Olympic Peninsula

This September, my wife and I took our 1984 VW bus to explore the Olympic peninsula. Our trip started out with a stop in Seattle where I attended a meeting with folks involved in the Work That Reconnects where we took a close look within our own lives around white privilege, oppression, and racism and how it impacts the work we offer as facilitators. Two excellent websites that explore these topics are Dear White People and Awakening the Horse People

The beauty of the Olympic Peninsula was a stark contrast to the impoverished Indian reservations of the Quinault , Hoh, Quileute, Makah, Elwha Klallam tribes that inhabit this area. As we enjoyed the richness of the Olympic National Park, there was a time when indigenous people of this area roamed freely and now have been confined to boundary defined parcels of land.

A reminder of our dark history in treatment of indigenous people of this land which still continues to this day is presented in this documentary.

Images from our travels

Coming Home

Coming Home

Alas, poor Paris.  Amidst the pall of tragedy and political unrest, instead of Paris as our final destination, we rerouted our end-trip and flights home.  After spending our last day wandering in Barcelona and saying goodbye to this gracious city and to our beloved travels, we flew to Zurich and spent the night in a comfortable, super efficient airport hotel.  

In the morning we boarded a mellow and almost-empty flight, eating, reading, sprawling and napping as we flew across the Atlantic.  We landed in Washington, DC, where we passed through high-security customs, with polite customs officials and their luggage-sniffing German shepherd and beagle, automatic passport scanning machines, body scans, the works.

Then we boarded our jam-packed flight to Portland, and spent six more hours in the air, scrunched among coughing and sneezing travelers.  After almost 24 hours awake, we stumbled out into PDX, with a warm, sweet welcome from Jennifer.  And now we are home, coughing and sneezing from our airplane colds, drinking hot ginger lemon toddies and recovering from jet lag.

We feel very grateful and privileged that we were able to embark on this adventure of two months while so many in the world struggle day to day. Our immersion in European culture, made us aware of striking differences with our country around the areas of commercialism and consumerism. The gift of travel remains with us forever.

Blessings,
Werner & Abigail

Barcelona

                               Sagrada Basilica

At last, Spain!  Barcelona greeted us with its gorgeous, balmy climate.  The vibrant urban energy of Barcelona contrasted significantly with the peaceful surroundings of the last place we stayed, the sparsely populated Pyrenees Orientales. Each day in Barcelona, we explored different sectors of the city via the Metro (subway) and extensive walking. Most city blocks contained a bakery, coffee/bar, butcher, produce markets full of wonderful Mediterranean produce, and residential market. 

Our culinary favorite of our entire trip was eating tapas in Barcelona.  The menus are almost always in 3 languages:  Catalan, Spanish and English.  It was easy to order a satisfying meal by selecting two tapa dishes each.  A favorite accompaniment is toast with olive oil and a light coating of pureed tomato, lightly seasoned.  A glass, or sometimes a pitcher, of sangria perfectly complimented the meal. 

Our Airbnb was a short distance from Antoni Gaudi's famous Sagrada Familia, a basilica of sacred architecture that almost defies description. The exterior is wildly ornate, and the structures reminded us of the drip castles we built in the sand when we were kids.  The interior, with no right angles, was filled with radiance from numerous stained glass windows.  We visited the gothic section of the city, a park filled with native parrots, the beaches of Barcelona.  One night we went to the magic fountain of Montjuic and watched the spectacular display of color, light and water acrobatics with musical accompaniment.  The fountain was built in 1926 for an international exposition.

                                                           Magic Fountain of Montjuic

Public transportation is a priority in the city, as exemplified by the unique bicycle program where a resident can pay 47 euros/year and have access to one of the 500 bikes throughout the city and use them for 30 minutes without charge. This way, people ride the metro or bus and then jump on a bike to their final destination. Despite the traffic in Barcelona, all the heavily-used bike paths are separated from the car traffic for obvious safety reasons.

After a week of tasting the culinary delights of the city, our recommendations are:

Best tapas: Beluga 1900
Best dinner: Vic Braseria
Best breakfast: Granja Petitbo
Best coffee: Onna Cafe