Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Taking IB art students to Barcelona.

Last year I submitted a proposal to take IB visual art students to Barcelona as a way to supplement their learning in the classroom. The idea is to immerse students in a setting that will stimulate their thinking and creativity. The principals were supportive of the idea and I spent the next several months solidifying the itinerary. The outcome was better than anticipated. Everything went smoothly from the flight to navigating the city and beyond. The students hit the pavement running and really embraced the experience. 

There are several behind the scenes individuals to thank for making the magic happen: Principal Redmond (and Joyce) for the green light, Nate and Mick in the Athletic Department for doing all the paperwork like visas and such, the other chaperone-Ms. Blue Waters, Ana was supportive about spending our break with 5 students (Call it training in raising teenagers) and helped out a little here and there and even our friend Monica tagged along for a couple of our outings. Below is the evidence. 

We arrived in the late afternoon. After dropping our bags off at the apartment, we made a quick exit to the Gothic Quarter for a walking tour. It was by chance we found a gastronomic festival in front of The Cathedral, though the kids called it the "bread festival" due to all of the loaves of artisan bread they consumed. 
One of the stops on the walking tour was a school bombed by the fascists during the Spanish Civil War. Note the pockmarks on the wall.  
We visited La Sagrada Familia the following morning. 
The students were in awe of Gaudi's vision. 
Students had mixed feelings and reactions on deciding if they preferred the aesthetics of La Sagrada Familia or The Cathedral from the previous evening.
We decided to walk back to our apartment via local neighborhoods. Good thing we did as we encountered a street fair with lots of food, vendors, and activities.
This looked like fun. 
"Ara es l'hora" The rallying cry for the Catalan separatist movement that marched in front of our apartment.
Since almost everything was closed on Sunday, the beach sounded like a way to spend a late afternoon. 
At the metro.
A dose of Flamenco culture was needed.
At the bottom of Ramblas. 
The  Palau Robert has several nice exhibits.
 The Suñol Foundation was kind enough to give us a tour of their most recent exhibit: Perfect Lovers.
One of best ways to see is a city is on a bike. Several students stated biking was their favorite part of the trip. 
Riding along the beach provided ample opportunities to throw a frisbee around and do some climbing. 
Bikes can also take you through alleys.  
Agbar Tower near Glories. The surrounding buildings make the area an architectural hotbed, a must see for aspiring architects.  
Mercat Del Encants in Plaça de les Glories Catalanes has mirrored ceilings and is basically like what you would call a swap meet, flea market in the states.  
Installation street art. 
One day was dedicated to Figueres in the north-about a hour via the fast train. The Dali Museum is located there and it was the perfect opportunity to get out of Barcelona and experience the Costa Brava. 
The museum has several floors and much to see keeping visitors engaged.

The Catalonia Toy Museum down the street from the Dali Museum has a decent collection of creepy dolls. 
A thirty-minute bus ride from Figueres will take you to the quaint beach town of Roses.

Ciutadella of Roses is worth a peek.
They might not let you take photographs inside the Picasso Museum, but they will in the gift shop. One of our student's unintentionally wore her own Picasso shirt. 
The Frederic Mares Museum houses the collection of one man who one student stated: "Mr. Bob, did he have OCD?" 
MACBA also provided us with a nice tour. Giant stuffed bear Art. 
Political Art.
One room had an interesting video that engaged our students in a lengthy discussion about beauty. 
Ms. Laura made us a delicious soup one evening. 
Hangout out with my homies at the Catalonian National Museum.
Home decoration ideas.
Who remembers this scene from the bible?
I can get into these type of religious paintings.
I got busted taking pictures at the Caixaforum. Note the guide telling me "No Photos!"
Someone near our apartment was a little disgruntled with her or his bank's ATM.
Our last supper. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Ethiopian Beer-The complete list.

It was a Sunday night and we needed a mission. An impromptu beer tasting sounded like the right thing to do. We piled into a station wagon and headed to the nearest beer shop and loaded-up on one of each bottle of beer that we could find. We drove back home and pulled out glasses, popped the caps, poured, and started sampling. It was 5 people versus 10 beers. Below are the results. 

Beer: St. George

ABV: 4.5%

Size: 33cl 

Company: BGI Ethiopia
Style: Lager

BGI Ethiopia is the largest brewer in Ethiopia and St. George is the motherload. Up and coming for BGI is Amber and Castel. You see the ubiquitous yellow sign of St. George fighting a dragon in every village and street corner. The draft house near Mexico Square in Addis Ababa is worth a visit and is teaming with locals. If you're lucky, one of the customers sitting at one of the tables surrounded by 10 empty glasses will hook you up with a pint.

What was said:
“beer pong beer”
“party beer for the folks you don’t like too much”
“post yard work beer”
“free wedding beer”

Beer: Walia (Ethiopian New Years Beer)

ABV: 5%

Size: 33cl 

Company: HBSC
Style: Lager

HBSC aka Heineken and perhaps soon SABMiller (who recently made a bid to take over the company) pumped out a new brew just in time to usher in the Ethiopian New Year last month. The label has since changed and is now called Walia. A more fitting title might be Whoa!    

What was said:
“weird smell”
“Budweiser backwash”
“too bad to take to anyone’s party”
“smells like the floor of a frat house after a big party”
“I rather have a Milwaukee’s Best”

Beer: Castel

ABV: 5.5%

Size: 33cl 

Company: BGI Ethiopia
Style: Lager

Another BGI product that has a little bit more going for it than St. George. The advertisements around town are geared towards the more polished beer aficionado. The new bottle design forgoes the paper label in place of letters in a relief style. A very non-threatening looking beverage.  

What was said:
“better than the first two”
“good enough for your distant cousin’s 43rd birthday”
“uneventful, yet again”
“smoother going down”
“afternoon beer where there’s nothing else”

Beer: Bedele Special

ABV: 5.5%

Size: 33cl 
Company: Bedele Brewery
Style: Pale Lager

Another company developed by Czech brewers (see: Harar)  bites the dust. The once government owned Bedele Brewery was one of the two snatched up by Heineken. The company hosts Bedele (not tasted) and Bedele Special. If you’re a fan of the can, you’re in luck. Bedele Special now available in a six-pack.

What was said:
“crisp and refreshing”
“a more challenging lager”
“from sandbox to litter box”
“nothing much, but a better fizz”
“old garbage disposal”

Beer: Dashen

ABV: 4.5%

Size: 33cl 
Company: Dashen Brewery, Gondar
Style: Pils
Situated outside of Gondar in Northern Ethiopia, A favorite with the expats. Rumor has it that the beer tour is excellent and has free samples. Our school had a field trip to the brewery and all the kids got was a quiz from their teacher.  

What was said: 

note: This was tasted warm and will post an update soon. 

Beer: Meta 

ABV: 5%

Size: 33cl 
Company: Meta ABO Brewery S.C. Ethiopia
Style: Lager

Also in the frenzy to snatch up Ethiopian breweries, the Diageo Group staked its’ claim on “The Pride of Ethiopia” - Meta. Meta is brewed with malted barley, hops, and spring water. The Meta facility outside of Addis is a perfect place to spend an afternoon. Take a swim in the pool, see the waterfall, enjoy lunch, and drink a beer.

What was said:
 “nice for a yellow beer”
“sweet puppy breath, best light beer”
“taste like Ethiopia”
“sweet smelling, honey”
“Is this a social experiment, are you giving us the same beer each time?”

Beer: Meta Premium 

ABV: 5%

Size: 33cl 
Company: Meta ABO Brewery S.C. Ethiopia
Style: Lager

Meta’s blue label, established in 1967, states: “Crafted with pride, beer matured longer for a superior flavor.” Creeping up on the expat radar and soon to be a favorite.

What was said:
“taste like Friday night at the local”
“an all-nighter beer”
“Tuesday’s $1 beer”
“these chemicals will hurt you at 3 am”
“make me want salty nuts…er…peanuts or cashews”

Beer: Harar 

ABV: 5%

Size: 33cl 
Company: Harar Brewery, Ethiopia (Owned by HBSC)
Style: Lager

Yet another company owned by Heineken. I was told that when Heineken came into the fold, it laid off more than 500 people at the company in addition to making changes in both the brew times to the original recipe. I was fortunate enough to try both Harar and Hakim Stout in the older bottles. There are subtle, but noticeable differences in both. While both are still drinkable, I prefer the original taste.   

What was said:
“I want to like it, but can’t”
“a real Bud? No, a fake Bud.”
“teenaged summers”
“slightly bitter, has a bite, sort of like a pils form Eastern Europe”
“slightly burnt honey taste”

Beer: Amber 

ABV: 5.5%

Size: 33cl 
Company: BGI Ethiopia
Style: Lager

New on the Ethiopian beer scene in recent years, it has been a favorite and a hit with both the locals and feringi (Foreigners). A bottle will set you back a few cents more, but worth it. BGI thought it needed to compete with Harar’s Hakim Stout and Amber was their answer. 

What was said:
“smells like a cute girl named Amber”
“more challenging than others, super sweet”
“Oktoberfest, spicy”
“Ethiopian beer is saved”
“sweet caramel” 

Beer: Hakim Stout

ABV: 5.5%

Size: 33cl 
Company: Harar Brewery, Ethiopia (Owned by HBSC)
Style: Stout

I wouldn’t exactly call this a stout. When I first tasted this a few years back, it had a unique flavor, slightly bitter, burnt caramel, with a long finish. It was unique. Heineken has toned it down a bit in order to appeal to more customers. I’d be happy if they brought back the old label and recipe. If you make it to Harar go to the beer garden and taste the unpasteurized versions of both the Harar and Hakim Stout, they are delicious.     

What was said:
“open 2 hours early to de-fizz and we’re talking beer”
“smells like trouble”
“malty, bitter, lacks the true flavor of the original recipe of this beer”
“extra sugar”
“smells better than it tastes”
The damage.

Not tasted but worth a mention: The Beer Garden Inn (Garden Brau) Blondie and Ebony

 Click here to check out their website.

Name: Dungeon Master Dave
Age: f**k you
Race: Crumpets
Favorite Animal: Intestinal Parasites

Name: Chasing Amy

Age: ”Young enough to still get cute haircuts”

Race: Texan
Favorite Quote: “He’s British and a pilot, so I went home with him.”

Name: Duty Free Nate

Age: Smells like Amber  

Race: Barfly
Personal Goal: Pull an all nighter at the Kebelle

Name: Edy Amin
Age: Slightly underage
Race: Aspiring Oregonian
Favorite Insect: Fleas

Name: Chewbobca

Age: Grayer by the day

Race: Wookie 
Favorite pastime: Walking in circles
Old label. 
Before Walia. 
Detail from a six-pack box. I love the design before the company hired someone who works with photoshop and Illustrator.