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July=houseguest month June 30, 2010

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, Andaluc铆a, fiesta, jobs schmobs, Missoula, Spain, Travel.
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I’ve been on a roll with the blog this week (not to be confused with blogroll…har. A little nerd humor…) as the picked-up pace of blogging is mirroring the rest of my life. I’ve been on hyperdrive in the past couple of weeks, scrubbing, unpacking, hammering things into the walls after midnight most nights and doing more painting than seems natural. This is because I’m desperately trying to feel settled in the new house, yes, but also because I am preparing for basically one entire month of houseguests. On Friday, my dear friend Anna arrives from Sweden. We first met in Spain in 2005, when she was in my class temporarily and then, before moving on, invited me and my then-roommate out for churros con chocolate. We became fast friends and spent a semester painting the town red, making fun of Spanish dancers, and doing a lot of laughing. In 2007, I visited her in Sweden and, after the two initial awkward minutes, realized that time didn’t really matter – we still got along swimmingly and were talking a million miles an hour, in English and Spanish, as though we needed to catch up after a few weeks away.

When I moved back to Spain, she came to visit me in time for Las Cruces, a strange holiday involving lots of drinking in the streets in front of these huge floral crosses. A month later, I took the train to Pamplona, where she was putting in Spanish semester #4 after a year of Swedish uni. More going out and eliciting eyerolls from the other subdued Swedish exchange students. Our paths haven’t crossed since June 2008, as she was finishing up school in England and spending holidays in Sweden and I’ve barely left Montana.

Her graduation present from her parents was a ticket to come and see me, info I received last summer via one of our long, multi-part, bilingual letters. We’ve spent the last 6 months planning and getting ready for her two weeks here, and I’ve booked us flights to Vegas (first time for both of us) and have made Glacier plans. It’s going to be a blast.

Then a couple of months ago, two Spanish friends (a couple – she taught elementary school with me, he’s an elementary teacher in another district) sent me a message on Facebook, saying they had a surprise for me. I figured they might be getting married….but then didn’t hear anything else from them for a while. They are an absolutely hilarious Sevillano duo and introduced me to the intricacies of the fabulous Feria de Abril, flamenco-style dress and dance lessons and all. They had talked about coming to visit at some point, but have a camper and have spent most of their recent holidays at the beach in Spain or Portugal or tooling around other parts of Europe.

Three weeks ago, I get an email from them saying they are coming to the US, along with her brother, and would like to come and visit me in Montana. They’re also going to be here in July. So…we’ll have one night with all 4 of them – the 3 Spaniards, plus the Swede – staying in my house. Then I’m going to put the Spaniards on a plane to Las Vegas (one week after I’ll get back…thanks Allegiant!), so they can go and check out Sin City, spend some time by the pool, and Anna and I can finish up our time here. I think I’ll have a day to wash the sheets and then they’ll be back for 9 days here – with Glacier and possible Yellowstone plans in the works. I’m hoping to be able to join them for one of the two, and maybe send them off with my car to the other. Sorry about the lack of air conditioning, guys…the Volvo’s all I’ve got. 馃檪 At least Europeans know how to drive a stick. (weird note: Anna used to work at the Volvo factory in Sweden. It’s fate.)

Luckily, there’s an extra bedroom at the house. I bought a bed on Craig’s List and spent $35 on a bedding set from walmart.com. It’s pretty cute in person, actually:

It’s been nice to have this Friday’s deadline to motivate me, and I’m hoping to be largely done with the important unpacking by the end of the week. Come August, when I return from my family reunion, there will be some other unpacking/organizing to do, for sure, and probably a couple of lingering painting projects, but in the meantime, July will offer lots of good times and adventures with old friends I don’t get the chance to see too often. I get to show all of them Montana and the US for the first time. And I’m really ready for the vacation.

Portland! February 10, 2010

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, Blogs I read and like, design, Travel.
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I’ve had enough of the gray slushiness around here, so my fella and I have decided to head to Portland – home to more gray, I’m told, but at least it’s warmer gray weather! We head off on Friday and will roll back into town on Monday – a lot of driving for one weekend, but I think it will be an awesome break. We have a lot to celebrate – including Valentine’s Day and being together for a year. Hooray!

On Valentine’s Day, we are meeting a friend of his and doing the 18 mile Worst Day of the Year bike ride. I wasn’t so sure at first but was persuaded by promises of chai, baked goods, fruit and lunch along the way. I think it’ll be a cool way to see the city – although I did say that if it’s pouring rain, actually the worst weather day of the year, I reserve the right to stay warm and cozy in one of the stops along the way with a book and without any judgment from my male companions. Hopefully it won’t come to that. 馃槈 After the ride, we are going to make our way to IKEA, aka mecca. I don’t have quite the shopping list I had in California in November, but I’m going to pick up a few things that didn’t fit in my carry-on last time. Chief among them: a Ribba picture shelf (which the ladies at Nestled In use so well behind their couch) and the Helmer drawers.

Helmer drawers in white, from ikea.com

Yep, love them, especially in this house. (did you see those tape dispensers? be still, my heart)

So now I’m just working on the finishing touches of my little V-Day present project and thinking hard about a killer road trip mix. I feel sort of out of the loop, musically. What’s been playing in your ears of late? Or, any classic songs no road trip mix should be without?

Californ-i-a! November 9, 2009

Posted by Emily in design, things that make me smile, Travel.
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After months of feeling the pull of wanderlust, I’m taking advantage of the Veteran’s Day holiday this week and am heading to California to see my dear friend in Berkeley. We’re going to hit up San Francisco’s Mission District for burritos, Sonoma for wine tasting, and take a drive along the California coast. We have plans for the ethnic food I’ve so been craving (maybe Indian? Ethiopian? Ghanaian? who knows?!) and a moment (or many) of indulging my love for all things Swedish at both H&M and IKEA. I can’t wait.

Photo-taking awaits. For once I’ll have something new and exciting to post to the blog. More soon!

An autumn weekend in Glacier November 23, 2008

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, Montana, photography, Travel.
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This is a little late in coming, as I’ve been desperately trying to catch up on Flickr uploading after thousands of European photos, plus another summer’s worth, and very little internet access from February-August or so. Phew.

But I’ve finally gotten around to posting some of the many shots from the long weekend I spent in Glacier in early October. I took a class through UM’s Wilderness Institute taught by Tim Cooper of the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, and it was sort of a funny hodgepodge of students and professors, current and retired, and friends and strangers. Outwardly, we had very little in common–but we were all interested enough in photography to think mile long hikes could take two hours.

One of the biggest issues with traveling with others when you like to stop every fifteen feet and take a photo (or ten) is that you don’t find many people so patient, and even with them I’m hesitant to take away from their experience. When you go out walking with no plan BUT to stop every five feet and take photos, when you’re expected to notice and talk about every little detail along the way, it’s so relaxing. Like traveling alone, except with people to talk to.

And so we laughed. And compared tips and stories and shots. We reveled in the amazing colors Glacier offered, actually made more vibrant by the fairly heavy rain. My friend Christy’s Coleman tent magically held off the downpour, which left me strangely giddy. And even the most experienced of us (uh, definitely not me) learned something new about photography.

Here are a few of my shots from the weekend (with more on Flickr):

Sunset

Fall colors

droplets

Three little birds

Avalanche Falls

Berry fractal

cool

We are having a show at the Dark Room in Missoula, with an official opening for First Friday on December 5th –stop by and check out some of the amazing work from the weekend!

C贸rdoba: A food guide November 20, 2008

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, Andaluc铆a, fiesta, Spain, Travel.
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I enjoyed watching the last episode of Spain…On the Road Again, even if it was different from what I expected. They did an excellent job of giving a sense of the majesty of the Alhambra, drove to Motril and Almu帽茅car in Granada province, two relatively unexplored parts of southern Spain, sampled tejeringos, a type of crunchy churro, and then drove through C贸rdoba and 5 kilometers outside the city to Medina Azahara (more on that amazing palace later). Not bad in an hour.

I read in two or three places that a few members of the crew ate in C贸rdoba at Sociedad de Plateros (it’s one of their top recommended restaurants), but the last episode, “A Sultan’s View of Andaluc铆a,” featured only about ten minutes in C贸rdoba, and the only eating they did was toast with tomato and olive oil.聽 Of course, they ate it in my favorite plaza, Plaza de la Corredera, which has an amazing history dating back to Roman times–some of the mosaics uncovered here in the 1960s are on display at the Alc谩zar de los Reyes Cristianos–and is also sort of the center of C贸rdoba hippie culture.

That midafternoon light I so love

Here’s a short video of the plaza (with Spanish commentary):

It’s the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon…first a couple of beers with friends, then a long and mellow (but huge) communally-eaten lunch, then more caf茅 hopping for caf茅 con leche and whatever else comes your way. As annoying as it may sometimes be that everything is closed on Sundays, it also means the day is intended for relaxing, socializing, and lots of eating.

But, since the food of C贸rdoba didn’t get much coverage in the last episode, and the city can be sort of hard to navigate, foodwise, I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite choices. Many tourists never leave the Juder铆a neighborhood, which is unequivocally the historical center, but is sort of a food desert–either bad touristy places with overpriced, frozen paella and a menu in eight languages or haute cuisine only really available to the upper crust of the tourist masses. But C贸rdoba is not lacking in good places to eat, and none of these are more than a ten or fifteen minute walk outside the main tourist areas.

Click on the individual boxes to read the full reviews I wrote on tupalo.com.

sociedad-de-plateros2

el-sotano

bar-moriles

el-torpedo

bar-santos

And if you find yourself feeling a bit peckish during that long stretch between 2 pm lunch and 10 pm dinner, there’s always potato chips.

Celebrating C贸rdoba November 16, 2008

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, Andaluc铆a, blog, moving, photography, Spain, Travel.
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As was well documented in this blog, C贸rdoba and I had sort of a love/hate relationship when I lived there. It’s a strange city, one so focused on the past and its pedigree among top historical sites that it sometimes neglects its present. C贸rdoba has a strong alternative side, though, a counterpart to the ubiquitous pijo-ness that can be witnessed at certain bars, in Plaza Corredera, and by the female, Communist mayor. And its traditional cuisine is famous in Spain, especially salmorejo and flamenqu铆n.

But needless to say, there are things I miss (among those things, salmorejo and flamenqu铆n!). And since the episode of Spain…On the Road Again airing this evening on PBS focuses on C贸rdoba and nearby wonderful Granada, I thought I’d take a moment to celebrate what C贸rdoba does have to offer, both for tourists and for those who might leave the Juder铆a and stick around for a while.

I’ll offer up my personal recommendations and favorite spots in the next day or two, but in the meantime, there’s really one reason people flock to C贸rdoba – the Mezquita. When I lived in C贸rdoba, I would stop in to the Mezquita, free before 10 am, from time to time. These are some of my shots from those mornings.

Music: “C贸rdoba (Sole谩)” – Vicente Amigo from the album “Ciudad de las Ideas”

As for Granada, check out a few of my many Alhambra photos on Flickr.