24 February, 2007

Day Seven: On The Balcon de Europa

I tried to hang out with Krista pretty much every day, and succeeded for the most part. It was a little windy that day, but the coast was still pretty.

All the team leaders went to lunch, and 1/3-1/2 of us were still around for the group picture afterwards...

That night we found a pretty cool Irish pub. The band was British and American. The country was Spain. And at one point an African woman wandered through selling jewelry. Quite a multicultural night!

'Jamin took baby duty so Ashley could join us. Many good husband points for him.

Left to right: Eric, John, Taylor, Brian

Day Six: On Down to Monkey Town

We had a free day in the middle of the week. One group went to Granada to see historical sights, architecture, etc. and another group went to Gibraltar to see WWII stuff, eat fish and chips, and, mostly, to see MONKEYS!!! (Also known as Barbary Macaques.) That's right. We got to play with monkeys. You are soooooo jealous right now.

This little guy was cute, but tried to eat my bracelet.

Later he and Graham had some good bonding time.

They were pretty thorough in patting us down for snacks or other treasures.

In the Great Siege Tunnels we happened upon some wax figures, one of whom was General Ulysses S. Grant. They seemed to be having a good time.

A final contemplative shot.

For other thoughts and pictures on this experience, see John's post.

Does it really taste better? Better than what?

Days Four and Five: On Monday and Tuesday

On Monday and Tuesday the conference got rolling, and Spain was still beautiful.

The 'chair' John is sitting on is actually Randall. Seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess.

The hotel had some pretty sweet flamenco dancers. They busted their moves and the reactions varied. Some watched in awe or enjoyment, some walked away in boredom, some averted their eyes for the half-naked belly dancing portions, some attempted to imitate, and some simply enjoyed the sensation of becoming noticeably more cultured people over the course of 20-30 minutes. Ashley and I entered into extreme flashback mode and remembered our years of Spanish dancing lessons. We laughed a lot and bemoaned the difficulty we had back in the day getting those blasted castanets to sound right or getting our skinny teenaged ballerina bodies to move in anything close to an authentic (i.e. sensual) Spanish manner. The two of us ended the evening by hiding out in a remote corner of the hotel basement, first trying to remember some Spanish dances, and eventually giving up and moving on to rehash some old ballet stuff. It was fun.

17 February, 2007

Day Three: On La Costa del Sol or Sunday Night Football

The mid-year conference was held in Nerja, Spain, and it was an ideal location- right next to the Mediterranean. It was also great to see old friends again after being scattered around away from home and family for so long.

She's one of my favorites :-).

That night we went to a near-empty pub and the guy working there was nice enough to put on the Bears/Saints game for 20-30 Americans. Here's Taylor, 'Jamin, John, and Graham enjoying some of the action.

15 February, 2007

Day Two: On A Jet Plane

We took off pretty early in the morning, but before boarding we grabbed some breakfast. I had a little trouble transitioning to the new culture. After ordering and paying for, but before obtaining, my croissant and orange juice, I tossed the receipt in a fairly large trash bin. The thing is, I needed to show it to the people at the next counter to pick up the food. Not speaking Italian, my only option seemed to be dumpster diving. Weaving through a cluster of other hungry passengers I thrust my arm and part of my head into the can, and miraculously located the crumpled ball of paper immediately - and it was not nastified, bonus! Yay for breakfast. After browsing the duty-free shop looking at jewelry and gum (John and Andy were looking at short shorts, but we won't speak of such things here), we headed to the plane.

We all adopted different methods for coping with the lack of sleep. John chose to travel zombie-style...

...Sunny went with 'rockstar pissed'...

...and Andy and I opted for outlandish cheer - somewhat remniscent of Midwest State Fair goers.

We enjoyed this.

Another coping mechanism = hugging.

After two more bus rides, we got to Nerja, and it was beautiful! Look left, look right, smile.

14 February, 2007

More Entertainment

My friend Dan has once again directed me to a source of bloggish entertainment - I found that Blankenship guy's site because of him, too.

Indexed has a series of entertaining graphical/philosophical offerings a la:

13 February, 2007

Day One: On The Road

After a busy week, some deep cleaning, careful packing, "24"-watching, and bus-time-debating, we finally left Rijeka and headed off to the mid-year conference in Spain. As far as I can remember, the bus ride to Trieste was uneventful. Our brief stay in Trieste was pretty tame, as well. We got some cash at the bank and saw this woman with her little dog dressed to match. Yeah, boring, I know.

The first few hours on the train were great. In Venice we were supposed to change trains, and when we pulled into the station our car emptied pretty quickly. As we calmly put our backpacks on, Sunny started to ask if she should wait or just get off or hold the door, but before she finished the doors swiftly closed and the train pulled out. A lone Italian was left on our car, so Taylor communicated with him via Spanish, English Sign Language, and clicks and gestures, and somehow got us redirected back to Venice at the next station. Andy's expression communicates pretty well how we all felt about being stowaways on a commuter line we didn't have time to get tickets for, desperately praying against hope that we wouldn't miss our connection to Milan.

Amazingly, we made it. Promptly seating ourselves in a spacious 1st class compartment, we all got busy reading. Allison definitely looks like she belongs there, wouldn't you agree? It didn't matter, though, we got bumped down to 2nd class shortly thereafter, where, fittingly, Sunny discovered this little gem - toilet paper hitching a ride.

Once we arrived in Milan, we got some dinner and took another bus to the airport. As we looked for a place to camp out for the night, we were greeted by wide open spaces and the glow of industrial lighting. This picture is kind of lame, but it is actually the very last picture I took before my camera broke, never to resurrect. So sad. From here on out, all pictures are borrowed, stolen, or imagined.

This is where we actually decided to bed down - a fairly secluded little area near the offices uptairs. We played some Skip-Bo and made ourselves as comfortable as the bright lights, floor buffing machines, and cold temperature would allow. This made for a pretty, uh, chipper time the next morning at 5:00.

12 February, 2007

A New Website to Waste Your Time On

During some recent internet wanderings I came across this, and particularly enjoyed Mr. Blankenship's myriad notes to self.

Here are some of my favorites:

Note to Self : Now that he is slightly old and definitively crazy, convince Mel Gibson to make a 4th installment of the existing Mad Max Trilogy, then use your newfound friendship with the actor/director to be cast as post-post-apocalypse-surviving extra in said film.

Note to self: Choreograph office dances to the entirety of the new Justin Timberlake album. Test your glass desk for max weight distribution load. Rig lights underneath the desk. Disco.

Note to self: Through either research or consultation of black magic, determine exactly what famed popstar Meatloaf wouldn't do for love. Also, determine exactly what way the Backstreet Boys wanted it that way.

Note to self: Next time you're traveling solo via elevator, remove the overhead light fixture and find out if there's really a door to the elevator roof, like in all the movies. Explore.

Note to self: It's time to kick it up a notch.

Note to self: The next time someone says "turn that frown upside down," hang them from a chainlink fence by the elastic of their recently outstretched underwear and inform them that their view should be all smiles now. Resist smiling at this point, as it would ruin the specific purpose of the entire exercise.

Note to self: Update your websites. It might be the only reason people like you.

Note to self: Build a medieval catapult. Always refer to it as a trebuchet, just to sound elitist.

Note to self: Write a poem about making out. Title it "Better Than Cigarettes," because honestly... you believe it.

Note to self: Three words: stairwell pole vaulting.

Note to self: Take a poll of various Taco Bell employees to find out if they too think it would be appropriate to refer to their workforce as "The Border Patrol.”

Note to self: 99.4% of men on Earth should not have long hair. Groom yourself accordingly.

Note to self: Give in to the realization that you will, henceforth, analyze every person on every flight you take for the rest of your life, wondering, if you crash and are stranded on a tropical island full of unexplained phenomenon, who would be the leader?

Note to self: Learn to parallel park at full speed stuntman-style.

Note to self: Try and think of any viable reasons to ever visit/re-visit the following states: Florida, Alabama, North Dakota, Kansas, and/or West Virginia. Fail miserably.

Note to self: Build a zeppelin.

10 February, 2007

January Recap. Part 4: Love Story

Our recently married friends Vjenci and Anita came up from Split to talk about relationships and share their story with students.

Those who were there really enjoyed hearing from fellow Croatians and took advantage of the opportunity to grill them afterwards with lots of questions.

It was nice to have some final time with our friends here before heading out of town for a few weeks.

January Recap. Part 3: Plitvice

So there's this national park here in Croatia that is pretty famous, and very beautiful. It's a couple hours away and there is a series of lakes and waterfalls with trails to walk around, so we headed out with a few friends to enjoy the scenery.

Andy, Kamelija, and Sunny

On the drive home, it was late, cold, and dark but we still stopped at a park to enjoy some swings, teeter-totters, and this really nifty rocket climbing structure. I'm pretty sure NASA designed it to hold 4 children, but we managed to get 6 'adults' (not so sure that term always applies) inside.

05 February, 2007

January Recap. Part 2: Happy Birthday Iva!

The birthday girl and, uh, a friend...

A couple of crazed party-goers.

A lovely klapa serenade for our awesome and hilarious friend. These guys were seriously incredible, and it was so fun to be there to celebrate. Thanks for inviting us, Iva!