Portraits for Haiti

After the earthquake on January 12, 2010, I felt as if I had to use whatever resource I could humanly think of to help Haiti. The evening after the quake I explained to a friend that I was brainstorming about what I could do, and he suggested that I take portraits to raise money for the restoration of Haiti. Thanks E. I would also love to thank everyone who lent a helping hand in making the idea a reality. You were appreciated. The results were a fun filled and positive day for Haiti. There will be future events so check back often for updates, and never hesistate to contact me. Ayiti!

Stay Positive,


Madrid and the final hours

Now our trip to Madrid which we had originally planned to be four days got cut to three days because of our extended stays in my favorite cities, Amsterdam and Paris. In short although it rained the majority of the time, and we were beat from our previous travels, we mainly watched the world cup, ate, and walked around. By this time we were too beat to do much of anything else. Here is a room in our Hostel that reminded me of more of gallery or a well preserved house that belonged to royalty. It was a huge house turned into a hostel with so much character.

Madrid had a very homely feel to it, but don’t let that fool you. They party as hard as the folk in Barcelona. 12am – 7am, it’s not a joke for them. More like a religion. After this we head to Barcelona for one night and then I try to get on a flight back home. I found out that the loan I needed to attend the program didn’t work out, so back home it is – to job hunt. Yay. Stay tuned and stay positive!


Amsterdam meets Paris.
At this point some vagabond has gotten a hold of my debit card info and has gone to town so Paris almost didn’t happen. I digress, I’ll expand on that later.

Our metro stop – Jaurés

Walking from from our failed attempt to visit the Louvre. Closed on Tuesdays? Pretty random day of the week to be closed if you ask me.

The Eiffel Tower aka the makeshift thigh master.

After walking up how ever many flights to the 1st tier Steph and I hopped on a lift, while Ron keeping walking. He was probably trying to burn off all the ham we’ve consumed thus far.

The view from up top

This bakery was something out of a French film. It was equipped with a little old French lady with a tiny voice. They had sandwich options other then the EU’s staple ham, and cheese baguettes.

Finally the Louvre. We were only able to see the Ancient Egyptian exhibit because we got there an hour before closing. On the up side we got in for free because we were mistaken for EU citizens under 26. Kudos to Ron on speaking to the cashier in French.

What fascinated me about the exhibits were how advanced the Egyptians were and of course their use of color.

Baretts? Tre cliché because I didn’t see one Parisian in one. Tourists ruin everything.

Ordering sweets at Angelina’s

Had to try a Chocolate eclair. This photo is dedicated to my sis, Melissa, a lover of French cuisine.

Ron had some sort of layered mousse like cake. Mildly sweet, but creamy.

Angelina’s famous hot chocolate aka melted hershey bars. Whoa! This was intense! We were determined to finish it even if it had the potential to give us the shakes, and it did.

Walking to the Champs-Élysées

Flying rats aka Pigeons attack an empty table with bread. Go figure, fraudulent vultures.

Champs-Élysées. A circle of madness, and beauty.

The tunnel to get to the center. God forbid you try to walk into the madness. Instant death, I guarantee it.

Last dinner in Paris, complete with foie gras, wine and cigarettes. On to Madrid.


Step out of the train station and my first thought was, “I could live here.” Amsterdam has the sort of accepting vibe you would expect from your significant other.

Another walking tour. A sculpture that the citizens of Amsterdam like because it encompasses all that Amsterdam. Red light district anyone?

When I saw buildings with windows like these I felt right at home.

Along the way….

Bikes rule Amsterdam. There are more bikes than there are cars and we were fortunate to be able to ride around like Dutch for two days when we rented bikes.

Oddly enough, a decked out alien really didn’t seem out of place.

More bikes


Did they plan this? Yellow bike and yellow graffiti? Of course not, it’s Amsterdam. They’re just that cool.

Most laid back place I visited except for the bikes that would run you over if you accidentally stood in the bike lane.

Good friend Stephy came to join us the second day! Check her blog out as well. (connervarin.com/blog)

Loved this bike. At this point, I’m pretty sure our walking tour guide was rather fed up with us lagging behind. Sorry we’re artists!

This was a squatter house. According to our guide, if someone finds an empty space and is able to simply walk into it, they can live there. After a certain time they can actually claim it as their property. Hmmm, love for everyone, even the hobos, okay Amsterdam.

I was joking about the “hobos”comment, I’m sure they’re just artist wanting to live free spirit like so they can create these masterpieces for onlookers like myself.

Bikes and graffiti are really becoming my favorite theme for Amsterdam.

Ahhh, Volden Park. This park can be described as a temporary time warp into the 70s. Enough said.

Ahhh, Volden Park. This park can be described as a temporary time warp into the 70s. Enough said.

Would it be considered disrespectful to ask them to paint a clog with an American flag design? Just asking.

No better way to learn about a city then to walk through its streets.

Another thing Amsterdam had was, style. If only I had a few extra thousand Euros, I could indulge in their style.

Near the Van Gogh Museum. We were all Amsterdam for the 4 days we spent there.

Back at Volden Park. It has that sort of effect on people. On to Paris!


So about that all nighter, FAIL! For one we REALLY didn’t want to leave, so it’s like we subconsciously made every effort to miss our flight. After a 60 Euros cab ride that would have been 120 had we not found a random couple to split it with we would have stuck in Barcelona. Not that it would have been such a bad thing. Here’s the view from our Hostel in Roma, The Yellow. I must admit our time in Rome was definitely tainted by our unwillingness to leave Barcelona.

One thing I’ve noticed about the metro in Roma and in Barcelona, is that you rarely see people running for trains like you do NYC. I envy them.

Graffiti on trains. Too awesome for my blood.

The walking tour given by our pleasant Canadian guide, who had made a living in Rome giving walking tours of Rome to English speaking tourists – gold-mine.

So day two, we look for the shopping district. Ew, Rome, ew. Excuse my juvenile commentary but that’s the first thing that came to mind upon seeing the general style of Rome. Yes, the men were quite well dressed, but the women disappointed me. I know it’s not Milan, but yikes. After that disappointment we head to St. Peter’s and the Vatican, but only  to have to return to the shopping district because you need sleeves to enter the Vatican. Opps! Sorry mom! (she’s a devote Catholic) Definitely forgot about that!

Walking back to the hostel.

Here is the grossness I had to sleep across for three nights. These belong to the sweetest Canadian nineteen year old girl, no idea which one, but there were two of them in the bunk across from me that had a problem keeping their belongings
on their side of the room. Just some insight on hostel life, if you’re squeamish about other people’s dirty underwear, you might want to look into hotels. Enough about the joys of backpacking, off to Amsterdam!!

Day 4 – Barcelona

On our way to the beach, finally. After my trip to Rio, I’ve been a fiend for the beach. Yacht ride anyone?

Alas, peace.

World meet Naked Man. Naked Man meet world. This dude strutted his stuff for about half the time we were at the beach (6 hours). Yes, the beach was a nude beach, but I only saw few topless women and one naked man. Rumor has it that it is legal to be naked in Barcelona as long as you have shoes on. You wouldn’t want to offend anyone with your toes now, would you?

The walk back from the beach.

Art within art.

La Plaça Real

Sangria and Gyros

Now our first night I scooped the lobby/common area and saw this peculiar looking man. He appeared to be African American, had hair like he had electrocuted himself and seemed to be in his early fifties. He had a nervous look about him and being the observer that I am, I did what I do best and I observed. Although I didn’t feel threatened I made sure if he was in the room I knew where he was. Hey, I’m a New Yorker, I can’t help it so creepsters and I just don’t mix. Later that evening, while conversing with some hostel folk, two guys from Maryland, they mentioned that their hostel mate, named Jesus, both a certified nut and pot head, was the nicest person they’ve met. They proceeded to describe this fort of balloons on his bunk bed. I brushed it off thinking, “Riiiiiight a fort of ballons, whatever.” Big mistake.
So as we were leaving for the beach earlier on, some of our hostel mates had to switch rooms and in walks Jesus. I look at my friend and he looks at me and we give each other a “HOLY SHIT!” look. Of course our room, would be his next room to occupy, it was only right. Off we go to the beach and when we return as we’re entering our room I jokingly ask my friend, “Are you ready for what we’re about to walk into?” and he chuckles. In we walk, and I uncontrollably (trust me I tried, because the last thing you want to do is piss off a creep) let out a loud gasp as my friend voices a “WTF!” all because we were greeted by Jesus and his ballon fort.
I wish the story of Jesus ended here, but it didn’t. In attempts to ease the obvious tension in the room my friend took a stab talking to Jesus (please don’t call him Jésus, he might threaten you), and asks Jesus where he is from. Wrong subject! Jesus’ response was, “I’m from heaven.” Silence. I sarcastically say, “Aren’t we all?” Which was followed by an angry rant from Jesus. In short he didn’t want to get into it and didn’t respond well to questions of any sort. As he stepped out of the room, I had my friend block the door and I snapped a picture of the fort with my trusty iPhone. Apparently he doesn’t like pictures, and he was seen telling a girl to kill herself with her camera when she requested to take a picture. Fortunate for us, it was our last night and we were planning to pull an all nighter to catch our 8 am flight to Rome. Or else I’d have to sleep in the bunk next to the ballon fort, and that was just not happening. On that note, see you in Roma!

Day 2 and 3 – Barcelona

Ok we wake up somewhat on time to check out (11am), and still jet lagged but even worst because we decided to hit a club crawl last night. Word of advice, if you ever stay at a hostel and a guy named Marcos is in charge of any sort of outting, just say no. Or you will end up ditched at some point of the evening very confused and probably lost. Enough about the night before, off to Kabul. It’s in La Plaça Real, (you’ll see pics later), and appears trendy and modern from the outside. We’re greeted by a jerk with an even mixture of rudeness and sarcasm to dazzle us while he checked us in. There are 12 beds in this room and we’re the first ones to occupy it. There’s only one thing on my mind now, sleep.

After much needed rest we head downstairs on our way to find something to devour, hopefully not ham. Lucky for us the hostel was hosting a trip to La Cantonada, a restaurant known for their Paella and Sangria (which came with a disclaimer), sign us up!

There we had the best Paella and Sangria and were able to get to know some of the hostel patrons. There were teachers, Canadians (we’ve met Canadians in all of hostel rooms, apparently they get around!), Americans (we’re everywhere), and just an awesome group of people.

This was an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. It’s on the ceiling, but yet this perspective makes you feel as if you’re on top looking down.

Suffering from the first night of partying with Kabul hostel folk. Kabul Hostel and Barcelona party hard!

Walking through the museum…

More graffiti. Can I take you home?