely ass (donkey/mule) it was so charming, it ran straight up to me and let me stroke it. I am so disappointed i didn't have a apple for it, i guess it probably was too. As we got father away from the last houses the trees began to fill up with spiders, first a few on the sides until they crept onto the path with giant webs that spread over our heads. They spiders started off being maybe a 1/2 inch but honestly by the end of that excursion we saw 2 or 3 that had bodies the size of a ping pong ball. We probably made it within a 1/3 mile from this crown jewel of beaches before I saw another one of the big brown snakes. At that point my nerves had been on edge for so long to find an anonymous snake in the grass and be able to continue. We turned around, but were quite pleased to do so, the path had gotten so thick with spiders that you were constantly crawling under webs. The heat was sweltering and the sun was beating down on us, the glossy Mediterranean was glinting in the heat so we paused our walk for a dip, perhaps not at "the most beautiful beach" but this one was a god sent after the spiders and snake... that was until we found the sea urchins. They were everywhere, we couldn't get a break that day! We had water shoes so we stepped carefully and ignored them for the most part but we couldn't wait to make it back to the safe little village of Silba. Who knew that such a tiny island could be so wild? If there was someone to ask if the snakes, spiders, or sea urchins were poisonous i may have not felt so uncomfortable about them, but as it was english was hard to come by. Sounds a bit like a night mare but this was one of the loveliest places i have ever been to. Such a mellow vibe, as long as you weren't trudging through the woods.

    Probably the most acknowledged land mark of Silba is the Toreta, a hexagonal towner with a spiral stair case on the outside. It's about 50' tall and was built in the early 19th century by a captain of the Silba fleet for his sweetheart so she might watch and await his arrival. What they don't say unless you look closer is that she didn't wait for him and instead married and had a child, a little girl. When he returned he recognized the likeness of his sweetheart in her child and so married the girl instead. A strange little story, but the tower is still there and your still able to walk up it, though I have to say with the cracked steps and rust eaten rails i almost had a heart attack doing so. From the top you can over look the island and the surrounding ones so it was worth it. The rest of the time on Silba we stayed in the town and laid around on the beaches.

     Three days left and we're up at 4:30 to catch the ferry back to Zadar. When we got there we thought 'being that it's so early why not make it to Scibnick and then up to KRKA the other Waterfall park. Two hours on the ferry and then 3 hours of buses later we had made it to Krka National Park. Unfortunately our sheep mentality got the better of us at this point, every one got off the bus and we followed only to realize we were on the opposite side of the park from we wanted to be, surrounded by desert and with our bags in tow. We had no option but to start the trek on foot in the baking heat, we had about a 5 miles +/- walk to Skradine, a little town where we could hopefully find a room to rent.  We descended down the river, along the water falls and amongst the crowds. To our delight this park had a area where you could swim amongst the falls, we hid the bags under a tree and adorned our swim suits. The water was so refreshing, and magical to swim beneath the falls. This swimming hole was surrounded by post card stands and restaurants so we broke up our sweaty hike with a dip the the water and a meal, we got trout which is caught in the river and grilled... so delicious, i don't know if i've ever had trout before. After the grub and a few beers we picked up our packs and continued down the path, as we began to walk it started to thunder, then rain. That was something to complain about but I actually much prefer it to the dry sweltering heat. The road ran along the river and I found a tiny toad! It was about the size of my finger tip... so awesome. As we came into civilization, cars and houses, we found the local hang out spot. A massive bridge stretching across the river, perfect for jumping, scattered with little croatian groms. So as you can imagine we took another break and jumped into the water. Matt did the bridge with the approval of the little groms, there was about 8 of them actually on the bridge. They were really cool, offered us a smoke and helped us find a place to stay. We intended on making our way back that way but by the time we made it to Skradine with all our bags, our legs we jellied and all we could do is collapse. Skradine was a sweet little town, vary small, surrounded by desert but located itself right on the river. We found a great air conditioned room in a old hotel right by the town clock, the town was one of the few I saw in Croatia that still bears marks from the war. The Clock tower had big shot wounds all over it as well as the surrounding houses. Some seemed to have been hit with something more aggressive and had big holes about 2'sq. One of the first things that I was told about Croatia was 'do not mention the war' so I stuck by that and didn't inquire. The other unique thing we saw there was the baby swans!! I don't think I've ever seen a baby swan which is strange being as I've seen lots of big ones, but they were so sweet. This mama swan had maybe 10 baby's in all, ugly ducklings eh.

          After two quick buss trips it was back to Zadar, and by this time the novelty of the heat had worn off.  We were exhausted from cramming as much of Croatia into ten days as is humanly possible.  I don't believe the food has been mentioned since the crab/scampi incident, but I must say it was some of the best Italian food I have ever tasted, its Matt now , I took over at this paragraph, Nimas hands fell off from typing.  This night I had some kind of pasta, while Nima had fresh seasonal salad and a tomato and rice soup, our appetizer was stinky cheese and olives, and I paired it with a jug of red wine.  We watched a few excellent games of real football (aka soccer) as the World cup is coming to a close, and called it an early night at about 1 am.  The next morning it was back to London, where Nima breezed through customs.  I on the other hand did not have such an easy time, God one joint and everyone just FREAKS out! ...  How many of you did i get?  (reply on the Add Comment button at the bottom of this post)  But I think the coming and going from England while I'm getting close to the end of my three month visa must have sent up a red flag, but after 10 or 15 minutes of me stumbling over my own words they must have realized I was harmless.  So we are back to a surprisingly warm London at Nogas house for a few days till it's off to Cornwall.
             This is really Nimas post, so I'll spare you the annoying nonsense and simply say (cue the song 'Champagne Supernova') thanks for keeping up and hope all is well to our super sweet friends and family.  Bye for now.   


Quick Update

Hey all its Matt, I see your numbers are growing, soon you will start to multiply like zombies.  Wow the past two weeks have really flown by, or was it three weeks, I can't keep up.  So we were in Swansea with Eve, last I remember, then Nima and I went our separate ways.  My biggest cousin, Robbie, just so happened to come to Northern Ireland on a business trim, he got ahold of me so I booked a quick flight over to Belfast.  I regret not getting any pictures of this trip, but Rob sure did, plus I think most of you can imagine what the inside of a bar looks like.  But seriously, I'll get some pictures from Rob and post them.  It was a great catching up session with my big cuz on the train to Dublin, where the two of us and a work colleague, Enrique, proceeded to paint the town red, white, and blue; which was an interesting contrast to the ever present green.  Once the sun came up Rob and I decided to head in.  Our room was a conference room that they put beds into for us, all the other rooms in Dublin were taken.  The next day, after missing our train back, we took a tour of the Guinness factory.  They gave us more beer, to our dismay, which we chocked down.  Man it was a great few days.  Nima and Eve headed across England by car to go camping with Eves school friends.  Its sounds as though they had a pretty good time themselves, aside from the rain.  They also went to a traditional English barn dance, which sounds like a Contra dance, for all the Hippies out there that know what that is.  Nims picked up Noga at there old school, Summerhill, and came back to Nogas house.  The next day we reunited at the buss stop, and after two short days with Nogas wonderful family we were of to Croatia.  Sorry its been so long, but don't loose faith in us, like I said its been a crazy however many weeks.  I'll leave you with a great quote from a recent book I read, "Organize before they Rise."  Much love.   

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hampshire Cottage, Swansea, & The Gower

Croeso (as you would say in Welsh)

Matt and me are here in Swansea, south wales. The sun is shining and the weather is sweet, we've been soaking up the welsh sun on the beaches here. We drove out to the Gower yesterday (a lovely set of cliffy beaches along the coast.) The tide was way out so we got to go exploring in the all little pools. Homes for rock fish, sea snails, crabs, enemies, and sand dabs. All similar to the Monteray coast but with a new array of colors. They shore was littered with purple jelly fish, proper tentacles and all, unfortunately we got no pictures of those but Matt managed to save a little one. The cliffs were perfect for rock climbing and the Moors were scattered with butter cups, daisies, and a few others foreign to me. There we're also these little cave tunnels that had carved their way down though rock, water ways from the hills i guess, we peered around in them a bit but honestly they were too scary to climb into, a time when our friend Mc E D would have come in handy.
It was a little hike down to the beach, a stunningly beautiful one with a castle ruin, a pitch and putt course, and the occasional cow. This is the second time in my life i have been charged by a cow, they completely terrify me at this point... and both me and Matt we're running just so you know i am serious about the caging thing. I guess we startled it but it came pounding down the hill at us so we ran up the a little cliff.  It then stood in our way for about 10 minutes until this little dog (about a 10th of the size of ME, so embarrassing) ran up to it barking and yapping at it, it moved for the dog and  I eventually picked up the courage to walk past it but that vary nearly gave me a heart attack.
 Cows?  what a thing to be scared of.
 Other than that we've been drinking with medical students, you know a bunch a raging alcoholics.  Eve took us to a beer festival where we tried lots of local brews and perrys. Perrys being pear ciders. You start at noon and finish at 11 typically, we cut that day short in order to make a BBQ where we watched the WORLD CUP. America VS. England!! AND WE TIED! We're coming up in the football ranks, USA USA! :) Luckily Matt escaped with out a punch to the nose though i am a but shocked at that considering all the shit talking that boy does. Anyways get your jerseys on yea, we gotta support our team!

Due to my lack of writing last week I also must tell you about the lovely Hampshire cottage.

Nestled in the downs is a magical little house called Hampshire cottage where my aunt Jan lives. Surrounded by sheep and covered in roses it's the perfect place to clear your mind. Matt went to see a amazing woodworking shop with my uncle Rupert where they worked on a old Rolls Royce restoring the wooden interior. The farmer that uses their land was sheering his sheep so we got to see that process, that man just picks the sheep up (ALONE) as if they were over grown children. I couldn't believe it, and they sheep were perfectly content to be handled by him. We got to try some clotted cream that he had made fresh, for all you deprived Americans clotted cream is the best stuff in the world. I don't really know how to describe it but one day I'll make it and give you some. We spent our days there enjoying the breeze and smelling the roses and eating the most delicious foods, most of which were grown right there.  To absolutely top that experience off they had a litter of kittens, just barely old enough to play with. They were SOOO cute, and one was to fat to walk so it would push its self along the floor like a little toad! I love kittens.

Anyways, I'm sure i could go on and on with all the little details but I'll leave it at that for now.