I have a lot of catching up to do. I know I keep promising posts, but I haven't had the urge to sit inside, much less in front of a computer. The last few weeks have been some of the best of my entire life, and definitely the best of recent memory.
After I left China, I flew to London and had a couple of days there. I have been to London a million times so I didn't have to try to run around sightseeing. I kind of just walked. I went to the Tate. I went to the flat in Battersea I used to stay in, and the pub (The Settle Inn) down the street. I took someone to Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Big Ben etc.. And we had Fish & Chips every single day. And then we went to Stonehenge. It was exciting to be at both The Great Wall and Stonehenge in the same week, but Stonehenge was kinda weird. It's much, much smaller than you imagine. It'd right off of a road, actually in a fork. I also thought you could walk inside of it, but apparently you have to book in advance for that. I am happy I went, but not quite as exhilarating as The Great Wall. However, we spent a few hours in the nearest town of Salisbury, which is a great little town. It boasts England's tallest spire and the church was nice. Smashing little town.
After London, we flew to Barcelona and I was taken to my hostel that I booked on the internet. It was probably 7'x5' with a very uncomfortable bunk bed and no fucking windows or AC. We slept there one miserable night and vowed to find a better place for our next four nights. The problem was that Barcelona's largest festival (St. Joan's) happened that weekend. After hearing "no vacancy" 15 times we were beginning to lose faith. But all that changed when a gentlemen asked me if I wanted "an indoor room or an outdoor room". I didn't understand the question and just asked for whatever was nicer. He gave me the key to the outdoor room and said if I didn't like it I could switch. We made our way up to the top floor and saw signs for "La Torreta" (The Terrace). Opening the door, we realized that the entire rooftop was ours and we had a two story building to ourselves. I, honestly, could have had 800 people over and had room on MY rooftop. The room was incredible; giant bed, two showers, a lounge upstairs with 12' ceilings and windows that opened in all directions offering views of the whole of Barcelona. Needless to say, we entertained every night and had a great time. The final night was the festival and it was fun, but I was tired from my week and went home around 1AM.
And now I am in San Sebastian (Donostia) which is one of my favorite places in the world (if not my favorite). I am here with SN, DM and their girls and was kinda concerned about what they would think, but they are Cloud Nine-ing just as much as I am. It's an incredibly wonderful place, smashing-er than Salisbury. We walked the Playa Concha today and went to Chilida's Wind Combs. It is kinda rainy so I didn't take any photos today, but I will. Our favorite thing has been the Pintxos; the Basque version of Tapas, only better. There are Pintxos bars everywhere you look in Old Town (where I am staying) and today we went from bar to bar sampling all we could. DM decided we should make a "Dirty Map" (think the published work of Diller+Scofidio or that gray room of objects project that I did a year or so ago) of the Pintxos bars in Old Town and we are gonna decide on a format and do that on Wednesday. Tomorrow, we are renting a car and driving to Gernika and Bilbao.
Aside from the touristing, pintxo-ing, and drinking, I am also here for academic reasons, which works very well being that I am the 5th Wheel. My interest in pursuing architecture began in the Basque Country in 2001. I also then began what became a 4 or 5 year study of Basque History, with a focus on the destruction of Gernika, and current Basque independence "problems". I have decided to direct my thesis toward these topics, but so far I haven't developed it much beyond that. That is my goal while I am here, and I am here at the right time. The last I knew the road to independence was looking good for the Basques and ETA had called for a ceasefire. The ceasefire has ended after 2 years, and ETA has declared an attack "imminent". You would think there would be tension, but the Basques are an amazing, happy people. The only evidence I have seen is some pro and anti ETA graffiti. For every "Gora ETA" sprayed, there is one X'ed out. I am trying to concentrate this into an idea that could be made architectural and I have an idea or two, but I need to put more thought into them before I out them out here. The only thing I am sure of is that I support Basque Independence 100%, but I can't justify killing even one innocent person. But I am thinking about taking a very controversial stance for my thesis. More later...
So. I haven't stopped smiling in 3 weeks. The moment I got to Beijing I was rejuvenated and I haven't stopped enjoying life since then. I have that insane motivation that one gets from traveling and my friends and I have developed ideas for at least 2 LLC's when we graduate next year. I have been in 4 countries in the last month, did an architectural project in China, had an insane affair, been drunk inter-continentally with an amazing group of people, swam naked in the Mediterranean, walked the Great Wall, said "whatevs" to Stonehenge, ____________ on a rooftop overlooking Barcelona, and today felt the morning Basque wind on my face on a sculpted peninsula after having three Mimosa's.
Life is incredibly fucking good. (Pictures soon.)