ich want to be a berliner

My flash blog idea, I'm starting to realize, was a way to make me think I could punch out my blog entries really fast. I'd hardly call the last entries flash entries....but this one will be (due to surmounting laziness)!

Visiting Berlin was one of the coolest things I've done all year. Daytime historical tours (including an excellent 4-hour walking tour) and epic sights (Berlin Wall, site of Hitler's bunker, and many crucial WW2 and Cold War spots) led into nighttime underground shenanigans so insane I could only hope to keep up. Looking forward to returning to this hip city in the future...I must...

boyfriend, best friend, currywurst, berrybeer, excellent day

tv tower

Jewish Holocaust Memorial

German parliament

Ishtar Gate of Babylon

favorite thing about Germany
 And now, street art from the East Side Gallery, painted by artists around the world on the longest remnant of the Berlin Wall...

Brandenburg Tor

a rose for each death from attempts to cross the wall


Amsterdam was a dream-come-true, and not for the reason you may all be thinking. My friend Skye, who lived in Amsterdam for a few months and took a class on Dutch social policy, was able to give me a brief overview of the way the city is run, so that I could start to notice some of the differences in practice.

At the risk of being shunned by my family of capitalist die-hards, I must say that most notable in Amsterdam was the lack of very rich and very poor. The housing is not divided by neighborhoods, as in most American cities, but a building of "projects" will stand between a middle class apartment building and a high-profile business headquarters. The mix means no neighborhood is really any "worse" or "better" than another, and I really appreciated the Dutch people's willingness to spend time in and with the public.

I often had my breath taken away by a gorgeous, tall, blond Dutch man or woman, riding a bike, effortlessly cool, along a canal. The Dutch are beautiful and chic. And though marijuana is legal, it's not necessarily classy, so you might be hard-pressed to find one of those magnificent Dutch in a grungy coffee shop. And, they all speak English. hooray!

Other awesome things about Amsterdam: accessibility (everyone rides bikes, everywhere!), Dutch cheese, excellent shopping (my fave: a cupcake bar/boutique called The Darling), stunning architecture and breathtaking canals around every corner. Here are the pictures, ready, set, flash blog!



Electric Ladyland - fluorescent museum

see ya, Sevilla

On May 21st, I reluctantly said goodbye to the city that had been my home for 10 months. Spring was by far Sevilla's best season, and not just because of the world famous Semana Santa and Feria de Abril. The orange blossoms flowering at the end of March flooded the streets with a floral scent, and the people took to the streets day and night, celebrating life with beer, wine, tapas, and loud conversations. On the weekends, friends flocked to the sexy beaches of la Costa de Luz Here are a few quintessential photos I took of Sevilla during my stay...

Cruzcampo, the Andalucía state beer, and the only beer you will ever drink (save for a few Mahou) in Sevilla. This sign was located on a main intersection at the end of a bridge 2 minutes walking distance from my house. Like I explained to my visitors, "if you ever get lost, Cruzcampo will guide you home."

This is THE quintessential Sevilla photo, taken from the San Telmo bridge. In the foreground, the mighty Guadalquivir River and the Torre del Oro. In the background, La Giralda - the tower of the Cathedral of Seville, and the unofficial symbol of the city.
Thousands of bitter orange trees line the streets of Seville, providing residents with a splash of color and pleasant fragrances for a few weeks of springtime.

Long, narrow, cobblestone streets characterize Seville's city center. They're charming, until you get seriously lost in them.

Plaza de España, featured in a Star Wars film, is located in the largest park of the city and is home to several government offices. Moreover, it's a fun tourist destination with the option to ride a row boat or horse carriage, and browse over 100 tile mosaics that represent each of Spain's provinces.

Seville was once one of the most politically and economically important cities of Spain, and even Europe. Christopher Columbus sailed from the Guadalquivir in Sevilla during this momentous time.

Triana, my neighborhood, captured from the opposite side of the Guadalquivir. It's known by all Andalucía natives as a vibrant neighborhood with an incomparable street-life, due to the high number of tapas bars and even higher number of people that frequent them. Triana is the gem of Sevilla.

Crossing the Triana Bridge, or Puente de Isabel II, never failed to brighten my day. On the other side of the yellow building (a bar where I spent my last night drinking tinto de verano and watching the sun set over the city) used to stand Castillo de San Jorge, the main tribunals of the Spanish Inquisition.
The Arabic influence is strong throughout Andalucía, which wouldn't be the same without the ubiquitous geometric-tile walls.

I'm grateful that William was visiting during my last week in Sevilla. Here we are in Plaza de España for his first and my last time.
hasta luego...

flash blog 1 - Sintra

It's my last day in Europe and I'm finally feeling the urge to appease my frustrated followers. But, knowing that I have two months to catch you up on, and expecting that it will continue to get more difficult to blog about my European journey as time passes in Los Angeles, I'll write some "flash blog" entries - quick snippets and photo highlights of each local, to make sure that "un día en sevilla" is properly terminated.

Starting with the earliest missed update from mid-April, I bring you photos from Sintra, a medieval Portuguese town...

I visited the Pena castle on a mountaintop in Sintra during the last hour before it closed on a stormy Saturday evening. The ominous clouds and lack of crowds made for an enchanted hour of exploration around (what I believe to be) the coolest castle in Europe. With bright colored walls and grotesque gargoyles, Pena was magical in a frightening way. After acting out a Repunzel dream, I spent the night in Estoril, a neighboring beach town, home of Portugal's "rich and beautiful."


feria fashion

So here you have it, a collection of fashion photography from Feria de Abril 2011. The flamenco dresses cost from 150€ and up, and are tailored to the wearer. Women wear shawls with long fringe, a large flower in their hair along with a large, matching hair pin, and of course, heels.

Red flamenco dresses are traditional and popular
It's common for sisters (and mothers) to dress identical for the fair

Typically, the large flower is worn directly on top of the head, facing forward.

Mixing and matching colors is up to the discretion of the woman


Equestrian attire

One of my personal favorites, with fringe hanging from the neckline.

Accessorize with a cigarette

The dresses move beautifully

Well-groomed men on well-groomed horses

Many of the dresses are designed specifically for the wearer, and women are able to choose the fabric and style    
 Focus on the Folds

generally, women match their shoes, flower, barrettes, earrings, and more.