Ephemerratic - 20/25 - Independent travel blog with stories, travel guides, photos, travel art, and local food
Claude Wainstain is a sneaky man. He not only captivated me and Todd with his passionate storytelling, he had his wife Jacqueline hold us captive with a homemade dinner followed by fresh walnuts, French cheeses, toasted fava beans, pudding, and Nespresso coffee. Even if Claude’s stories had bored us—which they didn’t—our full stomachs would have prevented us from getting up from our seats at his kitchen table in St. Mandé, on the edge of Paris.
As we’ll probably mention again later, prices of just about everything in Turkey is surprisingly high. In Istanbul in particular, we couldn’t afford to eat at the kind of restaurants we would have liked to, in part because of the cost of eating out, but also because all the sites are expensive as well so our daily budget has been wreaked. Also, since Turkish breakfast is included in almost every hotel stay, like so many other budget travelers, we usually only ate one meal besides breakfast.
For the most part, we ate at home with our hosts in St. Mandé or picnicked. Food and booze prices in Paris restaurants are shockingly high for backpackers just starting out on a long trip.
We spend our first day in Paris brain dead in the spectacular St. Mande home of Claude and Jacqueline, long-time friends of Todd’s parents, grazing on a dozen French cheeses and reading Calvin + Hobbes. We follow it with an afternoon of mundane errands. We waste a perfect, blue-sky morning fighting with each other over something or other in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
These are all things we have not had time for in a while. Even with the fight, it’s somehow still a welcome change of pace.
Two and a half months in, we’ve been on the global road longer than either of us have traveled before. The hardest part has been giving up those lazy Sunday afternoons when we’d brunch at the divy Red Cafe, then return home to sprawl on the couch, read the paper, and watch a bad movie.
We get a taste of the leisurely parts of our on-hold life during a sleepover at Benjamin‘s, Todd’s childhood friend. While I lounge around with Benjamin and the vino-cultured Jean-Andre, Todd cooks up classic American brunch dishes like French toast and daring ones like saucisse lapin, rabbit sausage, with an endive and wild mushroom saute.
Later, Todd realizes that he’d mistakenly pronounced it “saucisse la pine” at the market. Hopefully the butcher did not take Todd’s mangled French literally, and didn’t give him what he asked for: penis sausage.
I won’t look up. I can’t look up. If I do I’ll get cava in my eye. Glass after glass of the rock-bottom cheap and disturbingly pink-hued bubbly is being passed over my head, handed from the bartender to one of the dozens of people crammed into this divine Barcelona dive bar.
Where we ate:
Spray paint sales are doing well on the Iberian peninsula. At night, artists and hooligans make their marks all over the walls of Spain and Portugal. Our guidebooks told us to enjoy old neighborhoods for their history and quaint charm. The cobblestone streets are steep and narrow. Grape vines hang over whitewashed walls. It’s been this way for centuries.
But these places are not dead. The streets are alive with colorful graffiti and we’ve got the photos to prove it.
After we say farewell to the Baron and Baroness, Todd and I skip out of Barcelona for a side trip through Catalonia, Spain. Mainly, we’re indulging our artsy-fartsy side by wallowing in Daliwood.
Forgive me, but I can’t help but relate the main Dali attractions – his home in Port Ligat and ego-tripping museum in Figueres – to a theme park like Dollywood.
Though both Dali sites are wonderful, mind-bending pilgrimage points for any artist looking to break a few rules, they are also overrun with massive tour and school groups snapping photos with cell phone cameras and mocking the guards when they try to enforce the “no flash” rule. All that’s missing is a roller coaster, and the coastal town of Cadaques complies by carrying the tourists over the hill to Port Ligat in a kitschy trolley.
The California ballot for the November 2008 election is a doozie – seven pages long. As we mentioned a few months ago, we downloaded our ballots from the San Francisco Department of Elections website and will fax them from India (since they want 3.50USD per page here in Istanbul). Since we’re making the complex effort to vote from the global road, we hope each and every one of you will vote on November 4.
> October 20 is the last day to register to vote in California! Slacker? Do it now.
Where we ate:
- Vinil, Girona – We’d been told that the food in Catalonia is some of the best in Spain, because of the proximity to France. They weren’t kidding, this place was innovative and affordable: YEH!!