Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
This is a discription of a couple I saw on the Pitti Palazzo, which is my favorite part of Florence. Picture yourself in a sandstone courtyard that glows in a golden colour...
The young couple clutches. They embrace. It's hard to tell where her purple ends and his navy begins. He pulls away, setting up the timer on his digital camera. She poses, chin in hand, arm on knee. She pretends to be looking off into the distance. Her eyes may not be gazing at him, but he's all she sees. He gets up, comes over, and she pretends that he just entered her vision. He slides his hand under her chin, and pulls her face close to his. Their noses barely miss as love manifests in lips. Click...Flash. Never to be forgotten.
Young woman walks at a rapid pace. She throws one hand around; fluttering a piece of paper held tightly. She gesticulates, but the person on the phone can't see her desperate body language. She finds herself at a curb, not knowing where it came from. Her words slow, they become cold. She spins and sits simultanesouly. The words stop all together. Her head hangs, finding rest in the hand not holding the phone. Defeat eminates from the curb. She mutters three words.
Are. You. Sure?
Then she rises. The world seems to spin, but she isn't dizzy. She finds that rapid pace again. And goes back the way she came.
Here's my third attempt at poetry. Yeah, I know. It's real cheezy...
Itìs not pursuing prefection.
It's not pining for peace.
It's not looking for love,
That's always in the wrong place.
It's really the mixing of music.
It's the tracking of a tempo.
The blending of beats,
It's rhyming rhythms; it's melding melodies.
It's called hunting for harmony.
It's about knoting knowledge,
Welding worries, and building beauty.
It's grafting graces,
Or fusing fires,
It's an integrated interlace.
It's about stitiching synchronicity;
It's hand-held heartbeats.
It's called hunting for harmony.
Ah... life is sweet.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Rome. Wow, that’s a name with some history. Most of the places I’ve been going seem to have a history that begins around 1939. Maybe 1914. Rome began around 750. B.C.! There’s another one of those paradigm shifts I keep talking about. They tend to happen just when I think I’ve got my head around the world, you know?
I ventured on down to Rome about 2 weeks before my group, for a great reason.
Mama flew into town.
Over our 4-day break, we were able to travel basically where we wanted, and I was lucky enough to have my mom meet me out here in Italy. I hopped a flight from Praha to Roma. Took Czech Airlines. You’ve gotta love state-supported airlines, they treat you right. Traveling on my own was pretty nice. I do it enough in the States to have a good routine and some travel sense. The only drawback was having to actually think for myself instead of being a travel-sheep.
My first real encounter with Italy was the most stereotypical encounter I’ve had in Europe. I needed to grab a taxi from the train station to the hotel. I waited in line a bit, and then WHAM! Two Roman cabbies start yelling, gesticulating, turning red, and altogether being Italian. Here’s an excellent example of what I saw:
It was only after I got to the hotel that I could laugh.
It was so incredibly nice to see my mom. Not only was it a new yet familiar face (the first in 2 months), but it was my mama! I got to spend four relaxing days just seeing sites, walking at our own natural pace, and eating great food. Oh! And sleeping… I actually got to sleep a decent amount. That was a nice change of pace.
Rome was a pretty fascinating place, because really, it’s three cities.
First, it’s the modern-day capitol of Italy. I’ve spent a year hearing how far behind the Italian government is, and how muddled the bureaucracy is. Not to mention hearing about Berlusconi. American politics ain’t seen a guy like him. Couple that with the European stereotypes of Italians as lazy, loud, and rude, and I didn’t exactly have the best expectations for the Romans. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every single person we encountered was extremely nice. Waiters were perfectly willing to bend-over-backwards for their diners; tour guides were patient with stupid questions. I was flabbergasted. In a good way.
The second city is the medieval/renaissance city. This place is absolutely riddled with art. GOOD art. The Trevi Fountain is astounding. Strike that, all of the Bernini’s are astounding, especially Pluto and Persephone Wow… There are remnants of artistic masters on nearly every road.
Finally, Rome is the capitol of the Western world. You know that B.C. date that I threw out there? There’s a whole section of town dedicated to the remains of the Roman Empire. Now that’s history. I stood where Augustus ruled the world. Where Peter and Paul looked death in the eye. Where Nero burned Christians for light, and Constantine gave Christianity the last laugh. It’s kind of overwhelming to stand in those spots. It certainly makes one feel miniscule.
And throw another country into that whole 3-city thing. The Vatican is impressive. I mean, really impressive. The whole city just exudes power. I was dumbstruck. A lot. The Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Museums (including the School of Athens) are all they’re cracked up to be. The carry the power they deserve. However, it’s very easy to see how that church got caught up in its own glory and forgot its role as a conduit for glory. It is trying, though. Vatican II has definitely made its mark.
Rome is quite the city. I’m real excited to go back with the group soon. It’s going to be like reading a good book for a second time, you notice totally different things.
Leaving Rome was no fun. Saying by to Mama was a rather large bummer, I tried to get her to come to Florence with me, but she had to get back to the States to see Britty. What a lame reason… J I then hopped a 1½ hour train ride to Florence. I now know why people take the train.
However, first impressions of Florence were rough. It was raining pretty hard. I bought a dysfunctional map. Got lost. Walked a half hour in said rain. Got to the residence about 5 hours before I could check-in to a room. Accidentally got a café to open their kitchen for me. Went out back into the rain. Sat in the outside courtyard of the residence for about an hour. Got mistaken for a homeless person due to using my bag as a pillow and my fingerless gloves. Yikes.
Well… it can only get better from here, eh? I mean lunch was real good.
How does that song go again? “Always look on the bright side of life… do do, do do, do do, do do, do do”
That was the Roman Empire after all, right?
Yup. They finally made me leave Germany for good. Dang. It’s ok though. Cool things lay ahead.
On our way out, we stopped in Dresden. I had low expectations. I thought ‘OK. It’s another World War II damaged city.’ I should have learned my lesson in Coventry.
This whole town was blitzed. Razed. I mean nothing left. Maybe three buildings, maybe. The British firebombed Dresden so hardcore it caused a “firestorm”. Basically, the whole town was burning at 1000° centigrade. The asphalt melted. In the process, St. Mary’s church was destroyed. Actually fully dismantled.
Thank God for rebuilding.
Before Dresden, Sacre Coure in Paris was my favorite church in the world. Not anymore.
The new St. May’s in Dresden, Germany takes the cake.
Before we entered, it was prefaced as a personification of resurrection (destroyed then rebuilt), perhaps this added to the beauty. It had just been rebuilt in 2006. You know when you enter anciten churches and you think ‘I wonder what this place felt like in its prime?’.
St. Mary’s is in its prime.
“Wow…” That’s all I can really say.
They call Prague the Paris of the East. I think I may like the East better. Everything from Berlin east has been phenomenal. Maybe its because it’s new for me, maybe it’s because I mesh with these cities better, or maybe it’s just being connected with the Aryan community, I dunno.
Regardless, Eastern Europe is incredible. The past 20 years have done it well.
Prague certainly feels 20. The metro didn’t even smell yet. The city itself is kind of a strange amalgamation. One can tell that these people haven’t self-ruled often. The medieval structures are all gothic and renaissance architecture, but they’ve been “baroqu-ed” (Gabriel-ism). Apparently, the Austria-Hungarian empire used Baroque architecture as a weapon in the counter-reformation against those rowdy, free-thinking protestants, The Austro-Hungarians rules until 1919. Then the Czechs got a bit of independence. They celebrated with a unique style of art. Art Nouveau was everywhere, and thus, Mucha was everywhere. That was awesome. I got to see an entire museum dedicated to my favorite artist. Definitely wouldn’t mind some Mucha hanging in my future residence.
Back to Czech history. They had their own country for 20 years. Then, the Nazis invade. Sweet. There goes all that Czech pride. So, no more neat art. Things just end up shot-up or blown-up. Then, in ’45, comes Communism. Most things stay shot-up or blown-up. Well, except for a massive Stalin statue (that eventually gets blown-up in the 50s). The poor Czechs don’t get their own place again until ’89.
Yeah, the year I was born.
3 of the countries I’ve been to are as old as I am. Maybe that’s why I like them so much.
Prague was definitely made better by Gabe’s presence. From teaching us to laugh at dumb tourists, to poking fun of couples at the castle gardens/discussing what a good date spot it is, to telling us what to do when a pistol-toting Nazi is walking towards you (RUN!), it just wouldn’t have been the same without him. Taking me out to a much-needed breakfast and discussing the information age/the 21st Century/the future was just icing on the cake.
Cheers, Gabriel. Hope to see you soon.
Best site – Prague Castle/St. Vitar’s Best stained glass ever, and incredible views
Best food – Lebanese Group Dinner – It just kept coming, and it was all awesome.
Best pun – Gabe’s talk about the victims of the 2nd Defenestration of Prague being the first bounced Czechs.