Lactose-Free Milk or Gratitude

I was in the kitchen at work, washing my dishes, and started spacing out when I noticed a carton of lactose-free milk (organic, too) sitting on the counter, well, standing on the counter (we’ll talk about my semantic hangups with the “sitting” expression some other day), and I thought, my god, in this society we have so much to choose from, so much to  please us, we are free to align ourselves with any belief, any brand, movement and organization and so many take it for granted or absolutely don’t realize that in almost any other part of the world things are not the same way.

I thought back to my Eastern European days, and my country men’s love of sour cream and other dairy. There was no lactose free milk there (but then again, I never met a lactose-intolerant person back there, either), no talk of veganism, gluten-free food and other gastronomic curiosities, self- or doctor-prescribed. What would a vegan do in Sarajevo? Heck, there would be no vegan in the first place, or there would be serious health problems after 1-3 years of veganism. And what about Africa, dare you even mention spelt bread or organic, sustainable, wild/farmed salmon?

I’m not condoning those things, these are great additions to our wonderfully cushioned life in the West, but they are things that a lot of those born here take for granted. Things that don’t even exist in the majority of the world, or for the majority of people. I suppose I’m saying that people should be a little more grateful, or not scorn the poor barista for over/underheating their venti skinny half-sweet hazelnut latte with extra foam. Bitch less about the excess of what you have and instead be grateful for all the wonderful opportunities under your nose.

There’s a Russian expression which applies perfetly: [Они ]с жиру бесятся.

Big City Small City

We were talking about there perceived friendliness of people in various cities that we have both been to. And I often try to notice patterns in systems or in modes of human interaction; I’m interested in how people form clusters and what makes them tick, what makes some people enter the hubs/communities, what makes them leave and the like. I guess It seems that the smaller a city is, the less likely the people are to connect with outsiders, or welcome a newbie into their clique.

My friend moved to Vancouver ages ago, and spent over a year there. He noted that despite having no problem finding one-time hookups, real friendships didn’t really blossom. Another friend went west recently and had East coast-hating vitriol spit on him by those who never even visited Toronto. I return now and, besides enjoying and nurturing my established circle of old friends, have not a single time even had an opportunity to randomly meet a person. These days here I/we meet a new person almost every night. Or I have no problem talking to people, and they’re friendly. Bigger cities with their bigger ponds possibly mean that there is always more fish out there? Or you will never see that person again, why not try your best now? Or practice makes better, especially when you’re in a megalopolis?

In New York I have strangers come up and talk to me a lot. Montreal are a brave folk, except when they start addressing me in French which I speak 0 of, at which point I think they become turned off. Whatever the case, it got me thinking about the super small community, for example, Tiny, Ontario where I spent few nights at a friend’s cottage. Well, there was nobody to meet and socialize with in the first place 🙂 Small (and I mean 1-2 million residents in a greater area is still small) communities, in my experience, tend to stay more centered on their own groups and are less open to newbies. Maybe it’s just the elitist West coast communities, I don’t know. Need to explore Europe more for a better understanding.

PS. No hate, please, these are just my opinions.

Platja den Bossa


I really like this photo, which I took in Ibiza, on Platja den Bossa. I haven’t even noticed the great composition – look at the man and the woman! And then check out the couple in the distance – their heads are almost on the same level as the couple’s in the foreground. Yeah!

Playa d’en Bossa is the longest beach strip on the island (2 km). It’s full of beach cafes, bars, restaurants that often have famous DJs spin some tunes before performing at major clubs of the island (Space, Amnesia, Pacha, Privilege, Eden, did I forget something?).

We rode our scooter to the beach after spending most of the day in Eivissa town (where we scootered all the way to the top! See other photos), and relaxed. Be warned – numerous umbrellas beach chairs (is that what you call them?) that fill up the area have to be paid for. Watch out for the collector man.

You Sound Like Youre From East London

I just got a haircut from a man who’s been cutting hair for 28 years (including frou frou Kitsilano in Vancouver and 1985’s Spanish Harlem), and I realized than instead of going to hipstertown and seeking out the gayest, skinniest youngster with amazing hair, you should go to men of experience. Just make sure you explain your dreamcut really well. So yay to Islington’s Rough Cut!

I am currently sitting in Wellcome Collection, which is a unique mix of galleries, events and meeting, reading and eating places spread over six floors. Its goal is to engage public with health and well-being; it brings modern art, medicine and peoples ordinary lives to create and exciting place of interest. I am here, so should you when in London.

I went to Camden yesterday evening and had quite a good time. Besides picking up some flaming vintage pieces and trying Moroccan food (my next travel place of interest), I met some nice folks and managed to keep the happy hour prices in a bar way past the happy hour time. Camden is full of Italian daddy’s girls looking for bargains, handsome punks, prima donnas of the burlesque scene who will never see 30 again, skater boys, American Apparel sect members and random misplaced people. It’s heaps of fun, as my Australian friends would say!

By the way, I haven’t been updating a lot lately because I have been busy experiencing life here, but I have certainly been taking notes on what to post about. My autumn schedule will be busy, but calm busy, so expect posts very often!

BCN to LGW

I am a little sick, hence getting tired way sooner than usual. But not to worry – I have been writing down things to blog about, even if I have no time.

When I was leaving Barcelona, on a Friday night, I decided to take the train to the airport. I got to the Sants Estacion and went to the train station, got to the right platform and then jumped on a train that was there. Some other people followed and we waited. I was an idiot enough to drag my suitcase up the mini stairs and took a seat.

Then the kids who got in after me quickly ran off the bus, and I panicked. I dragged my suitcase down the stairs and as I was about to jump off, the doors closed. Right in front of me!

A kind man came up to explain to me that I won’t be going too far and that I should get off at the next station. So I got off at Bellvitge train station and that messed things up.

I decided to grab a taxi. But there were none. I had 50 minutes before the EasyJet check-in closed.

I tried calling a taxi, but they hung up on me because I had no street address (hello, Vancouver taxi cabs; same story there) to give them. I panicked even more. I tried to run up the overpass to get to the other side of the train station – second entrance. And as I was half way through, I saw a cab! I missed it.

I started to get really worried, I could’ve missed my flight to London after all. I ran down with my 23kg bag and got upset. Some elderly couple tried to help me figure out where to catch a cab, but that didn’t help.

I started crying right in the middle of the street, panicking, scared of missing my flight, when a young man came up asking me (in fairly good English!) what was wrong. I told him. Him and his girlfriend called me a cab, but none came. We dragged my bag to the main avenue of the suburb, and waited. I had no Euros left, save for €10, and hence couldn’t fully the €15 fare to the airport. The couple gave me €10 more! Then the cab came. My God. Am I not lucky? After this incident I’m pretty much convinced that nothing will go wrong in my life anymore, and if it does, a guardian angel will help me out. (This is sort of what happens in Harry Potter all the time, eh. The boy’s just so well connected and gets help when he’s in trouble)

God bless the couple that helped me out. I found that Spanish people in general are really warm, helpful, and empathetic. These two lovely strangers didn’t need to help me at all, but they did take the time out of their evening to make sure I got on my plane!.. And I don’t even know their names 😦

When I ran up to the EasyJet, panting and still shaking from stress of missing the flight, the check in guys laughed, but in a good way. They also didn’t charge me €30 for every kilo that my bag was over the limit… And it was over by 4 kg. Am I not lucky?

Crazy day, that Aug 29. Most ridiculous day of the month, actually, hehe.

More on Europe

Berlin was such a satisfying sight when it came to the roads (among many other things) – all the cars were either Mercedes, Audi, Opel or BMW. I saw ONE Ford and shivered to the bone. What’s a Ford doing in Germany? What kind of a nitwit would buy a Ford when they can buy a probably better Audi for that price?

Another note on Spain – Ibiza island is full of roundabouts. At first it was sort of tough on a scooter, but then we eased into it and found it much more practical than lights or highway exits. Roundabouts! I’m so happy that my Ibiza experience was just as wild as it was chill. Master of balance ze Karina.

I’ve been thinking about Hemingway a lot here, his Spain. I was trying to pick up one of his book to read since I am in Spain and I love reading books set in locations which I am traveling through. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything super intriguing of his (and I couldn’t deal with reading so much about bullfighting, considering Barcelona was the first city in Spain to protest against bullfighting or bull running). Instead I got Faulkner’s Light in August. It sounds quite promising; I spent several hours in a cafe yesterday reading it.

Hey, I just arrived in Bunol! Going for La Tomatina. Tomatoes, here I come!

random musings in a cafe in Barcelona

It’s interesting how people write a lot about their personal lives when they are younger. I used to write so much about my heart’s rollercoasting about 5-6 years ago, but now that seems like a gargantuan waste of time. Hearts are some of the most unstable things in the world that spending time on detailed archiving of their course becomes some of the worst ways to throw precious time out the window.

* * *

Dairy in Europe is much better than in N. America. Water is always in bottled form. I keep thinking about Dave’s environmental comments every time I ask for or buy water. I also think that is the reason I haven’t been drinking enough water on my trip, yikes.

We are driving to Valencia tomorrow to have some legendary paella (which is where it was invented anyway) and to partake in La Tomatina in Bunol. I still have to buy some cheap shoes and protective goggles to survive the famous tomato battle.

More to come later

Catalunya

Well! I am in Spain. It has been my secret desire for some time now, I must admit.

I always wanted to have tapas and enjoy the chatter of passers by.

Barcelona is a wondrous and surreal place in way that a Juan Miro’s work is, with its grotesque animal shapes and disfigured perspective, with its narrow streets that make you slightly uncomfortable but definitely welcome you to get lost and find yourself in some safely tucked away Placa… I keep thinking that I will uncover some secret when I walk around the Barri Gotic or even Barceloneta. I am convinced there is a secret that a handful of locals are able to whisper, yet they all have it in their hearts, Catalan hearts.

My dreams of seeing the artworks by Picasso and Miro are coming true! I absorb the culture like a sponge of sorts and I am extremely happy to have the opportunity to do so. I am grateful for the friends that are with me.

Xavi and Sal are great guides. They took us on a tour yesterday. We went into a small square where the building walls still bear the gunshot marks from the times of the Civil War. I could not believe my eyes, but my video camera did.

The food, the food. Let us discuss – we went to the Mercat Santa Caterina, and my eyes fell out at the sights of fresh seafood, and several dozens of cured ham varieties. Ladies and gentlemen, make sure you go to the markets. Skinned rabbits, goat heads, cow brains, steaks, mushrooms, cheeses… Yes.

Last night we drank homemade sangria (guess what, i’ve acquired the recipe, too…), and went to Gracia neighborhood for some drinks. The narrow streets are littered with small bars and whatnot. Did I mention that I used the Bicing system and biked through the hilly city (in a slightly not so sober state, oops)! I did well, and unfortunately Georgina did not because she and Sal fell off their bikes 😦

And it’s been only two days so far. More museums, more food from the markets awaits me, and more fun. We still have to go to the Sidecar and dance our socks off.

Tomatina happens on Wednesday! Stay tuned. Oh, definitely do. Salud!

Ibiza

Ibiza is a wonderful place. Word of caution: you have to do more than just party party.

We rented a scooter and drove all over the island.

First, of course, we took a cab to Sant Antoni, and went to party at Space. We saw Carl Cox. 6am end time, cabs with British ladies and all that.

We rented a scooter, and I must say, a scooter is an important part of an Ibiza experience, unless of course you want to pay €25 for a ride to Ibiza town.

Krystel and I had an awesome experience riding all over the island, particularly at night. Yesterday we covered half of the island, in pitch dark, with rabbits hopping about the road.

The villas here are rathe fancy, and i’d like to own one someday. He he he.

We ventured into areas that not so many tourists go to; we toured all over the dark northern coast of Ibiza, sat in the middle of the road and stared at the sky (with our helmets on of course he he).

We ate swordfish, and drank local wine. You must must must drink wine from Ibiza; it is absolutely wondrous!!

We danced like there is no tomorrow.

I must say that there were too many trashy British girls; they gave a bad name to the whole Empire. I will post a video of some exceptional examples as soon as I get back to Toronto.

Overall, Ibiza was a great experience. The sun, the fun, the lost in the hilly residential areas with barely any fuel left, and then eating grapes off someone’s wine estate, and scootering through druglords’ villas and whatnot.

Ibiza is a wonderful place, but you must do more than just party till the wee hours and sit on the populated beaches!!! Toy must explore and you must go deep into the island to uncover the true story.

On a return train

More observations include the fact that eggs come in 10- or 6-packs. Wherefore did the idea of a dozen disappeared to?

Wind power is pretty widespread here. Florian was saying that the government will pay you a lot of money to install one of the wind power-generating mills.

I tapped into the German popculture when I purchased an Ampelmann from Eastern Germany. Hehe. Pretty cool.

I didn’t manage to swim in the Baltic Sea due to horrid weather, but Florian did go for a quick swim and he fished out a pair of Baltic sea sunglasses in surprise dive (sentence structure?).

I got off at a wrong train stop, so am currently trying out all methods of trainsportation in Berlin in order to get back to Kreuzberg.