Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Street Art: The Bold & The Beautiful


The Travelled Monkey - in Brussels
Photos by John Weaver
Graffiti, posters, stickers – they’re everywhere. Cities today are exploding with so much (sometimes) creative expression that we hardly see it anymore, even when it’s right in front of us. It just blends into the street, seen but not seen. 

Is it art? Sometimes. Is it vandalism? Usually. The best stuff is typically a bit of both. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Faces in the crowd

Pic of the week

Faces in the crowd
Supporters of KV Mechelen celebrate the winning goal against Anderlecht last Sunday. The 2-1 upset put KV Mechelen in 11th place in the Belgian Pro League, while Anderlecht remains 2nd. Photo by John Weaver

Soon after I moved to Mechelen in 2011, KV Mechelen became “my team” in the Belgian Pro League. They may look like a middle-of-the-table team right now, and they are. But as I quickly learned, this is also a team that has seen some very high highs and very low lows in its 110-year history. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Salut au Monde!


Walt Whitman

Hello World! There couldn’t be a more fitting title for my first blog post. And this verse from Walt Whitman’s poem by the same name perfectly captures the kind of experience that has inspired me to write this blog:

I see the cities of the earth and make myself at ran-
     dom a part of them,
I am a real Parisian,
I am a habitan of Vienna, St. Petersburg, Berlin, 
I am of Adelaide, Sidney, Melbourne,
I am of London, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, 
I am of Madrid, Cadiz, Barcelona, Oporto, 
     Lyons, Brussels, Berne, Frankfort, Stuttgart, Turin, 
I belong in Moscow, Cracow, Warsaw, or northward 
     in Christiania or Stockholm, or in Siberian 
     Irkutsk - or in some street in Iceland,
I descend upon all those cities, and rise from them 

- from “Salut au Monde!” (cerca 1856) by Walt Whitman

You can read the full poem here. But here’s why I like it:

There’s a reason he doesn’t say “I went to Paris” or “I visited Berlin” or “I did Constantinople.” That’s because travel has the power to be much more than a checklist of destinations.

The way Whitman puts it – “I am of Barcelona” and “I belong in Warsaw” – practically lifts you off your seat and takes you there with him. The place gets under your skin and you become part of it. And when you “descend” on a place and “rise” again from it, you become a different person too.

It’s true, certain places are better at drawing us in than others. But the secret of great travel is not the destination – it’s the discovery.