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Travelling

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    Vili Maunula

    I’m off to the Carpathian mountains today, and won’t be back until something like a week or ten days from now. I don’t expect to be too connected to the internet during this time, although I will do my best to keep an eye on the website for spam and other such mean stuff.

    Have fun, and see you in August, when The Bad Sleep Well!

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    cocoskyavitch

    MMm Carpathian mountains!!! Good travels, Vili! This morning we were in Meteora on top of those ridiculous mountains that rise from the plain…visiting the fragrant monasteries, and looking deep down into the valley. What an amazing place! http://www.meteora-greece.com/

    Then, after travel we arrived at the tomb of Philip of Macedon in Vergina: http://www.meteora-greece.com/

    See you in August, Vili!!!!

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    Vili Maunula

    So, I’m back now. I’m happy that you are enjoying Greece, Coco. 🙂

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    cocoskyavitch

    How were the mountains, Vili? I ended my journeys in Istanbul, where I dined with friends, felt sweet breezes, visited favorite gardens under a tender light.

    I have such a rich feeling for Istanbul and it’s layers of history and art! It’s hard to be back at work this morning!

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    Vili Maunula

    The mountains… well, I’m not sure if I really saw any. 🙂 The southern Carpathians (we were in Transylvania) are surprisingly flat.

    It is still a beautiful area, however. And the places reminded me very much of Eastern Finland (where I grew up), which was quite spooky at times.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Oooh Vili, I was in Transylvania the year before last and spent time in a town I liked so much…Brasov. Good hiking there, and the spooky mountains are unbelievably beautiful!!! Have you been? We quickly passed through Sigisoara, and spent more time in Cluj-Napoca, where we had some friends hike us around the key and show us the salt mines and stuff, then back down in Bucharest.

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    Vili Maunula

    We didn’t descend down to Braşov, but stayed a few hundred kilometres north in Miercurea Ciuc, and made day trips from there. Basically, we toured the Székely areas, like good patriotic Hungarian tourists do. I think the mountains down south are actually a little bit more mountain-like than in the areas that we toured.

    It was actually weird how just about everyone we met in the region spoke Hungarian. The hotel where we stayed even proudly displayed in their dining room a Hungarian coat of arms together with a map of pre-WW1 Hungary, which included Transylvania as well as other areas that Hungary lost after the war. Meanwhile, many town centres were cluttered with Romanian flags, as if the powers that be were doing their best to remind people which flag they should actually be waving. Plenty of tension there, then.

    We also stayed a few days in Târgu Mureş, and visited Sighişoara and the salt mine in Praid. The mine was probably my favourite place: those who haven’t been there, you can see pictures here (none of them mine of course, I just googled them). Was that the same mine that you visited, Coco?

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    Ugetsu

    Well, since this is the travelling thread, let me say I’m off for a holiday – to the wilds of New York city for a week. I might get lost in one of those dvd stores there, so if you don’t hear from me for a week, call my credit card company, they might know where I am 🙄

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    cocoskyavitch

    Hey Ugetsu, enjoy NYC~!

    Vili, your tour sounds so great. We went to the salt mines near Cluj, and for the life of me I cannot recall their name. Before hitting up Thessaloniki/Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey my friend and I prepped by reading Balkan Ghosts and Salonika: City of Ghosts (lots of ghosts, eh?) and two books I must recommend quite highly: Patrick Leigh Fermor’s “A Time of Gifts” and “Between the Woods and the Water”.

    Lovely and intelligent accounts of Europe before the war, and the Romanaian/Hungarian thing you’ve pointed out!

    In fact, one of our hosts had Hungarian blood. He said, “Hungarians at least have some sense of customer service”…and, you know, it was funny-the Romanians were the surliest servers. I’m not saying this because I expect to be treated with deference…I just expect to be acknowledged to some degree! As these are my maternal relatives, I feel allright in saying that they could learn something from my paternal relatives, the Turks, about generosity toward strangers, and hospitality.

    Can’t leave it there, though. I found on the menus so many childhood dishes, it was a bit like a homecoming to be in Romania. Likewise, I find in Turkey the other half of my childhood edible world.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Just back from Czech Republic, Munich Germany, Mittenwald (hiking and skiing in the Alps) and Barcelona. Half work, all fun!

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    Ugetsu

    Welcome back Coco, sounds like a great trip!

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    cocoskyavitch

    Thanks Ugetsu,

    In Prague, I went to the Lobkowitz palace..narrated by the family themselves. How strange and thrilling to see the Infant of Prague wearing the same necklace that is depicted in a portrait of the narrator’s relative from the past! Lots of little surprises and things to marvel at…history made flesh.

    Munich’s newest little jewel is the Brandhorst-with rooms specially built to encompass Cy Twombley’s newest work. His “Battle of Lepanto” cycle is that old chestnut of West conquering the East told via a sea battle in pictures from Tiepelo onward-Twombley’s take was abstract, with boats clearly burning, and silhouettes of war-all with Twombley’s handriting, scrawl, ab-ex marks. I love the guy, personally, and the space was ideal. The Jeff Koons in the basement, and the pretty sweet Damien Hirst all received natural light via a clever set of mirrors and channels of light. The special exhibit on Picasso’s Books was a pretty sweet segue for me to Barcelona! In Munich the East-West tensions are particularly interesting with the Turkish Guest Worker issue, so seeing his Lepanto series was rewarding.

    In Barcelona I especially enjoyed seeing MNAC-that hulk on top of Montjuic visible from Plaza d’Espanya. They have the Thyssen collection. I seriously could only do one gallery at a time, then sit and catch my breath. You have no idea!!!! Startling works from Gothic through Baroque…all lit so beautifully-and stuff that hasn’t been shown five bazillion times in books, calendars, etc., so fresh so shocking! The space retains the outlines and details of the old building but cubed and white and soaring interiors. What a treat!

    Picasso museum…well, the porno linocuts weren’t on display, so that was disappointing. I love Picasso! His Shiva-like destroyer/creator nature thrills me! But, they pg’d the museum. Disappointing. The CCCB had the great Richard Meier space-much better than the collection and special exhibit!

    Just a few highlights of my time. I did a photo documentary of Fasching in Mittenwald, and a piece called “5 Things I Learned in Barcelona”, the former more rewarding than the latter.

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    cocoskyavitch

    OOps, Cy Twombly.

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    Vili Maunula

    Great to have you back, Coco! Sounds like a brilliant trip that you had. Any chance of us seeing your photo documentaries?

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    cocoskyavitch

    Wow, do you know, Vili that I took a hardhat tour of the hospital Santa Creu y Sant Pau in Barcelona (Domenech i Montaner’s masterwork..completely under restoration-revisioned and no longer a hospital) and the woman leading the tour was born on site, so I took her photo to document, soince THAT is never gonna happen again. Now, two weeks later she has written me asking if I can send, but I haven’t even had time to review my photos!

    RRrrr work! I haven’t any free compact flash drives and go to Boston for a conference next week. No time!

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    Vili Maunula

    That’s sweet! The story behind the picture, I mean, not the lack of time.

    Speaking of Spain, we are planning a June trip to Madrid. I’m quite looking forward to it, especially if I can then finally make my El Greco pilgrimage to Toledo.

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    cocoskyavitch

    HAHAHA speaking of El Greco, I had a cooking class in Barcelona, and our chef was straight out of an El Greco-this long, narrow face, and dark hair, sombre, sensitive face, slender nostrils, and when he looked toward heaven (thinking about the right English response to a question) with his large, moist eyes upturned, he looked just like an El Greco Christ! His elongated fingers gesturing toward the spices…just remarkable!

    Toledo is so beautiful. I hope you get a stormy view of the city like in El Greco’s Laocoon. The home of El Greco is pretty sweet. Well, you will see.

    Most summers when I am in Crete I march the students to the square with the bust of El Greco (Domenico Theotokopoulis). One year I bought a hat to put on his head to keep the piegon poop off. The students documented that effort…later in the day the hat was gone. A gift to someone who needed it. (It’s kind of a bum park). Performance art in the pedestrian sector! Ha!

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    Vili Maunula

    Funny, I’ve never actually been to the square in Crete (in Fodele, isn’t it?). We used to have a flat pretty close to Heraklion (in Hersonissos), so it’s not even like I stayed too far away to visit. I guess it’s a case of the “when you become a resident, you stop visiting the sights” syndrome.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Ohmigosh, just read your post, Vili. No, the little square isn’t a “site”-that would be the Venetian Fountain with the overpriced breakfast joints and the cheap as dirt souvlaki places on the fringe. No, the little park is a bum and mangy dog park. Which, I love!

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    Vili Maunula

    Now I really want to go there!

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    cocoskyavitch

    Whoah, scratch all about Crete…quite posh little cafes now, and the El Greco Park is now bum-free! Despite the careening stock market and Greece’s regrettable position at the bottom of the EU, Crete maintains a robust and hedonistic scene.

    Istanbul is booming. Lots of building and the Roxelana Hammam at Hagia Sophia is just now refurbished and surrounded by nice cafes. The Mevlana cafe in the shade near my hotel was a fave spot…

    Istanbul was beautiful…ravishingly beautiful. The youthful energy of 15 million pulsated the first night of Ramazan (as they spell it). We ate with the rest on a rooftop overlooking Justinian’s church, Sultanahmet, and the Bosporus.

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    Ugetsu

    I’m off for most of the month of January – on New Years Day I’m flying to Shanghai, then going to Thailand and returning to Shanghai via western China. Its a bit of a last minute mix of a trip, mainly because I’m trying to meet up with friends in China and Thailand while doing some hiking and mountain biking and (maybe) lying on a beach somewhere.

    I won’t have a pc – I’ll bring my iPad, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with discussions. I was a bit tied up the last couple of months so I couldn’t really get my head around saying anything intelligent about Throne of Blood and Macbeth, but I just watched The Lower Depths last night, so I hope we have a good discussion of it, I’ll join in when I can.

    Happy New Year everyone!

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    Vili Maunula

    Have a great trip, Ugetsu! Sounds really interesting. Post some pictures, if you have the chance! 🙂

    I too have been quite busy lately, but finally I’m at least back home and slowly catching up with stuff that needs doing. Hopefully, I’ll have more time for The Lower Depths than I did for the Macbeths.

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    lawless

    Enjoy your trip, Ugetsu! I’m glad you’ll be able to stay in touch somewhat via iPad — I second Vili‘s request for pics if you can. (You know what they say: pics or it didn’t happen.)

    I need to look for my copy of The Lower Depths. It’s my favorite Kurosawa film that doesn’t seem to be a favorite with most other people. I’m almost as fond of it as Cocoskyavitch is.

    And Happy New Year, all!

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    lawless

    Found my copy of Kurosawa and Renoir’s The Lower Depths; also my copy of Rhapsody in August, which I’ve had for years but have yet to watch. 🙄

    Just realized, though, that I didn’t come across my copy of Throne of Blood. 🙁

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    Ugetsu

    Thanks Lawless, I’ll try to take some pics 🙂

    Actually, I only recently watched The Lower Depths, its the one highly regarded Kurosawa film I found hard to get a hold of. I bought the Kurosawa/Renoir double about 2 years ago, lent it to a friend before I got to watch it, and only just got it back!

    I really love the film – its wonderfully engaging and has amazing performances. I do find it a bit puzzling though as it is in many ways I think atypical Kurosawa. Its more like a formal experiment (a very successful one, IMO), rather than a true Kurosawa film.

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