Please also visit my Miami blog, ¿Qué Pasa, Miami?. Gracias.

Friday, December 18, 2009

When You Go to San Francisco ...

- Pretend to be imprisoned in Alcatraz.

- Pretend to be visiting an Alcatraz prisoner.

- Pretend Alcatraz is Azkaban.

- Pick fruits and flowers illegally at the Alcatraz (Azkaban) gardens.

- Subsequently get arrested.

- Play prison guard.

- Crane your neck and gasp in awe at the badass fighter planes swooshing around the SF skyline.

- Escape Azkaban – I mean Alcatraz – once and for all and rejoin civilization.

- Photograph phallus-inspired architecture. (Actually, do this in all your travels.)

- Choose a building to obsess over and consider it your future dwelling place complete with private library.

- Wonder at the ironic address of the cathedral.

- Pretend you're in China.

- Be patriotic.

- Seduce a soldier.

- Pretend to be a wine connoisseur in Sonoma.

- Have fun with murals.

- Sing the theme to Full House in front of Danny Tanner's home.

- Be introspective at the Golden Gate Bridge.

- Experience a California wildfire, sort of.

- Prance around the roof of a Frank Lloyd Wright building after reading a sign expressly forbidding it.

- Get drunk at a Mexican restaurant, and take pictures of bizarre actions you won’t remember later.

- Kick ass.

- Oh, and be sure to wear flowers in your hair.

At long last I have ventured to the West Coast. I had longed to visit San Francisco for years and am happy to report that it did not disappoint. Thank you to Priscilla, my fellow traveler, and Andrew, our gracious host.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And Now ... The French Mr. Bean

Following my trip to Ireland, I enjoyed an overnight layover in Paris. It was a warm but breezy June evening, and Parisians were dancing gracefully along the banks of the Seine, as Parisians are wont to do.

I was treated to a lovely "bateau mouche" ride on the river complete with buffet and DJ. Thanks again to my former students, Vincent and Elise, for their hospitality. Merci mille fois!

Nothing like an Eiffel Tower on one's head, I always say.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

An Irish Farewell

By day, it's quaint and cozy; evenings are quite another story. Our night out in Galway left me so dazed that I forgot how to combine words into coherent sentences. Having recovered at last, I offer a brief overview of the magical mystery tour we experienced that memorable evening.

If you can picture a frat party crossed with a gay pride parade (take your time ...), you are looking at Galway nightlife. Bar-lined streets packed with women donned in hot pink leopard print dresses and men sprouting angel wings; street percussionists heightening the euphoria of drunken, costumed (sometimes unintentionally) Irish youth; Samuel Beckett watching over you creepily as you ingest your dinner. These are just a few of the reasons the evening now plays a bit like a dream sequence. Had I no pictures to document the phenomenon, I'm not sure I would believe it had actually taken place.

Back to Normalcy

Following our trippy evening, we headed back to Dublin for the final two days of our Irish journey and hit all the sites that we could. Here are the highlights:

- A snooty wine drinker, I have never been able to make myself like beer, try as I might. In Dublin, however, I was offered a "lady pint" of Guinness at an old, decidedly untrendy pub and was determined to drink it all. Two Irish senior citizens decided I could use a lesson and thus trained me in the art of Guinness drinking. Rule #1: DO NOT SIP. This encouraged me, and I finished my half pint with relative ease. It does taste smoother in Ireland. I was enthusiastic enough to down another half pint at pub #2. By the time we arrived at the trendy (although empty and suspiciously odd smelling) establishment, we were ready for our cocktails. I had three, and beer before liquor ... well you see where this is going.

- Trinity College boasts the library of my dreams. Old books rock.

- Taking pictures of myself with literary figure statues is my favorite corny tourist thing to do in Ireland.

You might then imagine how disappointed I was to find Oscar Wilde perched atop an impossibly high rock or how old I felt when a bunch of 10-year-olds climbed it with no difficulty whatsoever.

- William Butler Yeats bothered to answer a trite questionnaire about where his artistic inspiration comes from. This is amusing to lit geeks.

- The historic Temple Bar district is highly touristy, but the old John Gogarty pub and restaurant is worth visiting anyhow for some traditional Irish tunes.

- The Guinness brewery, with its accompanying Gravity Bar and complimentary pint, is well worth the visit. The tour is very thorough, and the bar on the top floor offers an expansive view of Dublin. Walking about the more seedy industrial neighborhood is interesting in itself. I particularly loved the Catholic church's placement directly next to the enormous beer tanks, factory smoke billowing above the steeple. How Irish.

Thank you, Republic of Ireland

A week is never long enough in any country, but it was long enough to begin feeling at home in Southern Ireland. For a capital city, Dublin feels neither fast-paced nor sleepy; people are friendly; and places are relatively easy to get to (notwithstanding the bus system's insistent lack of punctuality). As for Northern Ireland, time constraints and the cost of the pound made it impossible for me to visit on this trip, but it will not escape my incessant traveler disorder for long.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sick and Tired

I mean that literally. Ireland has been lovely so far; I, however, am sick (if carrying around a roll of toilet paper for blowing my nose is any indication) and tired. After writing in Dublin about my jet lag, Moira and I proceeded to walk aimlessly around the city for many more hours and didn’t hit the bed until midnight. The next morning, we took a train to Cork at the God forsaken hour of 7:00 a.m.

Blarney Babble

Once in Cork, we met up with Jen and took the requisite trip to Blarney Castle, where I underwent the infamous death defying experience of kissing the Blarney Stone. It goes like this: an elderly, loveable Irishman jokingly comments, “let’s see how you pucker up”; he asks you to lay on the ground and proceeds to pull you back, at which time you arch so that your head is dangling from the back of the castle tower precipice; just when you think you’ve completed the required task, the cheery old man calmly encourages you: “Further.” Finally, you reach the stone, you kiss it, and you are rescued from immediate danger. The enchanted stone has now awarded me the “gift of eloquence,” which I have not yet unleashed on my blog.

Note: I heavily over-dramatized the Blarney experience, as I was not actually frightened, and the metal bars underneath the stone would have saved me had I slipped, although hitting them would probably result in serious injury to the head.

The Blarney Castle grounds were absolutely gorgeous and fairytale forest-like.

See? I wasn't kidding.

Jen’s Birthday Blues-Turned-Green

Moving on, Friday began sans the famous “luck of the Irish,” as Jen tripped with her luggage and sprained her ankle … on her birthday! She carried on like a trooper as we all headed to Galway and took a day trip to the ancient Aran Islands, where we all rode bikes for hours, talked to horses and cows, and suffered from windburn (we’ve got the red foreheads to prove it). It was worth the trouble, though, even for Jen. See for yourself why:

Aran Islands - beautiful; rocky hills and bicycles - exhausting. Birthday dinner consisted of Papa John’s Pizza and chocolate birthday cake from the grocery store … in our PJs … at the guesthouse. We watched Friends and South Park and passed out.

Taking it Easy

By today, we had had it with the freaking tours. So, although we wanted to see a picturesque abbey in Connemara, we decided to walk about the Galway city center and browse. It’s adorable here, and I took pictures with Oscar Wilde (in statue form, of course). Also, for once, it’s not really cold and windy, which is about time. Ireland, meet the month of June.

We’re headed back to the guesthouse for a little down time before returning to the city center. We plan to wear our “cute going out clothes,” so Moira and I are going to endure our impossibly skinny jeans, which we slightly fear. Wish us luck.

Tomorrow it’s back to Dublin for the remainder of our trip. We hope the weather will stay fair so that we have an opportunity to wear all the “cute going out clothes” we brought in our luggage. For is that not, after all, what travel is all about?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


When my friend Moira and I stepped down in Dublin, it was a rainy, dreary day, which echoed (echoes) my jet-lag tainted mood.

It's now bright and sunny outside, but I'm afraid my next stop - *pauses, yawns* - may have to be the hotel. A few moments of interest so far:

- The cab driver was the stereotypical Irish storyteller.
- I saw a James Joyce statue but have not yet the energy to take corny pictures with him (it).
- I have one minute left on my allotted time at the internet cafe, so ... Gah!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

But in All Seriousness, Folks

I’m heading to Ireland for a week on June 16, so I’ve decided to continue updating this site as an actual travel blog (i.e. a site not full of dribble that interests no one but myself). It’s a tough order, but I’m quite determined. Or somewhat determined. Well, I am determined to some degree is what I’m saying. So expect future postings to be not complete nonsense. That is my goal. Pulitzer, here I come.

A Year-and-a-Half Later ...


I was too busy barely working in France to document my life there. In an effort to resuscitate this blog, what follows is a sadly feeble attempt at summation and conclusion – CRINGE.

Espranglais’ Guide to Europe in 200 Words or Less

Although I have explored most of the following destinations for less than a week, my keen eye for detail and powers of perceptiveness allow me to intuitively capture their essence. Who needs travel journalism, guides, or narratives when you can learn all you need to know about a place wrought with a complex history and cultural contradictions in one succinct sentence (or fragment, for that matter)?

GREECE – The temples will leave you in a state of awe, but not so much as the gyros.

SPAIN – Olé!

AUSTRIA – Swanky palaces with a dash of, “God, it’s freaking cold here.”

SLOVAKIA – If you thought Vienna was cold, sheesh!

HUNGARY – When visiting the thermal baths, DO NOT forget your shower shoes; I repeat: DO NOT forget your shower shoes.

BELGIUM – Remember, waffles are fattening, and so are fries.

ITALY – Forums, sunflowers, leaning towers, gondolas, and pasta – that about covers it.

SWITZERLAND – They make watches and chocolate here; also, they worry about world peace.

HOLLAND – Turns out the Sex Museum is NOT a serious institution dedicated to the study of sexual philosophies in different cultures over a vast historical time span … TULIPS!

So What About France?


- Paris. Metro. Luggage. Gun. Head.
- Doing laundry outside my apartment. With God as my witness, I will never go washing-machine-less again!
- Rain. Darn it, Anjou region and your proximity to London!
- No 24-hour Walgreens. The horror!
- Waiting for the Eiffel Tower to display something spectacular at midnight on New Year’s Eve and, instead, watching it do the same light flicker thing it does every hour of every night of the year.
- Drunk, hormonal men shoved up WAY too close to me in the metro on New Year’s Eve.
- Running around in heels for hours in search of a Paris cab on New Year’s Eve.
- Fitting two girls into one twin-sized bed and getting three hours of sleep before a flight to Vienna on New Year’s Eve.
- New Year’s Eve.


- Sneaking a bottle of wine into church on Ash Wednesday and showing up to a party after mass with ashes on our foreheads.
- Clubbing on Good Friday (Catholic guilt – gah!) followed by a.m. McDonald’s run.
- Imprisoning myself in and subsequently releasing myself from the eerie Château d’If.
- Cheese and wine by the Seine.
- Cheese and wine in general.
- Eating other French stuff … and kebabs. KEBABS!
- Parle à ma main: click
- CAF (i.e. French government paying nearly half my rent).
- Invites to visit teachers’ houses in the country where I was encouraged to play with goats and froggies.
- New Year’s Eve.


Life was generally pretty sweet: three extensive vacations, 12-hour work weeks, and fellow travel enthusiasts to watch Zoolander with. What more can one ask for? I would do it all again if I didn’t have to suck it up, face reality, and start at least attempting to earn some … money. But then I judge money by how many weeks of travel it can buy me, so who am I kidding? Three weeks and I’m off to Ireland. May mayhem and facebook albums ensue.