Tag Archives: dance

Buh-Buh-Buh-Buh-Barcelona!

For some reason I had the song “My Sharona” stuck in my head during the entire trip. Except the lyrics were “Buh-buh-buh-buh Barcelona” instead. I feel like I’ve heard this somewhere before, so please enlighten me if you know what I’m talking about. Perhaps it was just the genius of my subconscious. At any rate, it was such a good theme song that it also got stuck in Ryan’s head. We even made jokes that I would come up with a new song for every vacation. My next number one single? Marrakesh sung to the tune of the 80s hit “Maniac”.

On to the actual vacation….

I arrived late on a Thursday night and unfortunately didn’t have time to do anything. The next morning I was up early with a plan in mind; I made a beeline for the Chocolate Museum. As soon as I saw that the ticket was edible (a chocolate bar), I knew I had made the right decision. I learned about the history of Chocolate and saw some pretty amazing chocolate sculptures. The only other patrons in the museum were 4-year-olds on a preschool class field trip. I guess that’s what you get when you go to a chocolate museum at 9:00 am on a Friday.

A scene from Bambi made entirely of chocolate.

The rest of the day I spent wandering around the gothic quarter. I happened upon an antiques fair that only happens once a year. I wish I could have brought some things home, but these vendors really knew what their stuff was worth and that means it was out of my price range. To escape the rain, I ate lunch at a little tavern. I couldn’t understand the waitress at all, so I had no idea what I ordered. It turned out to be some kind of gazpacho soup and mystery meat with fries; I’m thinking lamb.

Tavern Mystery Soup

Tavern Mystery Meat

When the sun came out I headed to the docks and sprawled out on a bench drying my coat and flats. The water was so clear I could see big fish swimming amongst the sailboats. At this point, I was starting to wonder where Ryan was. I was pretty sure his flight arrived in the early afternoon. Back at the hostel, I still had no idea where he could be. Just as I was about to head out for the evening, he showed his face! Turns out he missed his flight out of Amsterdam. Figures. 🙂

So, Ryan and I in the company of two of our hostel-mates took some advice from a couchsurfer and made our way to JazzSi Club. The place was PACKED. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place more packed than this. It was probably double or triple the fire code allowances (if there were any). People sitting on top of people, people standing in between chairs and tables, people sitting on the stairs and the loft. There is no way we could have made it to the bathrooms if we wanted to. But it was well worth it. We saw a live flamenco performance with a guitarist, singer and dancer. The singer embodied the ultimate stereotype. He wore a white linen suit with a red scarf in the pocket and his curly chest hair peaking out. The dancer was supreme. I wish my body would move like that. After seeing this show, I wanted nothing more than to take flamenco lessons.

Flamenco Dancer

Flamenco Singer

The next morning Ryan and I went on a hike to the top of a hill overlooking Barcelona. Although we were sweaty and getting sun burnt, we had some of the best views of the city. We rested there for a bit crawling on the graffiti and messing with our cameras.

The Destination of Hike #1

Then we climbed down the hill and back up the next one to enter Parc GĂĽell, one of Gaudi’s magnificent creations. His art is so whimsical. Wandering around the park makes you feel as though you’re in a fantasy storybook. We listened to some acoustic reggae and watched the St. George festival parade from above. We paid our respects to the famous iguana before heading for the beach.

St. George Festival as seen from Parc Guell

Gaudiguana

Being exhausted from our hill-filled hike earlier in the day, our first stop in Barceloneta was at a restaurant. We ordered two large beers, some paella (a rice dish) and mixed seafood tapas. God, I love Spain. The beers came out first and since Ryan and I are both small people who hadn’t eaten much all day, we felt them. We laughed over how hard it is to eat paella and why “My Sharona” fits with Barcelona so well.

Then we stumbled out to the beach. Having forgotten our bathing suits, we could only admire from a far. In the heat we wandered back to the gothic quarter where the tall buildings provided a bit of shade. After a nap at the hostel, we took a passagiata (or whatever the Catalan equivalent for a leisurely stroll is) over to La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s unfinished church. The lights around the building make it shine like a mirage and the architecture is so unusual that you begin to think you’re imagining it. To confirm its reality, we returned the next morning in the daylight. This time La Sagrada Familia reminded me of a huge sandcastle. Inside there is an explanation of Gaudi’s plans for the architecture and everything is based on principles found in nature. Amazing.

La Sagrada Familia

Our next stop was the Picasso Museum, something which Ryan and I had been looking forward to. It did not disappoint. I know Picasso was quite prolific, but I had never seen this much of his work in one place. I guess it would make sense, he did live there and all. One of the coolest things about this museum was its comparison between Velázquez’s Las Meninas and Picasso’s 58 of interpretations of it. Although I’m not a fan of Picasso’s 1950s work, the display was effective and engaging.

Velasquez

Picasso

After Picasso it was time for tapas again. Chorizo! Gazpacho! Manchego! Mussels! Mushrooms! Potatoes! YUM.

Post-Picasso Tapas!

As soon as we were well-fed, we decided it was time to take on La Rambla, but that doesn’t mean we were done eating. We found the pastisserie recommended to me by my co-worker, Laura. Apparently it is the oldest one in Barcelona! Everything was beautiful. Everything was edible. Everything was delicious. I ordered a mix of cookies and Orxata and Ryan had a fruit tart.  Aside from these goodies, La Rambla is famous for its “pet shop” stand and the sales person got me hooked on the bunnies. If only i could have taken one home! Ryan rolled his eyes and reluctantly took photos of the event. Thanks, Ry!

Rambla Rabbit

The last unexplored district of Barcelona was the Parc de Montjuic, another recommendation of Laura’s. We were hoping to get the the Mirò museum, but it closes early on Sundays. So, we settled for exploring the gardens and ordering drinks on the patio of the National Museum of Art. I can’t recall the name, but I drank a kind of lemonade slushy with beer in it. I think of it as the Spanish version of a Radler, but not nearly as good. As the night cooled off, we took the gondola up the hill to the castle overlooking the ocean. We sat next to a canon and enjoyed the view. We were back down the hill in time to see the disappointing fountain show. It was just a few lights and some water. People told us that it gets better, but we didn’t stick around to find out. I had to wake up at 4:00 am to catch my flight the following day.

The Gondola at Parc Montjuic

All in all it was jam-packed, but without a specific itinerary. It felt good to stroll the streets and soak up the city with an orxata in hand. I definitely, definitely want to come back to Spain. It was simply captivating (and delicious).

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Rae + Paige = RAGE!

Excepting my rant about hating Naples, my last post was about the end of winter quarter! Looky here, it’s already the end of spring quarter. What have I been doing with myself, you might ask. Well, hopefully this post (and the following ones) will help to answer that!

RAGE at the Trevi

Shortly after working my butt off for the CPAC convention during Spring break, my ex-classmate/ex-coworker/ex-neighbor/fellow art history-lover Paige came to Rome with her good friend/buddy/pal/fellow art history-lover Ryan. It was Ryan’s first time in Rome and he would be starting the Art History Rome program in just a few days. It was Paige’s second visit to Rome because she was on the program last year. One of the first things we did was run around the city exploring. You know, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Trajan’s Forum and the like. Just your average romp in the eternal city.

In the evening we headed to my favorite spot to watch live jazz in the Monti district of Rome, Charity Cafe. It was actually a blast because it was such a small group of people that the musicians had us all sit together, taught us the songs and had us sing along. We even made friends with some of the other people there… or so I thought. They wanted to invite us to another concert, so I gave them my email address. Turns out they are not interested in friendship and now I’m on a lame list-serve to receive spam emails in Italian. Yay. Italy, you’ve done it again.

Jazz at Charity Cafe

Paige spent the days doing research for her honors paper on the Saint Helen sculpture in the crossing at St. Peter’s. Most of the time I was working while she was researching, but I did join her to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s (where we waited in line forever).

RAGE at St. Peter's

In the evenings we got up to no good, going dancing, finishing a whole giraffa with just the two of us… Just the two of us, we can make it if we try! Just the two of us, you and I. Sorry, I’ve run away with myself. Back to the story!

Giraffa for two!

We had some grandiose plans for Easter, which were foiled in two ways. 1. We made the mistake of buying chocolate eggs a little too early knowing full well how little will power I possess. A few days before Easter while Paige was out gallivanting about the city, I decided to tear a small hole in the packaging of my chocolate egg just so I could have a little taste to satisfy my chocolate craving. The plan was to put the egg back inside the packaging before Paige returned and she would be none the wiser. Unfortunately she returned home to find me sitting in bed with half a chocolate egg on my lap and shiny Easter packaging strewn about the bed. Whoops! So, we didn’t open our eggs on Easter, we feasted a few days early. 2. We also had plans to rent a Vespa and tour around the city while the whole town was in Piazza San Pietro. It was going to be our “Roman Holiday” re-enactment and it was going to be glorious! However, we couldn’t find a Vespa that would fit two people and it poured down rain all day, but the real reason why it didn’t work out was because Paige and I went dancing in Testaccio the night before and needed a full day to recover in bed with the aid of a few good films and the rest of our chocolate eggs.

View of St. Peter's from the Quirinal Hill

Later that week Paige and I (after one failed attempt) made it to the Caravaggio exhibition at the Quirinal hill. It is the most complete exhibition of his  paintings ever. Wow! It really was spectacular… and crowded, but we were the last people there waiting for everyone else to clear out so that we could actually see the paintings. It was a really beautiful exhibition, but the organization of the paintings could use improvement. Every floor ended on a weak point with a painting of questionable attribution. Words of wisdom: Always end with a bang when possible! Despite that, it was still a beautiful collection of works and I took home a copy of the catalog.

One of the many Caravaggio works on display!

Oh, and we had Frigidarium on the regular.

Paige's fave gelato place, Frigidarium!

After Paige left *sad face*, I had to prepare for more even more guests! Check back soon for posts about my other spring-time visitors!

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Vacation in the USA: Part I

SEATTLE

Slept in seven different locations

Visited six people who I have spent time with in Rome

Consumed sushi on five different occasions

Attended happy hour four times

Celebrated three nights of Hanukkah

Danced in two different clubs

Co-hosted a classy dinner party on one occasion

First Night + Matzo Ball Soup

Hallie, Rochelle, Leisha and I at the Ballroom

Olivia and Hallie laughing (like we do) at Linda's

The coolest dorm-mates this side of the Danube.

Chicken Log: It tastes better than it looks, I swear.

Happy hour with Leilani

Pegness and I getting ready to go dancing.

Meeting Robin James-WHOA!

All I can say is that I miss you guys and I can’t wait to be back!

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Turning 22 Internationally

Ah, turning twenty two in another country has its ups and downs. It offers  cool, unique birthday experiences, but it inherently lacks some of your favorite people. You know who you are and I want to start out by saying, I miss you and I wish you could have been there!

“I’ve got the golden ticket.” Because Mia had to work on my actual birthday, we started the celebration on the 23rd. Mia, Leisha and I had a girls-only outing to the dance floor. I’d like to say that we danced out hearts out. After all the dancing we headed to Anthony’s apartment to hang out for a bit.

We put the birth in birthday. When I got to the office the next day, I found out that my boss, Jennifer had taken the day off because her friend went into labor and she wanted to be there for the birth. Unfortunately, the baby wasn’t born until the 25th. How lame. I was hoping we could share a birthday. So, Jennifer missed our little office party complete with cake, juice and other snacks.

How to create a tradition from Schramme. Last year for my 21st birthday, we all went to dinner at Schultzy’s, the German restaurant on the Ave, which was very fitting because my birthday falls on Oktoberfest. This year, Leisha found an Austrian restaurant in Rome. When I told Sheryl, one of my coworkers, where we were going for dinner, she said, “Oh, haha, that place is… fun.” Understandably, that worried me. After Leisha, Anthony, Dominique, Rain and I rushed to meet Ben there for our reservation, we understood what Sheryl meant. The place is decorated like a traditional Heurige with a Nouveau/Mod twist. For example, the walls are decorated with antlers painted white. It was so wonderful to be eating Weisswurst, Sauerkraut and Wiener Schnitzel again. YUM! I think I will have to make a tradition out of eating German/Austrian food on my birthday.

After dinner we walked towards the Trevi Fountain to have dessert at San Crispino gelateria. I never get to eat here because Leisha likes Giolitti’s gelato better. After the typical birthday photo shoot at the Trevi (as a shout out to Hallie, of course) it was time to move on to phase two of the birthday celebrations.

Ben, Leisha, Dominique, Anthony, Rain and I at the Trevi Fountain

Ben, Leisha, Dominique, Anthony, Rain and I at the Trevi Fountain

Sharing my birthday with Ireland’s pride and joy. Next we headed to Scholar’s lounge, an Irish pub near home to have the “beer of the week” where we met up with Lauren and Lucas. Due to the fact that it was Guiness’s 250th birthday, the place was packed. They were handing out free tee shirts and you had the chance to win a free key chain every time you ordered a Guiness. The best part, however, was the Irish band, which started to play the happy birthday song to Guiness while my friends filled in the blank with “Rae” instead. We finished up the night chatting at the students’ apartment. It was a lovely birthday indeed.

Lily let me down. As an extended part of my birthday (or really just because it was free) Leisha, Mia and I went to Piazza del Popolo for MTV’s Summer Song concert. The top 15 artists of the summer sing one song each and at the end everyone votes for the best song of the summer. I was really excited because Lily Allen was supposed to be there and her song Not Fair got stuck in my head all summer. Unfortunately, Lily decided that she wanted to focus on her acting career and would not be performing anymore. Bummer. It was still quite entertaining though. We felt kind of old next to the teeny-boppers yelling “Ti amo!” at the boy bands and “Ciao” at the camera. Nevertheless, it was still a good (and free) time. Here’s a medley of clips from our favorite songs of the night:

And that is the end of my 22nd birthday.

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There are no kangaroos in Austria.

It is now the end of my first week in Vienna. I arrived last Saturday afternoon when the sun was shining. That night I stayed with my friend Doris. She also had three guys from the east coast visiting her. Doris took us all to a 1920s themed party at a museum. Apparently it was the Technical Museum’s 100th anniversary. Doris dressed up in true 1920s style and I did my best with what I had in my suitcase. At the door they handed out TanzKarte or dance cards. In the 1920s women would carry these cards around and men would ask them to dance. If the women wanted to dance then they would write the man’s name down. For example: Waltz Benjamin There we met an old couple who teach dance lessons. I learned the charlston and the foxtrot. It was so much fun! Afterwards Doris, a bunch of her friends and I went out to Ost Klub to listen to Balkan music. So interesting! The next morning Doris had made a huge breakfast for us with scrambled eggs, fruit and semmeln (bread rolls). After breakfast Doris, her friend and I went to the Wien Museum to see an exhibition about imagining travel in 19th-century Vienna. It reminded me of the many things I learned in my “Representations of Others in the 19th Century” course I took last quarter.

Later that day I met up with the other students in my program and we stayed at a hostel for a couple nights.

On Monday I had my oral placement test at school so they could put me in the right German class. After the tests our teachers led us on a hike around the NuĂźdorfer wine country where we stopped at a place in the woods that inspired Beethoven’s music and we sang a bit of his Ninth Symphony. Here is our group photo by the Beethoven monument:

Vienna Spring 2009 Students Singing Beethoven

Vienna Spring 2009 Students Singing Beethoven

We ended the night at a Heurige or wine garden where I ate schnitzl and drank Almdudler.

The next day we had a historical tour around the inner city to orient us. At night we were able to move into our dorms. The room is so nice, but also very bland. All my sheets, walls and furniture are white. My roommate Diana is from Romania and she is in Vienna studying classical music. The first night she made me a Romanian dessert soup which tasted like a cinnamon roll in cold, liquid form.

Classes started on Wednesday. I love my teacher and Rebecca from my program is in my class. IKI offers classes to people from all over the world; USA, France, Philipines, Taiwan, Japan, Ukraine, Croatia, and Korea are all represented by the ten people in my level. On Thursday we had our first Art History class, which I am looking forward to.

Today we are planning on visiting Schönbrunn for the annual Easter market and getting together to make plans for a weekend trip to Croatia for some sun and fun. (Not that it isn’t 75 and sunny here in Vienna.)

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