Friday, October 1, 2010

in sum

During this trip (assuming my flight to Venice goes well), I have successfully visited Toledo, Salamanca, Paris, Granada, Segovia, Barcelona, (obviously) Madrid, and Venice. I think I can comfortably say that I have "been to Europe," or "been to Spain," at the very least. (Though I wish I could have visited Cordoba, Seville, Valencia, Pamplona, the Camino de Santiago. . . as in Japan, I take those things unfinished as insurance that I will have to come back.)

I feel . . . um. . . cultured? Ha. I feel delighted. It was a good summer. I'm happy to go home, but not in the way I was last summer, when I felt like I was popping out of a pressure cooker.

And I really love traveling. I suppose that seems silly to say, but often I wonder how much I really like certain things -- art museums, Shakespeare, long books of literature, fashion -- and how much I like the idea of liking what cultured people like. And while I won't deny there's an element of that striving-for-elegance quality fueling my interests, I also am becoming more and more sure of my own preferences. For instance -- gazpacho? I tried it. It's palatable but not my favorite. Spanish tortilla? Lead me to the feed trough (provided that I don't overcook it so the edges are rubbery. :P) Going out to eat late at night? I just feel exhausted the next day. Getting up early for sightseeing? Yes, I can commune with the pigeons and the elderly people buying bread.

Every so often when traveling a little nagging voice would pop up in my ear, muttering, "YOU'RE DOING THIS WRONG," when I bought lunch from a grocery store instead of sitting in a cafe or walked instead of taking the metro (which, given the price of the metro, invariably meant that I was buying a bottle of Diet Coke for every metro ride I didn't take) or went to the mainstream big-deal tourist attractions instead of the niche out-of-the-way museums. Or vice versa. Or asking why I chose to go to these cities and not these cities. Often the little voice would question my traveling, muttering about lazy Americans in jeans and Birkenstocks or jeans and tennis shoes. Couldn't I at least wear earrings? I could put my money belt under a skirt. This little voice kept insisting there was more to going to Europe than just transplanting American dorkiness on different soil -- I should try, on some level, to be European (or Spanish, rather), to live/eat/dress in the same way that people here have accustomed themselves to do.

And that, I really haven't done. Is that bad? Well, maybe. Maybe not.

On a totally unrelated note, after watching the Hellboy movies I found the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. comics online. I read them and I LOVE them. The character development is sadly a little lacking, but the plots are fantastical and totally engrossing.

Baby playing with newspaper!

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