“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in!”

June 4th – Charlottesville, VA. At this point I have been back from Spain & Portugal longer than I was away. Judging by how long it took me to cap off the travel blog, you might say that I took more than enough time to adjust to being back. This is partially true, but I don’t want to give the impression I have been sitting around in old glory pajamas, eating hamburgers and listening to a constant loop of Born in the USA. … Continue reading

Boogie-Shoes, or How to Trespass Like Sammy Sosa

One of my undergraduate photography professors at the University of Delaware once told me: “Bad weather makes great pictures… now go shoot four rolls in the rain.” If I were shooting for a postcard company I would have to call BS on that, but as I have told myself many times over the last ten days, blue skies are boring. … Continue reading

The couple left before the hobo had finished his dessert.

Looking back at the months before I left for Spain, I realize now that my itinerary planning was borderline OCD. I have been very well served by the late hours figuring out which sites are most important for my dissertation research, how long I should stay at a given site, where the affordable hotels are etc. I have to give pre-Spain Ed some credit for anticipating some inevitable “Spain being Spain” derailments by penciling in some “cushion time” at the end of this trip. The itinerary has been a strict but benevolent hand guiding me through what would otherwise seem like a Walmart on Black Friday. That said, like a kid who has behaved himself in church for what he thinks has been a very long time, I am about to test if the itinerary is still watching. Portugal was the first test, but that was just the beginning. I am crawling under the pews with action figures in my hands and I can see daylight at the end of the aisle. … Continue reading

That kangaroo stole my ball!

I’ve had more than one Rodney Dangerfield moment on this trip. One that sticks in my mind happened last Thursday when I was hiking around to the back side of the fortress of Montesa. You might think these castles would be built at the highest point within view, but it most cases they are built at the end of a spur that juts out from a larger chain of mountains into a valley below. So as I was climbing around looking for better vantage points to take pictures, I went off the trail quite a bit. As I rounded one corner, I scared up something really big in the brush that bounded almost straight up the side of this cliff. As I blindly shot pictures of whatever was moving I heard an ear-splitting screech at the top of the ridge. I’m not sure why, but as I turned to see the source of the screech I said aloud: “Did that donkey just whistle at me?” … Continue reading

Who’s scruffy lookin?

It turns out the best way to get a laugh in Spain is to look a stray dog in the face and ask if he speaks English. I am not sure if I stumbled on an old joke that Catalan tourists tell all the time or if it was because I used the formal “usted.” Either way, I envied that dog today. He was scruffy and camera shy, but he had all the San Miguel he could lap up off the cobblestones, and the fact that he didn’t own so much as a collar didn’t bother him in the slightest. That dog – let’s call him “Scruffy” – had never been on the phone with Iberia airlines barking furiously and foaming at the mouth. Scruffy probably has parasites, but he has never had to ask them if they are sure they have the right dog. So as I sat in a plastic chair by the Ebro River today and washed down the midday meal that never happened with my own San Miguel, I at least took solace that mine was served in a glass…. Don’t look at me like that Scruffy. … Continue reading

It’s not about the getting there.

March 1st, 2pm. Barcelona, Spain – As I stood next to belt 15 at the Barcelona airport, I knew I was going through the motions. I was numb, but my jaded condition allowed me to get a head start as I headed to the far end of the airport to let the nice people at Iberia Air know that Continental Airlines lost my 50 lb bag. I have to begin by saying that this first entry will not accurately represent this blog for the rest of my two month trip. I want to follow that by announcing that air travel sucks, and I hate doing it. I have a long track record of either screwing up the process myself, or getting myself caught in the clumsy ill-fitting gears of the great air travel machine. This time, I did the right thing. Jocelyn and I left early for Dulles airport due to the horrible rain storms in Virginia. Other then some scary driving in the old Volvo, the trip went fine. Then I got to Dulles. … Continue reading