Tuesday, February 14, 2012

back in 'merica.

Yes it's been a while.

I think I've adjusted quite nicely back into the swing of things. Still appreciating what I learned abroad and applying it to my day to day life. Nothing is the same, but I quite like the way things are going. So for now life is grand, and I couldn't ask for better people to be surrounded by.

Now that I'm not really in Lithuania anymore I've started a new blog. A blog of art. Peek around if you'd like: http://soulfullofart.blogspot.com/

Yes I realize the word fart is in the URL. That wasn't planned, I guess I just got carried away with the cheesy soulful bit of it I didn't even realize what I was typing. Oh well!



Sunday, December 25, 2011

wandering, eating, wandering, eating.

This is Mama Bear. We call her Chicken
Well, we've been in Berlin for the past three or four days now.. I'm not exactly sure - and much to tired to actually count the days. Leaving Vilnius was a strange feeling, leaving Lietuva was weird too. I didn't like it. But I guess it is time for a new chapter in my life. Getting to Berlin was such a schlep, it was utterly exhausting. Our first day was strange. Mama bear was feeling the culture shock/change, going through the realization of being a foreigner. After quite a few unfortunate things the wind was knocked out of her sail. Now I was affected by these events as well, but I am also used to being treated certain ways, and I've been a foreigner for the past 4 months so it didn't really get to me like it got to her. Luckily by the next day we had managed to get a fair amount of rest to trek on.

Berlin is an amazing city. It is large and full of random neighborhoods. We've stumbled upon many different squares, about a dozen christmas markets, beautiful architecture, and art. We've managed to conquer the metro system here, yay for us.

One thing you should know about celebrating christmas in Berlin is that on the 24th of December practically the whole city shuts down. Luckily we somehow stumbled upon a small area where museums and food opportunities were open. Thank goodness, otherwise we would've been stuck with Micky D's for Christmas dinner.

Best Xmas Market in Berlin!
Today we were wandering to find the Neue Synagogue. As I am fascinated with Judaism, and becomming more aware of Jewish history throughout Europe has been a large part of this long 4 month journey for me. Anywho, on our way to the Synagogue (which is beautiful I might add) we saw this building covered in graffiti. Curious we stepped inside and started peeking around. Finally we found a few signs that made it clear that it was a sort of art house. We had found Tacheles, which I'm pretty sure I'd seen somewhere in a documentary or something. There is one artist there, Alex Rodin who is shedding light on the East/West Berlin history. Basially someone who isn't putting up with ignorance and he's trying to make people more aware. Pretty respectable in my opinion, but for some reason the government has shut his art show down so there are petitions and signs to raise awareness to the public to get things back to where they should be. There are also petitions to keep that building a building for artists - which has unfortunately been threatened in recent times. It truly is a beautiful thing the artists have going there, and it almost sickened me leaving that place. I wanted to make a change, I wanted to be part of their mission to raise awareness. I wanted to stand up for something that is right. A truly inspiring artist and art community.
Holocaust Memorial

Tomorrow will be a load of traveling. I'm kind of dreading it. Two planes, a train, potentially a taxi. Destination Krakov, Poland. I can't wait to be there though. It's a pleasant city, with the best Jewish district! And history!

Who knew I'd become such a history buff..? The more aware I get the more interested I get, and the more interested I get the more I want to raise awareness about the suffering and conquering of this part of the world's past. It truly is a beautiful story, and each country has their own, and most countries are proud to be who they are and I truly respect and admire that.

Well, by the end of the week i'll be happily celebrating New Year's with my dear friends, and it's been far too long since i've seen them. So I can't wait!

I hope you've all had a joyful holiday.

Until next time!
Tacheles, and a sign about the artist Alex Rodin. Very moving.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

goodbye Klaipeda.

Leaving somewhere you know you'll probably not see for a long while is really strange. I left Klaipeda a few days ago by train to Vilnius. I already miss all the little quirks of Klaipeda. The cobblestone streets that are impossible to walk in heels nonetheless flat normal shoes. The small non-corporate coffee shops, Kubu and Cukrana. Wandering the old town streets being approached by drunk Lithuanians asking for a smoke (no, I did not provide). I'll miss it. A lot. Now i'm in Vilnius an life is slowly getting more complicated as I approach flying back to the states. Lithuania will be a part of my life and the way it is lived forever.

Friday, December 16, 2011

slowest week of my life.

I sit here anxious, it feels like this week will never end. The dorms are clearing out and goodbyes are going around. Saying goodbye to people I know i'll probably never see again is just flat out weird. My roommate has already deleted me on facebook.. shows ya how much we enjoyed each others company ;]. Last night was a spontaneous night of hilarious and random fun with the Hannah's. I'll miss them. I'm sitting here in my empty room, it's bizarre. I honestly think this is the first time all semester I've had the whole room to myself. It feels good. Listening to music without headphones, opening the windows, singing out loud!

I've managed to pack almost everything up, ready to move on.

Until next time I guess. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

bathing.. european style.

'Russian Venus'
Boris Kustodiev
So, as most of you who actually speak to me on a regular basis know saunas have been one of the most amazing experiences of my time here in Europe. Considering I start my journey home in about 5 days I figure I should share with you all the process of one of my favorite past times here in Lithuania. While doing research on the activity of public bathing I cam across some beautiful paintings.. I thought it'd be a bit more appropriate to show you all paintings than to find actual photos. Agreed? Great.

So there are two types of saunas I've been to. A Russian Banya, and a Hamman which is Turkish. I can't say I like either one specifically better. They are both different enough to be in two separate categories alone.

Let's start with the Banya, shall we? In a Banya you walk into a locker room, put on the appropriate attire, set your belongings in a locker and move forward. The first room you enter is a large shower room with benches all around. You bathe, get used to the temperature relax, and take your time. When you are good and ready you move onto the sauna room. This room is piping hot, and you drip out all the toxins you could imagine. While entering this room you bring with you a bundle of birch leaves that have been soaked in water. With these leaves you hit yourself, or whoever you're with. Sometimes the older women that are in the sauna like to take over and show the younger women how it's done (kinda like an initiation type of thing), so they hit you to show you how it is supposed to be done. That happened to me last time I was there, I was so excited! The purpose of these leaves is to open your pores. When you factor in the sweating, the temperature, the hitting with leaves I guess it makes sense. So you basically go in an out of the sauna as many times as you want until you're done. Then you bathe again and you leave. One sauna I went to had an extremely cold pool to jump into once you've rinsed after exiting the hot sauna room, but the one in Klaipeda doesn't have that feature. So that's a Banya for you. It's a wonderful experience, and I think all people should try it at least once in their life.

Jean-Leon Gerome
This woman is getting Grommage at a turkish bath.
One of my favorite paintings!
Now moving onto the Hammam. A Hammam is a Turkish bathhouse, and differs from the Russian tradition enough that it is a while different experience. So you walk in, pay for yourself and purchase a grommage ticket. Then disrobe into the proper attire whatever that may be. So the first room is a massage room, everyone is getting a massage in the same room so if you're not used to that kind of environment it takes a little getting used to. Then you walk into the next room that is where the grommage happens. In this room you grab a bucket and walk onto the next room. This room is all marble with large marble benches that fit multiple people, and a large circular marble platform that fits even more people. This is the sauna room, the temperature is warm and pretty tolerable. In this room people scrub, bathe, stretch, rest, and relax. It is wonderful. The last room is the warmest of the sauna rooms, which also has a cold water pool to dip into. Once you feel you've been sauna'd out you wait in line for the grommage table. Grommage is where a woman uses a special exfoliating glove to rub off all the dirty and dead skin. Walking away from that table you feel like a baby's bottom. It is heavenly. There is also something humbling (I don't like that word but I couldn't think of a better one) about letting a stranger wash you in front of a group of women (I guess you could say that parallels the Bible a bit).

Hope whoever is reading this is doing well,
5 days until I see my beautiful Mama Bear
17 days until I am reunited with two of the greatest friends I have ever known.
and 21 days until I am held in the arms of my handsome Daddy-o.

I can't wait to be home, and I can't wait to share Europe with home.

Until next time,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


the eiffel tower, hecker, and i

hecker and the arch of triumph

notre dame



food. yum.
Day 1: The weather was amazing, and we were both pleasantly surprised at how polite and helpful the french were being to us. Considering all of the horror stories we've both heard about the "rude Parisians". We experienced nothing of the sort. So Paris is an incredibly large city, and Hannah and I somehow managed to master the metro system which kinda gives us a little street cred in my opinion. On this day we saw everything. The eiffel, the arch, the pantheon, notre dame, you name it we probably saw it. Oh, and it was extremely warm for this time of year. Crazy!

Day 2: It was raining. boooo. So we hopped onto the Metro down to the Mosque, originally planning to go the the Hammam we couldn't find it due to our lack of speaking french. So we paid 3 euros to walk around inside. Might I say it was an incredibly peaceful place of worship, very serene. Somehow we ended up in the prayer room - which isn't necessarily respectful or allowed. Nonetheless it was really interesting to see a woman praying, it was really peaceful. After our time at the mosque we walked over the to famous shakespeare and company, the to the Louvre to avoid the rain. The Louvre was full of people and pushing and body heat. We weren't there for long, but we found a less populated room and sat in it for a while admiring the great works.

Day 3: By day three a massive blister had formed on the bottom of my foot and walking was less than fun. Poor Hecker had to put up with me and my old lady paced walk. We made breakfast in the apartment we were staying in.. French toast haha! We took a slow morning and enjoyed the warmth and dryness of the indoors while it was rainy and gloomy outside. When it cleared up a little we walked through an array of cultural neighborhoods over to a Basilica near our apratment. It was up on a hill! So great to see Paris from that point of view. There was also a really wonderful park beneath it that we wondered through on our way to more things. At some point we got really sick of the weather so we decided to go on ahead to see a movie at the movie theater (if you know me, you know that is an extreme last resort). Luckily on our way to the theater we stumbled upon the Palais de la Decouverte, a hands on museum! We had so much fun walking around playing with things. We were the only adults not accompanying children but it was great! The we decided we wanted to find some beof bourguignon, after looking up the best place to get it we sought it out. And hour and a half walk later we found out that the restaurant was closed.

Day 4: We went to the Hammam, as previously mentioned. We found it after a little google research. The entrance was behind the pastry shop in the restaurant in the mosque. It was wonderful. There were 3 rooms, each saunas but the temperature got higher in each room. We sat in the first room for a long time, occasionally splashing cold water on ourselves. Then moved on to the warmest room where you sit, then dip in a chilled pool and repeat every once in a while. After that we found the gommage table, which exfoliates your whole body and your skin feels like a baby's bottom. I have never felt so clean in my entire life. After the bath house we decide it would only be proper protocol to indulge in the turkish food offered at the mosque. Couscous, chicken stew, coffee, and desserts. It was probably my favorite part of Paris, the bath house. After this we headed back to the bus station to catch our bus to the airport. We arrived in Kaunas, Lithuania at around 11pm and caught a van back to Klaipeda at 12am. It snowed all through the countryside and was so fun to drive through. The van was freeeezing, so sleeping was kind of hard to do. We arrived in rainy Klaipeda at around 3am an by the grace of God caught a taxi to get back to LCC!

I'm still trying to catch up on sleep.
Paris was beautiful and everyone should see it at least once!

I come home soon! I can't wait, gettin' pretty dang antsy.

love love, paige.