Thursday, August 28, 2008

geek out

Oh my. I know I can get totally geeked out over silly things, cheese, good pens, fonts, i.p.a.
Still buzzing from hanging with the artsy types in Copenhagen I have been preparing for a more artistic mission on my upcoming trip. Hence the geeking out over mechanical pencils, sketch books, maps, and the like. This all lead to an epic internet binge where I unearthed some exciting stuff.
First thing is Good magazine's cool map that details famous journeys. I think it is worth a bit of an explore, especially if you enjoy a bit of good design. I fiddled around with it for a bit looking at Kerouac crossing the states, and the trans-siberian's epic journey spanning asia.
Though very different Good's map somehow reminds me of the hand drawn maps from Mark Elliot's guide to southeast asia. I used this book extensively while I traveled through the region. Before I arriving I couldn't really grasp the usefulness of the thing, but it quickly showed it's true colors. The maps were way more convenient than all that usual wordiness and the book was missing all that strange commentary that the Lonely Planet writers feel free to include. It is not the book for you if you want a hand holding guide book, but if you are more on the pirate, yarh-ed out end of traveling you might dig it, or you might not want a guide book at all.
In my dreams I will someday write a similar graphic guide book to central america, the problem is I keep getting mildly distracted by other things. Bad excuse I know. One such thing is project inspired by Valeria. She broke my heart when she showed me Stefano Faravelli's book on his travels in India (In viaggio con l’elefante). If I never had a desire to learn Italian and move to India before, I did after looking at this book. Learning Italian so that I could read his writing, and India because, well it's India. I also stumbled upon the blog of a drawing course in Italy that also focuses on documenting travels in a similar manner.
So now my plan is to drag watercolors and pencils to Cambodia and spend my time drawing and painting the days away, while of course laughing my ass off with Michael. We shall see how it goes.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

go read this book...

I come across a lot of amazing books in my hours spent on buses, trains, planes, and waiting for all of those things, as well as for people. One that has really struck me, and cast a new light on travel for me is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton. Travel writing for the most part inspires envy, or at the very best appreciation in me and usually that is because I am in the place or the region which the writing is about, but this book was different.
It got me thinking about the reasons behind my love for travel. Even better than that provided me new ways of enjoying and looking at my travels. I would wax on but Alain says it all much better than I can, so I will leave it to him.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I have been thinking a lot about inspiration over the last couple weeks, where it comes from, why we find certain things inspiring, and how to put all that inspiration to good use. My friend valeria has a cool blog, an online notebook of inspiration of sorts. I put the link to it on the sidebar for easy reference.
The nice thing about inspiration, for me at least, is that I find it in many places. Probably too many places, leading me to a kind of unfocused spazzed out enthusiasm where I end up feeling full of ideas of which I am not sure how to put to use. A frustrating and common feeling for me, which leaves me fiddling, but never feeling like I've accomplished much.
Somewhat inspired by Valeria, I feel like it is time to push this blog in a slightly different direction. Not to worry, stories of my flailing spanish and foible-filled adventures will still get billing, but I will also try to be a bit more of a travel resource as it were, actually give you all place names, and real information. It feels a bit daunting, but I am trying to have faith that I can do it.

To start...
Hands down most exciting place in London for me is the Borough Market (London Bridge tube stop). I spent this morning there in gastronomic paradise. I usually have to start at Monmouth Street for a cappuccino, where they tell you the name of the cow that made the milk you are drinking. After tasting their coffee and milk you understand what the big fuss about single origin and small producers is about. I will admit part of my love for Monmouth is the care and pride the take in what they do. Each of their coffees has a story to it, a story they want to share with you (check out their pdf of coffees on their website).
Monmouth is somehow affiliated with Neal's Yard cheeses, which if you are down with cheese is probably heaven. My brain kind of spazzes out everytime I end up the place, I can never remember the names of the cheeses I buy (I need to remember to write them down in one of my 1500 moleskines), and I always end up feeling like blowing the whole day's budget on cheese is a-ok. It is probably what most 15 year old boys feel like when in the presence of the cheerleading squad.
Another required stop on the tour is at Brindisa for a chorizo sandwich. Oh my god. If I were going to choose my last meal, this would be part of it. Grilled happy little roll, olive oil, rocket/ruccola/arugula (depending on your preferred idioma), some kind of roasted red pepper, chorizo. I would provide the required food porn of this, but I always end up eating the sandwich before taking a photo comes to mind.
Otherwise there is just a lot of shit to drool over and curse your lack of kitchen with, or you could just eat your way through the place. Market days are friday and saturday, with a sort of half assed showing on thursday, but if you are in town on a tuesday go anyways, it is worth it. I promise.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ikea, youkea, wekea

I have been in Scandinavia for most of the last week, visiting an old friend and a newer friend, and generally soaking up all that Northern European stuff. My friends live in Copenhagen, which has been a joy to visit. Somehow the idea of going on holiday to a place like Copenhagen seems like something someone far hipper than I would do, and yet here I find myself sticking out like a sore thumb with brown hair, wearing beat out nicaraguan sandals, and dirty jeans, all the while missing the accessory de jour, an argentinian scarf.
The thing is not being up to date on fashion kind of comes with the territory when you are American and in a place where jean technology is decades ahead of what we are wearing in the United States. Additionally I have discovered that my dad would be way in fashion if he were still rocking the same style as he was in the early seventies and living in Denmark. I saw a Danish truck driver today who was a dead ringer for him in his old photo albums. Who knew my pops had his finger on the pulse of hipster fashion? He was just a bit before his times.
Valeria who hails from THE place of fashion, Italy, claims that all scandinavians look the same, fake blonde hair and crazy jeans. I would say there is a bit more variation, but as a general rule there is a bit too much peroxide use for my liking.
Style and design, I have learned is taken very seriously here. Ikea is just the tip of the design iceberg, and everyone has their own take on neutrals and white accesories. I think the approach here is pretty awesome, but I usually find myself attracted to this type of aesthetic, so I am no too surprised. The thing I find more exciting is the way the Scandos dig on coziness. In fact the Danes have their own word for that cozy friendly feeling you have when you are all snuggled in with friends, a nice bottle of wine, a fire crackling away, and candles lit, hygga. And god knows in a place like this where the nights come early one needs all that to chase seasonal depression away.

Monday, August 11, 2008

post-kastoori post-wedding pre-denmark

Things that make me supremely happy:
1. Kastoori tomato curry and the newly discovered cauliflower cream, even if Indian food makes me feel like I might end up with another case of montezuma's revenge.
2. Laughing about the same five quotes that David said while we were all sitting in the porch feeling like we might die from our hangovers.
3. Trying to get rid of the above mentioned hangover by throwing my u.p.i. battered body into the rough sea with my whole family, alysha, cousins, and annie, while getting stared at by english wet suit wearing boogie boarders.
4. Finally figuring out the London bus system.
5. Buying a ticket to visit Andreas and Valeria in Denmark.
6. Eating toast with marmalade for nine days straight.
7. The fact that Eliot is now officially, 'in the family.'

Thursday, August 7, 2008

beer, alysha, annie, and the dueling macs

Soooooo.... life changes fast when you are Gemma. I swear last week I was in Mexico, wait last week I was in Mexico, and now I am in the Old House, abusing the wifi with Annie and Alysha attempting to get drunk before purchasing plane tickets to random countries in Europe. It's good to be back with native english speakers laughing about the poor state of the American Dollar.