The Boys of Summer – Around the World Day 28

The weather has been really hot this summer in Colorado. If you have friends from the area, I am sure you have seen the posts on Facebook about people melting in the street, and how on some days it has been hotter here than it has been in Las Vegas. Denver is turning into a dessert, and when things cool off a day, people look for something to do outside so they can enjoy the Colorado summer while it is available. The best way I have found to do this is to go to Coors Field and watch the boys of summer try to stay in the running for the playoffs in October.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in the low 80s with a lot of cloud cover that made for the perfect day to go and see the Rockies play. Coors Field is also a great ballpark. It has been a dream of mine to see a game in all of the ballparks in America, and this has now become really hard to do that I live in a different country, but that does not mean that I can’t enjoy the ballpark that was in my backyard for the last twenty years. When they designed the park, they wanted to give it that classic ballpark feel with a couple modern upgrades. It has a nice open air feel to it, and there is not a bad seat in the house. They do have ivy growing in the right field behind a series of fountains that they will turn on full blast anytime one of the Rockies hits a home run. It does have a bigger outfield than a lot of other parks but that is because balls have a tendency to fly longer in the thin air. And if you are looking for a good beer, there is a craft brewery in the building. A perfect addition for the people of Colorado who love their beers.

But they have since added some other features. There is a huge scoreboard in left field that highlights many part of the game on its high definition screen. There is a series of bars on the top level that are always full even if the Rockies are doing poorly because it is a great place to be seen on the Denver scene. Many people were angry at that addition when it first came out because it seemed like a waste of money for a team that could have used a better bullpen, but ever since it has shown up, the Rockies have been contenders more than they have been in the past. It does clear out the stands though because everybody wants to hang out there instead of in their seats.

No matter what you think about the addition, it is still a great place to see a game, and I was surprised at the crowd that had shown up in the middle of the day on a Thursday. The announcement that they make every game stated that there were 41,000 people in attendance, and this is pretty amazing considering that there are only 50,000 seats in the place. A lot could have contributed to this. The Rockies have won 12 out of their last 16 games, making them only three and a half games out of first. They were also playing the team that was in first so this would give them an opportunity to catch up a game. And it apparently was kid’s club day. There were groups of kids screaming in the upper level and they did not necessarily know what they were screaming at, but they were having a good time. They also had to leave early so they would be back at their kid’s club location so their parents could pick them up, but it all added to the atmosphere.

It was a great game. The Rockies came back in the sixth inning to win the game five to one and the bullpen did a great job not losing the game in the final inning. It was the perfect way to spend a warm Thursday afternoon, and it will keep me interested in what is happening with the Rockies as they make the push to the end of the season. I just wish that it did not take so long in-between times that I got to visit the place because it is easily one of my favorite ballparks in the nation.

Visiting my Stuff – Around the World Day 26

I used to teach a story by D.H. Lawrence called “Things”. It was a story of a couple who started to teach overseas, and because of that they collected storage units all over the world where they could keep their things. I will include a copy of the link to the story at the bottom of this post so if you want to read it you can. But the main idea behind the story was freedom. Are we truly free if we are tied to our things. I would really make the point with my students when I would ask them at the end of the lesson, “Do we own our possession, or do our possessions own us?” Many of them would believe that they were the ones that were in control in these situations because there was no way an inanimate object could control a person, but we started talking about houses and the amount of work that went into maintaining them, cars and the amount of money that it costs to keep them running, and they would really get angry with me when we started to explore our relationships with our phones.

I talked to them for a position of superiority, thinking I was above all of that nonsense of letting my possessions become the more important part of our relationship, but this was until I moved overseas. I knew that there would be certain things that I would like to keep, and I got a storage unit so that I could keep those things. I even have a monthly bill automatically paid so that I don’t lose my possessions on the rare chance that I forgot to pay a bill. It wasn’t a big unit, but I still packed it with various things. And despite this, I still got rid of a lot of stuff. I had simplified my life or so I thought.

But now every time I come back to Denver, I spend a day going over to my storage unit to visit my stuff. I can’t do anything really exciting with it because it is all thrown in a the small space, and some of the stuff that I really would like to visit again was placed far in the back when I started, thinking that I would keep the place well organized. Half of the time I find something and wonder why I kept it at all. It is a part of my life that I have not let go yet, and I wonder if I will ever be able to do so. It is the connection that keeps me coming back to this small little shed in the middle of the city.

I do know that if I ever come back to live in the United States that I will love to have these things, and it will make the transition easier, but I wonder if I will ever need a large home to collect all of my things in. I would have to say that one of the things I really do appreciate about the adventure that I embarked on three years ago is that I no longer need a huge space and a whole bunch of things in order to be happy. I can live a simpler life. I just have one thing hanging over my head that would make it complete, my storage unit. I don’t know if I am ready to get rid of it yet, but I now have a new appreciation of what D.H. Lawrence was getting at with his story. Can I be the master of my possessions or will they always be the master of me?

You can read the story talked about in this post by clicking on the link below:


Waiting – Around the World Day 25

This may shock some people that really know me, but the biggest adjustment I have when traveling back to the United States is getting used to the restaurants and the service I now receive. The reason that this may shock some people is because I have spent so much of my life in the restaurant industry and spent a big portion of that time as a server or a bartender. In fact, I have spent more time in this job profession than I have as a teacher or a writer. I know it better than any other profession, and if I wanted to I could probably hop right back into that madness without much adjustment. The thing is I don’t want to get back into service and find more joy and a sense of worth with my chosen profession right now. I am glad that I took the path that I did to get where I am today because any time I do not appreciate it, I can go back to restaurant and remember where I came from. But if I know so much about this profession, why is it the thing that makes me feel so uncomfortable when I come back to the United States?

It really hit me last night when I visited a few friends from Korea at a restaurant in downtown Denver called Los Cabos Puro Peru. We were sat and spent almost four hours enjoying a casual dinner with various appetizers and entrees with a couple of drinks. We were never rushed and it was a beautiful way to spend an evening with friends. I left the place stuffed and satisfied, but a lot of this had to do with the fact that the style of serving that happened in this establishment reminded me more of what I would see in Europe and less of what I would expect from the United States. Before I had moved overseas, I would have thought of it as some of the worst service I ever had, but now I appreciate it more.

When I was a server, I was considered one of the better ones at every place that I worked. I was able to sell a lot of food and drinks, my customers were never in need of something, and I could people in and out quickly, making a lot of money through my tips. I could anticipate people’s needs. I would get them a refill if they needed it, and get rid of plates right as soon as they had their last bite. I knew if the customer was enjoying each stage of their meal or not, and I could have a conversation with anybody based upon what they wanted to talk about. I was there for the customer, and this kind of attitude is what makes me nervous today.

When I experience servers in Europe, it is a completely different attitude. He or she will come to the table to take an order for drinks and food, and if I need him or her again, I need to wave them over. They would leave me alone unless I did this. Sometimes this might mean that I do not have a full drink in front of me, or it might take me a little longer to pay my bill and leave, but for the whole meal experience, I do not have somebody hovering over me, waiting for me to take a sip of water so they can refill that sip instantly. I am left to myself and my company to enjoy.

At first this really bugged me. I felt like I was being rude to the people serving me, and they had to hate me because I was always waving them over. If somebody had done that to me during all of my years of waiting tables, I would have wanted to kill them. But I look at it differently now. The focus shifted from the waiter to the customer in the European model as opposed to the one I had been trained in. As a customer, I should not be pressured to consume more, and be pushed through my meal. I should be able to enjoy my evening at my own pace, and if I need something, why should the server be offended if I wave them to ask for something more. That is why they are there, and it is a simple form of communication.

Now, this becomes a problem sometimes when it comes to the check. I do hate having to ask for the check when I would like to leave because it seems to take forever before they can get it to me, and for me to pay it. But I have come to realize that the process is not much quicker in the United States model. In fact, I think that this is the place where both models fail miserably because when I am done, I do want to leave.

But this is where I think the Koreans have perfected the art of waiting tables. It is the thing I appreciate the most about Korea. Most restaurants have what is called the Yogio button. It is a button on your table that you press if you would like service. The server will not come to bug you unless you would like to see them, and with the button you do not have to catch the server’s eye in order to hope to get a new beer. At first, this button bugged me, but as I got used to it, I started to appreciate what it meant and how it simplified the whole waiting process. The best part is that when I want to leave, I do not need to ask for the check. I just go up to the cashier, tell them what table I was at, and then give them the money that they need. It makes the checking out process so easy. And if there is a large party with a split check you just tell your cashier what you had and they will split it for you right there. I have become accustomed to this style of restaurant service and I think it is the best in the world.

Could the people of the United States ever be accustomed to changes in the service style to the one in Korea? I don’t think so. They have been trained just as much as the servers have, but I do hope that if they find themselves in a different part of the world, they will appreciate the different styles, and that those styles do not give them the anxiety that they gave me when I first encountered them. And if they ever want to experience a more European style, Los Cabos Puro Peru gave me that experience last night, and it was one of the most pleasant dining experiences I have ever had in the United States because it was done at my pace. It is something to appreciate, and I am glad that I now am able to understand its advantage.

On the Rocks – Around the World Day 24

I was very fortunate growing up. I live within driving distance to what I consider the greatest concert venue ever built, Red Rock Amphitheater. Every summer, I would pull out the concert schedule and pick one or two shows that I would go see in this iconic place. I have seen some of the greatest artists perform here, bands from Radiohead to the Grateful Dead, and artists from Ben Harper and Beck. If I consider all of the moments I have at this place, a few of my fondest come while I was here.

But I would not only come up here while there was a concert. I would come up during cross country practice in high school so we could run up the hill that is used as a load in station for bands, and though some of my students who run for me right now might disagree, it was the most difficult hill to run up. We snuck in a couple times on weekends during the fall to hang out with friends on the stage. I did a report on the place during my seventh grade, and I remember coming up during the winter months and watching the snow gently fall down on the empty seats and breathe in the silence. When I think of Denver, I instantly think of Red Rocks, and if I can share the same joy that bubbles up inside of me when I think of it, I want to do so.

If you have never been there, it is a natural amphitheater built during the 1930s as one of FDR’s ABC projects to get people back to work during the Great Depression. Two huge red rocks stand on either side of the seats creating perfect acoustics for the bands who play there. The venue cannot seat that many people as there are just under 10,000 seats, but even if you find yourself in the back of the theater, you still can enjoy the sound because there really is not a bad seat in the place. It is the Mecca for many bands, and if they get to play there that means that they have made it. During my disc jockey days, I actually got to perform a wedding in the restaurant that is situated in the back of the amphitheater, so when I talk to my musician friends about the fact that I had the chance to do this, they always get really jealous. To get there you need to drive through the quaint little town of Morrison that only get busy when an event is taking place at the venue, and when you are there you can look out over the plains as the light of Denver start to wake up for the evening. Many iconic bands have recorded live albums at the place including U2, O.A.R., Moody Blues, Mumford and Sons, and Dave Matthews Band (too separate concerts are available from him). And it has even hosted the likes of the Beatles and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. How can this not be the best venue in the world?

I still think about the place when I come home every summer. Around March I start to look at what bands have been scheduled to play there as I try to find one that I might enjoy, but all the good ones seem to be coming either before or after I am there, and if there is a band that I might be remotely interested in seeing, they are charging way too much to see their show that I wait until something better comes along. This is why Movies on the Rocks was a better option this time around.

Movies on the Rocks is a series of events that is put on by the local radio station, KBCO. They find six or seven cult favorite movies to show under the stars, but the party starts a little earlier than that. They also book two bands, and last night when I went to the event, they also brought out local favorite, and winner of the Last Comic Standing, Josh Blue. After all of this, they played one of my favorite Coen Brothers’ movies, The Big Lebowski. It might not have been one of the amazing concerts that I was able to catch in my past, but it was still a fun time. People came dressed up as some of the characters, and they served white Russians so people could feel like they were part of the story. It is a great way to get into the venue if you find yourself here for a short time, and there are not any bands that really appeals to you. It was one of my favorite nights so far on this trip because it was reminiscent of times that I used to have here. It will always be one of my favorite places.



Sundays are for Family – Around the World Day 24

One of the ways that I know that I have let the stress of the school year finally behind and I am able to really enjoy myself is when I look over at somebody and ask what day of the week it is. It usually takes a couple of weeks before this happens, and it is a nice feeling to not be a slave to time. I know that I will have to get back to watching that calendar and clock again, but the time being I am not going to worry about it.

While traveling through Europe, there was one day that always let me know that it had come around, Sunday. It is so dramatically different than any other day of the week, and not because they ring the church bells more often. The whole continent seems to take things slower that day. The streets take a little longer to get crowded. Not all of the restaurants are open, and if you find a store that is open, you should consider yourself lucky. It is a day that Europeans know is for something greater.

Some might say that this is because they are all very religious and they are taking Sunday easy as a sign of showing respect to God, and I don’t think that is necessarily accurate. First off, despite the hundreds of cathedrals that are out there, the number of people who claim to be religious is steadily declining in most countries. Granted, I just came from Spain which still holds a strong Catholic contingency, it was still evident that people are just not that religious anymore. I think there is something greater going on here.

I could be wrong, but my sense is that Europeans have a strong sense of family and it is really important to them. You can see this when I compared the interactions between various families as I toured many of the larger site of the country. And even though, many of the teenagers were still salty towards their parents, but the European ones would warm up to their parents quicker than ones that were obviously from a different part of the world. I think that bonding comes from the fact that Europeans have designated one day of the week to family, Sunday. I don’t know if this is the reason why things are all closed down on Sundays, or because things have closed down on Sundays that families come together this day because of this reason. Either way, it is evident that families get together on Sundays.

Now, I am not saying that Americans do not do the same thing, but there is a different feeling on Sundays in America than there is in Europe. This might be because the stores are still opened and people can still get some stuff done in their busy lives on this day. We are not forced to put that stuff aside so we can pay attention to something else. But you do see from time to time families getting together to share a moment together. It is a great experience when it happens, and I was lucky enough on my fourth Sunday on my trip around the world to get together with my family for one of these moments. Not only was I able to see my brothers and sister, and my parents all together one more time, it was also great to slow down and just appreciate the things I have been blessed with.

Quandary Peak – Around the World Day 23

Though the world may not know much about it except for the place you go to for skiing, Colorado, does have a tourist season during the summer. The mountains are still a fun place to go to, and there are many things to do in the small towns there. One of the things that many people try to check off of their lists is to summit one of the 58 14ers that the state boasts about. A 14er, is a mountain peak that reaches over 14,000 feet above sea level. It is way above timberline, and the air gets pretty thin up there, so it is quite an accomplishment to make it up one of these mountains, and it is even a bigger challenge if you can do it when you come from sea level before you do it because there is always the danger of altitude sickness that can make the hike a challenge to get over. I wanted to add to the challenge so I decided to take on one of these peaks a day after I arrived from Europe, so I was living in a different time zone and my mind was trying to get over jet lag when I tried this.

It is important to take on one of these peaks early in the morning because Colorado has a tendency to afternoon thunderstorms, and you don’t want to be up on top of a peak without any cover where lightning has a shorter distance to strike the tallest object, you. It also gets pretty crowded on some of the peaks during the day because of the tourists try to tie this into their vacation. Quandary Peak, the mountain I took on, is one of the busier ones. It is only a few miles outside of the popular town of Breckenridge, and it is one of the easier mountains to summit, so this is the one that many people take on. I had gotten there at 5:45 in the morning and it was already packed with people. Even though some people might complain about these crowds, it didn’t bother me much because I had just experienced some of the crowds in Europe and they were nothing like the one I had on this day.

The cool thing about the hike is you can see the summit most of the way up. It is not like some of the other peaks where the top hides behind false summits, disappointing you sometimes when you thought you had made it to the top but in reality you still had a ways to go. It also has a pretty well maintained all the way up to the top as opposed to other mountains where the trail disappears to a field of rocks that can add to the challenge because they are not always secured and you might have to dodge a rock rolling down the hill from someone up above you from time to time.

It is also still had small snow fields near the top even though it was the middle of July. I have been told that these snow fields are small this year because it has been a dry year for Colorado, but it was fun to see snow during this time of the year. I have attempted this mountain at a different time of the year, May, and this spot was covered in snow, and I couldn’t summit because I got caught in the middle of a blizzard when I made it to this point in the hike. But this time, the weather was perfect, and I even wished I had worn shorts because I was getting a little hot when I made it to this point of the hike.

The best part of the hike was when I got to the top. I was able to stand on the edge of a precipice and look out over the Rocky Mountains and could even point out the two other 14ers that I had summited the summer before. I got to get to know my hiking partners a little better, had wonderful conversations with other hikers taking on the challenge from other parts of the world, and earned a sense of accomplishment on a day that I would usually have spent trying to figure out a way to get over jet lag.

It is a great way to spend a day in Colorado, and it is one of the things that made this part of my trip around the world great. It is funny that I had to move away before I attempted to reach the top of these mountains, but it is the way of the world. We don’t really appreciate the things we have in the places we live until we no longer have them at our disposal. That is one of the things that this trip is teaching me. Appreciate everything that I can while I am there to appreciate it.

An Important Message about Tide Pods – Around the World Day 21

Yesterday was the next large jump on my trip around the world where I flew all the way across the Atlantic Ocean back to home town of Colorado. And even though I am very happy to back in the States, I really did not have many exciting experiences from yesterday considering most of time was spent on a plane watching bad movies, and nobody wants to hear about that experience. If you do, just Google 1990’s comedians and you will get enough examples about bad airplane food. Because of this, I wanted to talk about a very important subject, Tide Pods.

Even though the recent media sensation about the Tide Pod Challenge has died down recently, I thought this might be a good time to bring up what people could do with all of those Tide Pods that they have lying around their house that they don’t know what to do with. I know some people have tried using them as toys and decorations, but they have not earned the joy that the challenge brought them, but I thought they might give this idea a try. They can use them for laundry.

One of the things I have learned through my years of travel is that the best way to enjoy it is to travel light. Find the things that you absolutely need and take only those things. This way you can carry you gear easily and you don’t have to worry about waiting in long lines to pick up your bags when you finally land at you destination. This mean bringing only a couple of pairs of pants, and five or six shirts. The big question is what to do with those pants, and shirts when they start to smell like feet, because they will eventually begin to smell like feet. It is a simple fact of life when you live out of one bag, things start to smell like feet. Some people might think that they could just throw their smelly clothes away and buy new ones as they go. And even though Aldous Huxley’s World State might like this option, there is a better one that I think you will enjoy more. This is where Tide Pods come in handy.

You can find these handy devices all around the world, and they make the perfect traveling companion. You can bring five or six of them with you and keep them in a small baggie, so when you find you need to clean your clothes, you can run off to your local laundry mat and use one of them to bring a freshness to your clothes that does not smell like feet. Some place I have stayed in have even supplied their guests with a small washing machine and a clothesline. Your clothes might not have the fluffiness of just coming out of dryer, but it with have that fresh Springtime smell to them that you can only get by drying your clothes outside. And if you are completely desperate, you can use one of these Tide Pods in a sink of water, and it will dissolve enough where you can give your clothes the scrubbing that they need and find places around the room where you can hang them up to dry. I have found myself in the situation enough during my travels around the world, and I am happy to say that both my clothes and I have survived all of these challenges. And the crazy thing is that people still want to talk to me because I do not smell like feet. Nobody wants to talk to somebody who smells like feet. Try talking to your neighbor’s foot after a day of wearing sweaty socks, and you will understand why.

So even though the Tide Pods have fallen out fashion, do not walk by them when you go to the store on your next adventure because they still hold value. You can use them for this new purpose and everybody will be happier including those EMT whose jobs have become easier because they no longer have to pump random people’s stomachs.

This post was written without the knowledge of the Tide Corporation and clearly represents the views and opinions of the writer of this blog.

One More Cathedral – Around the World Day 20

An example of Renaissance architecture in the Jerinomos Monastery

I had one more day left in Europe before I had to take a huge leap westward and a whole new continent as I circumvented the globe. So what do you do in Europe if you have just one more day left; you find a cathedral you haven’t been to yet, and you tour it? I thought I was finished touring cathedrals and they were all starting to blend together with their gothic architecture and there similar chapels, but that was before I made it to the one at the Jeronimos Monastery. The monastery is found in the Belem section of Lisbon, and before I went there I thought I had been to the touristy parts of town, but I was wrong. This place was the most touristy. It had the place where the Belem Tart was created. It is a simple desert with an egg custard that they sell warm and just melt in your mouth. It also has some of the oldest buildings in Lisbon right along the water front because they survived the 1755 earthquake.

Jeronimos Monastery’s cloister

The monastery was one of these buildings. It is the burial site of some of Portugal’s most famous kings, poets, and explorers. It does have a couple of chapels, but it isn’t as cluttered as some of the other cathedrals I explored in my time in Europe. Part of the reason was because the building supports by Renaissance architecture, which uses less columns than gothic architecture thereby giving the place a more open and airy feeling to it. The designers of the cathedral wanted to maintain this openness, hence the reason they did not add all of the chapels along the side of the church. The monastery also has this same type of architecture which gives the columns more freedom to be expressive with their designs. The whole place had different carvings on its columns and rain-spouts making it a great place to visit. I spent a lot of time looking at the different carvings and seeing what other surprises the building had in store for me.

Monument to the Discoveries

There were many other places in this part of town that I could visit. One of my favorites was the Padrao dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries). It is a huge tower that sits on the edge of the Tagus River. It is designed in the spirit of the old structures of Europe and looks like it could belong to any one of them with it stones and statues of important Portugal figures looking out to sea, but the reality is that this building was inaugurated in the 1960, and it gives you an idea of what these buildings would look like when they were first constructed. There is an elevator that will take you the top of the tower, and gives some of the best views of not only the city, but of the Atlantic Ocean as it stretches out towards the Americas. It is not that big of a patio on the top but there is enough to see up there that I found myself up there for a half an hour.

The Belem Tower

The last site that I thought important to visit was the Belem Tower. It was getting late in the day and there was a long line to get into the building. I had already spent a lot of my day standing in line, and did not feel like do it again, so I just wandered around the building and enjoyed the park that sits on the edge of the structure. The story goes that this was the last place that Vasco da Gama visited before he took off on his journey around the Cape of Good Hope to find a passage to India. It is another structure that survived the earthquake, making it one of the oldest buildings left in the city.

The Wind Rose at the base of the Monument of the Discoveries

The last day had me running around trying to get in those last bits of tourism, and by the time I laid down in my bed, I was ready to sleep because I was going to have a long day ahead of me tomorrow as I continued to travel west. And as I am leaving behind Europe on this leg of the journey, and I am happy that I have been able to come here for another visit, but am also ready to go back to that part of the world that I feel most comfortable with and has the people I love.

Decadence – Around the World Day 19

On the eve of the Fourth of July, I took a day trip to Sintra, Portugal where many of the biggest tourist attractions are right next to each other, the Palace of Pena, and the Moor Castle, and I was brought back to World War I and why that war was fought in the first place. The words overindulgence and decadence kept repeating themselves to me in my head, and what happens when certain people in control quit thinking about their contingencies and start worrying about gathering more stuff for themselves.

This is what I thought while I was touring the Palace of Pena. It is a huge castle that sits high on a hill surrounded by elaborate gardens and reminders of the wealth that I was looking at. It was the home of King Ferdinand during the late 19th century, and he ruled his kingdom as far away from his people as he possible could. There were gates and large grounds that people needed to travel to just to make it to the front door, and it reminded me of certain leaders who have large complexes these days that keep the common folk away. It shows that they are above those people and that they do not wish to mix with that elements. The grounds in front of the building was like walking around Disneyland with elaborately painted walls and intricate sculptures.

Inside the decadence took it even farther. Room after room was filled with collections of fine furniture, expensive china and silverware, and the latest of conveniences such as a tub, and a telephone. It showed these rulers disconnect with the people they were ruling over, and it made me wonder what it would be like to live in a place like this. I too would never want to leave, and would start to believe that I was better than those that lived outside my walls. It was this smug attitude that brought the common man to revolt against the oppressive monarchies during the Great War, and it is a lesson that the smug rulers of today should consider themselves. If they continue with their hedonistic ways, grabbing all the money that they can while the common man suffers at their hands, then a revolt which eventually happen. There needs to be a balance between over-excess and fairness among the people.

This was in stark contrast with the Moorish Castle just down the road from this palace. The fortress was a lot older than the Pena Palace, and it was easily seen that it was built for defensive purposes even though within its walls it still held some elaborate gardens and some comforts of the time it was built. But it was there to hold the community and not exclude others if they were not found worthy enough to belong. It was not about the smugness of the elite who look down upon their fellow man.

The weird thing about the Moorish Castle was it was not toured by as many people, but I found it more interesting than the hedonistic lifestyle at the other place. I could see how the design was created for a purpose of the people instead of the purpose of one. It also reminded me of a time in history that I enjoy as well which added to the feeling, but it was the deeper understanding between the difference between the two places that connected with me more.

It was an important perspective for me to see on the eve of this important date for the United States. It made me see that the inclusive solution might be the better one. It creates a stronghold that lasts longer. It might not be as pretty, but it has a stronger sense of community because it was built by and for the purpose of the collective instead of for just one man. We need to remember this on this day. It should not be about the hedonistic lifestyles of the money-grubbing grabbers who have their pretentious estates that they run off to any time they feel like things are not going well for them. This is what the kings of Europe did before World War I and there is only so much the common man can take before they take matters into their own hands.

In God’s Cathedral – Around the World Day 18

I got to know a little more of Lisbon by exploring a different neighborhood than I did last time, the Bairro Alto. Even though I really enjoyed the Affama neighborhood, I thought that this one had more character and there was a lot more to see here. The most memorable one was the Carmo Convent. I was able to see it from my vantage point at the Sao Jorge Castle because it sticks out like a blemish on a teenagers face when you scan the city. It is the ruins of an old cathedral that sits in the middle of town begging for people to visit.

Basically, back in the day, this cathedral was the center of the Catholic Church in Lisbon, but on November 1st, 1755 a terrible earthquake hit the town, leveling many of the structures there, this one included. It also caught on fire, and all that is left is this husk of what once was a great cathedral. The city of Lisbon has turned the insides into a park, leaving the remains behind for anyone to tour if they find themselves in this corner of the world. All of the people who were buried there still remain, and the rectory has been turned into a museum with a collection of great art from all over the world. Viewing this art work made me contemplate the nature of art and how it holds up over time.

Being in Europe, I have seen a lot of art. It is kind of what you do while you are out here. Some of it has really stuck with me because of its magnificence, and I am always surprised at how it is collected in museums, palaces, and cathedrals. Every time I think I have seen it all, something else pops out to surprise me such as this mosaic of John the Baptists at the Church of Sao Roque. At first I passed it off as just another holy painting, but upon further inspection I realized that it was a bunch of tiny stones put together to create this masterpiece. Where else but Europe would I be able to see something like this.

But as I toured the neighborhood more I found that art did not need to be collected in only these places. It was all around me. I went into the Cervejaria Trindade because it was an old monastery that was turned into a bar, and had the only porter I have found since I have been out in Europe. Of course, I had to try it. But the bar also had a collection of old painted mosaics all over their walls that dated back to when the place was one of worship and reflection. It is a tribute to the people of this great city that they would keep this artwork for people to enjoy centuries later even if it wasn’t in a place where I would expect to find it.

I started to wonder if art was all around me no matter where I went. Of course there is a lot of graffiti on the walls of the city, and some of it is just a waste of spray paint, but there have been a few that I have been impressed with. There are the simple vendors with their collections of painted scenes that they are trying to sell to make a quick dollar. And then there are the people who get creative with their artwork. I would have never thought of knitting a colorful cozy for a children’s bike and then displaying it from my patio for the whole world to see, but if I really looked for it, these were the kind of things I could find on my stroll of this part of the city.

It is what I really love about being out in Europe. Everywhere I look there is someone expressing themselves through their art. Some of it will last through the centuries, and some will pass away with the times, but it is all around me. It is why I am always looking around me to see what other exciting thing I can see. It is all under the same roof that is left behind of the Carmo Convent, and it is the whole collection of this art that makes up the city of Lisbon.