Thursday, June 30, 2011

One day in Lisbon- Part 4- Sunset & After

Because the fun never stops in Lisbon, after Sintra, we went cruising down the coastline, to check out Portugal's famous beaches. I dared to dream and brought a swimsuit on the Spain/Portugal trip, and even though I still didn't end up wearing it, I loved the moments I got to stand in the sunshine on Cascais, Estoril, Azenhas do Mar and a few other hot spots I've forgotten the names of now. 

After that, we went with both Miguel's parents to a beautiful waterfront restaurant. Such fun. You guys, did you know there's such a thing as mustard butter?? Well there is, and it is delicious. Put it on steak. Just trust me. I love Spanish food, but Portuguese food just wins as far as I'm concerned. 

We wrapped up the day from could-have-been-hell, but instead was from heaven, with a drive through some of Lisbon's more modern business sector. The lights were gorgeous and as my eyes started to droop from an action-packed day, I tried to count all the things we'd seen I'd never have seen otherwise. Seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, five palaces, five beaches, 2 coffees, 2 beers, one pot of  mustard butter. Clearly, somewhere, I was being looked out for. 

From the safety of my Edinburgh flat, several days later, my friend Gretchen listened to this story and said in her adorable Gretchen way, "Eff you, man. Just eff you. Who ARE you? Man, even when you LOSE, you WIN."

I laughed and laughed because, she's right. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I am the luckiest bitch alive. Maybe the world knows I feel a little tinge over what I lack in family. Because I just keep finding and being accepted on so many sweet and unexpected levels into surrogate families around the world. It's a concept I've been in love with and writing about for quite some time. So, to all my surrogate families out there-- you know who you are-- I continue to send my boundless gratitude out into the cosmos to you. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One Day in Lisbon- Part 3- Views from Sintra

View from Seteais
Palacio da Regaleira 

Interior details abound- Amazing tile mosaic floors 

To think, at one point I had chalked the trip up for lost, but instead, we even got to go to Sintra. There are so many things to see there, we easily could have made a whole weekend out of it (and I recommend it, if you have the time) but even for just a few hours, we saw a lot. Even if we opted just for the exteriors of most places. 

I was really hitting up the UNESCO World Heritage sites, let me tell you. And the one castle we did take the full tour of was Quinta da Regaleira. Built by an Italian architect for a Portuguese/Brazilian millionaire, you can see the Manueline influences. Known for its gardens and mystic tunnels, it was Miguel's suggestion for "if you only see one palace." So that's what we did. I especially dug the interior details and outside, the Fountain of Abundance. You know how much I dig abundance. 

We also took in views from Englishman-built Monserrate and Seteais, the palace Miguel's dad said he would buy if he could. I can see why. Stately, neoclassical, and with one of the most amazing terrace views I've ever ever seen.

We even did some drive-bys of Queluz and Pena. (No joke.) Basically, for a castle-lover like me, my brain was short-circuiting. Sintra is like castle cat-nip. I was cracked out. It was amaaaaazing. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Day in Lisbon- Part 2- Jeronimos Monastery of Belém

Stop number 3 on the tour de force of Lisbon was this gorgeous place. For a girl raised Buddhist, I've always had kind of a thing for churches or any kind of place of worship. I think YTI really sealed the deal on that one. For someone with an often chaotic mind, they do seem to be more peaceful than most other places. 

It was pretty crowded, but Miguel's dad was still able to give us a pretty great history lesson about the people who make Jeronimos their final resting place, including two very famous Portuguese poets I need to become more familiar with-- can anyone recommend some quality English translations of Pessoa or Camões? You know a sad thing about Camões? Huge sections of his work were lost in his lifetime. Something about modern scholars knowing they existed, but don't exist anymore... very mono no aware. 

In addition to those fine gents, there are also various monarchs and their families-- one named Manuel "The Fortunate." Which I think is a very bitchin' royal moniker. I think I'd like to name myself "Ryann the Fortunate." That's how I feel. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

One day in Lisbon- Part 1- Belém Tower & Pasteis de Belém

I'm going to take you through everything I did in one day, namely, Wednesday June 22 2011. It's just proof of how much you can actually see if you're lucky, and have the right people around you. Even if you have to take two fairly extensive stops at the US Embassy, I want you to know the possibilities, if you're open to them. 
Stop 1: Embassy. (I'm going to have a whole post on that, so, just hold.)
Stop 2:

The first in much much Manueline architecture we were about to see, it really does look like a floating tower in high tide. Sadly, the tide was mostly out when we visited, and at that point, I couldn't even believe I was doing anything in Lisbon outside the embassy. 

Stop 3: We had seen and been tempted by Portuguese pastries up until that point, but we finally caved at Pasteis de Belem. You know, religion is funny. Look at all the things people have built in the name of God and then torn down... When convents and monasteries were shut down after the revolution of 1820, they essentially just moved next door to the Jerónimos Monastery and started baking! (Obviously with excellent results.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My first trip to my Mecca in Edinburgh

On the rainy Saturday that was, Zaza and I set out to do some errands and I finally got to enter the long-awaited, newly-opened Anthropologie on George Street. I was, of course, delighted by what I found there.  It was a great comfort to have that old familiar cinnamon-y vanilla scent wash over me as I entered. Ahhhh... home. Exactly the way I remembered it.

But not. Because they've made some really nice efforts to bring in a local feel to the place-- from the Dundee marmalade pots they're using to store reading glasses and peonies to the local artisans making stunning and odd china ware. 

I was especially pleased to see an exhibition of Scottish photographer (and favorite of mine. I've posted about him and this photog project specifically several times) David Eustace. This father/daughter road trip collection is just really special. 

Speaking of Eustace, he's done another collection for The Anthropologist on the Highlands. Anthropologie in Scotland. I am in heaven. I was as soothed as I could be during this slightly homesick time for me. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Equality is awesome.

I am a proud New Yorker today. Happy Pride, everyone. This is stupendous. There's just no way gay people could ruin marriage any more than we straights have, so let's give everyone the same rights to love and make families and, probably, because we're human, screw it up anyhow. But the journey will be great. And everyone should get to take it if they want. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

For now, let's just say this about Lisbon

Maybe you've heard about my adventures these past few days. I'm going to talk about them in detail next week. (I have some tips for travelers!) But for now, let's just look at how beautiful this city is, even on a walk home from the police station. And let's just say, the last week or so has been so full of surprises, that I need the weekend to unpack. 

I get surprised a lot-- it's maybe my favorite thing about life not only because it keeps it interesting, but because it keeps the know-it-all in me in check. Every time I've ever thought I had it all figured out.... Then there's the thing I never saw coming. But not just the stolen purse, or the person I finally thought I'd left behind moving (internationally!) to my city. Not just the events. But the way people respond to them. The way I have changed the way I respond to things over the years. 

I moved to Scotland to change my life. Two of the primary ways I wanted to change my life were 1. in my relationship to stress and 2. my relationship to being open to trust. The trusting of other people and the trusting of the universe. (And let's just say that these relationships are all linked....)

And let's just say that over and over again, in countless ways, those relationships have changed for the better since moving. Because any situation I think is going to cause me the kind of stress that was practically crippling by the end in New York... anymore... I just can't muster the will to feel stressed out about...when measured against the weight of my fortune, of my appreciation. 

And the way people react to me and for me continues to utterly surprise the hell out of me. People, man. They are fascinating and amazing and mysterious as shit. And there are a lot of cowards out there, but I'm happy and thankful to say that more and more, my world is populated with heroes of the everyday. 

And so let's just say that I am always thinking about appreciation.  It's nice when you realize that what--once upon a time-- would have made you feel like a victim, now only makes you feel more connected, more like the luckiest. I appreciate the reminder. And I appreciate the people who link those reminders together. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lisbon, You are one tricky bitch

This is my first post from an iPad. Lisbon is definitely kicking ass in the food department, but the wifi department, not so much. I have to type here and sadly have none of the beautiful Lisbon pics I have been taking to show you due to some iPad browser restrictions.

Our little studio is beautiful and we are loving walking around, but I don't recommend Lisbon on a sprained ankle. The steep hills around here make Edinburgh look flat. And the beautiful tiles that pave the streets are slippery devils. Erin and I might both have sprained ankles by the time we leave here. If we can find our way out of here. Let's just say there are not a lot of through streets in this bright beautiful city, but a lot of places to get lost. It's the kind of city you want to get lost in with the right person. 

Note: Just moments after posting this, my bag was stolen from the coffee shop we went to get internet, resulting in the only time in the year and a half I've been running this blog where I did not post daily. I'm pretty sad about that. But what I got from the experience has turned out to be pretty good. More to follow.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Subway Friends, or Who AM I??

Hi. My name is Ryann. You might remember me from such notorious stranger friendings as the great piano on the subway/Pete & Sooz friending of '09 and the riding in the big red truck with a stranger from the Atlanta Airport to Alpharetta in the middle of the night caper of '00. Basically, if you know me, you know I have a strange knack for falling into groups of people and becoming friends with them. Especially on the subway. 

The girl who lives inside my head? I know her pretty well. But sometimes, another girl gets unleashed on the general public and I come back from a bullfight with three engineers masquerading as secret agents, Lorenzo, Rodrigo & Stefan, from Italy, Brazil & Austria (respectively) leading me to ask myself, "Who. Am. I?" 

Here's how it went down. I got onto the subway after the bullfight (I have a lot to say about the bullfight-- and all your commentary regarding my attendance, and I will do so once the tiny monsters stop eating my  brain) and ran to catch a train. As I ran, my sunglasses fell off my head and one of the matching hat guys I had noticed sitting near me in the plaza de toros (I noticed them due to their matching hats) kicked my shades onto the tracks as they also ran to catch the train. 

I could have let it go, but I could tell they all spoke English and all had different accents, so I decided to let Subway Friending Ryann out and gave him some shit about it. We chatted, figured out we were getting off at the same stop, they all live in the Netherlands, yada yada yada, and we decided they owed me a beer for losing my sunglasses. I buzzed my flat and told Aly and Erin that I was back from the bullfight and I had brought friends! 

Many cervezas and paellas and much terrace chatting later, we're all pals. Even on the facebook. So.... trip to the Netherlands, I suppose. 

Thanks for the fun times, newest pals. And muchas gracias to YOU, Espana. Check ya later, Madrid. It's been re-al. Next stop, Lisbon! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Favorite Holiday

Even though there are a lot of holidays I don't care for so much, there is one that is my absolute favorite-- it's today! Father's Day! I'm all about celebrating them.

Father's Day always reminds me of those last days with my grandfather, when I sensed the end was near, and frantically wrote the longest letter I've ever written (which is saying something, since I tend to specialize in long letters) and mailed it from Japan. I still write him a letter every year around this time. I had a lot to say to him this year.

I don't normally get to spend Father's Day with my dad, but I am sending love from a far. And one of the coolest things about my dad is that he understands exactly why I can't stay, could never stay close to home. This Father's Day (and probably a few more) sponsored by Skype. 

My dad wrote me the above message in high school and it goes with me pretty much everywhere. 

Here, also, as requested by several people is the Steamboat Springs Band version of "Statesboro Blues." Featuring my dad on a smokin' steel guitar (I made him that lightning bolt) and on lead vocals. For a little white dude, Pops can sing the blues. Happy Father's Day-- to him and all the other dads out there who know what's up. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Perfect Prado

So the Prado might be my favorite museum I've ever visited. Not just because my favorite painting is there. Everything about the Prado is perfect. 

On the way in, we sat and listened to some Spanish guitar and I was curious as to these prints an old man kept slaving away over. They were prints-- just of flamenco dancers and bullfighters-- so I wondered what he was doing to them, as he clearly had an art kit on his table. Then I realized he was stenciling in people's names to the posters. And it was settled: I needed one of those bullfighter ones. 

It's going to look really good in my room, but that's not even why I want it. As I walked up, the man pulled out the flamenco girl, and started talking to me about putting my name on it. I let him know I wanted the bullfighter. And I didn't want my name on it. Oh, no. I wanted my bullfighter from my musical, Aries Brio. So now, I have a poster advertising a bullfight with my fictional character. I probably just can't relay to you how cool that is to me, but I'm just a big old nerd and anything that allows my characters to take a step from my head into the real world is pure gold. 

Inside the museum, I loved the preparatory sketches Goya did for his huge royal portrait. The Riberas scared me. But the main event for me was the Velazquez rooms. Specifically, Las Meninas. I think I stood in front of Las Meninas for about 30 minutes. I just love the way he uses color. I just love. 

Slightly interesting-- The Prado has this tendency to really interpret the art in a way that I haven't seen museums do in a while. What are your thoughts on that? I always go back to Susan Sontag's Against Interpretation and can't help wonder if being told what to think about art or anything else is kind of a Spanish Fascist hangover.

Last thing. The Prado does something so cool I can't stand it. If I had any way of getting the stuff home, I would have done it. The have prints on demand. You scroll through the masterpieces and they print it in any size for you, on a variety of different materials. Matte Finish, Glossy Finish, CANVAS! Really reasonably priced too. I think all museums should be doing this if they're not. Amazing. 

I gots wayyyyy more stories from yesterday, but I'll leave you for now. I need to soak up some more sun and head out of town to check out El Escorial

Friday, June 17, 2011

Floating above Madrid

I'm writing to you this fine Spanish morning from the place that makes all life worth living: my terrace. My sun-filled, flower-covered terrace. It's not too hot and I'm sipping some coffee while the birds chirp away high above the already bustling streets. I could get used to a pent house in Madrid. 

Yesterday once we arrived, we took a few minutes to just enjoy the place before heading out to explore. We walked through Plaza Sol and Plaza Mayor and all around our building. I think I'm officially in love with Madrid. I like the odd angles and the way buildings don't sit straight on their lots. I like that there's balconies on almost every building I've seen. Somehow it feels like someone took a paint brush to Paris-- aesthetically speaking, that is. 

Anyhow, off to the Prado and who knows what else today. Hope wherever you are, you can take 5 minutes on a terrace and soak up the day. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dublin Castle

Dublin looks different than I imagined it. I suppose I thought it looked a lot like Glasgow, and so I was really thrown by all the brick. Even the Castle is largely looming brick buildings surrounding a court yard. It's more colorful than I thought, with one whole side of the castle looking a bit like Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

After our extensive tour of Dublin courtesy of Erin, we chillaxed in the park on an awesome sunny day and tried to prepare for the amount of sun we'll be getting for the next week. Everyone told me Dublin was expensive, but I sort of thought they were exaggerating. They weren't. The drink prices, combined with my company-- the best New Yorkers-- made me feel like we were back in the Big Apple like old times. I could get too used to having these two around all the time. See you in Madrid!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hat Party!

I'm in the air today and checking out Dublin for just 24 hours, but while I'm doing that, here is a taste of Zaza's Birthday Party. My friends are always having parties with cool themes (remember the Poirot themed New Year's Party?) and this one was a hat themed party. 

I wore my vintage hat from Savannah. It was great to finally have an excuse to wear that baby out in public.  I have a few more interesting things coming up about hats, so if you're into those, stay tuned. In any case, I think I'm really starting to get behind this whole themed party thing. What are some of your favorite party themes? If I threw a themed party in the near future, what should I do?

Why Stop Now?

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