May 012010
 
Reason One (of a Whole Lot!) to Visit Valencia, Spain

If you were to dangle an American out of a ten-story window and force her to choose a city in Spain to move to forever, I bet you ninety Euros that she would scream: “Barcelona!”

But the more I experience Spain, the more I realize that this pervasive American romanticization of Barcelona is just plain foolish.

If I, myself, were to pick a city in all of Spain to live, it would be… [...Read More!]

Apr 302010
 
Change Your Life! Or: From Gun Drills to Luxury With an Idol

“Safe Mode Drill for school shooting threat,” reads my Google Calendar for April 30, 2009: exactly one year ago today. “Do NOT allow students out of classroom. If they need bathroom during drill, do not allow them. Bomb-sniffing police dogs will be in halls and may attack.”

Under this note is a second one: “Grade all 64 Senior essays before Monday!”

Yes, that’s right: Exactly a year ago today, my [...Read More!]

Apr 292010
 
The Most Beautiful Building I’ve Seen in a Looong Time

Come, walk with me.

You have likely seen pictures of the world-famous Mezquita of Cordoba, Spain, have you not?

Are you already familiar with those arches upon arches of striped white and russet red?

Well, today is the day you will see it in the flesh, you lucky duck!

Step one: Identify that the entrance ticket to the the Mezquita is free if you show up before ten in the morning, but also identify that [...Read More!]

Apr 282010
 
The 300th Article in 9 Months, 2 Weeks Before Boston!

Today marks the THREE HUNDREDTH article on Around the World “L” in nine months!

We are also now at: 352 blog Followers (click “Follow” on the right sidebar if you haven’t already!), 1,258 Twitter Followers, 250 Facebook Fans, and a #93th-in-the-world ranking on TravelBlogSites.com… and rising. Huzzah!

Let us celebrate with an update of what the heck is going on, and where the heck this is all going. First and most [...Read More!]

Apr 272010
 
Spain’s Alhambra, Hippies in a Forest, and a Night Out

I was really thrown off when the two guys never came home from the forest.

Now before I launch into this story, let’s all learn, like the refrain sung by the whole audience during a folk music concert, a useful phrase: “Forcing it.”

The phrase, “Miss, you FORCED IT with the homework” was used ad nauseam in Boston Public Schools to mean: “Madam teacher, we believe the amount of work you are giving [...Read More!]

Apr 212010
 
Are You SURE That's Appropriate for a Grandmother?

In Latin America, the word often used to mean “cool, man!” is: “chevere!” But Latin American Spanish ain’t Spain-y Spanish, baby. Therefore, you have to do your research before you bandy about your old slang in a new country.

Here’s what happened when I asked my lovely host family in Barcelona to explain the Spain-y Spanish version of “cool, man!”

“Do you know what means ‘chulo’?” asked Anna.

“No, please explain,” I said.

“It [...Read More!]

Apr 202010
 
Parque Guell: At the Center of the “Too Much Tourism?” Debate

In Alice Walker’s beloved short story, “Everyday Use,” the conflict centers around which of two very different daughters should get to keep the mother’s ancestral quilt.

Should the precious quilt go to the daughter who plans to hang it in a case on a wall, never to be used, but only to be gazed at in historical appreciation?

Or should the quilt go to the more simple, less-educated daughter who longs to use [...Read More!]

Apr 182010
 
A Sign on a Barcelona Beach that Made Me Smile

Look carefully at the icons illustrating the sign to the left, snapped on a rather chilly beach in Spain’s Barcelona.

Now ponder: How did the conversation go between the sign’s designers? Let us imagine.

“Hey, Julio, how do you figure we should represent the concept ‘Don’t party here all night?’ on this new sign we have to make?”

“I don’t know, Jorge, maybe some empty alcohol bottles and a stick figure vomiting?”

“That’s gross, [...Read More!]

Apr 162010
 
The Food I Thought Was Too Good to Exist

Before he boarded the plane back to California, my brother hollered: “Don’t forget to track down that crazy chocolate thingy my friend told us about!”

“There’s no way it actually exists,” I scoffed.

“It does!” my brother asserted. “Find it.”

At the start of our Iberian week of adventure, my sibling had whispered a rumor he had heard.

“My friend told me,” he hissed conspiratorially, “that in Spain they drink this chocolate “beverage” which [...Read More!]

Apr 142010
 
Tourism to the Next Level: Mundane Saturday Errands!

“There gets to be a point,” said the somewhat smelly British traveler as he packed his backpack to move out of the hostel, “where you become so sick of famous waterfalls that you can’t bear to see another one.”

I was on a short vacation in Brazil with my best friend four years ago when we met this Around the World traveler in a Rio hostel. The man and his wife [...Read More!]