We only spent about 5 months in Geneva but I learned a great deal about their form of democracy; truly inspirational.
Coindesk explains away how Swiss lawmakers propose treating bitcoin as foreign currency.
We only spent about 5 months in Geneva but I learned a great deal about their form of democracy; truly inspirational.
Coindesk explains away how Swiss lawmakers propose treating bitcoin as foreign currency.
When JP Morgan is worried, you know Bitcoin's entered mainstream and become a force to be reckoned with, Ron Paul calls it the anti-dollar and many assume it's the one weapon out there to fight the fed.
We've appreciated Bitcoin for some time, not only as a currency but a payment system and most importantly, as a protocol. It is the future; few doubt that fact now. If not Bitcoin, another cryptocurrency but Bitcoin has the momentum, the infrastructure, the world has decided to invest heavily into the concept, it's reality.
One by one the major financial players and pundits change their mind after studying it; and it must be studied, it's not easy to understand. But if I can, anyone can.
Email, eons ago, was technically challenging, file sharing was thought fringe, and look what's happened with those supposedly 'disruptive' technologies. Bitcoin is both deceptively simple and yet profoundly philosophical. And it represents true liberty; this concept actually means something to a great many people. Everywhere.
God bless those Chinese farmers and housewives that insist on saving their precious yuan. Along with the Russians and all the rest; the world has awoken to Bitcoin. The US and JPMorgan will do everything in their power to take it down, all I have to say is:
Reminded me of when I had a little Fiat Spider, threw the top down, and went shopping for a Christmas tree in Seattle; just fun. Was that 20 yrs ago, my how time does fly.
It's pure indulgence as we're heading back to Italy for the holidays but the noodle angels I made last year insisted on coming out to sing, if only for a coupla days.
I do wonder why Tuscany gets most of the attention. The Piemonte region boasts better weather, lyrical hills and it's the home of nebbiolo. I just got blissed out driving throughout the region looking for our next address, our final home.
This time of year the views are crystal clear, with Alps everywhere; and you can see Monte Viso, near Mont Blanc, the inspiration for the Paramount logo.
It's simply surreal. Why we left Italy remains a mystery but then we're nomadic with some of our moves proving more practical than romantic. However, finally, it's time to settle down and Italy was always the endgame. Benissima...
people will ask, "Does your dog like to fly?" I reply, "He doesn't even know he's on a plane."
Prior to take off he's fast asleep at my feet. In his little home away from home, which he loves.
He used to share it with our beloved little Colette, who said good-bye last Easter, yet I don't think he misses her all that much, as long as he's with me.
So we go everywhere together and life's just fine...
Vienna always comes as advertized. It provides such a contrast to all the heaviness, especially as we all shift apprehensively towards the winter months.
The weather was spectacular; those sunny days seem more special than ever. Along with scheduled items on our agenda I took the time to visit familiar sights in Salzburg; where the nuns allegedly hid the von Trapps, where Julie Andrews sang away, past Hotel Sacher, lingered at Cafe Tomaselli and meandered throughout that cemetery in this uniquely quaint town.
Spent the majority of time in Vienna, why not, she's divine; not unlike Rome as she too manages to make time stand still. It's simply that lovely and easy to be there.
It's practically effortless to channel Orson Welles appearing out of the shadows on Schreyvogelgasse, the famous street, located a block away from Cafe Landtmann, where Sigmund Freud famously hung out.
It's kinda like living in the movie, The Third Man, Der Dritte Mann, except the war was long ago, now; life is fine. It's all ambiance, full time, so please enjoy a cycle, a tour, and imbibe her aesthetic climes.
If I'm gunna turn 50, I might as well be in Vienna. My favorite city, quite like Paris, only better and without the French.
Dinner parties (who me?) old friends, meeting with a publisher or two, conferences, a bit of research in the countryside; cannot wait, should be a most interesting week and then some...
If you're feeling flush and want to discover that old world charm, stay at the Steigenberger Hotel in Frankfurt. It's not Hotel Adlon in Berlin, but then nothing is; yet unlike the Claridges in London or the Crillon in Paris; everything works, because it's in Germany.
We stayed during the Frankfurt Book Fair, the biggest book fest on the planet; well oiled and all about business. It was a fantastic, intense and productive week.
Foto taken in '08 aboard Madi, sailing to Sicily, sailing away from Malta for the final time.
Time does fly; another birthday on the horizon, followed by another winter, if we're lucky.
Can't believe we've lived in all these places, not unlike the flying Dutchman, looking for salvation, or perhaps just perspective through travel.
Happy to note Vienna's on the travel itinerary this month. Who knows, could be our next address; Vienna's a favorite place, boasting all the style and distractions of Paris; without the French, as they say.
However, before I can lock into my obsession with Klimt and Schiele in Vienna, this week I'm off to the Frankfurt Book Fair to peddle my essays. Very, very jazzed about the opportunity to network at the world's most important Book Fair yet suddenly I'm distracted by my past.
Little surprise as memory is my theme; giving it wings by chronicling and taking notes on a nomadic lifestyle. Soon I'll know how sell-able those notes might be.
Until then, I'm channeling how much fun and how emotional my first trip to Germany felt; so exotic and otherly, so cool. The year, circa '96, mise en scene: Frankfurt's main airport, terminal 1. I'm reading an article in The International Herald Tribune about Sun Yaoting, China's last eunuch, dead at 94. Sad story, so oriental and ancient, the Forbidden City; even more atmospheric juxtaposed with the internal environs of the airport.
I finish the article and walk to the departure board, looking down I notice this black rubber, lego like floor below my feet, everything's so modern, futuristic. I look up and check on my flight, mesmerized by that split flap display, an alphanumeric text flipping frantically yet oh so efficiently. The departure times for my flight move up; alerting me to precisely when I can fly away to Bavaria.
Now, 17 yrs later, thinking back, little did I know I'd fly back to Seattle, soon meet and then marry a man who would take me back to Bavaria to spend Christmas with his family in Bad Reichenhall.
Is there any such thing as coincidence? I don't think so; how could I be so happy in such a banal place as an airport, in Frankfurt no less, and yet I was, as if giddy about the future, way back then...
As we trundle along, living in various European capitals, me and my feet perform our own informal investigation. I interview people and try to attach a personality and sense of time to each capital; Rome represented the twins, Romulus and Remus, mythic and grand. Venice, the glamorous aunt; provocative, with a myriad of masks, Paris, the prettier sister, mischievous and slightly mad, etc, you get the picture, at least I hope you do...
Each city inspires a family member, a unique sense of time, Rome felt luxurious and stagnant, as if time stood still and the outside world no longer existed.
Paris, for three years at least; remained fluid, fleeting, what with all her gorgeous distractions. Malta felt far away and ancient; I was marking time until I could leave the middle of the Med, distinctly patriarchal, it's qualities easy to highlight and organize in my mind.
This is what I do in order to write about it, personalize it and make our current home come alive in the mind and feel tangible.
It's been a challenge after residing in Bucharest for 7 months, I've yet to form a personality. I've even asked the locals to help out but most respond by looking somewhat perplexed; fair enough, the idea doesn't always click and apply to their cultural quirks and realities.
But they're engaging, their attitude summed up by a local business owner, young, entrepreneurial, philosophical, "Our parents are still brainwashed by communism. You know how you have a superiority complex? We have an inferiority complex, fearful, we're emotional, like children. Sure we'll go through more economic troubles but we're becoming more civic, you can see it on the protests on the street, I think this generation will grow up and provide you with a personality."
It takes several calls and emails to get items sorted out; process is not their closest ally and authority has let them down in the past, they remember not having any food on the shelves; those scars do not just fade away.
I think part of their issue stems from their hearts living and breathing best in the country, in their mountains; the city is too harsh, the hustlers too cruel. I suppose many, in any city, would agree, what's the fun in growing up.
Looking in the rear view mirror, at my own country; getting old is frowned upon, then downright awful.
Who knows. But next month I'll know a little more after peddling my collection of essays at the Frankfurt Book Fair...
Greg Proops is a very funny comedian, an improv artist and like most; he's an acquired taste and I've acquired quite a taste for his podcasts. I've now seen him live in Paris and more recently, at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, where his performance felt far more relaxed. But then aren't we all? Edinburgh, in August, at the Fringe is one long gag.
And I lived in Paris, full time, banked there, moved our 200 boxes of stuff into a flat in the 5th on the top floor overlooking Notre Dame and the Pantheon and the Eiffel Tower, it was that gorgeous, until a well known French soft porn actress from the 70's moved back into her flat below, often drugged up, drunk almost constantly. I had many a Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's moment; house guests would walk around to the back of our horse shoe shaped flat, catching her in action in her bedroom across from my own, below, curtains opened wide, always, "Bailey, have you seen this..." Yes, I had, though exhibitionism's not my scene.
Finally, I found Antony And The Johnsons. Or rather he was given; and what a gift. Soothing, stunning vibrato, cabaret camp transgender environmentalism mixed in with Gore Vidal's sun gods. Goodness. It's gorgeous stuff. I too am a bird now.
"There can’t be many winners of the Mercury Music Prize who could play London’s Royal Opera House and finish the show with the entire audience on their feet shouting “Bravo!” as if the curtains had just come down on La Bohème. But this was hardly your average gig. Besides, the Opera House’s grandness certainly provides the perfect backdrop for Hegarty’s otherworldly tales of sorrow."
Living in all these capitals has encouraged me to discount known cultural realities, bits of mythical truthiness. Living in Italy, it was effortless and made sense to bank, in their language: after all, they invented it.
France, not at all, as if they were allergic to process. They do have process, it's just so complicated. Malta, little problem, Amsterdam, historically a country of merchants, all made perfect sense. Prague, great.
Here in Bucharest, banking is easy, items like the internet, a bit tricky even though they boast some of the best internet on the planet. But if you have to pick up a package from the States, not so easy. Each and every year, wherever I happen to live, new contact lenses must be ordered from afar; I'm legally blind in one eye and if there's a problem with the shape of one's eyes; I have it.
Back from excellent month of travel, seeing old, dear friends, met wonderful new ones. Mio marito continues on, happily, now in Tokyo; therefore both of us, content. Together and separate; daily video-calls do help immensely and close the distance.
He's most effective while nomadic, me, generally best when stationary. Living in my little bubble, here in Bucharest, albeit temporarily; writing, quiet, feeling focused.
Here's a permanent piece of Sculpture from Chatsworth; Sleeping Endymion. Lover of 'Selene', the moon; might as well be me. Life's nice, with my little Godot.
My latest odyssey from Bucharest to Scotland dictated many modes of transportation. One of the highlights, one of the kindest slices of travel life came aboard a ferry taken from Portsmouth to Cherbourg. I found myself sitting next to a dozen Dominican sisters and struck up a conversation with one of them; I think she may have helped heal an old wound, one sewn up long ago, even if a tiny scar remained on the surface.
After a long stretch of candid conversation about Pope Francis, her pilgrimage to Lourdes, why and when she entered the order. I asked what she thought about the 'born again' brand of Christianity in America. I was curious and shared my experience with someone close that had experienced a conversion late in his life.
She thought about it for a while then said, "I always found their conversion emotional rather than internal, almost childlike".
I shared a story regarding my mother's faith, one that remained deeply private until the end. In fact, just hours before she would pass away I can still recall vividly the minister walking into her hospital room, asking if they might have a prayer. The end was near. My mother looked at me, never one to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but she was in deep pain, and she wouldn't press that morphine button. She wanted to experience it all until the end, on her own terms.
Strangely fun helping mio marito get dressed for black tie dinner on Friday. Then helped him w/informal kilt for Ceilidh dance the following night. Helping him with Sporran and skirt. Short term, sure; I'm fine with it. He may be Italian but he deeply appreciates Scotland and their ways...supposedly those skirts are quite comfortable. Or so he says.
From Bucharest to Scotland, all so I took take my little Godot along for the ride. The UK does not allow dogs to simply fly in, hence we go by water and ferry it in from France.
After planes, trains, automobiles and ferries, after driving a couple thousand miles from the white cliffs of Dover down south up to the Scottish highlands.
Before I'd had to repeat the entire exercise in reverse and come back home to Bucharest; life was fine.
The man responsible for the above quote is from Scotland, author of "Treasure Island" and "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
...and what a valid quote it is.
It's fine enough to travel in the mind but once you let your feet get the best of you, prepare for sensory overload. I've been guilty of such sensations even as they have eased, finally, after a long, luxurious decade of travel. After moving our 'stuff', our 200 boxes of books, bed and belongings, to whichever capital felt right at the time.
Mio marito has such a strong sense of history, such high regard for it, he provides a starter course, then I let my feet do the walking, roaming by foot, bicycle or tram, badgering the locals as oft as possible until they present an oral history lesson large enough for me to understand at the very least; a small slice of their lives. If only so I don't feel as foreign as I felt when we first arrived. My curiosity is put back on simmer and my emotional life is kind once again.
Yet now, when I travel back to familiar places, like Scotland, due to language and old friends, life doesn't feel all that foreign at all. Having been traveling across the pond for 25 yrs, having been living on this side for almost half that time, I'm grateful to say I project less...
...this might be precisely why Robert Louis Stevenson's quote resonates so profoundly with me, especially now.
Enjoyed the Peter Doig exhibit at the Scottish National Gallery; everyone is raving about it. Obviously, Gauguin is a major influence. Doig's work feels interesting in a dark way: minor colors used to major effect.
However he's a bit too cool for me, whenever I'm surrounded by the 'it' factor is seems to go over my head as if I'm incapable of understanding what all the fuss is about; neither a trendy or lovey am I. After all this time.
However, I'm far more enamored, much more distracted by it's title; taken from Robert Louis Stevensen:
"There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign"
How true, how very true. Perhaps this is why I always appreciated mio marito's perspective along our nomadic journey, our gypsy like lifestyle. He being a product of two cultures, growing up all over Europe, education in the UK; then, since he began his career in IT, working all over the globe.
He's been a positive influence on me, along our moves, inspiring me to project less and absorb more; which is kinda key and lends well to enjoying the process rather than resisting it. The good bits as well as the less than good bits...
The drive from the Lake District to Edinburgh was short and relaxing; an unexpected joy.
It's such fun to play tourist and voyeur; I've now driven through much of Europe and often the countryside provides a vital and particular lens through which to view their cultural realities.
Scotland really stands out, it's absolutely fantastic, tough and yet soft, like velvet those mountains. Wonderful to be back...
The drive from Kent up to the Lake District took about 6 hours, it was lovely and yes, the Lake District is most assuredly one of the loveliest places in England.
But then you drive into Scotland and there's something so sweet and uniquely gorgeous about this place. Fantastic way to arrive; highly recommend.
Many, many moments of felicity on this pilgrimage, or so it feels; from Bucharest to Scotland.
Prior to Scotland, to meeting up with mio marito I'd planned two stops in the UK, to visit places I'd never been; Canterbury in Kent and the Lake District.
Canterbury came as advertised and felt emotional because Chaucer had truly turned me on. In fact, I still had my school book from Seattle university, full of enthusiastic notes accompanying the text, back when I was 'that' enthusiastic. Being taught by the Jesuits proved invaluable, whatever their style, it was precisely what I needed at that time of my life.
Prior to University I'd gotten a bit lost on my own personal journey, high school had been a bit of a drag, a diversion of sorts, but once again I was back on track.
Now, decades later, it's as if I'm once again standing in front of the class reciting the first 20 lines in Middle English. Dr. Spiers insisted each student memorize the foreign vernacular, we had to learn the Prologue of Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", and from there on I was engaged and turned on by Chaucer's ironic take, applying it to my own life. Everything felt right again, I was back on track.
How time does fly and why did it take me that long, well, life takes as long as it does, doesn't it. As my mother said, long ago, after high school, at that time when I was feeling a little lost, "sometimes the shortest way home is the longest way around"...she wasn't much for cliche's but she knew it fit within that slice of my life.
Yes, it feels quietly emotional and kind; this trip gets better with each day. Full of many, many moments of felicity.
So far we'd taken a plane and a train, now it was time find a car and drive onto a ferry via an approved route; this was the only way to get Godot from Bucharest to Scotland.
The train to Brittany, or rather Bretagne, as they say in France took about 5 hours, stayed overnight at a friend's place, they lent me their car and we drove from Brittany to Calais; hitting the ferry with little fuss as the Brits are now much cooler about pets entering under DEFRA's Pet Travel Scheme.
Godot's passport was in order, they read his chip and suddenly, just like that; the white cliffs of Dover.
So far, fantastic trip.
Back to the land of high culture, awful coffee and that much missed euro.
Took the train from Paris to Bretagne; lovely young boys with floppy hair and girls with sun kissed faces and hair.
I'd forgotten how soft it can be and feel, especially outside Paris, in particular in August. Protocol is thrown out, everyone and everything feels particularly relaxed; life's quite nice.
Weaving through Romania's ancient legends, kept very much alive, wrapping our way along such unspoiled environs, dipping through the valleys, cliffs and gorges you feel like you're driving back in time. Old women selling their own apples, young women selling blackberries, nothing's changed, including the flora and foliage.
It's how travel was done long ago, on these roads, people stopping at pensions still standing today. Cruising though we pass an awful lot of orthodox religious paraphernalia, icons everywhere, Jesus Christ almost always visible, new churches being built alongside the old. Does give comfort, in a certain way, as life does, in fact, remain the same.
Before traveling up North to France and the UK, we made our final Transylvanian road trip to Sarmizegetusa REgia, the ancient political and religious capital of Dacia. The Romans decimated the sacred space; when they conquered the Dacians, they also demolished their capital, therefore their Gods. So little is known. But then the victors write the history, don't they?
Still regarded as sacred place, although we couldn't feel much, nor any Ley lines. GPS and satellite went blank perhaps some remnants of energy remain. Hard to know. Some call it Europe's Machu Picchu, mysteriously built on a plateau.
So much history and even more mystery due to what a fine job those Romans and their Emperor Trajan did to those Dacians. Spectacular scenery surrounds the grounds and well worth the effort, if only to drive through the mystical environs of Transylvania.
According to various legends the Flying Dutchman is either a man or boat, forever doomed to roam the sea and never make port. That's how I feel, drifting, like the flying Dutchman. Must be the summer months; life gets messy this far east with so much humidity and non-stop sun. Reminds me of Malta. Too much to do and almost impossible to muster necessary fortitude and focus.
Romania is a particular messy place, especially in July and August; the people are always helpful, very helpful, even if they appear allergic to process. Trying to organize my dog's passport for entry into the UK, something I know well and which should take little time takes longer to accomplish, or so it seems.
I'm only now beginning to understand how far east we've moved; we're still in Europe but it's really and truly Eastern Europe. It takes me a while, I'm slow, but I eventually; I get it. I prefer the western european bits, but if this is to be home for a short spell; so be it.
Driving to Bulgaria really made me 'feel' the difference; that little 4 hour stretch. Funny that. Perhaps its the Latin Romaniacs and their love for Americans, allowing Bucharest to feel less so, then Bulgaria, back to the Slavs, suddenly; more so....
Russians everywhere, all quite nice, one couple asked me to share their watermelon near the pool at the funky little hotel. I've got a lot of time for Russians, especially when they're on holiday and share their watermelon; very fun and very cool.
Checked out the major cathedral in Varna. Got a laugh when talking to the priests who stood at the entrance, making sure we all donated to the cause. After talking to them for a while, asking about the magnificant orthodox church, I said, "so you're more Catholic than the Catholics"
They liked this and laughed, hitting one another on the stomach, repeating it...thankfully Catholic sounds the same in most languages, even Bulgarian; I was assured at which bit they were laughing at, at least I think...
Turkish history overlaps Bulgarian, topped off by Mother Russia everywhere, plenty of oral history to be heard; I asked, then listened.
4 day stay at villa was great, felt more Bohemian than Bohemia and satisfied my fetish for flowers; they were everywhere...
At least it provided a reprieve from the city. In summertime, Bucharest feels heavy and claustrophobic. The heat is humid and you can't live on a lake so the locals head off to the mountains or seaside.
But I'm not a local and I'd already ventured through Transylvania w/mio marito; who was literally, traveling around the globe, on a biz trip; hence I took the time to leave the country and took Godot to Bulgaria.
Recently, we'd lost our precious Colette, Godot's sister, and twin in travel. Emotions move at their own pace, don't they; and when they do....
While packing I experienced that moment, or rather those moments, the type that tug at one's emotional muscles sharply, so sharply; time seems to stop and a soft grenade goes off in one's head, everything around remains exactly the same, yet a memory bomb goes off inside the mind and the pain is overwhelming. You're reminded of that loss suddenly, and completely.
I was packing, minding my own business, not bothering a soul, almost on auto-pilot, my eyes land on their passports and that moment arrives.
I catch my breath and sit on the edge of the bed, opening up her well worn book of travel, opening it to the first page, I see her picture, saying out loud, "Oh Colette..." It would have been her 27th country. A tedious detail yet everything impressed me, heavily, when I held her passport.
After a while I thought, "For heaven's sake, who am I kidding! She'll be along for the ride, nestled deep inside our hearts..."
I packed all our passports and took a taxi to the airport and picked up a rental car. Not an easy task; rental cars allowed for cross border travel are not easy to find. They charge extra for the privilege due to theft and behavior known well in this country, this post communist state of mind.
Or somesuch. I just wanted to get out of it, to drive away from the humidity and head to the Black Sea in Bulgaria.
And once I did, it was like entering a sea of sunflowers.
Feels right to read this on July 4th, to take a simple stroll into our distant past. The story's based in a boarding house, full of well drawn characters circa 40 something, somewhere in the mid-west.
Gore Vidal could only assume Dawn's wit evolved from having to entertain so many people in so many strange places. How else could he explain it away?
Dawn was certainly familiar with the environs, having run away from home at 12, traveling from Ohio to New York, living in various boarding houses along the way before arriving in the 'glamorous east', becoming doyenne of Greenwich Village in the 50's.
She wrote about New York like no other; she owned it.
Dawn Powell's style still stuns the mind, lucid, cutting and then compassionate. Something many of us miss in our modern world. Sure, they were as much on the take back then, that's what she wrote about, that's what she knew.
The atmospheric title has been lifted by many, take from a poem written in 1814 by Lord Byron:
She Walks in Beauty.