Friday, August 31, 2007

You're going to be jealous.

August 30th, 2007

Can anyone say Monaco? Jesus I had no idea Southern France is this beautiful. Annie’s house has the most spectacular view I have ever seen, she is on a hill so you must walk many steps to get down to her house. Elton John and Tina Turner live nearby and it is utterly pristine and European here. No tourists. I hurried as fast as I could to get my swimsuit on and I walked down a whole mountain of steps to get to the beach. The Mediterranean water was easy to get into and I was swimming with an idiot’s grin on my face because I was so god damned happy. The sea is the greatest pick-me-up. I laid on the sand, next to an old topless lady who eventually started talking to me. I have retained a surprising amount of French, and within 10 minutes I had a group of 4 people talking with me saying how nice I am and how much French I understand. They want me to come hang out with them tomorrow at the beach at the same time – a very nice complement.

After turning down a cup of coffee on the beach, I climbed all the steps back up to Annie’s house where we had a small dinner party with her neighbors and friends and Gabi and Ulle. We all got a little tipsy from the wine and were laughing quite a bit. Annie taught me how to make a couple traditional salad dressings and we had such a fantastic time together. I have come to really appreciate company – I think people are absolutely wonderful.

August 29th, 2007

The highlight of this day was sitting in a gorgeous park with Julian and Antoine with a picnic. We sat around powering ourselves with the sun and drawing in our sketchbooks. It is so good to see other artists’ styles – things come out of them that would never come out of me and its such an intimate experience to see visually what occurs in the mind of another.

The Musee D’Orsee had even more inspiration for me. We saw in exhibit on the influential impressionist painters – Money, Van Gogh, Picasso, Seurat, Degas, Renoir and a few others. They really were gifted painters and I was surprised to learn that each one of these painters was represented by the same visionary art dealer – Vollard – who became a legend for finding the best artworkd that was uncommon to the public taste.

The kitchen in the hostel is so crowded. There are three stove tops and each one is filled by spaghetti makers, Muslim stew makers, and Etheopian rie makers. It smells so good- but there is not enough space to cook. If you listen to the actual noises – there are dishes and pots clinking, people talking in a few languages, a French Sit-com on TV, 2 babies crying, One man yelling while the wife is peeling radishes. An English boy burned all his bread in the Microwave and I asked him if he had anything else to eat – he said “Some cheese and meat” so I gave him and his friend my bread. I got my wish – to give to someone who needed.

When I was in Sweden staying in the countryside with Gabi and Ulle – they gave me their friend Annie’s number in nice. I gave her a call today wondering if she has time to meet up and maybe a place for me to stay it turns out that Gabi and Ulle are coming in today and Annie has room for me to sleep – this will be so fun for us all to be together.

Pikachu at the Eiffel Tower

August 28th, 2007

I have heard many people say that French people are not so accepting of foreigners, even from neighboring countries. I am so lucky because of my circumstance – I’m traveling alone so every country I visit, people assume I am a local. I also dress somewhat nice – therefore people always speak to me in their native language. I have actually received much kindness in France from both men and women – and it helps that I can say a couple words in French. A man came up to me on the street yesterday and spoke French to me – he was shocked when I told him je ne comprend pas Francais, he said “You look so French! You have such a skinny face – aren’t all American girls Fat?” So funny what we all think about eachother.

My Roomate at the hostel is from Taiwan and though we can barely sommunicate, I understood she is alone here in France for a few weeks and does not speak anything but Taiwanese. We went together to the Eiffel tower and took photos of eachother. Trying to make conversation – I mentioned Pikachu and a couple words I know in Chinese. She followed me to a hidden street market that I learned about from Rick Steves. While I was pretending tI speak French and tasting the perfect cheeses – my friend I think did not know what to do with herself. I believe she must be very shocked culturally. A cheese that tasted like manna from heaven to me – was completely repulsive to her. After another hour of this I felt bad for dragging her around with me, so we separated – I hope I did not hurt her feelings. Sometimes I feel like the Universe and its people are so generous to me – and I don’t give anything back. I want to share and help more. I made 3 canadian friends and we all went to a Parisian cafĂ© late at night. I love this so much – sitting and talking. One girl Marilyn told us all the story of how she lived homeless on the streets in the Canadian winter for 3 months. This was a captivating story – too long to re-tell. I have become so relaxed on my trip – nothing is really a problem – I just know how things ebb and flow and how they always get better after being bad.

August 27th, 2007

Well, I’m in Paris. Its all so surreal for me – Paris is something I have always seen in the movies and I didn’t really expect for it to feel the way it does in all of its depictions. I walked the Champs de Elyses today, walking into a few clothing shops – They have impeccable style here. You don’t know anything about fashion until you go to Paris. I have to fight the urge to buy a lot of things. The cloths I brough are very un-stylish compared to what the Parisians wear. Thanks fto Rick Steves I knew to go into the massive Sephora store. I think I stayed for 2 hours. I found a beautiful girl with simple make-up and I asked her to help me with my own eye-make up. She was so sweet to me and did exactly what she does to her own eyes to mind. I bought the things she recommended and then I asked her which kind of perfume she likes. I’ve learned to recognize people who have similar features as me – and they almost always like the same exact things I do. I bought my first perfume – Gucci number 2, and she showed me the right way to use it. You myst spray it on your neck about 3 times – then spray over your hair. If you are wearing a skirt, you spray it there as well so it smells when it flutters in the wind. I believe the French people have acquired a natural sex appeal about them. I walked into the park and the benches were occupied by young couples – melting into each other.

What to do now? Kira from Germany had given me a map of her favorite places in Paris and without her I would not have found my way to this special place near the Pompideaux center. The streets are lit by the warm glow of Cafes which have all their doors and windows opened. You feel like you can walk into a restaurant from anywhere because the windows are really doors that reach the ground. I walked and walked past so many open-air cafes, looking at the menu du jour, but not finding exactly what feels right – until I found “Le Pain Guotidien” – The wooden tables are unpolished. There is bread resting on the shelves and French women and men are sitting and talking eating their soups, tartines and dsalads. Yes – this is the perfect place for me. I felt so alone and afraid on the street – but now I feel very cozy and safe. I ordered a vegetable soup which came with big slices of moist, organic bread. I’ m writing in the place now and I can only try to describe how it feels. I feel completely content. Like if my heart stopped at the next moment, I would feel that the time was good. No person is in a rush, and there is so much enjoyment here. Even outside the restaurant I see people simply enjoying themselves. What an incredible environment – to just be surrounded by contentment. I am sitting with my tea and I feel like I’ve fallen in love. The ferfume on my chest is amplifying my mood. I can see why people like it here so much. I asked for magic earlier on the train today and I feel like I got it. We are such sensorial creatures and I think France has mastered indulging us in the most instinctual way – Food, smells, sex. Never forget this.

Ye Olde Blacke Forest

August 26th, 2007

My diversion to Stutgart proved to be worth the frustration. Kira and I traveled using our intuitions today and ended up with the modst rewarding adventure. This is the first time on my trip thus far that I feel completely alive – because I planned for none of this. We rented bicycles and made our way to a lake in the middle of the Black Forest which was 2 hours away by train. We found this place because a nice man and woman from the train told us not to go to the first, more-common lake, but instead this one – Schlucksee.

It was – in a word – Perfect. Making our way down to the lake, we sat on rocks took off our pants and ate our butter sandwiches that we made at the breakfast buffet. We felt so lucky to even be breathing the air of that moment. There was only an hour before we had to catch our train home and we spent it by ecxploring a trail in the Black Forest with our bikes. It was cool and dark with the sun peeking through and illuminating small patches of grass that you might not see otherwise – because the forest is so densely grown. There was a mystical and mysterious quality about the forest which is condusive to inspiring stores about witches and wolves and magic…I think in the future I would like to have an entire black forest trip – exciting my imagination. Germany is a very whimsical place and I think it is reflected in the sketches I’ve been drawing here.

3 months to travel is too much – and not enough all at the same time. There are so many places I would like to further explore – but that will be for another time. Now is the time to go to Paris. My whole trip I have had the desire to avoid France completely – and now it is the best place for me to go – we will see what waits for me there.

Change of Events

August 25th, 2007

My fate was changed today. My departure to London to meet with my friend Laurel never came to reality because I was unaware that Frankfurt has two airports. The correct airport being 1.5 hours away by taxi from the airport I had arrived at. I felt completely helpless for a moment because I had no way to get in contact with Larel who was picking me up at the airport other than e-mail. I asked the airline companies how much it would be to fly to London form this airport, and the price would be 500 Euro. I started thinking of worst case scenarios in my mind so I could problem solve a little. I realized its ok, I’ll email laurel, she’ll get the message after waiting for me, and I can stay in a hotel or even sleep in the airport if necessary. So I went to Starbucks to calm down and get a tea. I opened my laptop and paid for internet and wrote to Laurel. I remembered that she had given me her London cell phone in a past email, so I found it and immediately called her after checking for a hostel in Frankfurt. Due to a furniture fair, hostels were out of the question, and hotels can only be booked for 2 or more people. I called laurel and by chance she had checked her e-mail before leaving the house – so luckily I did not cause her any inconvenience.

I called Christian (my Mom’s friend Suzie hosted him and his brother a few years ago in California, he happened to live only 40 minutes away from the airport) but his is the second time I’e called him and only received a cold, confused reception – and then we got disconnected, and then when I re-called him the line was busy a few times – so I made the decision he was not the right contact even though it would have been very convenient to stay with him.

I stayed calm because I know that I have a train pass and I have money. So the next thought was to talk to the train ticketing people. Prague was too far away…Brussels doesn’t have a train until tomorrow…but Amsterdam has a speed train that can get me there in 3.5 hours – I’m going to Amsterdam. Funny how fate stepped in today – I wonder what this diversion will lead me to. I have no idea where I will sleep tonight, and I arrive in the evening at 11:00pm.

HAHAHAHHA – On the train I had a funny feelings…which was only amplified when I started talking with my seat mates on the train. It was a nice mother and daughter who lived in Stutgard, which is in the south of Germany….Which is where this train is going to. Its about 1 hour north west of Munich – which is exactly where I left from this morning! When she told me this we started laughing and I felt so silly, but also like fate has changed my day completely. I was not worried in the slightest which must have seemed strange to the woman. She told me she knew of a hostel and she would take me to the information booth at the station to find it. Her husband met us both and they took me in their car eventually finding the hostel. Its really big and modern and nice. There’s a girl in my room from Chicago who k nows a lot about Europe and we’re going to the Black Forest tomorrow. What a funny change of events.

Urban Surfing and Synagogue

August 24th, 2007

Today was my last day in Munich. It proved to be a beautiful one – with Chris and Konrad I explored the Greek and RomanAntiquity museum where you could get so close to the statues you could give them a butterfly kiss. I saw Aphrodite and Zeus, pottery and jewelry. We wandered over to the English garden where in the river, the flow was so strong that men were actually taking turns jumping in with their surf boards.

The grass next to the river was populated by pre-teens smoking from Hookahs. This was an awkward sight because their mannerisms were so adult and their bodies were so childish.

I had the good opportunity to go to the new synagogue in Munich for Shabbat service. It was beautiful on the inside. The service was in German and Hebrew so I could really only participate in a few of the songs that I know, but the cantor sang with an incredible, heart shaking voice that made the enviorment of the temple so holy. I had not eaten since a piece of bread in the afternoon – so I was starving by the time I arrived at Veronika’s house. She picked me up from the train station in her 1 year old Volksvagen and brought me into her cute little home. She prepared a salad when I got there and re-heated a zuchinni pie and made me a pot of tea. I was so relieved to be eating and her food tasted so good to me. I kept eating and eating and we talked through my eating about our lives and about men in our lives. She is very intellectual and sweet. One of her passions is archaeology and she showed me a toe of an ancient greek statue that her team had found. She knew from the size of the toe approximately how tall the statue must have been.

The Wall of Rememberance

August 22nd, 2007

I met with a very important woman today who by coincidence has made her hobby studying my ancestry on my father’s father’s side for a local museum. She showed me my family tree and took me to the Jewish history museum where 3 names of my ancestors are printed on the wall of remembrance. There were 11 of my ancestors total who were killed in the Holocaust and it was powerful to see their names in front of me. I cannot say that I felt strong feelings about it, but what it did for me was make me feel extremely connected to the generations before me.

Most of my family had been involved with Liquor/Vinegar distillery businesses and before the war as things were getting tense, the Nazis began to restrict their business freedoms because they were not considered to be “German Businesses,” but rather “Jewish Businesses.” Taxes were raised to the extreme and it was forbidden to make trades with Jewish businesses. Eventually they had to sell their distillery in Augsburg to a Local hotel – I saw the chilling statement of the transferring of a Jewish owned business to a German hotel. I can’t believe Veronika knew so much about my family – I was blown away by how much detail she had. She gave me some translated journal entries from my great, great grandfather and my great, great grandfather’s uncle who talked about how they felt about the Arianation of their businesses. We’re going to meet again tomorrow evening.

On this day I also met with a friend of a friend of mine who lives in Los Angeles. The man I met with (Michael) is part owner of an Advertising Agency here in Munich and it was so good to meet up with another creative person. We talked about the Advertising industry with all its quirks and it reminded me of home. I felt very much like a princess because he took me out to dinner and to tea afterwards and I never even had to say a word to the servers. In Europe, when you go out to eat – its not just for the food…Its for the experience, so instead of ordering-chowing-paying-leaving, you sit and enjoy your meal-drinking-smoking-eating-talking-talking until it feels right to leave.

Michael is Italian and he has figured out ways of living life very passionately. We talked of food and motorcycles and special places in Europe until 2am.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


August 21st, 2007

Germany’s modern culture is infused with its own recognition and regret of the evens of WW2. Before the war, the Deutch mark had lost its value completely to the point where families began to eat cannibalistically.

There are discreet memorials placed around Munich’s streets representing the few brace people who stood up for their opposition to Hitler’s force.

Munich is the Beer capital of the world and its is quite common for people to be sitting outside in the Beer gardens with a whole liter of HeiffeWeissen. I found today the best meal on my trip: Chicken soup. It was perfect, and cheap The market place was filled with locals buying their food for the day and I was ecstatic when the cheese shop lady gave me a taste of cheese that fit exactly my desire.

I very much like the European way of shopping – where there is a special store for everything. I think it makes the food experience much more beautiful, I smelled herbs and flowers and fruits in the air and said Danke Sheun like I meant it.

Some new friends and I decided to take an hour train ride to another town near by and we wandered around looking at the architecture and beautiful river. Both of them are history buffs and it was very refreshing to talk about the meanings behind certain symbols on the churches and the way the city feels to us. I am constantly given good friends on my trip who reflect different parts about my own personality. We wandered for hours and missed our train 2 times, but sat talking and meeting strangers on the street.