30 May 2007

The Banality of Travel

It´s not all sightseeing, cafes and rich food!
Normally I´m not freaked out by where I sleep, and I don´t even think I´d go so far as to say freaked out about where I did sleep last night, except that it was not especially suitable. It was reminiscent of a certain place in White House, NJ where I stayed once with my mum.
So, at the earliest possible point, I went down the street to a business budget hotel chain for a slightly more expensive, but definitely more McHotel and suitable situation. I knew what I was getting. So I prepaid for new McHotel room, and went back to unsuitable hotel to pick up my already-packed bags. Since I was paying for it, I also had the included breakfast. Then, at McHotel, I got showered and ready for my day, which has yet to actually begin in earnest, because I´m taking care of banal things.
My cellphone finally works, with the Liechtenstein number that also has something to do with Switzerland. Obviously, I´m practicing for being a spy, with all of these shady phone numbers and pensions.
Today, I´m off to the museums in München to kunsthistoriches myself, then maybe to this church with supposedly stunning tromphe l´oeil that Jimmy told me about, and then finally to see La Traviata tonight.
Off to Wien tomorrow morning, I´ll be on the train from about 9:30am-1:30pm.

29 May 2007

written last night

After I got back from Aachen, I went to the train station in search of a small suitcase on wheels to accommodate my recent book acquisitions. For the price of the small suitcase, I could have sent home only one envelope. So, I will become considerably stronger while lugging around what is effectively a portable library, very strong in museology and art history, but not without some anthropology and European fiction. The other day at the bookstore in the train station, I got Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka, who is a hysterically funny Ukrainian-British writer. Her style is somewhat similar to Johnathan Safran-Foer's in Everything is Illuminated, although this is funny the whole way through, whereas Safran-Foer has some melancholy. Last summer, a recommendation from the Irish bookseller at The Almost Corner Bookshop in Rome led me to Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, and Two Caravans actually refers to the first at one point in the plot, so I'm happy to have found this. I love her writing because she uses English so well, and to her advantage. At times, I found myself laughing out loud, which is healthy and I can't remember the last time I read a novel for pleasure like this -- probably last summer. In Paris, I bought a bilingual edition of Pasolini's Novelle Romane (Roman Novels) which will help me with French and Italian at the same time. The prices for used books in Paris were insanely low even with the unfavorable Euro, and it made me feel apart of the bursting-at-the-seams intellectualism of the Latin Quarter.

Besides various German junk food/fast food of which I am fond, there is also German television. Right now, there is this show on about squid reproduction, which is fascinating even though I can't understand it, because I find squid to be kind of gross yet endlessly interesting. They are not something I enjoy eating, so I think that's kind of why I'm interested in them (aggiungi anche questi alle cozze, Bill). This morning, as I was getting ready to go, there was this show called Stein Zeit: Das Experiment. I think I saw the companion series meant for children, called Die ,,Steinzeit"-Kinder, and it features people somewhere in Bavaria recreating the Stone Age. This guy, without talking, cooked a rabbit, carrots, and potatoes over red-hot stones in a small pit, and then cut the rabbit apart using a piece of flint. It looked really good and he seemed pleased with himself.

The Museum Ludwig was open today because of the holiday, and it was nice, although my brain is exhausted. I'll go back tomorrow morning as planned to relook at some of the High Modern works and then go look at the Pop Art collection. It seems that they have representative works from all of the right people, from all of the right movements.

One general discovery of an artist this trip has been Nicholas de Stäel, who I wasn't aware of before seeing a fantastic non-objective piece in the Centre Pompidou. The Museum Ludwig has a interesting little objective still life, and I've decided I really like his work. The photography exhibit at the Museum Ludwig was quite good, featuring a good mix of photographers, and presenting an almost perfect visual comparison of Bernd and Hilla Becher's typologies with Andreas Gursky, especially including the fantastic Montparnasse. In painting, there were some excellent Max Ernst paintings, and I liked what I saw, which was generally a specific type of surrealism -- Ernst and his friends, including Picabia, another artist I'm appreciating more this trip. My favorites though were an exceptional group of Russian suprematism, with Rodchenko well represented in painting, sculpture and photography. In another area, there were some great Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Lucia Moholy photos, which in some ways I think are complimentary to suprematism. Further connections to the Centre Pompidou, as there I saw again (it was a huge surprise and I'm so happy I got to see it again) the film Moholy-Nagy made of his perpetual motion/light reflection machine thing. I took 1 minute of the film with my digital camera, and one of these days I can post it here via google video. The actual perpetual motion/light reflection machine thing is at the Bauhaus-archiv in Berlin, and so I didn't think I'd see the video again until I got back there.

The weather is totally dreary, it's around 55°F/13°C and raining a lot, which does not promote a good mood. There were lots of people out in the streets today, but most of the stores were closed so everyone was window shopping. The galleries were open, and I walked into one to get out of the rain, where I came across tons of soggy Scouts hanging their wet outerwear over an escalator railing! There were a lot of Scouts in transit today whose day was ruined by the crappy weather. Despite the cold weather, I was roasting most of the day due to my 100% nylon rainjacket, which also makes me fit in with German fashion, because today everyone was wearing walking shoes like mine and nylon jackets like mine. Usually when travelling I am most often taken for German, and it is rather obvious why, although this also means that people assume I also speak German. This afternoon, while trying to make the most efficient exit from Aachen, I had issues pronouncing Hauptbanhof, which means train station, so the very nice gentleman repeated it for me.

I have yet to be able to get beyond the rear of the cathedral, because I always seem to walk in during a service and there are sextons in red and black robes stopping people from moving towards the front. It's a very impressive building, because it's actually a lot longer than it seems from the outside. Evidently, it was only completed in the 1880s, but it's definitely quite Gothic. If the cathedral in Köln is Gothic, then the cathedral in Aachen is a triumph of Romanesque exuberance. I must confess, it was exactly what I pictured from Janson's History of Art. The mosaics in there were great, and I think in the Treasury Museum I saw some mention or comparison to San Vitale in Ravenna. I went into the Treasury Museum because it was raining and there wasn't much else to do because everything else was closed. Normally I find Treasury Museums to be really boring, and this one was no exception, but I did see Charlemagne's right forearm and the rope used to scourge Jesus, His belt, and Mary's belt. There was also a collection of broken locks and keys, which has something to do with a connection between the church and city of Aachen, which I didn't understand. Kings from all over Europe sent things to Aachen, I assume to promote their own legitimacy, and so there was an interesting collection of things from farther east as well. The German Catholics appear to still be reveling in the fact that il Papa Ratzinger is pope, and this region is also the objective of pilgrimages from all over Europe, including a lot of Spaniards right now it seems.

Tomorrow, the Römanisches-Germanisches Museum, the Ludwig Museum again, and then off to the Köln-Bonn Flughaven to go down to Munich.

When I'm in large cities, like Paris or New York, I always find it hard to tell if people are really happy, which leads me to think they're not. Today, both here and in Aachen, people were smiling, laughing, and greeting each other in the streets, which makes me think that they are in fact happy, and this is a good thing.

28 May 2007

Live von Köln Hbf

Ahhh to be back in the land with savory meats on bread with butter for breakfast! And Mezzomix! And currywürst! I'm totally pleased with where I'm staying, it's only €30/night, breakfast included. It is right on the Rhein, plus used booksellers all along the river. It's basically an inn, or rather rooms above a restaurant, which I think is very cool. The décor of my room is also charmingly old school.

Last night was also the antique market, and I was rather shocked to see that the Deutschebank elephant banks are a collectors item. Once when my dad was exchanging money somewhere in Bavaria, I got one. Now it makes me feel kind of old to see them in an antique market!
The big thing here besides the cathedral is kolsh beer, and the famous eau de cologne that my dad uses, N° 4711.
Right now I'm waiting for the train to take me to Aachen for the day. Tscuss!

Aachen: a dialogue

Upon leaving the train station, I saw a sign for the Dom and Rathaus, and went in that direction fot a bit before deciding to turn.
It's raining today, and there's no one in the streets.

Part First, in German
Self, to young woman wearing horse-riding pants: Bitte, where is the Dom?
Fraulein: (makes pfft noise and directs me to the right, the left, and then right again.)
Self: ok, danke.

Part Second, in English
Self: Do you speak a little English?
Fraulein: yes, a little.
Self: Is today a holiday?
Fraulein: yes.
Self: What is the occasion?
Fraulein: Ah, this is kind of difficult to explain. It has to do with the Holy Ghost. He is supposed to come today or something.
Self: danke.

So, -10 points for being a bad Catholic, and also for forgetting that the day after Pentecost is also a holiday. -10 more points for not realizing this earlier when I saw that the post office in Köln was closed, or when I got to Aachen and saw all of the stores were closed beyond the normal Monday-closedness.

I write this in a bakery while eating something magical called butterstreussel and having a cup of coffee on Willy-Brandt-Platz.

...Slightly later, having another coffee because I can't get into the Dom until 12:30: This is kind of turning into a comedy of errors. All I want to do is see this Charlemagne-built church, and that's about all that's even possible today owing to the holiday. I've taken the scenic route through Aachen to get here, and if I felt like walking another 5,5km through the rain, I could also go to Vaals, which is in the Netherlands. However, walking 5,5km through the rain is slightly too Pride and Predjudice for my taste at the moment.

26 May 2007

Les Musées: Paris Museum Highlights

NB that by highlights, I mean highlights. I took over 1000 digital photos in the last week. Nor are all of the museums visited represented here.
And before I get into all of this, one comment: thank God Catherine de'Medici happened to Paris/France. That is all.

This is the chapel in Versailles, looking from the altar towards the vestibule. Louis XIV would have sat upstairs in the gallery.

The Fountain of Apollo in the Gardens of Versailles. There is no one there because it was raining like mad that day.

Stained glass in the Musée du Cluny.

This head of John the Baptist wooden tondo sculpture in the Musée du Cluny was so unique. The theme (also including Salomé) is one of my favorites in the history of art, because it always seems to produce interesting results.

Gothic architecture can be so elegant -- this is also in the Musée du Cluny.

The history of chairs display in the Musée des Arts Decoratifs

Normally Monet and I are in a fight, because I am not really fond of his mass popularity. However, our visit to the Orangerie was private, and as a result truly special and majestic. We're currently in an armistice.

The Musée du Quai Branly. This one was a challenge; it's probably the most talked-about museum in the world right now... I think the conclusion I'm arriving at is that it is still fundamentally, intellectually, and philosophically a 19th century ethnographic museum, but in 21st century French presentation.

I can tolerate Van Gogh slightly more than Monet. Really, this was quite brilliant to look at up close in the Musée d'Orsay, which was very spectacular in and of itself.

This is the staircase in the Musée Gustave Moreau. I really liked a lot of the spiral staircases I saw in Paris, because many of them seemed to be set up more as elipses than circles.

This was really cool, in the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie. These kids are touching a table, and what they're touching is being projected from LCD projectors above. So you touch certain places on the table/projection, and the table/projection responds. It was really amazing.

Part of a rather fanciful clock in the Petit Palais.

Staircase in the Petit Palais.

A Jean Carriès cinghiale in the Petit Palais.

Behind the scenes: the offices and some of the study rooms in the attic level of the Petit Palais. They were gorgeous, everything's recently redone and completely remodeled, and this seems like it would be an absolutely excellent place to work.

The Palais de Tokyo. Basically, the entire interior looks like this, and it's a contemporary art space. We had to leave early because it was raining really hard (a theme for this trip...) and the roof was leaking somewhere. Normally it's open until midnight every night, but they closed around 6pm because of this leaking roof.

Back in the day, I wanted to be a bathroom designer. In fact, my favorite part of the Palais de Tokyo was the bathroom situation, which I found to be just as innovative as the rest of the space.

Visit number two to the Louvre. This painting in progress was really clever, because it was the original sitter wearing a t-shirt, and on the t-shirt was the original painting that the artist was copying. I love meta-art, which I tend to think of as a subtheme through the Baroque, which this "original" belongs to.

the I. M. Pei pyramid

This is the main entrance to the Louvre, under the pyramid. It's kind of insanely packed with moving people.

A painting by Marius van Reymerswale, c. 1546. I think the expression on the guy on the right's face is hysterical. This theme of money counting is pretty common in the northern Renaissance.

GOÛT: Highlights of Parisian Food

Oh wow. Normally French food is not especially my favorite, but after eating richly for a week, I have many positive things to say about the topic.

So the week started off with the aforementioned pizza Marais. Then came a rapid sucession of entrecôte, cod au gratin, entrecôte with a walnut and shallot sauce (!), duck confit, some rather craptastic ravioli, an Algerian feast, the lack of a table at Chez Robert et Louise and therefore more pizza Marais.

What follows are some visual highlights, unfortunately smelloscreens and replicators have not been invented yet.

Above is what changed my view of eggplant. It is kind of like what Dad makes in winter, except that his is a lot tastier. Still, this is the eggplant that was effectively carmelized.

This was perhaps the best "Italian" food I ate in Paris. Note the pattern of eggplant consumption. I remember a guy I knew in Rome who used to say "a day without pasta is a day without life." I add the caveat of eggplant; the Eggplant Corollary, perhaps?

This was the salad for the not-very-good ravioli. Note the capers.

This was some apple tart. The more interesting thing is the mildly suggestive iconography on the spoon.

Ohhhh the Algerian feast. This happened al fresco on a terrace on the 9th floor of a building in Vincennes, with the Château, the Bois, a rather notable monkey habitat, the entire city of Paris, and the Eiffel Tower all within view. On top of the bed of couscous was lamb and beef meatballs, artichokes, and peas. For the first plate, we had exceptionally fresh tabouli. For dessert, sweet mint tea and amazing little cakelets of fig, cake, honey and rosewater. It was stunning. Afterwards, I talked a bit to the woman who made it about her process, as much as I could ask from my very patient Dutch French to English translators, which resulted in an entirely new perspective on artichokes.

Last night was rather adventurous. Last Monday night, we went to Chez Robert et Louise, and it was closed. Then, a few nights back, some of us went out and had some quite exceptional draft Edelweiss beer. So, the natural thing to do on our last night in Paris was to try to go to Robert et Louise and then have some of this exceptionally fresh beer. When we walked into Robert et Louise, they kind of laughed us out because we were sans reservation. So we went to the bar in the next block for some Edelweiss, and while there, decided to go and try to get a reservation for later in the evening. I went back, by this time having established rapport with the guy. He told me to go to a certain bar and wait for a call at 8:45, which never came. So at 9, we had the possibility of waiting, or sitting at the bar, and at that point, we were not really in the mood for sitting at the bar, so we went and got pizza instead. However. On my next trip to Paris, I will most certainly call and make a reservation and eat at this restaurant, because it seemed absolutely amazing, and it is a definite hole in the wall sort of place where you just get the special and deal.

I just ate this today for lunch. It was a little ham quiche, which in and of itself is good, except that this one was almost overflowing with large amounts of delicious pork fat! It was sooo good.

In between the quiche and dinner, I had Berthillon ice cream on the Ile Saint-Louis that was exceptionally impressive. The flavors I paired were caramel and nougat, which did compliment each other well.

So, all of the amazing food this week was not more than 20euro per meal. Usually we would get the prix fixe menu, which always worked out well. Still, after this week, I am rather doomed to supermarket food for the rest of the trip. It was well worth it.

This evening, while returning to the internet place I'm using, I noticed a place that said "Quality Hamburger Restaurant." This was intriguing, especially because of the ubiquitous and unmentionable competitor across the street.

The result? A Sandwich Club Poulet avec Sauce Provençale, Frites Rustiches, and The Peche. Not bad for French fast food, and it sounds just as exciting as some of what I described above.

Other Paris highlights

Saint-Etienne-du-Mont. This is right behind the Panthéon, and it is an excellent example of Mannerist architecture. I wanted to go there in the first place because by chance I read that it has the last remaining rood screen in Paris, but you can see on the facade the succession of pediments which is really unique and interesting: visually congruous to the succession of architectural orders on the Colosseum?

Said last-remaining-rood-screen. It's shaky because I don't think photos were supposed to be taken in the church, but also check out the amazing double-staircases and the gorgeous white marble.

Most of the Moët we drank in the courtyard of the Institut Nederlandais.

The UNESCO Annex building. Normally mid-century idealistic architecture is appealing to me, but this building was uglier than sin and in a state of great disrepair. However, on the inside was a beautiful quote by Gabriela Mistral: "No se trabaja y crea sino en la paz. Digámosla cada día en donde estemos, por donde vayamos, hasta que tome cuerpo y cree una 'militancia de paz' la cual llene el aire denso y sucio y vaya purificándolo."

The general decomposition of the UNESCO Annex as evidenced by the decay of the cool space age phone booths.

Poster against AIDS: the fight continues! and a very effective use of images as text to get the point across.

This guy was playing outside the Luxembourg RER stop -- note his right foot was just as much part of the jazzy Parisian creation of sound as his fingers were.

Obviously, Karl Marx has come back from the dead to play tennis (jeu de paume?) in the Luxembourg Gardens.

I love this ephemeral sort of graffiti. As we arrived more or less as Sarkozy was consolidating his new government, everything was still around. The above distinction seems pretty accurate, as the Marais was full of anti-Sarko, pro-Sego graffiti, posters, stickers, flyers, etc.

There's an interesting play on words here: this can either be interpreted as "keep to the right while you're on this fast-moving moving walkway" or "retain your rights" as in liberté, egalité, fraternité, the First Ammendment, etc.

21 May 2007

First Museum Visits

I mentioned the museums we went to on Saturday in the previous post, but since I'm here to visit museums, I want to discuss them more fully separately.

The Institut du Monde Arabe is in a building designed by Jean Nouvel, who is an amazing architect who has done other museums in Paris and is kind of a rival to other current celebritechts Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano. The side of the building facing the Seine is undulating, and the side facing like the Latin Quarter is flat. Since it faces the south, bright light is an issue, but Nouvel solved the problem by using gorgeous Mourcharaby windows with a photosensor so that the open and close automatically. Mourcharaby windows are I think traditional to the Arab world, and they look and work like the aperture on a SLR camera. Gorgeous. The collection presented was amazing, from the Phonecians to present, but all highlights and all presented aesthetically more than contextually. The interesting part was seeing the shift from pre-622 to post-622, because the representation of people kind of stops. The bookshop was great, and I totally played into the Orientalist vibe, which rather unfairly exoticises the peoples and cultures of the Arab world, but is very in tune with the West. Right before I left to come here, I watched The Battle of Algiers again, so I was in the mood to be pro-Arab world anyway. It was kind of in the wake of all of that that l'IMA was founded, to appease a malcontented minority in France with an institution. Not bad, for sure.

View from the roof of l'IMA

If l'IMA was a super positive experience, then my first visit to the Louvre was rather lukewarm. It was of course packed, which was expected, but we were also flying by stuff and missed most things. The highlight for me of what we saw was Veronese's Wedding at Cana, which is massively gigantic and a triumph of artistic achievement. It faces the Mona Lisa, so everyone misses it as they flock to the Mona Lisa, but Veronese trumps Da Vinci any day in my book, as Venetian colore does over Florentine disegno.

At the Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo, it was more interesting to watch people taking pictures of the statues than the statues were themselves. We also saw the large and famous 19th century works by David and Delacroix, which were cool also. I missed the Reubens room and I'd have loved to have seen the Apartments of Napoleon III. It's all kind of ok, because I know multiple visits are crucial and they will eventually happen.

The t-shirt below wasn't in the Louvre, but in a museum store in the Marais. The shirt costs 95euro, and the only thing that makes it special is that it is the exact color of Mona Lisa's eyes.

Sunday morning, due to rain, we went to the Musée des Arts-et-Métiers because there was a chance that going to Versailles would be cancelled due to the crappy weather, which I will get to. Arts-et-Métiers was the coolest museum, as it began as a teaching collection for industrial design students from 1790 to some point in the future. The building itself was a Benedictine abbey finished in 1720, when it was the fashionable church for Parisian aristocrats. When the Revolution happened, the congregation no longer existed (because they were mostly all killed during the Reign of Terror), and the establishment of the atelier there was an act of the revolutionary government. The former chapel now houses a Foucault pendulum, and a gorgeous car and airplane gallery. The whole place is newly renovated, and it starts with the institution of standard weights and measurements, and moves from there. They have multiple early examples of arithmatic machines, slide rules, all kinds of stuff. The machines of the Industrial Revolution are shown, along with videos of how they work, which means looms and punch cards, like manual computers. That section ends up with carbon fibers, which was the most beautiful video, because it's very complex knitting in the round. They have models of buildings, how they are built, how cameras and printing presses and cameras are built...

Introduction to Paris and Food Thus Far

The wierdest thing about being here is that everything is so familiar, because I've seen so many images of Paris that when I'm walking around aimlessly and I run into something famous, my thought response is "oh, so that's where that is." This is like a pilgrimage to the aura of the original, as a result.

The neighborhood where our hotel is located is called the Marais, and the hotel is right outside the Saint Paul Metro station. The area doesn't feel touristy, although we're still really in the middle of everything. We're a ten minute walk from Notre Dame, the Place de la Bastille, the Louvre is a bit farther in the other direction. The neighborhood is traditionally Jewish, and a lot of medieval architecture and structures are visible.

Right before I left, I watched Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations Paris episode, and we passed one of the places where he ate on the way to a bar on Saturday night. It seemed so incredibly cool on the show, and it's a few blocks away so I'm hoping to go there sometime this week. The restaurants around have been great, and I think even with all of the walking, which has been considerable, I am gaining some weight.

The flight here was great. It was the typical cramped transatlantic flight, except it was on Air India and we had amazing food: lamb curry, free Kingfisher beer, real silverware and knives, and Bollywood movies for the in-flight entertainment. The price was so right next time I need to fly to Europe I think I'll look there first.

We got here Friday morning, and we had to wait a long time at the airport because the shuttle company doublebooked to maximize profits and we were were waiting around Charles de Gaulle for what seemed to be like an eternity, after having to wait before customs in a glass jetway (greenhouse effect) for a long time because someone had abandoned two bags at the luggage carousels which then created a bomb threat. We finally got to Paris, dropped our stuff off, and took off for Montmartre. Parishuttle.com is not necessarily recommended.

Sacré-Cœur was nice, although the iconography and decoration was a lot too nationalistic for my taste; too much church and state in one place at one time. We were there during vespers, which was beautiful sung in Latin and French.

We left there, walked down the mont and found a café, and hung out for a bit. Even with all of the tourists, there still are Montmartre personalities and artists out. After that, we went back to the area where the hotel is, got some pizza, and hung out here.

My pizza was called Marais, and had mozzarella, prosciutto (jamon crude), peppers, sausage, and eggplant on it.

On Saturday, we went to Notre Dame, the Sainte-Chapelle and then the Institut du Monde Arabe, and then had time for lunch before the Louvre. A lot of the group went back to the hotel, but I walked from l'IMA through some of the Latin Quarter to the Louvre. On the way, I passed Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, but I didn't have the name of Don Giorgio's friend nor the time to visit -- it was closed anyway. My intention was to get market food, and what I got revolutionized my already broad concept of eggplant. Picture it: bottom layer, eggplant that has somehow carmelized, then moving up, some onions, then tomatoes, then cheese, all baked together. Amazing, and the perfect amount of it. From the same guy, I bought some lupini beans, which I am saving for a snack later. I also hit up some bookstores in the Place de Saint Michel, which is between the Seine and the Sorbonne.

To go backwards a little: Notre Dame was kind of eclectic, which is good because it is then continuously relevant, but Sainte-Chapelle was incredibly beautiful and so elegant. To state the obvious, there's a lot more Gothic here than there is classical Renaissance architecture, until the Napoleonic neoclassicism. It's rather unfamiliar to me, but of course it looks right and is the look of Paris.

So, Saturday evening, after the Louvre, we went back to the Marais to a restaurant called Le Marché. There, I had a rocket (fancy dandelion leaves, no?) and parmesan sandwich, entrecote et frites (beef and fries), and soupe de framboise (strawberry soup, like a dessert gazpacho).

Sunday lunch was fast food across the street from the Versailles-Rive Gauche train station: spinach and goat cheese quiche, and an apple tartlet. Dinner was at a place called Léon du Bruxelles, where the specialty is mussels. I tried a mussel for the first time, and I am happy I did not order a whole steamy pot of them, but it was not unpleasant. I had cod au gratin which came with a delightful iceberg lettuce salad-garnish, and crème brulée.

Breakfast is of course coffee and croissant.

Overall, Paris is definitely impressive, and I am not starving.

16 May 2007


Ironically, as I pack, Rick Steves' Three-part Travel Skills Special is on WLIW Create. I am not usually a big Rick Steves fan, but last winter I saw the second part detailing packing, and I was inspired. Even last summer, I took way too many clothes I ended up not wearing or needing. When we went to Catalonia, I was able to carry on, but since it was such a short trip, it didn't involve much thought: three pairs of pants, two pairs of shoes, enough tops and underwear. Now, I'm packing for a six-week trip, much of it on the move. In anticipation, I've invested in a few new pieces of clothing that will be easy to wash while on the move, and I've packed enough so that I won't have to be worrying about doing laundry all the time. An inventory of sorts follows:

2 t-shirts; one neutral, one black
2 longsleeves; black
2 nylon travel blouses; white and yellow
2 Dryfloa t-shirts; print
2 cotton blouses; print and fuscia

1 khaki skirt
1 pair hiking pants
2 linen pants; one gray full length, one navy capri
3 khaki pants; one green highwater, one mauve short, one green army khaki

The tops and bottoms are packed in Eagle Creek packing folders. I ironed everything well, and folded them using the folding board similar to what is used in retail stores. They will not wrinkle as much, because the clothes will not move around in the suitcase. I've found that these are much less hassle than the vacuum bags, which I used to swear by.

Other clothing:
1 silk dress: the single most expensive piece of clothing I've ever owned, but perfect for travel because of how it folds up to almost nothing and looks great
1 nylon rain jacket
1 cotton sweater
4 pairs ankle socks; three black, one white
2 scarves; 1 blue and black keffiyeh, 1 blue Indian gauze printed scarf
1 pair Merrell Siren Ventilator shoes
1 pair Birkenstock Gizeh sandals

  • 1 quart clear plastic bag filled with liquid stuff because of security; I'll buy shampoo and soap there
  • toothbrush
  • hair accoutrements
  • Tylenol PM and Advil
  • antibiotic for stupid ear infection

Maps et.al.:
Flash packing:
Inspired by this sort of article, which I read this winter, and though I concede it seems excessive, they're all essentials
  • over 7gb of SD cards and two card readers
  • Kodak EasyShare C875 digital camera
  • iPod; iTalk microphone; iPhoto connector; charger adaptors
  • Garmin eTrex Legend GPS receiver
  • Dell Axim X51v with wireless keyboard
  • Nokia 3310 Euro cellphone with SIM cards; United Mobile and TIM
  • US cellphone; this will be dead weight, but helps at the airport
  • universal plug adapter, without transformer because everything else has one already
  • tiny adjustable camera tripod
  • Energizer Lithium AA batteries
Of course, tickets and passport, euros, dollars, and pounds. One never knows.
Everything is regulation carry on, according to size rules, the TSA, and my plan. There's not a lot of extra space, but it all fits in my 24" suitcase (less than 1900 cubic inches, and it will encourage me to stay organized and also to get rid of stuff if don't need it. Even this is part of the learning experience, and I'll try to keep reevaluating it as I go.