Saturday, September 27, 2008

A shout out to the Abreus

I found your people! I'll tell them you said hi.

Lisbon

Is beautiful!!

Ginginha


We found "the oldest Ginginha seller" in Lisbon, served from a spigot from some unknown vat within a huge concrete slab. And that stuff was potent. Even better than a sharp punch of brandy-cherry-cinnamon is the fact that we could do it standing outside in the bustling square.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bar St.

No one hangs out inside the barS even though they are really cute.
They all stand on the street and there is hashish offered at every
corner.

Love Triangle of the Emerald Isle - Me, Guinness & Diggers

Nothing like using a backhoe to feel like a man. Sure, I did a lot of dishes and child minding, as well. But, by God, I learned to move dirt with a huge(ish) digger. Grunt. I also chainsawed the hell out of a good many branches (no limbs missing, mom!). Grunt. Grunt. Grunt.

HelpX Ireland Edition was a good deal of manual labor - moving logs, mulching trees and putting up a polytunnel. My muscles are bulging. Although, in all fairness, Barbara (our HelpX Host) was a working machine. She put me to shame as she pick-axed rocks (boulders) and single-handedly lifted railroad ties, all while I stood by watching (with Guinness in hand, of course). Picture it: Barbara sitting in the digger, tape measure on the belt, cigarette dangling from the corner of her lip, a beer in hand and a dog on her lap. Priceless.

We should also give credit to Will, who was the other HelpXer (from the States) there during our stay. He kept us informed about the goings-on and guided our activities. For teaching me the testosterone-pumping manuevers of the backhoe, he will always have a special place in my heart muscle. He also basically kept us fed the whole time. Delicious stuff. Tired of feeling like a slacker, I did offer to make a tasty dinner of PB&J with potato crisps. I was rebuked with barely a word. I was left standing idly by (with Guinness in hand, of course) while Will went off to make a delectable quiche. Bollocks. Instead, I went off and chainsawed some mean looking twigs.

Walked along some cliffs and many, many roads with no names. In fact, I´m not sure any of the roads were named in all of West Cork. Saw the Milky Way almost every night (thanks for pointing it out to me for the first time, dad). Minded Reuben, a 7 year old bursting at the seams with energy and curiosity (and he had a bloody cute accent). This is the same dear, dear child who Kelly shocked on the bottom by not lifting him high enough over the electric chicken fence. Collected chicken eggs and saw a lot of cows. Played Rummy by candlelight (with Guinness in hand, of course).

We will certainly miss Barbara, Will and Reuben. We will even miss Granpa, who we didn´t get to know as well. He generally kept to himself and only talked about the weather in his thick Irish accent. Thankfully, it was always "lovely."

Not that we didn´t enjoy our time in Penzance. Liz was lovely. She was the sole owner of her B&B and would make lovely meals, full of Cornish specialties for Kelly and I. Sometimes she would take us around to the sites and we met some of her friends (a fiesty 89 year old lady served us hard alcohol at 2pm when we stopped in for tea). She was well-travelled and had great stories. It wasn't all roses out at Club Chy an Gof, though. Liz was very welcoming to us but she did have the tendency to watch over every element of our work. We (Kelly) would clean rooms and I would do yard work. Plus, we were never right. About anything. By the end of our time there we would laugh to ourselves about constantly being wrong. No, that's not a town, that's a village. No, people don't have bananas for breakfast. No, you can't load the dishwasher because you won't do it right. No, you don't like chocolate, you like peanut butter. No No No. Sometimes, you just have to laugh. And, hey, if it meant I didn't have to load the dishwasher, all the better.

We had a fun stay in Dublin - drank a lot of. . . well, you can guess. However, the greatest of all tragedies occured there. We were locked out of the mecca of stout and the icon of the Emerald Isle! NOOOOOOOOOO. Why dost thine gods punish us so? Fifteen minutes too late. The only time I have cried in recent memory - being locked out of Arthur Guinness´joy-giver. Well, okay, that and the time that the Buckeyes lost the big game (that was actually twice). And the time I saw a small girl selling Chiclets in Tijuana. And the time that I got that card with the puppy on it. And the. . . okay. The point is, it was hearbreaking. A single tear fell down my face and, sadly, I did´t have my complimentary collector´s Guinness pint glass to catch it. It fell to the ground and was gone.

Just like that.




Fun Fact: Ireland has no snakes (thank you, Saint Patrick). Whatsoever (which is hard to believe given all of the gambling, "bookmaking," locations around). Kelly and I did not know this (about the snakes) when we were walking along a particularly overgrown/grassy/bushy cliffside. As we walked we clapped our hands, whistled, made up jingles and called out a warning so as to prepare any snakes hiding in the brush that we were coming. I can't imagine what we must have looked (sounded) like to the locals out for a stroll along the paths.

Portugese food part dois

And my meal. "sausage" like meat (tasted like a corn dog) covered with
egg.

Portugese food

Is very similar to Brasilian food: lots of meat, fish, French fries,
and things with egg on top. Christopher was more adventuresome than I.

The underground

The first thing we saw on the streets of Lisbon: a looong line of
people walking down into a manhole in the street. Turns out it was a
museum.

Lisbon!

This is the view from our hostel. The streets have the same tile work
as in Rio de Janiero.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Guinness Brewery

We showed up after they closed. How embarassing!

Dublin!!!

Is awesome.

The train to Dublin

What a releif it is to know you're in the right place at the right
time! This train was really nice and all the stations looked brand new.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Christy and Christopher

Wait for me on the kitchen half door.

Our bedroom

And the trampoline where I showed Reuben up.

A days labor

Yesterday we turned 4 trees into mulch and started to build a
polytunnel.

A day at the beach

Reuben looks for treasures

Puppy & Pudsy

Love Triangle of the Emerald Isle - Guinness, Broken Hearts & Backhoes

Nothing like using a backhoe to feel like a man. Sure, I did a lot of dishes and child minding, as well. But, by God, I learned to move dirt with a huge(ish) digger. Grunt. I also chainsawed the hell out of a good many branches (no limbs missing, mom!). Grunt. Grunt. Grunt.

HelpX Ireland Edition was a good deal of manual labor - moving logs, mulching trees and putting up a polytunnel. My muscles are bulging. Although, in all fairness, Barbara (our HelpX Host) was a working machine. She put me to shame as she pick-axed rocks (boulders) and single-handedly lifted railroad ties, all while I stood by watching (with Guinness in hand, of course). Picture it: Barbara sitting in the digger, tape measure on the belt, cigarette dangling from the corner of her lip, a beer in hand and a dog on her lap. Priceless.

We should also give credit to Will, who was the other HelpXer (from the States) there during our stay. He kept us informed about the goings-on and guided our activities. For teaching me the testosterone-pumping manuevers of the backhoe, he will always have a special place in my heart muscle. He also basically kept us fed the whole time. Delicious stuff. Tired of feeling like a slacker, I did offer to make a tasty dinner of PB&J with potato crisps. I was rebuked with barely a word. I was left standing idly by (with Guinness in hand, of course) while Will went off to make a delectable quiche. Bollocks. Instead, I went off and chainsawed some mean looking twigs.

Walked along some cliffs and many, many roads with no names. In fact, I´m not sure any of the roads were named in all of West Cork. Saw the Milky Way almost every night (thanks for pointing it out to me for the first time, dad). Minded Reuben, a 7 year old bursting at the seams with energy and curiosity (and he had a bloody cute accent). This is the same dear, dear child who Kelly shocked on the bottom by not lifting him high enough over the electric chicken fence. Collected chicken eggs and saw a lot of cows. Played Rummy by candlelight (with Guinness in hand, of course).

We will certainly miss Barbara, Will and Reuben. We will even miss Granpa, who we didn´t get to know as well. He generally kept to himself and only talked about the weather in his thick Irish accent. Thankfully, it was always "lovely."

Not that we didn´t enjoy our time in Penzance. Liz was lovely. She was the sole owner of her B&B and would make lovely meals, full of Cornish specialties for Kelly and I. Sometimes she would take us around to the sites and we met some of her friends (a fiesty 89 year old lady served us hard alcohol at 2pm when we stopped in for tea). She was well-travelled and had great stories. It wasn't all roses out at Club Chy an Gof, though. Liz was very welcoming to us but she did have the tendency to watch over every element of our work. We (Kelly) would clean rooms and I would do yard work. Plus, we were never right. About anything. By the end of our time there we would laugh to ourselves about constantly being wrong. No, that's not a town, that's a village. No, people don't have bananas for breakfast. No, you can't load the dishwasher because you won't do it right. No, you don't like chocolate, you like peanut butter. No No No. Sometimes, you just have to laugh. And, hey, if it meant I didn't have to load the dishwasher, all the better.

We had a fun stay in Dublin - drank a lot of. . . well, you can guess. However, the greatest of all tragedies occured there. We were locked out of the mecca of stout and the icon of the Emerald Isle! NOOOOOOOOOO. Why dost thine gods punish us so? Fifteen minutes too late. The only time I have cried in recent memory - being locked out of Arthur Guinness´joy-giver. Well, okay, that and the time that the Buckeyes lost the big game (that was actually twice). And the time I saw a small girl selling Chiclets in Tijuana. And the time that I got that card with the puppy on it. And the. . . okay. The point is, it was hearbreaking. A single tear fell down my face and, sadly, I did´t have my complimentary collector´s Guinness pint glass to catch it. It fell to the ground and was gone.

Just like that.




Fun Fact: Ireland has no snakes (thank you, Saint Patrick). Whatsoever (which is hard to believe given all of the gambling, "bookmaking," locations around). Kelly and I did not know this (about the snakes) when we were walking along a particularly overgrown/grassy/bushy cliffside. As we walked we clapped our hands, whistled, made up jingles and called out a warning so as to prepare any snakes hiding in the brush that we were coming. I can't imagine what we must have looked (sounded) like to the locals out for a stroll along the paths.

the pig fear grows...

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/afp/20080923/tod-australia-pig-offbeat-37b0eca.html

Monday, September 22, 2008

Green of Ireland

Kelly sinking into the lush greenery of Ireland.

Along the Way

At our stop-over in Bristol (where we met the lovely lady on the bench, who bought us ice cream), we came across this mirror globe. Yup, that's Kelly. Can you find me?


Walking along a coastal path in Cornwall, this is a close as Kelly would get to the pigs who really seemed to dig her.

Land's End

The most westerly point in Britian. And so close to home!

Crossing

Our bus had to stop and wait for the cow crossing outside of St. Ives.

Penzance

Kelly & Liz waiting for low tide to reveal the footbridge across to St. Michael's Mount. I think I'm going to get one for my house - visitors only at low tide.


Kelly with our HelpX Host, Liz, in Penzance.

Just Like You Would Imagine



I know, these are out of order but this is the first chance I have had to get some photos off of my camera. This one is of Kelly calling our couchsurfing host in London. Iconic.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

the grass in ireland

everything here is so stereotypical.
there are redheads with freckles everywhere... and the grass is really much greener. it grows anywhere and everywhere.... and it is so spongy, it's unreal. walking around in the long grass, your foot will sink six inches or so.. but it isnt wet. when you move along it will spring right back up.
sometimes i feel like im walking on the moon, not irish soil.

in bristol...

while we were walking around bristol, we decided to stop to have lunch in a lovely public square. as christopher waited patiently in line for our falafel, i looked for a seat. now, we had recently been discussing our need to be more outgoing with strangers.... and thinking this might be a good time to talk to a local, i decide to take the bench next to the little old lady sitting all alone. little old ladies sitting all alone like to talk, right? well, i turned out to be a little too right about that one. she was very nice, and lovely, but by the time christopher got to us with the food, she had already asked me "and where will you be staying tonight?" four times! she wanted to hear all about our trip, but couldn't remember what she had already asked just a few seconds earlier. it began to get a little bit funny. she told us we should really take a walk down the river (where i told her we had come FROM) at least 8 times. chrsitopher sounded so enthralled each time, i had to cover my laughter with a napkin.

travel trials

trusting the other help-xer that the water is safe to drink.

4 cases of e-coli in skibbereen the day after we arrived... i guess mine was just strep throat. i GUESS.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chickens

Will (another helpx-er) and Reuben trying to hypnotize a chicken.

Ireland

The house on the right is where barbara (single mother of seven year
old Reuben) lives with her dad who wanders through the kitchen
complimenting the weather in a thick accent. The other 4 houses are
the ones she built on her own after work. She rents 2 of them out now
and works on the other 2 every night after work.

Ireland

The communal kitchen in barbaras house.

Things that make you go hmmm...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our new digs.

We're in Ireland! This view is a short walk through cow pastures from
our house.

For all you lost fans..

We found some awesome cologne in the duty free shop in Bristol.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Revelation

The Jehovah's Witnesses can find you anywhere in the world! Even while you are painting an iron fence on a quiet street in Cornwall.

Penzance, Cornwall, UK

Bloody brilliant Britain! It's just like the US - they have the Simpsons and speak English - except that they have funny terms for things that I have decided to adopt as my own (probably to the chagrin of friends and family). We're not getting gas, we're getting petrol. You don't rent or check out books or movies, you hire them. French fries are chips and chips are crisps. Everything is brilliant and/or lovely. And it's pronounced gay-ra ge, not garage. I love it. I mean, it's brilliant. And I think I'm getting pretty good at it. Today, I told Kelly that I was going to the loo, instead of saying that I was going to the crapper. I feel more sophisticated already.

It's almost kind of mind blowing in how similar and yet different it is. The grocery store here looks like any that you would find in America but go inside and all of the products are different (except for Coke and Budweiser) or almost different. Bitters, anyone?

The weather, as one would stereotypically think, has consisted of at least some rain and gray every single day. Everyone has said that this has been very unusual weather - but I don't buy it. They didn't get the reputation for nothing. The first day we were in London and walked around in the rain. We loitered around Buckingham Palace just long enough to realize that the Queen was not going to ask us in out of the downpour for a spot of tea.

That first night in London was also our first couchsurfing experience and it was lovely. Davina was wonderful and very easy going. Completely welcomed us as strangers into her flat (that means "apartment"). After Indian food in Greenwich (there is a lot of Indian food here - but no Mexican!), we watched Ugly Betty with her.

It's good that we watched TV because we were both severely jet-lagged. Kuwait Airlines is great, by the way. It offers a sort of surreal feeling in the 70s - the upholstery, massive TV monitors and unsettling shaking (of everything) on take off and landing. Plus, it was fun because half of the announcements were in Arabic. I'm pretty sure that one of them was about me - instructing everyone to turn to their right to laugh and snicker at my neck pillow. Thankfully, KA (as I like to lovingly refer to it as) is not the most popular of all airlines and we had some space to spread out and for me to enjoy my neck pillow. Suckers!

What I also love about Britain are the accents and the fact that there are breasts and swearing on normal TV. It rules! We are so uptight in the States. The other night, Kelly and I watched a show called Someone Else's Breast Milk. Yup, there were plenty of breasts in it. Go UK!

A few day ago, Kelly and I hopped a bus to Land's End on the Cornwall Peninsula. We were surprised to find out when we got there that, in fact, it is not a big outlet mall but, rather, the most westerly place in all of Britain. No GAP outlet but it was still cool. We walked along perilous cliff side coastal pathways (that would never have been allowed in the US) that were just breathtaking. The area actually reminded me of the Shire from LOTR. I kept looking out for Bilbo Baggins but, instead, we came across that pig that hated Kelly's jacket.

And that has been the UK so far. Up next. . . more rain.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Christopher throws up a sign

for the 14th century. This house was the only one to survive the
Spanish armada, making it the oldest house in Mousehole.

London Big Wheel

Kelly pretending to be lady liberty at the London eye. Didn't quite
turn out as expected.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

big pigs

last week when we were walking the coastal path at land's end (the farthest west point in england), and i got charged by a snorting pig.. i thought it was the noise my raincoat made in the wind.
today i got to test the theory when we were walking the same path, but close to penzance. we came upon a field with 2 big pigs. i called them over, "soo-ey." they came without the fierce look i saw the other day. i wouldn't say i was any less afraid. they are twice the size of me! i thought pigs were small. now im getting nervous about our help-exchange host situation in france: rare breed pig farm.
i hope rare breed means small.
kelly

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

travel trials

realizing that i have not labelled my travel toiletries correctly and have been moisturizing my face with conditioner for a week: funny.
noting that my skin has not been affected at all: creepy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And we're off!

Thanks to Matt and Robyn for the bed and the ride.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Off to a Good Start

I'm pretty sure that this is how it started for Amerigo Vespucci.

You know that he booked his trip on Sail India, thinking that he would hop on board at the local dock and sail around to India to do a little spice shopping, some trade, what not. Easy. While Sail India may not have been a house-hold name, it did have some years of experience in global travel. And it certainly was affordable. You can imagine his horrified surprise when Sail India (out of the blue) decided to stop sailing Amerigo's intended route. What was he going to do? Well, by God, Amerigo was not going to be deterred - after all, he had already reserved his hostel room and Eurail pass. No, Amerigo, packed his bags and sailed his own ship for India! We all know the state of sailing back in those day (not pretty) and he had to take matters into his own hands. Of course, he ended up getting lost along the way. But he did discover America - so all in all, not a bad trip.

The point is, this is how all great adventures start! With a hitch in the road. An obstacle in the path. The random and seemingly cruel cancellation of a flight. And just like Amerigo Vespucci, Kelly and I are determined to make it to our destination.

You can imagine my surprise when the woman from Priceline.com, in a completely monotone (she actually sounded annoyed) voice informed me that Air India had decided, effective September 1st, to suspend all flights between New York and London. I was at a loss. That just happens? They just decide that they are bored with New York, so time to cancel all flights? They didn't know this in July? She did not have any words of condolence or sage advice. She just said she could give me my money back. Uh, like we had just come back in because we had gotten the wrong order. "We didn't order the turkey, we wanted the burger." "Oh, well, you can have your money back." This is international travel! Planned months in advance. She did, however, say that there may be some flights still operating with Air India between New York and London and that we could try it. Can you imagine this? We get a flight to London but then have no way of getting back when the flights in November stop happening. That would be great. "Just get on, see if you make it." Thanks.

You may be thinking that we would have learned our lessons about discount carriers from this snafu so close to our departure date (two days). No. You may call it cheap-ass but I like to call it wise frugality. Unbelievably, we were able to find a last-minute fare on Kuwait Airlines for tickets only $70 more than those on Air India! Eureka! Okay, the plans me have changed somewhat but just like Amerigo Vespucci, the adventure continues! Go Amerigo! And go us!

To be fair to Fate/Karma/Luck, though, I should point out that this is not quite the first place that our worldwide adventure has veered from the tracks. Last Friday we were at Public Storage signing up for a our storage unit to hold all of our earthly belongings when they tried to cheat us! That's right friends, Public Storage told us that the first month would only cost $1 but when we got there, they said that it would be only half off ($80). Okay, you may call us cheap-asses but I call us principled! What the heck? Back in my door-to-door vacuum selling days, we called this the old "bait and switch." This probably also happened to Amerigo Vespucci. But, heck-no, we would not stand for it! Kelly tried to pressure them by getting out her cell phone and saying loud enough for the clerk to hear: "I guess we'll call some other places." The clerk did not seem to care. Obviously she was paid by the hour and not on commission. She even said: "Yeah, people cancel a lot because this happens all the time." This happens all the time? Wha? Well, now that she was essentially double-dared, she had to follow through with the vague "calling around." I was ready to throw in the towel bute Kelly would not be taken for a ride. As luck would have it, the one place she did call offered an even better deal - the first month free, not even $1! So we, with noses raised high, marched from the Public Storage (stinks) to Extra Space Storage (sweet). It worked out and I actually had to hug the clerk at the Extra Space Storage. He did not try to bend us over and. . . well, you get the idea.

Of course, when we were actually moving all of our earthly belongings into storage on Saturday we just happened to get the space across from the couple who spend their weekends in their storage unit preparing moisturizers to sell at local markets. Essentially they sat there watching us lug and organize all of our junk while offering unwanted advice. "Oh man, you just gotta put all your stuff in there. You don't have the luxury of organizing it the way you want like we do. It won't all fit." Of course, he says this with no idea how much stuff we have. What if the yard gnome and TV/VCR combo were all that we had? What about that? I smiled through the sweat. "Thank you." And as we were celebrating (high-fives and dancing all around) the last of it fitting into a 5x10x8 space, he said: "Let me give you some advice. (Please do.) Put two locks on there - make people work for it to steal your things. Do it." I will admit that I can be a cynical person from time to time but, jeez, how about we have some faith in humanity, in our fellow man? Plus, the latch that the lock is attached to is flimsy enough to break off with a karate chop.

And so our adventure begins! As a young Haley Joel Osmet said, pay it forward. So I will assume that it will be nothing but smooth sailing from here on out, right? Unlike Kelly, I will expect a warm bed and hot meal waiting for me at every turn. Yippeee!

-Christopher

The beginning

"The pleasure of traveling consists of the obstacles, the fatigue, and even the danger. What charm can anyone find in an excursion when he is always sure of reaching his destination, of having horses ready waiting for him, a soft bed, an excellent supper, and all the eases and comfort he can enjoy in his own home! One of the great misfortunes of modern life is the want of any sudden surprise, and the absence of all adventures. Everything is so well arranged."
-Theophile Gautier, WANDERINGS IN SPAIN



it is pretty appropriate that i saved this quote to post at the start of our trip. this morning we got our sudden suprise: we found out that air india is no longer flying between jfk and london. here is christopher trying to sort out the debacle on the phone. we were lucky enough to find another flight for only $100 more leaving thursday. let's hope kuwait air doesn't go under this week.

cleared out / cleaned up apartment