Return to Spain

Against my own personal rules for how best to take advantage of a life that is far too short to absorb everything the world has to offer, I have traveled to an international destination twice. Two weeks ago, I went to Spain. Fourteen years ago I lived there, working in a summer camp in Andalusia with kids who by now are somewhere around the age I was during those brief moments when we knew each other, young adults out in the real world.

I didn’t feel like much of an adult at that age, but I certainly do now, which is why I didn’t mind retracing my steps a bit. That summer camp job was a lifetime ago and I was another person. I have only a few handwritten notes and photos printed from film to remind me of my previous adventures in the land of valiant conquered and intrepid conquerors. This time, I’m transferring what I jotted down into this blog post, structured according to the chapters in Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel. De Botton is a modern day philosopher whom I greatly admire. The Art of Travel was the first book I read with Ironman, who accompanied me on this trip, for our long-distance book club, one of the many ways we have of staying close while we are geographically distant.

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You Are Who You Are

I didn’t make any resolutions for 2017 (other than my Year of Austerity project, which I’d say was about 85 percent successful and has already been extended into year two) but the one goal that is always in the back of my mind is to write more and potentially make something of myself as a creative writer someday. Like tens of thousands of other wannabe writers out there, I have a gut feeling that I could be a very successful writer, but I’m not putting in the effort required to make that happen. However, over the last few years, I have been increasing the amount of writing I do, and 2017 turned out to be a quite prolific year. Here are my writing accomplishments that I feel proud of. Continue reading →

Say What? Edition 4: Thoughts From Italy

A collection of random linguistically-related thoughts that popped into my head while in Italy four weeks ago.

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Language can provide anonymity in a crowd. One of my biggest linguistic pleasures when in Europe is hearing half a dozen languages spoken around me at any one time. I enjoy it partly because you feel a buzz, an energy around you, without having comprehension interfere with your own thoughts. But also, there’s a certain anonymity in being in a multilingual place. I could be anyone. Of any nationality. In any life situation. No one knows a thing about me until I speak. This makes me feel exciting and mysterious. Continue reading →

Vilnius, Lithuania and Europos Parkas (2005)

Europas Park (1) - Copy - CopyEuropas Park (1)Europas Park (2) - Copy

While You Are There: Why, observe the unusual art, of course. Bring a sketchpad or a notebook and plan to spend the day. The sculptures and installations will give you a lot to think about.

Why It’s On My List: When you need to leave Russia for a few days to get a new visa but don’t feel like hopping on a plane, where do you go? Why not the Baltics? That’s what I did for a week—Latvia and Lithuania—and more pleasant countries I could not have chosen. The capital cities are modern yet retain old world charm, the people are friendly and will speak Russian to you (even though they, understandably, despise the Russians) because they know it better than they know English, it’s easy to get around, and they are not jam-packed with people like Moscow is. I didn’t see much beyond Vilnius and Riga, but I imagine the smaller towns are also great places to visit.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.