Saturday, August 24, 2013

Germy in Barcelona!


a view of barcelona from park guell!  architect antoni gaudi's house is visible
on the right side (the castle type building)


¡Hola y saludos de barcelona, españa! hello and greetings from barcelona, spain! this destination was something that just happened to make the cut as i began my slow, sad massacre of cities i knew i wouldnt have time to tour. 


a morning run found me atop of one of bcn's many hills

but like each city on my list, this place called out to me, beckoning my soul and promising adventure...it was an easy decision, and six hours after landing i suddenly realized that it had been the right decision...but good lord were those first six hours hell!

living in los angeles i have the benefit of being very near to the ocean, something i have never taken for granted. barcelona was my first experience of the mediterranean, and the second i found my host dan, i made a bee line for the sea! the mediterranean holds countless stories of ancient history, so to be swimming in the same water that was used by ancient greeks, the roman empire...it was this overwhelming thought that led me to the water. i put my toes in the sea and had a glimpse of those ancient battles and blood soaked shores...
as i looked up from the coast i saw something you only hear by legend...beautiful women, walking, showering, sunbathing, laughing, talking and drinking...naked...with all their perfectly proportioned lady parts on display for the world to see. this is a moment that changed me forever as an american. i saw humans...being. no filters, no body image issues, no nothing, just humans. there is a lesson to be learned here, but it would take up space and time that i simply dont have at the moment. all i can say is, experience the beaches of barcelona, you will leave a changed individual!

the reason the first six hours were such hell (minus the beach) is because after leaving the soft sands and nude women, i spent four hours walking in circles...it was hot, i was shunned for not speaking the local language, catalan, and street signs are surprisingly un-helpful when you dont have a map to calibrate yourself! in short, i was lost...


the city center and main avenue in barcelona!  great for people watching!







but my night took a turn for the better as i miraculously ran into a coworker from a show i shoot for back in los angeles, home & family. Will, the technical director had been in barcelona for the past few nights and he was a breath of fresh air in a sea of foreign language. my feet ached, my body was exausted, and i was in desperate need of a friend and a drink...and then, he found me wandering the streets in a back alley (hence the miracle) and called out 'JEREMY!' i turned, shocked, and let out an enormous sigh of relief.

the frustrations of being lost in a foreign city melted away as Will led me back to the bar, rubi bar...i believe my experience here may have saved the entire trip as ten minutes prior to arriving, i was absolutley ready to get on a plane and return home! everyone in the bar was speaking english and we met an amazing, very sweet swedish girl who refused to end the night without dancing. we stayed out until 5am dancing and drinking...and this, i discovered, was to be one of the main themes of my barcelona experience...

the crowded streets of festas de gracia!


each respective block decorates their street by themes,
using only recycled materials.  they plan and prep all year long




barcelona is a wild city, and during my time there i was lucky enough to experience its wildest side during one of its most celebrated festivals, festa de gracias...the neighborhoods of gracia spend all year planning and prepping for this festival. 

 in a block vs. block brawl of the arts, each street works together in competition with their neighbors to decorate their respective street in an agreed upon theme, using only recycled materials. the attention to detail is impressive, but the sight of tens of thousands of people crowded into the beautifully narrow alleyways of this city was even more moving. stages with bands and concerts form the various epicenters of the alleys, looking much like the countless churches, cathedrals and basilicas ive explored the past 3 weeks. where the alter is a band and the seated worshipers below became a relentless sea of beer, sweat, dancing and pure diversity...and i got to experience it all from a locals perspective thanks to an invitation from my host dan to join him and his close friends at the festival! 


my friend and host, dan!  always hospitable, as shown here by his kindness
of buying his guest a brew!




skating the streets of gracia on a friends busted skateboard...i will never
forget the cheers i received from the crowds as i rolled along  :)





























the other main theme of my barcelona adventure was antoni gaudi...gaudi, gaudi, gaudi! the man left his mark on the city in the early 1900's and he is practically a celebrated saint in catalunya. a renegade architect, his work is quite possibly some of mans closest attempts at recreating the mathmatical beauty of nature...



above is the most beautiful panoramic view of a city that i've ever witnessed...it's from atop the highest point of park guell



sagrada familia, gaudi's unfinished staple in the city

the name means 'sacred family' and the building is an
architectual masterpiece

the building remains unfinished and the plans
gaudi had for it back in the 1920's were lost due to
fire...

this is the opposite side of sagrada familia, a side untouched by
the hands or direct vision of gaudi himself.  it is the attempts of
recent and contemporary architects who have tried to complete
gaudi's original intentions...






a set of staircases in park guell that seemingly melt into the earth...

barcelona, spain is the third stop of my five country tour, and this day, august 19th, marks the halfway point of the adventure. again, even after the mad dashes and countless miles trekked on my trusty pf's, my body and mind surprise me in their constant thirst to explore...my next stop is roma, italia and the ancient ruins of the colosseum. ive been told that the sights of the city are walkable, and ive also been warned that the temperatures can reach into the triple digits! wish me luck as i gear up to take on another destination of the grand tour!

and to my incredible hosts dan & steve, whether you realize it or not, meeting you both has made a significant impact on my life. not only did you make my experience of this beautiful spanish city something i can always look back on with a smile but you offered me friendship and sound advice that i needed to hear. ¡gracias!




so until i see you again, hasta luego barcelona, ciao roma!




thanks for reading!



-germy


Monday, August 19, 2013

Germy in Paris!

bonjour and welcome to another wonderfully adventerous post on germy in socal!  like big ben in london, this photo of the tour eiffel is another that led me to travel 8,000+ miles for the sight of something so grand i knew i would someday have to study its visual glory with my own eyes to see its significance. and to say that i saw its significance gives no justice to the experience i felt standing at the base of this massive, beautiful, structure of supreme human imagination.



but i cannot dive too deep into this post without first recognizing the real reason paris made such an impact on my life. my host, christophe and many other proud residents of this city gave me memories that will always make my first adventure in paris something i will remember for a lifetime. hospitality, generousity and a willingess to explore one's curiousity helped to surround me with people rich in the happiness of life.

this is a simple photo of my hosts neighborhood, but simple in paris is beyond extroadinary
when i arrived in paris i was running on 36 hours without sleep. ive recognized a robotic like personality in my body as its instinctive intuition understands that every opportunity it has at that moment is once in a lifetime. i departed from the airport towards the city center to meet with my host christophe. from that moment on, each minute of everyday was spent in awe of france's amazing history. we went straight to lunch with his friends and hit the streets for a stroll of a building that floats in the sky, montmartre. this ancient cathedral gives you an entire panorama of the city. i couldnt believe my eyes as i looked out past the horizon...every inch of every street was lined with something beautiful, something significant, something distinctly french.





i got a glimpse of the entire city and it was literally at my feet. my friends pointed out the various sites i was
soon to visit and my heart began to race. overwhelmed with beauty and anticipation, i tried to keep myself
grounded in the moment, but i felt myself floating away off into the sky, hitching a ride on the levatating
cathedral behind me...

thanks to my incredible host, i awoke to a french breakfast on the daily and had the honor and pleasure to share it with him before his shift at work as a policemen. a fresh baquette and croissant with jelly, butter, café and orange juice!





its not hard to figure out i had a bit of an obsession with tour eiffel. i made two visits (almost three); one at night and another during the day. the size of the tower was astonishing and i was taken aback when it appeared from behind a few trees after deboarding the metro train.

at night the tower has thousands of lights attached to it that twinkle at the top of every hour for five minutes.
everyone sits with blankets and picnics on the mall at the base of the tower and when the lights begin the
people clap and shout in happiness.


everywhere the eye can see, the garden streches nearly to the horizon.  it is unimagineably large and beautiful

my paris day trip was versailles. while there is a chateau, a beautiful one at that, my intention was to marvel in the splendor that is the iconic garden of versailles. since a highschool history lesson where we studied the french monarchy, i have dreamed of seeing the gardens of versailles and slowly strolling its endless landscapes. and due to the absolute longest line i have ever been somewhat happy to wait in, i missed out on precious hours i coveted inside the garden. my experience was rushed and i will, i must, return one day and make up for those precious hours lost in line. only next time, i will be in the company of a lovely girl to share in the gardens beauty...

after a late night out in paris, we made a stop at the louvre around 4am.  i was told its much more beautiful when there are no tourists and it couldnt be more true...

another beautiful and breathtaking garden, the jardine de luxembourg
rests in the middle of the city and offers a quick escape from the metropolis


















don´t hate me for forgetting the name of this grand cathedral.
the fountain in front was the biggest ive seen so far!


















french macaroons!

















my final night in paris was spent with friends at a picnic on the river that cuts through paris.  notre dame pokes its head out in the back...and to my host christophe, thank you for making my time in paris so memorable.  i have fallen inlove with paris!

my time in paris could not have been any better. my final day was spent with new friends at a picnic along the river, with notre dame and beautiful parisien bridges dotting the horizon. christophe deemed it my french graduation and our first toast solidified my new parisien roots. tomorrow i am off to barcelona, spain the captial of catalunya. with the little spanish that i know, im nervous and excited to see how difficult it may be to communicate with the locals who pride themselves in catalan culture and its distinct dialect of spanish! i will miss paris more than words can express, and i await the day that it once again fills the days of my calendar...

please join me as i continue my grand tour of europe in the remarkable city of barcelona. soon my feet will feel the warm sand of the shore and the soft waves of the mediterranean. au revoir paris, hola barcelona!


thanks for reading!

-germy

Monday, August 12, 2013

Germy in London!



i traveled over 8,000 miles for this photo, and the story behind it is just as special as the memory this photo will give me to last the rest of my life.  my quest in london above all else was to see the parliament building and the famous clock tower big ben and it all begin with a simple trip on the bus.

victoria tower stands at the south end of the house of parliament and the house of  lords.  it is an enormously impressive structure with britains flag flying high above its top






i boarded from streatham hill, a small town in south london enroute to the middle of the city.  the hustle and bustle of the city began to grow as we approached the city center and passengers began squeezing tighter and tighter inside the iconic big, red double decker.  little did the bus driver know as he commanded each rotation of the wheels on the bus, that my heart began to pound ever more rigorously as we came closer and closer to our destination...

the steps of lambeth bridge, victoria tower peeks through in the background



















and then, suddenly it happened.  as we made our way through a tunnel, a sight these eyes have waited to see for a lifetime began to slowly apparate on the other end...the london skyline presented itself to me in an act of true british magic. the emotions burst out of me in a wide, face splitting smile that i couldnt and wouldnt hold back in the slightest...



the house of parliament,  commons and big ben light up londons skyline.


all the many things i had the opportunity to experience in the city of london are too numerous to try and express here now.  the moments i have wifi access are usually short, and i wouldnt want it any other way! so please allow the following photos to express what i do not have time to put into words  :)


buckingham palace!  i was told i just missed seeing the formal papers on display announcing the new royal baby


windsor castle was my london day trip:  its the oldest active castle in the world and also the official residence of the queen!  this is a view of the castles dry moat


the gardens of windsor as well as the many other activities it takes to maintain a castle helped to develop the town of windsor that sits just outside the castle walls


gaurds patrol the grounds of windsor.  here they were on their way to replace one soldier from his post

my wonderful host kamila took me for drinks at her favorite pub waxy o'connors, it was a castle all in its own with atleast 15 different rooms and levels with little nooks everywhere!  never seen anything like it!

a special thank you to my friend jack for showing me what a night on the town in london is all about, a true english pub crawl!  and also to my amazing host kamila!  my experience in london was better than anything i could have hoped for and so much of that is due to you and your hospitality, thank you!

tomorrow i am off to paris, the city of romance & love and theres no telling what might happen  ;)  i am truly sad to be leaving the uk.  I face the unknown in each new day that comes and i welcome the excitment this inspires in my soul. i find myself in awe of the deeply rich culture that europeans possess...cheers london, bonjour paris!

stay tuned for the second stop of my european tour, paris france  

thanks for reading!

-germy

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Germy in Europe!



26 years...this is the length of time i've spent on earth in pursuit of the adventure i always knew i wanted, but could never quite base in the realm of my reality.  my dreams of backpacking through europe were met with subliminal sarcasm, taunting me with, 'you might as well dream of going to the moon brother' (which also happens to be on my wishlist, along with flying (or even just riding in) a supersonic fighter jet).

my last post was also a day of elation, however just the anticipation of traveling has my heart racing the same way it was kicking and pushing, and gliiiiiiiiding my way across the city of los angeles during ciclavia!  in just a few hours i will be departing my beloved los angeles and the next 25 days will be filled with that once elusive adventure, as i take my grand tour of europe!

stops:  london, paris, barcelona, rome, athens (mikonos, ios)

since completing my work on a grueling 10 month season one of a television show called home & family this last thursday, i've been scrambling to tidy up last minute errands.  sleep has come in short supply as i found myself wide awake with anticipation every time i tried to lay down or sit still:  "don't forget that one thing!  oh, wait! i need to call that person about something!  remember to submit those photo's before you leave!  go to the bank!  make sure you grab that extra thing for your camera!"
the list was lengthy, but it helped take my mind of the anticipation, or i would have surely died.

a 50 mm lens bought to slay down europe's architecture!

the sights to see are plentiful, and i only have one or two core must-sees in each city:

london:  parliament and windsor Castle

paris:  eiffel tower, versailles

barcelona:  la playa, la playa, la playa

rome: coloseum, italian coast

athens:  acropolis, parthenon  /  islands: mikonos & ios

if you're reading this in shock, please don't fret!  believe me when i tell you i have amassed a sightseeing list so impressive, that...well...you would be impressed, trust me!  a special thank you to some amazing friends who took time from their busy schedules to send me their own favorite places in these cities!

so i ask that you stay tuned and follow along as i make my way across lands of incredible human history.



to all the guests i've hosted: thank you for giving me the courage to forge my own adventure...

now its my turn to see the world  :)



as always,

thanks for reading!

-germy