Archive for September, 2011

Tuscany

Friday, September 30th, 2011

The difference between Venice and Tuscany is dramatic. Escaping from the lovely hurried bustle of life that is Venice for the countryside where time seems to pleasantly crawl by. Everything moves so much slower here and make so much more sense. The simplistic beauty in overlooking acres of vineyards and Tuscan homes is astounding. I felt like I could breathe here, life here, and experience beauty in its most basic form, right here.

 

During our search for our hotel we stopped in a tiny Tuscan village for a quick stretch break. We found this gigantic monastery, or church at the top of the tiny village that was just marvelous. There are so many flowers here and so much greenery, it just makes everything seems so much more vivid and full of life.

Tuscany just makes me sigh with wonder every time I see the rolling green hills and the beautiful brick houses with laundry lines hanging from windows. It is so peaceful here. Coming from Venice where life is loud, robust, fast, and complicated, Tuscany is a well needed breath of fresh air. Not to say I didn’t enjoy Venice, because I very much did, it was just so refreshing to see two very different lifestyles in Italy that are in such close proximity with each other.

Our hotel was amazing! Hotel Salivolpi was a tiny little farm-house with many little rooms that were so quaint and relaxing, it really felt like a vacation. I could have stayed there for weeks. There was a pool, gardens and all centered right next to vineyard that really was the quintessential feel of Tuscany.

There was even a separate little building to eat breakfast in down a beautifully sloping grassy hill.

 

It was so nice there, I really hope to go back someday. Not only was the building nice but the people were so kind. Even though I could not speak their language or they mine, there was such a welcoming feeling that it felt like home.

What is Tuscany without its fields of sunflowers?

We stumbled upon a field of sunflowers (that we actually had to hop some fences to get to) that was beyond glorious. It just lit up the whole area like its own personal sun.

What else can I say? I love Tuscany and I can’t wait to go back.

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Venice: Accademia and Glass Art Show

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Right on the Grand Canal is the Accademia, a magnificent ancient religious art museum full of grandeur and mystery.

Hall after hall, room after room, filled with old representations of faith and religion. It is an interesting representation of faith through the ages through creative images. The paintings range from angelic to gruesome and simple beauty to intricate creativity. It is sort of overwhelming the amount of faith in one building. To think that each one of these paintings was made by a person that was so moved by faith and so dedicated to what they believed they had to share it with the world.

After we left the Accademia we had a quick lovely lunch in a campo where I had a ratatouille that was amazing. On our way to walk around we noticed a contemporary glass art show right near by us. So we decided to try it out and it was so much fun!

The first piece was a glass emu constructed of large glass marbles. It made for some very fun photo opportunities.

There were all sorts of other exhibits we had fun looking at and playing with for a while.

Outside was another strange exhibit, the Narrow House. A House that is incredibly narrow, maybe five feet wide.

We got to go inside and it has everything a normal house would, everything is just very skinny. There was a skinny phone, a skinny toilet and all sorts of other things. Oh and a tiny closet.

It was really fun just going and around and exploring odd parts of Venice like this. Sadly we had to leave Venice that next day and continue our journey onward to Tuscany.

 

 

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Venice: Alley Ways

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

One amazing thing about Venice are its alley ways. You travel through the heart of the city by walking down twists and turns of alley ways, some lead nowhere while others bring you to your destination. Venice is a labyrinth of alley ways filled with amazing little artisan shops. Every turn you take leads you down a new one, and to new things.

 

Some are filled with color, others are dark and dank. Some are peaceful and romantic while others are crowded and chaotic. But you can always look up and see beautiful blue sky.

Alley ways are not reserved just for ground, the waterways for intricate alley ways as well with lines of houses and shops surrounding you.

 

I love the alley ways in Venice because you never know what the next will look like. There is such beauty and variety that you can never get bored.

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Venice: Windows and Doors

Monday, September 19th, 2011

There is so much beauty in Venice it is a shame to have to divide it up like I am doing, but in reality it is the only way it can be done. There are so many doors and windows in Venice that look so beautiful, yet are always closed. It is this idea of beauty hidden behind closed doors in Venice that is astounding. people come to Venice to see the sights like the Campanile and St Mark’s Basilica, but the hidden wonders of Venice, that lie behind those closed doors is where the really mysterious wonders lie. Here are just a few of the beautiful windows and doors I stumbled upon during our wonders that reminded me of this hidden splendor that I or you may never actually come to know.

 

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Venice: Piazza San Marco

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Venice is extraordinary and one of its most stunning assets is Piazza San Marco. A massive square which contains the Campanile, St. Mark’s Basilica, and lots of pigeons.

Filled with tourists, this place can seem overwhelming but there is so much beauty and awe-inspiring architecture in this small area that it truly can blow your mind.

First and foremost is the Campanile, which at my new home at UC Berkeley lies a close cousin of this monumental tower. The dazzling brick monolith stands high above all else in Venice and stands as a musical guardian over the city.

We waited in quite a line  to get into the tower and then crammed in a stylish elevator for a ride up to the highest point in the city. The view was in no way disappointing.

It seems like the whole city is within your grasp. Huge expanses of red roofs, rising cathedral of church towers and twisting streets gripping the sides of dark waterways. There really is nothing like it. Looking over the giant square that is the piazza and turning every which way and seeing red roofs for what feels like miles.

In the Piazza itself was an amusing spectacle. Hundreds of pigeons filling the square where people where feeding them and letting them crawl all over them. It was extremely entertaining to watch but I would never let those gross rats with wings touch me. More photos of this will be seen later.

 

 

The Basilica was beyond words. This overly ornate structure is a house of gods built by thieves. A strange concept to build a holy structure entirely constructed of goods that were stolen from other places like Constantinople or any of the other numerous Venetian neighbors. It amounted to quite a spectacle.

The inside of the church was covered in gold and the most amazing feats of architecture. It is a strange concept though, if not an hypocritical one to build a church out of stolen goods. Whether the grounds of which this place was constructed is correct or not, it still amounted to an intricate and stunning structure that is nearly indescribable.

 

The Piazza San Marco was an amazing and awe inspiring place, it is still hard to believe that the Venetians were able to squeeze that much beauty into a small square.

 

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Venice: Rialto and Grand Canal

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Waking up in the morning and walking outside into a bright sunny city were noise seems to happily embrace you is an experience unknown to me before Venice. To feel the life, the heartbeat of the city pulsing with movement, joy, and vibrancy with every breath and word uttered in the near vicinity. Italy is a place of passion, where people do not simply go through the motions of life, they live it. I felt that here in Venice and love it.

We took a water taxi as a method of touring the marvelous Grand canal of Venice. The open expansive water ways bordered by buildings like cliff edges. The buildings are beautiful and old-looking. Some dilapidated, others wildly vibrant with color and life. I was told that actually Venice is not very inhabited in the home on the Canal, only the rich can afford it so many of these beautiful homes ar left empty, to watch over the waterways like silent lonesome guardians.

The color of Venice is gorgeous, each green waterway leads down some beautiful alleyway where mysterious adventures lie waiting for other times. There is just a majesty unmatched here and it leaves you with an astounding feeling of awe and appreciation for this sinking city.

It feels almost like magic as we ride on our boat through the veins of the city, watching life unravel before us, hearing snippets of italian on the wind and sounds of life.

 

Our first stop in Venice besides the Grand Canal boat ride was the Rialto Bridge. This great white arch over the Grand Canal is teeming with people, street vendors, and glorious merchant/ artisan shops.

It is a center of activity and we made sure to stop at the Rialto market to buy some fruit for later.

It is strange, at Italian markets they do not let you touch anything. No testing of ripeness or for bad spots on fruit, you tell the merchant what type you want and how many and they give you which ever they choose. This was very strange for me to actually be chastised for touching fruit that I was going to buy.

They also had some interesting foods that I am not used to seeing at my local farmer’s market. It was really fun interacting with the people who just try to live their lives here in Venice, not tourists.

On the actual Rialto we found beautiful shops full of Venetian glass, handmade leather, and of course Venetian masks made with artful and caring hands. It was ana amazing way to start our adventure. Once off the water, an entire new world of Venice is revealed, hidden in dark alley ways, bright open Piazzas, and artisan shops as well as magnificent restaurants. All of this was waiting on th other side of that bridge, and we crossed it hungrily.

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Static

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Her feet drag as she slowly crosses the carpet sea back to the safety of her chair. The carpet seems to grip onto her feet making each progressive step harder and harder to take, but then again it seems that every step these days are now burdened with the weight of time.

The sickening dragging noise of her shuffling feet is drowned out by the hum of an old TV. The muffled voices seem far away from her and as the commercials end her ears yearn to hear the content, the sacred testaments the TV is slowly spewing now. She quickens her ladened steps and sets herself down, as her own body seems to sigh in relief. The chair welcomes her home, embracing her as it molds to her shape. The dent she has left in over years of use. This is her home. The shape of her body is engraved in its once lush frame, but now it creaks as it reaches out to embrace her. She doesn’t mind, it is still her home, her resting place, her haven and final sanctuary. Across the carpet sea sits her pride and joy, the television set. It sags now with age, pulling down at the corners just as her face now begins its tired descent into age. The antennas stick out at odd angles, just as she likes it. The occasional fuzz runs across the screen but she doesn’t mind, she takes it as a sign. The line of static that only briefly interrupts the vivid images that jump out into her lap. A reminder from her one and only friend that it is indeed still alive.

She sighs in contented happiness and settles in with fascination to her show. In the background though is a buzzing, a humming of sorts that mumbles its way into her mind interrupting her sacred time.

“For God’s sake Mom! Get out of that chair, go outside, talk to a friend, do something besides stare at that TV!” cried her daughter in anguish. “Don’t you see that you are wasting your life!”

The resounding sound of cupboards being slammed shut and the clumsy and loud movements of her daughter come from the kitchen behind her. She hears none of it, just a murmuring in the background, a static that she has come to tolerate. She ignores it, does not hear it, all else besides the soothing voices and images that constantly stream from her sacred box is faded.

“You have lost everything you loved, and those that love you have lost you.” The daughter cried in defeated bitterness. The daughter looks up from the kitchen alcove to no movement. Her words, her cry for change, have yet again gone unheard. Her voice never stronger than the TV’s. She looks down at her hands that have been stained and torn from work, none of which her mother ever knew about, or seemingly cared.

“Ok mom, I understand. I am leaving, and this time I am not coming back.” She sighs and leaves the kitchen as her high heels click on the kitchen-tiled floor. A harsh noise that is sharp and echoes across the empty, neglected house. But even this noise, persistent and hard never reaches the woman sitting in her throne atop the carpet sea.

“Goodbye mom, I hope you are happy with your real family, I won’t bother you anymore.”

The door is slammed, leaving the house with an absence. The mother senses this absence for a brief moment but chooses not to acknowledge it. She lets out another sigh as the murmuring in the background finally ceases and she can turn her full attention to the television.

The entire world around her seems to melt away in that moment. There is no longer the dark dingy room she calls home. No piles of dishes left to rot in the sink, no emptiness, no sadness, and no void that was left in her heart when her poor husband died. All of that is washed away in an instant, as the outside world seems to come within her own small world and nestle there at her feet making itself at home. Here her world is always perfect. In an instant she can be halfway around the world on a beach with the Mediterranean Sea warming her tired skin. Or she could be lost in the jungles of the Amazon living off the fruit of the land and experiencing the beauty of the savage untamed world. Her living room no longer houses the pain of the void left by the loss of her beloved, instead it is filled with the dreams they had but never were able to experience. She closes her eyes letting the world envelope her and gives herself over to a world so different than her reality. For that small moment, they are together again, living their dreams as they sail across the Indian Ocean and hang-glide over the cliffs of Dover. In that span of time, she finally lives. If only for that small amount of time.

An audible click resonates through her skull like a gunshot. The woman blinks repeatedly in shock and leans forward slowly. Releasing herself from the loving embrace of her loyal chair she grips at its arms with long unclean fingernails. With eyes wide, revealing their glassy blue hue that once shone like the sky, she stares at the television with a sinking heart. She stares into the face of static as it looks back at her mockingly. The sound is deafening. It strangled out the song of beautiful birds in South America and dolphins swimming in the sea and replaced it with the hiss of all things evil. The static crackles in her ears as her heart pounds. Frantically she grapples for the remote hoping it is just a mistake. The channels change but the image does not. She is left time and time again with the mocking static of her once loyal friend.

Her mouth is dry, her heart pounds, and her mind races in circles. “This can’t be happening,” she whispers in a hoarse unused voice. She detaches herself from her chair ready to brave the carpet sea. With determined and hopeful steps she drags her feet through the tangles of carpet and reaches her traitor friend. She grips the antennas desperately trying to rearrange them in an order that will bring back the images that soothe her broken heart like morphine. Nothing. The static continues as it hisses in her ear a lullaby of her worst nightmares.

Tortured and heartbroken she is swept across the carpet sea and cast down into the arms of her creaking old chair. There she lies watching with tear filled eyes, the second worst nightmare of her life. Left alone in a room, in a house, with nothing inside of it but her, her chair, and the horribly hissing of the TV. Just like that her world was taken away, and she was left more alone than ever. Not even her daughter would come for her now.

A simple order was put out to an employee, turn off a woman’s cable due to lack of funds. Her world, her dreams and her last hope, without a thought or the slightest of hesitation were snatched away. Her world was gone and all she was left with was the regret of a life she never lived, the pain of everything she had but lost, and of course, static.

This story was inspired by an interaction with a woman at a garage sale who told me a story about how her cable was shut off because she could no longer pay her bills. She said she was devastated because  “It was like they took my world away”.

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Venice: An Introduction

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Venice truly is a fairytale place. A whole new world of wonders, where romance is all around you and there is no escaping the beauty of this city which lives and breathes the essence of Italy.

We arrived in Venice after our stop in Austria and had to leave our trusty car behind because no vehicles are allowed in the actual city. From there we took a train into Venice and had an adventure trying to locate our hotel. This city is so alive and constantly moving that dragging your luggage up and down stairs and canal walkways is actually quite difficult to do. Eventually we found where we were supposed to be staying only to find that the office was closed and the owner gone away. Luckily we begged a vendor next door to hunt down the hotel clerk so we could actually get the key to our room. After some serious anxiety over possibly not having a hotel, we were able to check in safe and sound.

The hotel was very nice, basically a small apartment with two bedrooms, a bathroom, a dinning area, and a lovely little courtyard out back surrounded by the tall walls that build up Venice. Our first order or business? Not unpacking, but mosquito hunting. We had to hunt down and kill every mosquito in the room. Like crazy people we were running all over the rooms smacking mosquitos and rejoicing in their demise. It was a satisfying experience.

After we settled for a small while we decided to go out and get a taste of Venice Nightlife and grab some real italian food by the Grand Canal. It feels like no one sleeps here, even late at night there is life everywhere. We sat right on the water and were enjoying a nice meal when all of a sudden hell broke loose. Two men started fighting right next to us. at first I thought someone had fallen into the canal and that was what the ruckus was all about. I was sorely mistaken. Two men, I believe to be opposing restaurant owners started screaming at each other in italian and get way to close to each other. One even chased the other down trying to get a good hit in. It died down as quickly as it started however and one of the men walked away in a storm. Believing it to be over, I went back to my room. Little did I know in the few minutes I was gone, the real fight broke out. Apparently as soon as I left, the guy came running back and attacked the man he was earlier fighting with in front of us. They literally attacked each other and at one point one of the waiters had to beat the guy with a stick to get him off of the other man. By the end everyone was bloody, face torn, shirts ripped, and overall, an interesting first night in Venice.

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Catching Up

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Honestly there is no excuse. I am in college, ym life is changing, but eventually I will be able to have the time to get caught back up on my blog. I still have hundreds of photos in all probability that need to be published for my Europe Trip and some new photos from my new life at Berkeley.

Here is how this is going to happen. I know the lack of postings has been disappointing, but I am going to try to begin posting again as often as possible. They will probably lack order if not finesse, but I  will do my best to start putting out material again. sorry for the confusion due to the lack of order that I will be using to put posts up, but hopefully once my life has settled, order will be had once more.

Thanks to those of you who have stuck around, lets start producing again :)

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Creeper Photo of the Day: 9/11

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Today is an auspicious day in our history. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 and the fall of the Twin Towers. A small commemoration on my part, a picture of remembrance, a man and his paper reading about the day that for many, changed their lives. Here is a moment for all of you affected by this tragedy. We will always remember you and the sacrifice you made for us.

 

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