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A Trip of A Lifetime!

Wow! What an amazing experience! Me and Mamma truly had a blast! We laughed the entire time. When we were waiting to board our plane to Rome I snapped this pic, and we both realised – this was our first ever plane trip/ vacation together. Crazy? We drove all over the states and Mamma would fly out to meet me in all the various places I lived, but we never traveled abroad before – exciting!
In Rome we stayed at a very cute hotel called Le Clarisse in the Trastevere area. It had formerly been a convent. It was nice and chilled out, with very helpfull staff. The area was near a lot of Universities, so it had a mix of foreign students and locals, not very touristy at all. Me being casual in the hotel hallway.
The first night we had our best meal at a restaurant called Sora Margherita. My best friend had been raving about it, so we were excited to try it. And we were not disappointed! Their specialty is deep fried artichoke and it was yummy! Highly recommend!
On our first day, we did the full on touristy thing and went to the Vatican on a guided tour – something we had never done before! We booked a tour through a company called When in Rome, and had a brilliant guide named Luigi. He was funny and cheeky, and an art history major, so he was extremely knowledgeable on everything. I learned so much, like early Christian churches were built on top of Pagan ones – interesting! In the past I had always wrinkled my nose at guided tours, but am glad we went on one, as I know had we not, we would have ran quickly though and made our way to the gift shop and left, because the crowds were a bit overwhelming. But his knowledge, passion and humour made the heat and crowds evaporate and all we saw was breath taking art! Thanx Luigi!
My animation of Carson McCullers was a big hit at the conference. I got a lot of positive feedback on it and am quite pleased with the response! Was overwhelming actually, how great the feedback was. Was not expecting that – so touched. I am planning on a February release of the animation, plus sound track, remixes, and hopefully a graphic novel too! Will keep you posted.
In addition to my short being screened for an audience, there was a portrait I did displayed in the Library of John Cabot University, as well as 2 computers in there running it on a loop for 4 days. I was very proud, as was my retired “Dean of Libraries” Mother. To think me – a college dropout – showing my work at an academic conference! Amazing!
Rome was so incredible and beautiful, so we kinda played hooky and got sucked into all the beautiful sites, it was impossible not too! This is me at Trevi Fountain – La Dolce Vita! They love their fountains in Rome. So did we!
And we even managed to see the Botero exhibit at Il Vittoriano. He is one of my all time fave artists! I thought about my cousin Sean Earley’s work a lot while viewing it. He must have been influenced by Botero.
By the time we got to Barcelona we were both super tired and hot, and I had blisters all over my feet. We stayed in Las Ramblas, which was too crazy for me. Very loud, crammed with lots of people, and again it was HOTT! I think the heat was exaggerated because of the crowds and noise. But we had fun going around checking out the Gaudi work. This is me at Guell Park in front of a former residence of Gaudi. We did a tour here as well and our guide named Olga, was very friendly and knowledgeable. One of many things I learned was Guell Park used to make their own Cava! I tried to find some while I was there, just to say I had Cava in a Gaudi space, but sadly they don’t sell it anymore. Oh by the way – I do have shorts on!
We also were staying right around another amazing Gaudi creation – Guell Palace. It was phenomenal! And not as packed as the park. I highly recommend checking it out – unlike any residence I have ever seen. Here I am taking in the amazing views by the mosaic Xmas trees. You think Gaudi took psychedelics? I do…

We had some great meals in Barcelona, Really great! I must say though, one thing I learned was not to trust trip advisor for food. The first night we were tired and hot and just wanted to go somewhere near. I found a place around the corner that got lots of raves on trip advisor, but it was horrid food and service and it put me in a bad mood. Luckily we had 2 fabulous meals after which made up for it! We first tried to go to the place above called Centro Gallego. I read about it in Time Out. A fave of locals, traditional Gallatin cuisine, located in the library of a former Guell residence. Walking up the art nouveau stained glass stairwell into the fresco ceilinged imposing room was marvelous. But then we found out from 2 elderly women who either lived or worked there, that it’s closed for renovation! AGH! So Mamma asked them where they would suggest for similar food. They told us to go to a place called Compostela. We looked on trip advisor just to be safe. And it was ranked one of the worst restaurants in all of Barcelona! Ha! But after our experience the night before, trusting trip advisor for one of the worst meals ever, we decided to brave it ourselves and I must say – it was amazing! 2 people 3 course meal plus 2 beers for 30 euros! And we were the only tourists in there. All locals. Gorgeous Sopa des Pescado, grilled hake and flan! Yumm!
But our most fave meal was at Can Culleretes – Bareclona’s oldest restuarant and the second oldest in Spain! What a treat!. Opened in 1782, it serves traditional Catalan fare. Lots of seafood dishes. The interior is original – with lovely tiled floors and walls adorned with massive Spanish oil paintings. So much history and charm and the food was delicious! Garlic prawns, duck salad, grilled monkfish and I even had a few bottles of their own brewed pale ale – Nomm! The photo above is me and Mamma right after filling our bellies – happy customers!
Afterwards my friend Jose gave us a tour of the gorgeous Gothic Quarter with all of it’s Gothic and Art Nouveau splendor! We stopped in a church and I lit a candle to Saint Rita – the patron Saint of Lost Causes. I actually wrote a song about her when I first moved to Hastings! Anyone that knows me knows I have a Saint obsession! And I must say – Spain wins on the Saint Shrines! Anyhoo, I absolutely loved both places. I fell in love with Rome and am deffo going back! And will go back to beautiful Barcelona too, but next time, I will go when it’s cooler! Anyhoo, I had a wonderful time taking in the cultures, meeting new friends, and seeing older ones. Thank you to The Carson McCullers Society for inviting me to participate! And to Mamma – We had a trip of a lifetime – LOVE YOU! Can’t wait to do it again! More pix on my instagram. Check em out! More soon! oxo gd

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