I miss interesting foods, rushing crowds, the many cultures and languages that inhabit Istanbul. I miss Turkish coffee with the grounds on the bottom, the neighborhoods and oddness that encompasses the place. Istanbul is crazy in the best sense of the word.
I got super lost here by myself. Not that it was unexpected- but it still was frustrating. I was on the hunt for some good thrift shops, and the few that I found were sub-par, but I only made it for about 15/20 blocks. There were lots of bourgeois boutiques with $1,000 dresses- I walked in and immediately walked out.
Something about being around ostentatious wealth like that makes me uncomfortable, for whatever reason. I feel like I’m not good enough, or I immediately think of ALL the things I could do with the money- feed myself and pay rent for months, buy gas for over a year, go on a road trip, save money to pay some debt, etc.
Anyway, TriBeCa was gorgeous. I loved the steps, stores, the tulips on some corners. It was also very quiet and nice- it felt like a neighborhood, whereas the rest of the city as I had experienced it felt like a mass of energy that just trampled me.
I woke up, got on the train, and promptly got lost. I was not in the least surprised, so it wasn’t scary or confusing- I just asked somebody. It wasn’t hard. My lack of a smartphone somewhat handicapped me in the city, and it would have been nice to have a companion that wielded one, but I managed.
I shopped in a Japanese clothing store, found a vegan restaurant to met an old friend for lunch, and then went past the New York Public Library and Bryant Park to the MoMA. The entire time I was eagerly vibrating with this odd energy- I was going to see The Scream.
I cried when I saw it. Something about the culmination of human emotion, desire, abandonment, yearning, desperation, and isolation just hit a chord in my heart. The security guard did not know what to do with this weeping girl standing too close, and gently shooed me behind the taped line on the floor as best as he could. I feel like when some people see or hear others cry, they think, “HOW CAN I STOP THIS I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO MY GOODNESS.”
Later I met up with Anya and Maya, two girls from my Swiss school. We’re all lovely devotees of art- Anya was dressed in a chic black coat, Maya in her typical casual slightly masculine wear that just oozes boss. Anya led me to Soho where we dined on pizza and glasses of house wine. Maya and I split a cab uptown, from which I shot some pictures.
I made a late train home and almost fell asleep. A busy, sunny, slightly windy day that ended up being far more social than I planned (in a good way).
Exa pulls up in the drive way, prompt, armed with three cameras, a coat with humongous pockets, and that signature smile. Her hair is shorter than I remember, and we hug for a long time, two years going through the window- everything seems like it never ended.
Exa and my aunt talk and then we are dropped off at the train station. Buying tickets and waiting, we both discuss the surreal quality of the situation: We are together again. That itself is a jewel of a thing. Boarding the train, we sit and begin talking like nothing has interrupted our effortless friendship. The train zips along and in no time we are in Grand Central. We wait in the middle for Kate- and here she comes, all strawberry blonde hair and wonderful smiles. We hug and again exclaim about the ridiculousness of the situation, in the most marvelous sense.
We get to the Met, check our coats, and begin to wander. Exa is hell bent on seeing Madame X, but we go into the Old Masters wing. Everybody agrees that our future lovers/husbands/what have you must build us wedding chests in the Italian fashion- big, heavy gilded things covered in paint, gorgeously constructed.
Fat Renaissance babies, Baroque frames, and Byzantine Italianate paintings line the walls. We walk past millions of dollars and talk about everything and anything- life has been moving on, and we’ve all changed, but our common international past threads everything. Memories laced with strawberry wine, bad decisions, and the Swiss country we resided in are shared. I think I laughed more than I have in a long time- too long!
Soon, Kate announces she’s hungry. Thank God, I think, because my stomach has been growling like an unsatisfied forest creature for some time. After desperately trying to find my favorite Judith beheading Holofernes portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder (UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN A CLOSED WING) we depart.
We take the subway and enter Union Square. Literally not a single cloud tarnishes the optimistic blue that permeates the skyline. A farmer’s market bustles, and we make our way to Republic. Seated among two other groups of people, we order mimosas and enormous bowls of curried vegetables, wontons, and glass noodles. Kate attempts to teach Exa how to handle chopsticks- the lesson was somewhat successful, though in reality this should just give Exa an excuse to eat much more meals that require them.
We discuss Buddhist monk TA’s, life in college, current life dilemmas, and what our summers hold. Kate is spending the summer in Bucharest, Romania, on a dig- she’s found her passion, and I slightly envy her Eastern European summer. Exa, currently a resident of Boston, bemoans Boston’s horrible public transportation and how her landlord is in the process of “sweating them out”- apparently the heat has been 75+ for days now. We eat until full- so many noodles! – and head out into the Farmer’s Market.
Upon finding out I’ve never had a whoopie pie, Exa and Kate decide I must have one. We buy a plate with 3 of them and sit in a park on the ground, surrounded by good weather and spring-feverish New Yorkers. The whoopie pie was a marvel. Memories of living in horrible dorms, roommates, Chat Roulette and travelling are shared once again.
Kate finds a Victorian bar on her smartphone, and we walk there- but not before running into Journelle, a lingerie boutique that has the best website ever. I enter and buy Wolford stockings, gorgeous but expensive. We look at basques, bustiers, garter belts, and the most beautiful underthings. Mint, red, black, nude- colors galore! We bemoan our lack of funds for these gorgeous things, and enter Lillie’s.
Red velvet booths, a marble bar, and a giant tarnished mirror finished off the Victorian vibe. Exa and Kate both had whiskey drinks, while I stuck with my vodka. We sit for a while, slowly drinking and murmuring more stories. I can’t believe I’m in a huge city with two people I thought I’d never get to see again. We’re seamlessly laughing, the thread of conversation continuous.
Exa leads us to Eataly, the most amazing store in New York. A store, cafe, bar, and restaurant that imports Italian goods galore, a sensor delight in every way! Enormous bricks of Italian cheeses stare at me. My life in Switaly comes back, and I see Genovese pesto, imported pasta, genuine imported proscuitto. The sauces we would by in Migros, in Lugano, line the shelves! I’m back in Switzerland for a moment. Exa puts our name down to go to the 14th floor to the biergarten.
45 minutes later we enter. We each have a pint of something different- Exa’s brew had pomegranate it in, and definitely won. We sipped, people watched, and enjoyed the coming evening. A little buzzed, a little hungry, we walk out and find a Shake Shack. I balk at the line, but Exa insists it’s worth the wait. I am dubious at best- in Montana, a line is of 5 people, not 75, but East Coast efficiency soon makes itself obvious. The line moves forward, Exa photographs us too much. My camera batteries fall out somewhere.
We sit under a table with a heat lamp, feeling like reptiles, and enjoy burgers, fries, and shakes. We look up train times. Kate finds her way to the right street and departs to Penn Station- we part with hugs, and I almost wanted to cry. Exa and I hopped into a taxi, and whisked away into the night.
A glorious day with some marvelous people. I needed to have a good day, I haven’t had one in a long time, and it was like every element lined up to make it so.
I already miss them.
I think I was too young to appreciate the fairytale setting of Lugano. I was only 18 when I went to live there and I think if I went now I would treat it better- I would explore more, try my Italian with a little more zest, and push my limits.
Regardless, I am bedridden right now, and when I make these images full-screen I can almost transport myself back to the lakeside, where coots and ducks co-existed with the Swiss fisherman, where I would run laps when I felt up to it, where nocciolo gelato provided comfort on those humid, hot Lugano days. When I would wake up earlier than anybody else and almost sneak down to the edge of the water, having the vast body of water almost entirely to myself to relish and selfishly view. I wanted to eat it all up with my eyes and leave nothing for anybody else.
Everything is either dried up or encrusted by a layer of ice. Death has shrouded most of the gorgeous things here. The evergreens stay that dark, moody green that I covet, but my favorite things to photograph, the gorgeously delicate flora, are for the most part extinguished for now.
MAY IS HERE! Te gustan los puns, verdad?
These photographs are from late April, but whatever. Deal with it. All of my photographs from May (err…today) are on some film in my camera right now.
I drove back to Helena today to drop off some massive suitcases and trunks, then had lunch mit meiner Mutter.
Last week was a combination of papers, exams, presentations, and celebrations. A party Friday night with some people quite wunderbar, and Saturday and Sunday were a blur of paper writing, socializing, and photographing said socializations. Things around Bozeman are blooming, and I couldn’t be happier.
Also, side note: The cloud formations recently have been amazing. I can’t stop looking up. Not a good thing whilst driving.
Another side note: I love driving in Montana. Fast roads, few police officers, and a light car make for lovely morning and evening drives.
Once upon a time, when plane tickets were cheap and travel was easy, Adrienne and I spent a little over 24 hours in Barcelona. With little time to spend in this glorious metropolis, my photographs feel sparse.
I only took two analog photographs, and the rest are digital.
Last night, while I was procrastinating studying for a ridiculously easy exam, I rediscovered some of the photographs I had taken. My aversion to digital is such that I abandoned a lot of my photographs, thinking them to be worthless. Luckily, I found some images from our trip that are full of memories, sunshine, Spanish, Parc Güell, and the lovely vistas that Barcelona has to offer.
So, here is the story of our trip to Barcelona, told from memory and saturated in nostalgia.
Adrienne and I arrived at the Barcelona airport at about 22:00, and quickly realized that we had little no idea to get to our hostel. I had to scramble together whatever I had left of my high school Spanish, jumbled with Italian, but we got on the bus from the airport and made our way to whatever stop we ended up getting off at. We were both exhausted- travel had just finished, and I had been in Turkey for 10+ days.
We eventually found our hostel, Backpackers BCN Casanova (good place, good price, good location) and entered our room. Immediately, we smelled cologne, and saw enormous white sneakers scattered. Adrienne and I both knew what that meant: HOMBRES.
As it would turn out, we were rooming with four large Slovakian boys who really liked to party. When I say large, I mean they were tall, one or two were very muscular, and they were LOUD. Adrienne and I crawled into bed, exhausted, and at around 3:30 or 4:00, the Slovakians enter, loud and intoxicated. I was on the top bunk, poor Adrienne right on their level. Much noise (including grunts?) and knocking about later, our room stayed silent.
I don’t remember what hour we rose, but we went out hunting for breakfast. We found some juice and some sort of sustinence, and then planned how to get to Parc Güell. Several metro stops and a bus later, we found our way to Parc Güell, and spent several hours wandering, talking, eating the snacks we bought earlier, and running our hands over the tiles Gaudi transformed the park with. Adrienne was looking snazzy in a new suede jacket, and I was wearing some flats I had purchased for my birthday. The sun was shining, and Barcelona looked AMAZING from the high-point that Parc Güell was perched on.
We got there early enough to have the park to ourselves for a time. Flowers were already blooming in mid-March, cacti flanked the paths, and wispy trees gave languid shade to parts of the park. It began to get rather hot, and we found a quiet area to sit. We planned out our next stop, and decided to make it to the Sagrada Familia.
A bus and a few more metro stops later, we arrived downtown, close to Las Ramblas, and with our handy tourist map got to La Sagrada Familia, only to find hundreds of like-minded people already there. By this time, the Spanish sun, already blazing in March, drove us to the conclusion that it would be more pertinent to find food, nap, and then reform our game plan.
After a lunch with terrible sangria, cubes of cheese, and some other foods I don’t remember (we both agreed the meal was less than satisfactory), Adrienne and I found our way to the Museu Picasso de Barcelona, where we spent the next few hours admiring this genius’s amazing pieces, and then cavorting in the museum cafe making up limericks and rhymes about historical figures.
After that, dinner! If you go to Barcelona, I know that there are thousands of restaurants, but Origens was excellent. It wasn’t super pricey, the location was awesome, and the service was amazing. Adrienne and I almost went to the beach at night, but realized that we didn’t really want to be out super late, as we had to wake up at 5:30 am to catch the bus back to the airport.
The Slovakians had other plans for us. In our pajamas, without contacts in, the Slovakians came in and began attempting to coerce Adrienne and I to come out clubbing with them. They promised to have us back in time for our shuttle. Adrienne and I declined many times, but ended up having a couple hours of conversation with our new international friends. They invited us to visit them in Bratislava (which I have always wanted to go to), and explained how American speak English.
“You Americans speak English like you have a hot po-tay-toe in your mouth”, and then went on to fake an American English accent, which was really quite accurate! Eventually they went out to explore the Barcelona night, and Adrienne and I slept to the terribly early hour, then got up to leave the beautiful city we spent only one full day in.
Hasta luego, Barcelona, pero no adios!
(By the way, Meghan isn’t dead, she’s sunbathing. Just in case this looks suspicious.)
Life here has reached the point where if I’m not researching about hyper masculinity for a paper or procrastinating by watching The Departed that I’m not photographing anything.
Which is sad and will change soon.
I miss taking photographs, being around people I love who are energetic enough for the snap of a shutter, but everybody is stressed, and the mood on campus is morbid. I did register to vote (WOO!) and this week I saved myself $7,000 by haggling over transfer credits!
Also, enough of this black and white film. I think I’m going to end up purchasing my standby: Cheap 200 speed Fujifilm.
On a side note: My roommate and I have turned our cramped, third world dorm room (exaggeration alert) into a nursery for plants. We bought packets of seeds, some little pots, and have about 50 little dirt-filled cups lining the windows, waiting for the sun to create life!
Alas, el sol hasn’t been in the “I’ll be out!” mood, especially in the morning when our window gets the light, and so the sprouts haven’t…err…sprouted. Le sigh!
Another side note: TRAINING FOR A 10K IS SERIOUS BUSINESS.
Which thus far I have been quite terrible at. I ran 13 miles this week, a pittance compared to my cross-country days, but hey, this lazybones is working on it!
Anyway, here is some photographic evidence from last weekend that I have a life, albeit the generic kind that probably barely passes for interesting.
My day to day activities are quite mundane, and I would be the first to admit it. However, that does not mean that they aren’t worth capturing.
Harlan and Emily are going to be roommates next year- Harlan always has the most wonderful expressions, and he is not self conscious in front of the camera- I often find myself toting along the camera just to get some more expressions from him. I took Emily out to Cafe Zydeco for an early birthday dinner- we both gorged ourselves, it was very messy! Thank goodness nobody we knew saw us!
I find that photographing everyday things that seem boring make these moments significant. I like lending significance to the dull, the muted- it makes me feel more alive in turn.
The last few days have been busy with mostly unimportant things like reading about World War II, sun bathing, eating food food, and enjoying being 21, which hasn’t been super exciting but is freeing at the same time.
My photographs will be improving soon, though, as a result of the f/1.4 50mm lens my parents got me for my birthday! I opened it this morning at my favorite breakfast place in Bozeman, the Nova, and am SO excited to shoot with it and experience the gorgeous focus and diffusion! WOO!
Anyway, here are some photographs from my 50mm 1.8 lens of yesterday and some of the days before.
Montana weather is notoriously fickle. One moment the sun is shining, the next it’s raining, then it’s hailing, or sometimes Nature even skips the rain and hail and just blizzards out of nowhere.
Well, that’s what happened. I drove home Sunday afternoon into a clear Bozeman. I woke up to a good 8 inches of snow, and there were 4 more inches on top of that by noon. WHAT?! Then, by 3, it got up to about 40 degrees and began melting. Tuesday and Wednesday were warm, about 50 and 60 degrees, respectively, and the snow created huge mud puddles and quagmires everywhere! By Thursday Meghan and I went downtown and got warm enough to stop in the Chocolate Moose (pun, get it?) for a root beer float and a chocolate milkshake.
While we were sipping the refreshments, I was waving my camera around, and this guy who looks rather vagrant-y stops, stands, and says, “Hey, did you take my picture?”
I immediately tell him no, but then he repeats himself- “Hey, would you take my picture?”
Ohhhh, that’s what he was asking. He introduces himself as “Sam, the most produced songwriter in the world!”
I say, “Sure!”, set the focus, and tell him, “One, two…”
“ORGASM!” Sam says as the shutter clicks. Then, Sam the Most Produced Songwriter in the World walks off into the sunny Bozeman midday.
Sadly, his photograph didn’t turn out…it was the end of the roll. 😦
Anyway, here are the photographs from this last week. Just living the dream- school, walks, sunshine, snow, blizzards, and surprises.
In late January of 2010, Hannah and I weren’t officially friends yet. We were acquaintences, and we both knew that we were sort of weird. We’d had Italian and English classes together, and one morning we were in the computer lab, playing Tetris and avoiding doing our homework, per usual.
We then both decided to search EasyJet just for fun. I happened upon a ticket to Krakow from Milan for a round trip total of around 50 euros.
“Hey, want to go to Poland in March?”
No longer would we ever be strangers.
The first thing you need to know about EasyJet is that it is never that easy. It’s a trick! Hannah and I had to fly out of Bergamo Airport, about an hour outside Milan.
Our flight left at 10 am on a Friday morning, I think, and so we decided to play it safe and spend the night in the Bergamo airport. I had done this to get to Madrid, and it was okay, sort of. You sleep on a cold floor with the lights on, surrounded by people who are better prepared than you.
Hannah and I showed up, with “The Brother’s Bloom” pre-loaded on her tiny Dell netbook, and realized that it was COLD. Like, hypothermia-almost cold. I slept on a scarf I brought and Hannah and I tried to sort of cuddle/huddle to keep warm. Until about 3 am, when I realize that nature’s calling.
So, this is a funny side story, which you can totally skip. I’ll even mark it for you.
-_-_-_-_-_FUNNY STORY BEGINS HERE_-_-_-_-_
So I walk to the bathroom down and around the corner from the corner Hannah and I were sleeping in. It’s in an Italian airport, and a gang of older Italian dudes are surrounding the entrance to the female bathroom, saying slightly creepy things like, “Hey, pretty girl” and “Where are you going?” in Italian. Cool story, bro! No, but really, it’s quite awkward. Making my way through their vocal band, I enter the first stall I see, in a 3 am daze.
Naturally, I miss seeing the sign that says that this bathroom is broken.
So, I lock the door and the lock gets stuck, and the door handle falls out of it’s little socket. I’m trapped in this bathroom with creepy Italian bros outside.
Immediately, I start shouting horrible Italian and English, pounding at the doors. The thing about these bathroom doors was that there was no possible way for me to shimmy under the door- it went all the way to the floor- and no way to clamber over the top- it went all the way to the ceiling.
“Ho bisognio aiutare!” was my repeated scream. It translates to “I need to help!”, but in my fear addled mind I didn’t give a damn about conjugations. I just wanted out of the stupid stall!
I hear the men outside muttering and probably saying something, but unsure of what to do. Eventually, I’m pretty sure they found a cleaning lady, because she peeks her eye through the socket in the door where the handle used to be, and starts yelling at me in Italian. I can’t understand a word of it, and I just make it clear that I’m trapped.
Now, I didn’t see this, but Hannah did. Apparently the cleaning lady panicked and ran yelling down the corridor, past where Hannah was sitting, just waking up, and screamed for help. So, a cleaning man was summoned. He was riding his giant floor-cleaning machine that shoots industrial, probably carcinogenic liquid very close to your face to wake you up on the airport floor.
He rides the machine to my rescue instead of walking. I kid you not. So, I’m waiting, surrounded by silence, when all of a sudden he comes with a broom handle and starts POUNDING on the door, yelling at me in Italian, and I freak out and stand up on the toilet trying to stay out of his way. He gets some other heavy things and eventually breaks the door’s hinges or something, and I run out without washing my hands or thanking him (ungrateful American, I know). I was just SO happy to be out of there.
Just my luck that the entire airport had heard this happening and had gathered around the bathroom or waited eagerly to see the outcome. Indeed, I ran to Hannah and she peers at me, still sort of sleepy,
“Was that you?”
Oh, it was me.
-_-_-_-_-_END OF FUNNY STORY BACK TO POLAND THINGS_-_-_-_-_
We sleep on benches outside the gate, and board the plane. I’m still embarrassed about the morning’s activities. Eventually, though, we take off and touch back down again in good ole Krakow! WOO! We find the train to the main city, because the airport is a way away, and end up at the railroad station. Now to find our hostel!
Travel tip: If you ever go to Krakow, you HAVE to stay at Greg & Tom Hostel. Why? It’s dirt cheap, it’s super clean, the people are awesome, the beds are wonderful, you get a GIANT safe/locker to keep your things in, and everybody is super cool and welcoming. The showers have good water pressure, too. (I care about that, you know.)
So, we find Greg & Tom, and settle in, then decide to go take a gander at the Old Town. Greg & Tom is also super close to the Old Town, the Main Market Square, and Wawel Castle, so we decide to walk there.
We walk through Planty Park, past some old Arabic-style medieval walls, and down a street with a McDonald’s, and we already see the Gothic towers of St. Mary’s Basilica! So cool! It’s cold, windy, and grey outside, but we don’t give a damn. It’s also Easter weekend, so there are markets and lots of people milling about.
We ate at a place in the Main Square called Arlekan, I think. We had cake and gelato for dinner, and went back to the hostel to sleep.
The next day we woke up and got on a van to see Auschwitz, and we returned in the mid-afternoon, emotionally exhausted and feeling so many different things that we didn’t feel super enthusiastic about doing anything but napping for an hour or so and then getting up and going on a walk.
It was the night before Easter, and the market was busy- the day was beautiful, clear, and the square was the picturesque dream of Europe that I had always imagined. Hannah was a vegetarian, but I insisted on trying the kielbasa being served fresh from a stall with mustard and bread. That beat the gelato, for sure! Hannah munched on a pretzel, I think, and we did a couple loops around the square, buying necklaces for dirt cheap and purchasing trinkets for loved ones.
Then, we decided to do what any good visitor to Poland would do: go in search of some quality vodka! Not to get ohh-I’m-young-let’s-party drunk, but just to try it! We stopped in a shop, and asked the man what would be best. We both got tiny little samples, no bigger than a large shot glass of alcohol, and made our way to Wawel Castel, hoping to meander around it and have some quality experiences.
Of course, some VIP event was happening, and the gates were only open to limousines or luxury vehicles, so we hung out side and looked at the towers and looked at the vista, and downed our alcohol. Wandering down the hill again, we walked through the Jewish quarter, which was quite alive, and headed back to our hostel, bags with new things and minds buzzing.
The next morning, we had to be on a train by 11 am. I have to say, one of my favorite things was sharing our room with a gorgeous New Zealander who had rumpled hair and a killer smile. He borrowed money from us shamelessly: he dazzled us enough that we didn’t mind parting with the zlotys!
It was Easter morning, and a gorgeous morning, so we wandered back into the Main Square, and bought bagels from a cart. Immediately, we found that feeding the pigeons was hilarious. Touristy? Sure, I’ll give you that, but we were both laughing so hard, until we realized that literally HUNDREDS of these city rats were coming down from the Renaissance Cloth Hall, the Basilica, and everywhere else! So, we bought more bagels, perhaps a dozen, and ripped them to shreds, surrounded by birds and getting lots of looks from locals. We got to hear the bells on the Basilica toll for Easter, and eventually had to walk back to the hostel to grab our things and make the train.
We almost missed our train back, but once on it, mutually agreed that Krakow had been one of the most diverse, amazing places we’d ever been so lucky to get to. Also, Hannah and I were for sure best friends now. Even when we were both freezing on an airport floor, getting cranky about almost missing our train, and even when I was being a baby about the city streets at night, we both had the same awkward sense of humor about everything and the constant urge to EXPLORE and DO and ACT on this fleeting adventure.
Hillary and I got out of bed around 4:45 in the morning to go to Lausanne. One train from Lugano to Zurich, another from Zurich to Lausanne. Luckily, our trust friend Hannah helped us through Zurich HB, as I had forgotten where our connecting train would be- we got there, though! Woo! 6 or 7 hours later we found ourselves in French-speaking Switzerland starved for food and art. After going to the Collection de l’Art Brut, we made our way down to Ouchy, Lausanne, and to the Olympic park. Hillary and I basked in the sun, sat on the benches, looked at all the flowers, made war with the French language, and laughed a lot. It was one of those days where we ignored all responsibilities we had to school and homework and gave ourselves completely to this perfect place.
I think Lausanne knew we were coming and had all the flowers bloom and had the sun shining perfectly because it was seriously the kind of gorgeous day you only get with fate. We meandered for a few hours, but only had until about 5, because we had another 7 or so hours of transit to get back to Lugano…we stumbled home at about 1 am, having eaten candy on the train and I don’t remember what else. It was a great day with a wonderful friend in one of those places you’ll never forget.
With yet another (I’m sorry!) trip down memory lane, I continue to be a horrible present-time blogger but a rather good nostalgic one, yes? I swear, I have three rolls of film in various cameras, and they’re almost ready to be developed!