Reflections by a Lake – Luzern, Switzerland

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I woke up early on Sunday because I wanted to do something different than Wadenswil. I headed to the station and hopped on the fast train to Luzern. When I arrived I headed to old town. I only had a few hours and I wasn’t really sure where to go, so I started walking until I came to the lake and the bridge that leads to old town.

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Art Lessons in Zurich, Switzerland

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Location: Kunst Haus Museum, Zurich
“The music of expressionism and contemporary art exhibit”

Going with Hedi Ernst (http://www.arthke.com) turned a typical touristy museum day into an in depth art lesson on German and French expressionism. Hedi explained how expressionism took flight in Europe and how to see the art in a way I hadn’t before. She encouraged me to avoid thinking about what the artist intended and focus instead on what it brings up personally. That’s the point, she argued. A good work of art has different meanings. It’s personal to everyone. I always enjoyed fauvism and Impressionism in painting, but Hedi made me think of it in entirely different way. As she showed me the progression of style, I saw the leaps each artist made and could appreciate the risks. They allowed themselves to do things differently: they used different brush strokes and colors that don’t exist in reality to create an emotion that does exist in the mind. It reminded me of Luis Borges, the first author to write magical realism. In both cases, the artist gives himself the right to bring something from their imagination (third eye, whatever) into the material world. It gives it this universal meaning because everyone’s connected on that invisible level.

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From the Mouth of a Roman: Why Public Transportation Sucks in Rome

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I said, “I love Rome, but it doesn’t have the public transportation like the other European cities.”

He shook his head.

“They start to, how do you say ‘scavare,’ excavate, dig to begin, and then they find something. They always fucking find something. They plan a transit and say, ‘Maybe we will build a metro here,’ and everyone is happy. Then they dig and it’s always the same: they find some other fucking room or some secret tunnel for a king and have to stop.

-Fabio

We Meet Again, Rome

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 We meet again, Rome.  Rome, with your dangerously unpaved roads and cobblestone alleys that look straight but are actually circles that dead end or lead to more circles that laugh at your lost travellers in the dark as they struggle through the streets with broken suitcases.  Rome, with your fast-paced civilians and lightening speed bicycles zipping in and out of the throngs of nameless tourists and locals never looking back at the unintended chaos they’ve created.  Rome, with your gray skies and heartless cold, foggy streets under flickering lampposts rolling hauntingly beneath brown and red apartments with all of the windows shut up.  Rome, with your limited technology limiting communication and unreliable transportation rendering us unable to penetrate the city walls, trapping us in the interior as the rest of the world goes on wondering and I, unable to communicate and alone find myself powerless to the confines of my own loneliness.  But who was that person then?

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When We Travel

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When we travel, when we force ourselves to step outside the cage our routine creates, when we escape our securities and for a while allow ourselves to revel in our lack of knowledge, to become a stranger, to feel the unknown and embrace it, things begin to happen.

The world becomes new again.  The earth, the only place we ever called home is suddenly a mystery that we never really knew.  All of the ideas we were so set on become confused.  Our knowledge, once armor, is only a barrier keeping us attached to a way of thinking that no longer applies and we find ourselves lost.  Our spirits, the master adapters, are stripped bare of their securities and become as new and exposed as the new land ahead of us, and we realize we’d never really been introduced.  We find that, just as we do not know the world, we do not know ourselves, and with realization we are presented with the opportunity to discover the people we really are.

It’s weird at first.  It’s uncomfortable to look at yourself in the mirror and only recognize the shell.  You will make thousands of mistakes.  You will take countless wrong turns or find yourself looking for a person that doesn’t exist.  You will be forced to rely on a place within your soul that you didn’t know existed, a part of yourself that had been missing your whole life.

And once we find that person, once we hear that whisper and find that we’ve had all the answers this whole time, we can never go back.  The world becomes small and our potential immeasurable and we realize that we are responsible for defining our purpose.  Once that voice begins to speak we have an obligation to listen, to follow our hearts and see our dreams through.  Sometimes you have to travel a long way to discover the secret you’ve had your whole life, but once you do, you can never go back.  So, leap into the unknown.  Like Alexander Dumas says, “It’s only the first step that’s the hardest.”

Fact: You Can Have a Bad Day Abroad

Bad days happen no matter where you are so it’s important to remember that you may encounter a bad day while on your adventure abroad.  I’m currently in Madrid, and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been redefining my original definition of “do less, leisure more.”  I’ve been sleeping in, exploring the cities, writing more articles, reading more books, taking full advantage of the siesta, and partying like a real Spaniard.  My biggest complaint is that I can’t find Siracha at the supermarket. 

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Toledo, Spain – a City in a Castle

 

February 2, 2014

{The sad part was that I woke up homesick because I was going to be missing my brother’s birthday and Superbowl Sunday.  I didn’t really care about the game, to be honest.  I mean, I wanted the Broncos to beat the Seahawks, but I sort of checked out two weeks ago when the Niners lost.  Regardless, I was homesick.  My family always has a party and I was missing all my cousins and brother and sister.  I woke up exhausted, and still feeling the effects of the WORST DAY EVER (link), but I was excited because there were people down to explore TOLEDO!}

To give you some background, Toledo is this cool suburb of Madrid and former capitol of Spain.  It’s this architecturally beautiful city because it’s a melting pot of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish culture. During the medieval times, Toledo was known for it’s handcrafted swords and daggers and became the leading distributor for weapons to the crown.  The city is surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River, which really helped them out in the medieval times when everyone was trying to conquer everyone else.  This allowed Toledo to become a haven for religious freedom during a time when tolerance was uncommon.

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