Monthly Archives: February 2009

El Carnaval de Gualeguaychu

This time last year, instead of walking home from work in the chilly Chicago rain, I was gleefully guzzling some potent punchy drink from a pineapple as half naked Argentines shimmed and shimmered in front of me.

Last February, I ventured down to Argentina for the first time to visit my friend Eric. On my trip itinerary was a weekend trip to Gualeguaychu, which Eric explained as the Carnivale mecca for Argentina. And a place that proved worth the trip.

Long story short, we went to the bus station, saw a bus get hijacked, I panicked and then was crammed into a bus for three hours. My panic only increased when we unboarded. What I had expected to be a small, quaint town was merely a cornfield. Carnivale in a cornfield? You had to be kidding me.

The only thing in sight were rows of metal bleachers sandwiching a long runway, kinda of reminiscent of a high school football game. Not really what I expected for Carnivale. But then the crowd starting singing “Guuuuualeeeeeguaychu” and the show began…

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Sitting in Chicago on this rainy day, what I wouldn’t give to be back in Guaaaaaleeguuaychu!

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The Smart Traveler’s Traveling Tips

Last week marked my 25th birthday, and my friend gave me a book called The Smart Traveler’s Passport. It’s a great little book, full of tips about packing, dining, lodging, shopping, sightseeing and all that other great stuff that goes into a big journey. Reading all this little tips made me think of some of my own tips I’ve learned after figuring it out the hard way on trips. 

1) Don’t Fold Your Clothes, Roll Them

I’m a hefty packer…go ahead and roll your eyes, but I need my mandatory two pairs of shoes, and as the ladies can appreciate, I like to have “options”. Rolling your clothes to pack in your suitcase saves tons of room, and helps keep everything wrinkle free…even after security rummages throughout your bag. And you’ll have a lot of extra room for that great pair of stillettos. 🙂

2) Plan Your Trips Around Tax Time

February and March are great times to travel. You’ll find some amazing deals since it’s usually off season for most places and right after the holidays. And depending where you go, the weather is not always that bad. Plus, if you do your taxes early, that nice big tax return can help pay for your trip.

3) Listen to the Locals and Look for Lines

Avoid the touristy stuff, and do what the locals do. You’ll avoid getting ripped off (well most of the time) and have a much deeper experience with the place you’re visiting. Ask people who live/have lived there before you go, and look for the places that have long lines of locals. If the locals love it, it’s probably worth trying.

4) Don’t Sweat the Small Things

I typically use a plastic soap dish to pack and story my jewelry. I’ve lost many earrings and necklaces in the bottomless pit of my bag, and I’ve found that the little plastic boxes are a great way to keep track of them and avoid having my bag swallow them whole.

5) Always Bring Chapstick with SPF

For fair-skinned people like me, chapstick is a lifesaver. I learned my lesson in Thailand when I emerged from a jungle with chapped and blistery lips. Apply it well and apply it often. Bring a few too, in case you lose one. 

6) Always Always Always Bring Home a Souvenir

A lesson learned from my mom. On my trip to Bangkok, I completely forgot to bring home a souvenir for myself, but I gave my mom a gorgeous vase I picked up at a market. When she asked when I brought home for myself, I confessed nothing. She insisted I take the vase. To this day, whenever I look at it, it reminds me of trip…and it makes me smile every time. Thanks Mom. 🙂

Getting Down with the Silent Dance

Last Friday night, thousands of Londoners gathered at Liverpool Street Station to partake in a silent disco. The event was started on Facebook by a 22-year-old who goes by Crazzy Eve…and this guy definitely knows how to do crazy. Thousands of people flocked to the station last weekend armed with iPods. At exactly 7pm, everyone switched them on and got down. The event was such a success, that another one is planned for Trafalgar Square on Friday. Just a small reminder of how music can bring people together – even if you can’t hear it. 

While we are on the subject of the French…

……we picked up an album of the French rapper named Sinik. It is spectacular, high tempo electronic beats and aggressive vocals.   Below is a youtube link for my favorite song “1 milliards d’euros”

The great thing about hip hop and rap is that the vocals are part of the instruments and the way the words are delivered is as, if not more important than the lyrics themselves.  This is why I love listening to hip hop and rap in other languages, you can still feel the entire song and have no idea what the rapper is talking about.

I heard the words “Jay Z” and later on something about “Beckham” …..I think.

Watch Me Dance!

I’ve loved Yelle ever since I stumbled across an article about her in the RedEye and immediatley downloaded her album. However, I just recently stumbled across this video on YouTube. Yes, I know it’s a bit old, but us Americans are a bit slow to the international music scene. 🙂

Anyway, you gotta watch this, and then break it down Yelle Frenchman style this weekend: