Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Spain Part Dos

It’s been so wonderful to look through these images again – another chance to relive that carefree time of being on vacation. So without further ado, here’s the final portion of my trip.

We went on one organized tour during the trip, to Figueres, home of Dali’s Theatre Museum, with a stop first in Girona. Girona was a beautiful city with a picturesque way about it that was quite lovely.

Little alleys, shops, a lovely plaza surrounded by outdoor eateries for a tasty lunch, and the shaded path along the river made for pleasant first leg of the excursion.

My awesome sis – on the bus, onward to the museum!

Facade of Dali’s museum. Love the eggs adorning the roof!

Entrance to another part of the complex. Not shown are the bazillion of people that were everywhere. Apparently a lot of tours make this journey. But worth it, I think.

Grammy awards in different poses.


There were a number of different portraits of Gala, his wife and muse, among the collection.

Loved the Mae West room!

Loved this series of paintings of beach materials in female forms.

Just some of the many things shown inside. Didn’t have time to visit the jewelry portion which I’ve heard is quite something as well. Different mediums, different subjects, definitely an interesting excursion all round.

Saw lots of pro freedom and democracy graffiti in places around Barcelona, and then here in Figueres too.

And TONS of Arundo everywhere too.

The next day I headed out on my own for the day to the Labyrinth Park of Horta. It was amazing to leave the bustle of all the tourist sites and just meander through the green.

“Woodland” is the translation but I just love this awesome don’t feed the pigs (?) portion of the sign.

I set off on the side trails to get away from the few folks about.

Took me up a ways to some views of Barcelona.

Came out behind the main portions of the park.

Neoclassical pavilion with ginormous koi in the there!

I love how the front is all beautifully kept and the back is awash with tags.

Absolutely incredible to be in a real labyrinth after tales and movies from childhood.

And it did takes some doing to figure out how the heck to get out of there! The shrubs were grown over fences so no cheating allowed.

The whole time there I felt a sense of quiet that felt marvelous. And there seemed to me to be an odd undercurrent of strangeness to the place that I quite liked.

Beauty but perhaps darkness too.

Met up with my sister to head to the hills and check out Tibidabo, which has the claim of having an amusement park and a church on a mountain overlooking Barcelona. Serious fun was had here!

Sadly, the ferris wheel was no longer there, and the replacement take-you-into-the-air-for-a-look ride wasn’t that great.

Crazy hair.

Krueger House was one of those go through a series of scenes from horror flicks with actors jumping out at you. And it was amazingly well done, and I might have screamed something very inappropriate that won’t be repeated here. We somehow ended up being first in the group with folks talking way too fast for me to catch stuff in Spanish, which was funny. Oh and it was the dwarf in the room full of children’s toys that got me. Good times.

Fog rolled in at night making for some ghostly-ness.

Then it was goodbye to tasty, bad for you park food and get ready for the next day where we flew over to one of the Balearic Islands, Minorca.

And stayed at this incredible hotel with this incredible view of the sea!


My sis on the trail we took to check out the neighborhood.

Sis in the drink at a sweet beach. There are photos of me out there, I just don’t have them πŸ™‚

We’ll just have to be content with self-portraits. And this is what I did for the remainder of the trip, lounged around the beach and pool alternately, eating, drinking oh and enjoying the luxury of running hot water and a real shower. Reading what I bought at the airport and then what I raided from the amazing lending library where we stayed. Pure heaven.

‘Course it all had to come to an end. It was amazing to spend this time with my family. Another great birthday!

Creepy cat on the building outside my hostel back in country.

And a view from my train window as I head back to site to finish out the last few months of my service here in Ukraine.


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Spain Part Uno

Hola amigos! Summer has been flying by, and me with it. I had the most amazing trip to Spain for my birthday where I got to meet up and travel with my mother and sister. Sooooooo much to do and see and eat. I took a bazillion pictures while there so am going to split the trip into a few posts. And without further ado, let the post begin!

So as usual there was all of the crazy long travel to even get to the point of leaving the country. Two buses and an overnight train. But this time I had the pleasure of meeting up and staying with my friend who lives in the capitol once I got there. It was so good to catch up with her, talk with her about her upcoming wedding plans, eat some delish vegetarian food, and get a little bit of shut eye before heading over to the airport for an early morning flight. Great way to start my travels!

Caught a taxi into central Barcelona from the airport. A great meshing of cultures for me with a driver that knew both Russian and Spanish. Met up with my family and headed over to La Plaza de Catalonia – a beautiful plaza with fountains near our hotel.

We walked about for a bit, ate food, and started planning for the upcoming whirlwind of days in Barcelona.

The next day saw us on the second deck of a tourist bus, getting on and off as we pleased to see some sights. First stop for us, this amazing Gothic cathedral.

It’s rather strange to be amongst buildings that are so old. Growing up where I did I stand now in awe of such pieces of history. They nip at my brain, stimulating thought and pleasure at the continuance of things in different forms.

Arches lift our eyes up and the dark corners keep them searching.

Thar be a unicorn up there!

Gaggle of hungry geese in a lovely courtyard.

Warm light in the alleys.

Stencil of the Virgin Mary that reads “Unbelievable!”

My sis crackin me up!

Loved the scooters everywhere.

The quintessential picture of my mom taking a picture of me taking a picture of her. We all took a lot. Behind us is one of the beaches in the Barceloneta area.

Seems like every place I visit I end up at a cemetery. Guess I’m emo that way or something. But I like the quiet that accompanies these places. Here we went to Poblenou Cemetery.

I was somewhat surprised at the lack of green space here.

A goodly number of maritime motifs to be found.

And vandalism.

Heavy metal Jesus.

Font heaven.

Loved looking at the old photographs and artifacts that people have left for their loved ones.

The Forum.

Lots of tagging about the city. Looked like Pac Man hieroglyphs.

Moor and Byzantine design of the Monumental Bullring.

By far the most incredible building of the trip was the Temple of the La Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudi.

I loved this particular sculpture – like lovers embracing.

The natural lighting of the place was incredible! The stained glass and white interior. All lines slightly leaning.

Delicate. A place to worship.

Oh light!

Yup, went up in one of the spires and walked these down. Oh man, never again…

Even with the bazillion tourists there and the construction everywhere, it was still very apparent that this place was inspired, something that makes me proud to be human.

On we went. Fresh fruit and vegetables.

I like the dinosaur.

A couple days into the trip was my birthday. Everything was in bloom.

We took the funicular up to Montjuic Castle and enjoyed gorgeous views of the city along the way. A nice respite after so much walking.

I like the Catalunya region flag.

Then we headed out to Palau Reial de Pedralbes. This was part of the exterior, and the palace itself wasn’t much to look at. But the gardens inside were nice and the trees were filled with green parakeets which was a trip.

I remembered seeing this building on Pinterest at some unrelated point and snapped this blurry pic off quickly while on the bus.

Gaudi’s La Pedrera.

The craziness that was Las Ramblas. This was the beginning of it and I never walked any closer.

Park Guell

I like that the lizard and little girl have the same pose πŸ˜€

The mosaics were so colorful, quite in contrast to the grey of the day that fell toward the afternoon as a thunderstorm came in.

Here’s as good as place as any to stop. I’ll edit some more pictures and conclude the trip soon. Thanks for reading ya’ll πŸ™‚

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I just say it because it’s an Anchorman quote, but in actuality, my time in London visiting my friend saw me experiencing the finest of weather! One might say quite splendid. I quite liked it. Quite.

It’s amazing to travel and to be able to understand every sign. Every ad. Every tag. But being a ginormous metropolis, I was soon hearing many languages beside ye olde British English and noticing more in the way of alternate language options. Really amazing how freeing for exploration this made me.

Met my friend at Victoria Center and thus began one of the best weeks in a good long time. Speaking of, we hadn’t physically hung out for a bit over ten years and while there was some connection through the interweb, we had a lot of catching up to do. We dropped my bag off at her lovely north London abode and then headed off to Camden area where we got some all-you-can-eat sushi, some saki, and chatted away. Walked around.

Did a bunch of hanging out with these adorable goofs. They took to my talon-like finger nails and let me do some serious animal loving which was nice for me. They reciprocated and stroked my ego with lotsa attention and cuteness.

Check out this lovely park right outside my friend’s house! Her neighborhood/area was super chill, very walkable, buses were great, and a great area for getting my hair cut, thrift book shopping, and just chilling at coffee shops made me super happy.

One of the churches we saw re-purposed for something else – a pub!

The English really do like to que up. Such a nice change to know exactly where I stood in a line.

St. James on Muswell Hill.

Folks around the world love them some Queen. Factoid: Mercury’s birth name was Farrokh Bulsara. I do wish we had had time to do a music night pub quiz.

My friend and I set out to see some of the major sites in central London and what do you think we should come across? Pride! It was a dang good time – frivolity, seriousness, and dancing in the street. We got stickered up and roamed the streets.

I love the Rubik’s cube πŸ˜€ Nerding out!

I had a hard time widdling this set of pictures down from the parade cuz it was so fun and unexpected and colorful. So ya’ll get more than a representative sampling.

You know I love a good DJ.

This bus by far had the most kickass music and dancers of the parade. Not pictured were the kickass rollergirls that came up swiftly from behind.

Brit humor kills me.

Afterwards we checked out the square, got some crazy good dim sum (I’m absolutely in love with the spicy soupy dumplings – I could eat 1 million!!), got our picture taken with the busty Abercrombie & Fitch guy (super funny), and moved on to checking out some more touristy stuffs.

As close as I could get to the Prime Minister’s residence.

London Eye, House of Parliament, the Thames River – rather strange to see in person what I have seen (the first episode of Dr. Who yo and the London Eye, rock! or should I say plastic) or have read about. It’s all in such close proximity to each other.

Here begins one of the many signs of innuendo and just humor that I found while walking about.

I quite wanted to go.

On Sunday, my friend, her boyfriend, and I set out to walk about. Still gorgeous weather, we were making our way to a pub on the other side of Hampstead Heath and made a detour into Highgate Cemetery.

Even at the cemetery I couldn’t help myself…

Really beautiful and peaceful place. Amazing to see what English Ivy does in its native environment. And I kept thinking of the MI-5 episode where Lucas North was meeting here. Total dork, I know.

Hampstead Heath was stunning. Such open space and green and quiet so close to London. We had a little snack before continuing our trek. There was some live music nearby too, kinda like Sundays in the Park in my hometown. I would definitely spend time here with a book and friends.

We made it to the pub and oh man was it worth it!! I got some rather typical fare but they really made it delish. This was my Scottish egg. And ‘course a cold one to wash it down. My main dish was a cottage pie that makes my appetite go crazy right now just thinking of it. With the good company of friends this was just such a terrific day!

This photo’s for you, ma πŸ˜€ So little did I know that I would spend the next couple of days checking out this AWESOME SUPERB SPLENDID AMAZING exhibit at the British Library! I’ve been on rather a big sci-fi, dystopian, post apoc trip in my reading for awhile so this was just absolutely wonderful! They had great groupings – utopias, future worlds, robots, plague – and coupled books with different media both passive and interactive. Chatting with robots, getting tons of ideas for new books to read and …

…yes I did monopolize the music listening station with different outerspace related playlists for a good long time. A few things I liked, both known and unknown to me there:

Tons of country & western influenced bands singing (or not) about the stars and space and robots – great combo!

I just remember Top of the Pops – I need to check out more.

The Comsat Angels – new one for me that I liked.

Liked the work done by illustrator Wayne Barlowe

Serafini’s Codex – sooooo frackin’ cool!!

So this is what I spent most of my actual birthday doing – so perfect! I found tons of books that I’m excited to work my way through (that was half of my suitcase coming back to Ukraine). Then I met up with my friend after work and she treated me to amazing Turkish food. SO so good. This is a good place to say that I ate a lot and ate well on this trip. We hung out and it was just so chill and lovely, really exactly what I was hoping for for my birthday – thanks Tiff! ❀

Actually a Freemason’s building, this facade is used to portray the MI-5 building in the television show. Yes, it was one of my must see’s for the trip.

Whilst taking this picture, a girl stopped to inform me that it shouldn’t be all that famous.

So as you know me you know I like to check out street art and tagging. I stumbled across an awesome guy who takes people out in East London to see some incredible sights. Check out the website for information on the artists.

These tiny figures were everywhere if you had a keen eye.

Love their shadows.

Lotsa scooters, sis.

Made by chiseling out of the wall.

Described as the “old Will Ferrell piece” – agreed.

Do ya see all this blue skies?! Only really experienced the London rain on the final couple of days – really, I enjoyed both.

Such expressiveness in just stick figures.

Gift to the Gutter

Can you tell my friend loves me? This lucky girl got some okonomiyaki made for her, and damn was it so delish!

I’ve actually been to Tiff’s Kitchen – ya’ll are super jealous!!

Guess that about wraps it up. I still am thinking about this trip though. It was so amazing to catch up with an old friend and have such a lovely time hanging out. I still can’t thank you enough for your hospitality! Picked up tons of books to get me through the fall. Recharged with delish food and an agenda to do whatever I wanted. Great way to end my big travels for the summer.

Next up, I’ll get my post up for the summer camp I worked on my return. Love ya all, friends and family ❀

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Expectation Of Summer

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on here. Let’s see, to do some catching up.

The end of the school year was lesson in perseverance for all involved. Some good times though with a class party for birthdays in spring, some fun lessons, successful demonstrations for a seminar, and the expectation of summer.

I also finished my first sweater, just in time, ha. It’s alright; definitely a first sweater. I’m going to revisit it again in the fall when the weather cools and see how I feel about it then.

Spring is now summer. It’s hot. School finished with Last Bell (I was directly staring into the sun so no good pics), which was beautiful and emotional, even though we didn’t have an 11th grade this year. There still will be some school leavers though from the 9th grade who may elect to continue their studies at a technical/vocational school going forward. I received beautiful flowers, candy and a magnet from some awesome kids.

St. Andrew’s Church

View of the street on way up a neat/dangerous staircase to an area with incredible view of city.

Then…quick preparation and I was off to…Greece! My awesome friends here in town saw me off to the bus. First, I had a meeting in Kiev before I left, then hung around at my fave awesome hostel in Kiev with high speed internet, tea, talking to the gal and listening to some o’ this while waiting for plane. Walked around one day on Andiyivskyy Descent and a bunch of other places I can’t quite remember.

Met my friend for some dinner (delicious pizza and dark beer, mmm) at this cool place off the main drag that I never would have found, but will definitely go back to. Decent prices and local foods.

I met my mom in Greece, and we stayed first in Athens and then went to the island Mykonos. I have been ready for a vacation and a bit of relaxation for awhile now. Just what I needed.

Our hotel in Athens was right next to the Acropolis.

There was a wonderful pedestrian walkway around the “High City” that connected all the nearby neighborhoods. Great place to go in the evening.

Kicking it on the rooftop of our hotel. Nothing like reading a post-apocalypse novel in the shadow of some ruins. Amazing view right?!

Street view from our room’s balcony. There was a super cute young girl that would come out in the evenings on the balcony you can see on the right; she would read, talk to herself, play, and sometimes wave at us.

Blurry, but loved the little orange tree! People’s windows and balconies had some amazing vegetation.

Saw the “proton bank” and wondered where they were keeping all the electrons and neutrons. Har har, πŸ˜€

Mom taking a picture.

Here’s what she took.

Our second day we did a tour of the Acropolis and the museum. So many people! So hot! I can’t imagine going later in the summer. It was actually quite perfect – flowers still out, a nice thunderstorm to cool off, bits of clouds and then sun.

It was so good to spend time with my mom – actually my favorite part of the trip. We also discovered that we’re pretty evenly matched in Bananagrams. Good stuff.

Too awesome! We made it! We’re in Greece!

They were working on restoring the buildings, and I really liked how the restoration work was done in a contrasting white marble to highlight the difference.

So, there were stray cats and dogs everywhere. The dogs were the most chill stray dogs I have EVER seen (and I’ve seen lots over here in Ukraine). Plus, most of them have collars. I asked a guy about this later on and he said that all the stray dogs were rounded up for the Olympics because the gov didn’t think tourists would look kindly on ’em running the streets. Then they were set free after to continue there wanderings…and this one is making the universal sniffing signals the precedes a good territorial marking. A building is a building eh.

And one of the gargantuan cats roaming about. So picturesque.

Athens is such a huge city! I’m glad we visited in the end of spring/beginning of summer. Still blooms out on everything.

The Acropolis Museum was wonderful. The idea was to have the museum close to the actual site, and of course, like much of the city, every time you dig in the ground you hit an archeological site. They incorporated it into the actual design of the building! When you move inside there’re glass floors to see what is happening beneath, and other demonstration aspects to the museum. And the food was incredible too!

The graffiti and tagging was everywhere and really interesting to check out. Lots of different languages.

One of my favorite things I did while in Athens was to check out the outdoor movie theater Theseion. I watched this movie, and I had a great time eating icecream, listening to people during the intermission, and enjoying the incredible backdrop of the Acropolis even though the whole thing (minus some jokes) was in Greek.

Did lots of walking around, and I was fascinated by the amount of graffiti and such I saw everywhere. Feast for the eyes and mind.

We sat down for some iced coffee at a cafe and were witness to some warring music from stores across the street – some kind of metal and Johnny Cash. I quickly finished my coffee and headed down the stairs to this awesome shop! So much vinyl! After a bit I asked the guy working there to recommend to me some alternative Greek bands, and he showed me The Earthbound (sounds like Calexico – I’ve been enjoying it) and ΀ρύπΡς (Trypes; Tree-pes), which translates in English as β€œHoles”. I didn’t have the 40 euros to get the Trypes record, but sure wish I did after listening to this:

After the crowds of the Acropolis and the massive population of Athens in general, we opted for checking out a beautiful cemetery. It was lovely to walk around with trees, and flowers, and birds about. The most important monuments were in a small museum for protection and they created copies on the grounds for visitors to see.

On to Mykonos! We took a ferry there and arrived at our hotel – so so nice, as you can see. The view from our room was stunning, and that term you see on paint chips, Aegean blue, yeah, the water was just like that. I had never used my panorama setting on my camera and glad I figured it out because there was no way to capture it otherwise.

The beach was down some crazy steep hill a la San Francisco. Saw a guy snorkeling for little octopi for a later meal.

Me, doing what I did for pretty much the rest of the trip, lounge around and read. Whether by the sea or by the amazing salt-water pool, I just relaxed like it was my job. We ate some crazy good food, had a dinner that was the fanciest of my life (with a mouth-watering fennel soup, mmm), and just enjoyed being together.

What would summer be without the requisite over-exposed beach pic eh πŸ™‚ I am incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to do this, not only to see my mom during my service period, but to visit a country that we learn so much about growing up in our schools and to have an honest-to-goodness dream vacation to top it off. Yay!

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