Thursday, April 23, 2009

"carmen" by sara baras

i'm a very lucky girl. my first full day in madrid, i got invited to watch a sara baras performance of carmen.

it featured modern flamenco dance, and the first sequence alone had me gripped--men and women in black tapping their feet with red shoes on, dancing with flair.

each act featured raw, emotional dancing--every stretch of the arm, the contraction of every muscle conveyed pain and despair. i couldn't help but get carried away, especially when it was sara or the matador on stage. i was also impressed with the precision and control of the tapping. even more enthralling was the play with cloth, the manton. the shawl was swinging in waves, seducing the audience, even snapping me out of my jetlag. the skirts are hitched up, teasing you, then all of a sudden, they explode into a beautiful canopy.

the men dance just as enchantingly, seducing carmen (and eventually succeeding). carmen, in turn, responds with passion, baiting her men with fancy tapping and drawing them in with her heartfelt movements.

such a shame that i couldn't snap a photo--the entire performance was just beautiful. it lasted almost 2 hours, but i still wanted more. my trip to spain couldn't have been better. :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

the flight to europe

europe welcomed me with open arms by shocking my senses. after a grueling 14-hour flight from manila to amsterdam, i landed, thankfully in one piece, at amsterdam schiphol airport, where the sun was shining brightly at 7 in the evening.

now i know why people who've been to europe appreciate it so, especially those who come from the philippines. the long-haul trip is no joke, and even i, someone who actually enjoys plane rides, felt like breaking down 10 hours into the trip.

it's not that the flight was uncomfortable. in fact, KLM provided everything for a comfy and entertaining flight: games, movies, tv shows (the big bang theory!), pillows, blankets, and food every few hours. i never went hungry, and the food was really good. the bathroom on board was clean, and they even had ginger and basil hand soap.

the torture was in having to sit in one place for 14 straight hours. after a while, the beauty of having so many movies and tv shows and games in the palm of my hand lost its novelty, and i found myself checking the flight tracking screen every minute.

but hey, i passed the first test, and i'm expecting europe to treat me nice. landing in madrid, i was greeted by weather that contrasted that of scorching manila. so far, i've only seen snippets of the city that would be my home for 30 days, but i'll take in a little of it every day. :)

now for some breakfast.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

the art of travel by john gregory

though quite dated, how to see the world: art of travel: european and world backpacking on $25 a day or less is pretty helpful upon first skim.

if you'd like to get a tip or two, the entire text is available here.

thanks to rolf potts for pointing me in that direction.

now i wonder if i have time to read this before my flight.

Monday, April 13, 2009

neurosis starts... NOW

so i'm just a few days away from the great spain trip, and the list of things to worry about is starting to pile up, even when i've prepared for this well in advance.

last night, i decided to reposition and repack my whole suitcase, even though everything looked fine in it already. and you know why they say, "if it's not broke, don't fix it?" because when you try to fix something that ain't broken, you're going to go and make a once-roomy maleta all cramped and crowded with the very same things you packed the first time.

you know that packing rule that says something like, "lay out all the things you want to bring on your trip. then take half the clothes and twice the money?" well, i've never really believed in that. for one, i can't just multiply my money like that, and two, even when i overpack, i don't take up that much space in any of my suitcases. i don't know how i do it, but i was born with the power to squeeze things in a tiny space without going over the baggage allowance.

but i thought i was going to have to concede to that rule this time. i thought about it the whole day. i kept wondering if i brought too much stuff. well, i know i did, i mean, i had to bring different types of clothes, because i'll be there when spring turns to summer. just the same, though, i rechecked the contents of my suitcase again tonight and weeded out four items. it took me such a long time to finally decide that i won't die if i leave them behind.

of course, nothing is set in stone until i check my suitcase in at the airport. who knows what kind of neurotic issues i'll come up with during the four days i have left? stay tuned, and be entertained.

image taken from ottawa at home.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

getting ready for the spain trip

just a few updates on the spain trip, lest you think i've gone AWOL on you. :p

i'm now all packed and ready to go. i actually had a little panic attack, because my weird memory told me that KLM allows carry-on luggage with a length of 17 inches, whereas my carry-on is 19 inches long. don't know where i got that information though, because upon checking a few minutes ago, KLM flights have the following carry-on baggage restrictions:

Each passenger is allowed to carry on one bag and one personal item such as a purse or briefcase. Assistive devices and outer garments do not count as personal items. All carry-on luggage must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you and adhere to the following requirements:

  • Maximum Dimensions of Carry-on Luggage: 22in x 14in x 10in/55cm x 35cm x 25cm (length x width x height)
  • Maximum Weight of Carry-on Luggage: 22 lb/10 kg
(taken from seatguru by tripadvisor)

thank goodness that was cleared up. i had been going out of my mind trying to figure out how to fit the items in my carry-on into a smaller bag. actually, everything in the carry-on can still fit in my suitcase, but i want the laptop and a few clothes to be on my person should i encounter some mishap with baggage claim at madrid barajas.

upon weighing my bags, the carry-on comes to 5 kg, while the big elle suitcase weighs 15 kg, just 5 kg short of the limit. that means i can buy 5 more kilos of stuff. (as if i had the money!)

i'm pretty proud of my packing skills--they really came in handy this time. the suitcase has a lot of space left, and i actually thought i brought a little too much stuff. i used the sanitary napkin packs to pad the sides of the suitcase to protect some of the electronics. :D

this is also my first time to pack large amounts of toiletries. since i'll be there for a month, a month's worth of shampoo sachets will take up more space than a bottle of shampoo that will also last me a month. i was told that spain has dry weather, so i packed my lotion and facial moisturizers as well. still can't imagine what "dry" weather is, though. i've always lived in humid philippines.

i've photocopied my passport (details page and visa page), as well as my travel insurance, just in case i lose them. i'm also thinking of scanning them and saving a softcopy in my email. still thinking about that, because, you know, email is not completely secure.

i've tried my best to read up on the various spanish regions that i could visit, but the first item i read up on, which was the tren de la fresa (the strawberry train) to aranjuez, has me all daydreamy already, that i can't move on to other places. can you really blame me for being excited, when the train ticket includes
a guided visit to Aranjuez's beautiful gardens and palace, and all passengers receive a plate of Aranjuez's famous delicious strawberries en route.
trains, strawberries, gardens, and palaces! hoowee! maybe i should get this trip out of the way, so as not to distract me from the bullfighting and the flamenco that i also want to see. not to mention the tapas that are waiting to be eaten.

my friend kate was kind enough to buy me a spain guidebook, so i can get some reading done on the plane. the trip is from manila to amsterdam for 14 long hours, then another 2-hour flight from amsterdam to madrid. i think i'm gonna feel like a limp vegetable when susie comes to greet me at barajas.

good thing i arrive in spain a little before midnight. i can go straight to sleep instead of trying to fight jetlag. :p

will write more updates on the spain trip when i get there. seven more days!

cartoon taken from here.