A chronicle of movement aimed at synchronizing thoughts and keyboards with said movement.


Heute ist Biertag!

Trust unconditionally men with beards and beer, especially those beards that look like they could double as blankets or caves. The passion of these great men for the The Drink precludes their need to shave or interact with any other humans without the help of The Drink. They follow festivals around England, all part of CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale -- an organization a couple decades old that is trying, successfully, to bring good beer back to England and tell Carling and other water-lagers to piss off). And next to these rows of metal, these stalwart gentlemen serve beer, like their fathers did to them when they were babies.

We found out through one of Mikey's British buddies, whom we met at a CAMRA-sponsored bar, that this festival was happening at Battersea, a town just to the south of London. The area around the building -- a very large town hall (where else would a beer festival be?) -- looked a lot like downtown Bethlehem, with restaurants and pubs and men sauntering about, confused about their lot in life. And if Bethlehem had a beer festival, where would everybody go?

Thus, there was a line to get in.

The kegs in the middle kegged hundreds of different British beers, most of which were delicious bitters. Served by sweet dudes. No pint of beer was more than £2.40.

There's an entirely different row on the next side.

Ross (back left), Willy (Asian), Nick (Soviet) all enjoy their Belgian beers. Ross and Nick both told separate guys at the Belgian booth to get them the best Belgian beer. They both ended up with Golden Carolus Tripel. It was the best Belgian blonde.

"No, we do not sell anything like Lager, but if you ask that 6'9" guy on the beer bar ... he may help you."


Mikey, whose energy for exploration is unrivaled (and had gone to the Fest the day before), dives into yet another realm of brews: Ciders and Perries. Darcey ponders what will come next in life.

A selection of the different Belgians poured into my collectible glass.

Nick and Willy bring home a collectible dog.

The man on the left, Peter, organized the Belgian booth. He likes the Red Sox.

The entourage.

And a collectible t-shirt.


Barcelona the final!

I apologize for the lapse in posting over the last two days. Papers had to be written and such, because the London Programme wants to fervently assert the fact that although we are here to have fun, YOU ARE NOT HERE TO HAVE FUN ALL THE TIME. So, 4,000 words of papers later, I return. To the internet. For this exclusive performance.


Our aims and dreams were high, full of life and electricity at the possibilities for the remaining daylight. Barcelona's really pretty from the heights, with its chunky grid moving in lines without visibile end. So we wanted to make it out by seeing some pretty stuff from the ground. And, with the setting sun as our aid, it turned out pretty well.

Every big street in every Romance-language country features at least one column. Come to that, even Hamilton Boulevard, in Allentown, features one. If you're driving from the West, it looks like it's some guy holding a big fish. Turns out it's just parchment that Mr. Allentown's holding.

We had miscalculated the time that it took to get from where we were to where we wanted -- the end of Las Ramblas, by the harbor. So we scrapped the idea of the Picasso Museum, and thanks to a very well-written and far more than literal translation advertising for Port Vell ("breathtaking views of the city," "myriad options for entertainment," etc.), we walked out there. These bubble-arch things were on the road that ran along the shoreline.

The skyride allowed two gondolas up at a time along a ride that took about 15-20 minutes, running from a tower across the harbor to some other tower near the mountains (wait for pictures).

Seagulls, everywhere. They had a lovely tan color to them.

Tay said this sailboat, docked in the port, had some sort of special significance. Neither of us were sure about that, but most seaworthy vessels are pretty special, I think.

Channukah card, anybody?

Maybe this was intended by the builders.

And we fight, moment to moment, to find the brilliance that causes a breath, a slight pause to remind us that something's larger than we are.

This is the main building on Port Vell, a big movie theater, restaurant, bar, bar, bar, shopping mall. Like the ones in every suburban town. Just on the water in Barcelona. With cool reflective glass that better photographers would have more fun with.

Reflective glass!

The end of the sky ride!


Some cool, impressionist art along the backside of the building. Tay examines it to see how deep the paint goes. It was quite deep.

EUROPEAN HANDBALL! I'm not kidding. We strolled into Old City, just to the east of where we were, and this was playing in a window facing the road. I thought this game, a staple of Emmaus high school gym class, was the love child of Sue Butz-Stavin and Gene Legath.

I think the owner of this Vespa got on right after this picture was taken. We quickened our pace.

See the column at the end?

Now this stuff, taken earlier in the day:

Anarchy's still going strong in Barcelona.

People make some pretty decent money standing around the street for hours after painting themselves. It's kinda creepy, if you ask me. Especially when they grab lunch and you have this statue diving into ham.

At least the International Breakdance Society cooled things out and brought the noise and da funk.

Aaaaand...back to the nighttime:

Senor Barcelona, at the entrance to a big park that hosts Parliament and the zoo. He has much bird poop on his head. So does his horse, whose one foot raised means Barcelona died at war...another Tay fact.

Tough to see because my hands shake too much to take good night pictures, but it's a gigantic temple/fountain. It's as big as the Pantheon, and absolutely stunning. Just comes out of nowhere, this hulking and cavernous monument to Paganism and water.

There was a row of these next to the fountain/temple. For those who crave ping-pong at any time of day.

'el mamut chiquitito quería drogar....'

A huge, life-size wooly mammoth, donated at the turn of the 20th century for some reason by someone.

Sharing some hot chocolate and delicious pastries after a 6 a.m cab to the airport on Sunday. And looking ravishing. Because Tay won't make her next appearance in the blog until March, I'm very sorry, viewers. I'll try to keep my face blurry.
And it's supposed to snow tonight in foggy Londontown. If this is the case, that is fantastic.


Barcelona, The Second Day!

It was because of this man's moustache that we ate Mexican food in the afternoon of our second day in Barcelona.

This day was to be the day when we did not get assaulted by A-rabs or assaulted at all, with any luck, so we had to stock up on guacamole and nostalgia for kitsch Mexican back home. I got fajitas. Tay got a burrito. And because I love the way 'cerveza' allows one to roll a saucy 'R' in the middle of a word, I got a cerveza (a Voll-Damm). It was Damm good.

Palm trees and pink houses!

Tay said that she thought the big orange cat used the small cat as the sympathy cat, like goons using dwarves. There was no sympathy to be had.
But we gave Lonely Planet a second chance because we lacked a geographical target of any sort. It led us to yet another of Gaudi's beauties/marvels/monstrosities, after we marched up a hill past some sun-painted clay houses, alternately off-white and tan with clothes drying on strings on balconies and Spanish women walking their Spanish dogs.

The hill kept going, defying the scale of the map. Then we got there, to Guelli Park, on the north side of the Gracia district of town. It was commissioned by this super-rich guy for Gaudi in the opening to the 20th century. Gaudi was instructed to build a 'Garden City' for other super-rich people, in the form of 'great European city plans of the day,' according to an info sign in the park. So he carried on, dream-strewn, throughout acres upon acres. They ran out of money in 1914... but this is what one gets when he gives Antoni Gaudi unlimited money and a copy of CandyLand.

Ain't nothin' like a mosaic lizard/dinosaur to gather the kiddies 'round.

This man does his laundry across the street. Washing and drying. Washing and drying. Washing and drying as people walk beyond.
Inside Guelli Park, looking back out. Still very excited.

Remember how the columns at La Sagrada Familia meant to emulate forests? These, in the 100-column room (meant to be a marketplace) look like mushrooms. And mosaics are everywhere.

(no idea why this font is blue) ... Above the 100-column room, there sits this huge courtyard, surrounded by a mosaic fence and populated by a wildly distributed mosaic of person, of people dancing and people watching, people eating baguettes on dates as they touch each other's hands, people dangling their legs over, peering out with young and deeply-soulled eyes on the city, people mindful of nothing but the sun and the day and the way it pulls us together.

People selling jewelry, made from glass or rocks or shells and hemp. Lots of hemp.

A pair of darkly-clad hipsters used these strings tied to two poles, dipped in bubble stuff, to make these huge, flowing bubbles that were chased relentlessly by this boy.

And these kids.

And these kids.

A string of walkways leads you to the top of the hill into which the Park is dug. On the way there, there's a soccer field. No action today, sadly, except for construction workers playing "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

As we lumbered up to the final staircase to the lookout point at the top, knees squeaking, a French woman, probably around 60, sped in front of us. She surveyed the stairs and pushed up them, step step step step. She got to the top, looked out, took a breath, and walked down, smiling.

A person with a lot of money lived here.

The guardrails for the walkways, at corners, spun on these blocks that looked like they had pineapples on them.

My happy sightseeing tour.

This is an amusement park! There's a ferris wheel and a roller coaster and it sits above the entire cityscape, silhouetted blue always, watching over the city with crazyman eyes.
Final travel installment tomorrow.
Belle & Sebastian Friday (there's this hipster dancing joint afterwards that gave me a free pass to the guest list because I told them I'd invent a new dance move...stay tuned)
Pub on Saturday for Six Nations Rugby