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Last updated February 07, 2016. 

Travel Tales

Alan Gamboa Traveled Europe July 1999-Sept. 1999

July 5, 1999 August 1, 1999 September 5, 1999
July 14, 1999 August 9, 1999 September 19, 1999
July 21, 1999 August 18-19, 1999 September 25, 1999
August 28, 1999


August 28, 1999 Full Circle and Doors Closure

Welp, Iīve come full circle and Iīm back for one day in Berlin at Nadineīs house.  I probably should have clarified this a long time ago for those of you who donīt know... Nadine was an exchange student I met my senior year in high school and became good friends with.  So I came out here to visit her.  We planned to travel together for 6 weeks, but she ended up going home early.

So my being here is basically a remnant of that original plan.   Nadine is returning to school right about now so I was just going to travel on back with her.  I still have plenty to do here though, so itīs no biggy.  Tami's big party is tonight (Tami is the girl who cut her leg at the Love Parade) and I also needed some warmer clothes for Scandinavia.

"Berlin," you say, "last I heard you were in Barcelona."  Well let me catch you up then! ;)

It was great to just be in Spain.  Ever since the airplane, I had the Doors song, "Spanish Caravan," stuck in my head and it finally disappeared once I crossed that border.

Barcelona was quite cool.  Itīs a great city.  I canīt say enough about the place.  I made some good friends there, travelers and locals alike.

My first day and a half there I spent mostly with Amanda, the Minnesota girl I met on the train.  We checked out some of the great architecture and the park designed by Gaudí.  Thatīs actually the longest amount of time Iīve spent with an American since I left, but Amanda was a cool girl.

The next day we decided to go to the Picasso museum and people kept joining our group so soon we had a small international mob once again which included Gaddy (from Tel Aviv) who I hung out with quite a bit. I think this little mob is part of what made Barcelona so memorable.

But Barcelona has enough to be memorable about on itīs own.   Like la Rambla, the main street thatīs lined with human statues, gawkers, people selling junk, people selling birds, musicians, punks, and beggars. Itīs never empty... even at 5:00am thereīs still a couple hundred people there.  I saw the strangest things go down in that place.

One evening, I was just having a beer with a couple girls from the mob.  And we saw this young woman dressed in white (we think she was Spanish, but we couldn't be sure) surrounded by some dark skinned children.  She was in the middle of them (about 6 or 7) and they were all smiles and she was looking down upon them smiling as if she were Ghandi or a rock star or something.  She was with a man who stood outside the circle.  Finally, this other woman came and took all the children away except one.  The kid that was left walked off holding hands with the man and woman in white.  The kid was way too dark to be their kid. This story probably doesn't make much sense to you, but that's what happened... it doesn't make much sense to me either.   Our best guess is that she was buying the kid or renting him or something, but that seems kind of silly.  Those are the kind of things that took place on La Rambla.

My best memories of Barcelona involved this festival that was going on in the Barrio Gracia (a neighborhood in Barcelona).  Each street was decorated in itīs own unique way as part of a competition and each street had either a live band or a DJ.  I went two nights, once with just Gaddy and once with the mob.   It was great dancing from street to street and just having a good time.  The first time I went, Gaddy and I ended up in a group dance thing.  The band was playing this song and repeatedly shouting "Hey!"  We were all in chorus lines and every time they said it, weīd lean backwards quickly.  Another time, there was this Irish type band that played real folky music.  So we were dancing real folky, like where the guy and the girl kind of bounce up and down and spin around in a circle.  I danced with this Spanish girl who was kind of funny, she wanted to make sure that I understood that they didnīt have parties in the street all the time... but I think they kind of do. Before she left she asked me my name and I told her, "Alan."  I thought she didn't hear me because she leaned forward so I repeated myself louder, but actually she was leaning forward to kiss on both cheeks, which is what Spaniards (and most Europeans) do when they greet friends.  I felt kind of dumb for repeating my name.

After Barcelona, I headed for Madrid.  I was so tired from Barcelona I didn't even want to find out if they danced in the streets there.  Madrid was cool, but it was hard for it to compete with Barcelona.  I checked out the museums, which were free because it was the last Sunday of the month.  I also wandered around the streets a bit to see the sights and did some more drawing.  On my last day there I met with Amanda for lunch (she was studying in Madrid) and finally had some paella, good stuff.

But another Doors song had been in my head of late: "L.A. Woman," because it mentions something about "the city of lights," and I knew I would be in Paris soon. So I took off.

Now, I had never been that interested in France.  I donīt know why, I just hadnīt.  The only reason I was going to Paris was because if I didnīt theyīd probably revoke my passport or something... but all my apprehensions disappeared after a few hours as I found out what all the fuss is about. My first day in Paris was probably the best.  I checked into the hostel and set out.  The Louvre was closed, so I thought I'd check out the Musee d'Orsay which has art from my favorite period (the modern age starting around the impressionists or so).  I was going to take the metro, but I saw that it wouldnīt take that long to walk and if I walked I'd see the Eifel Tower, so I set out.  The Eifel Tower was truly impressive no matter how many times I'd already seen pictures of it.  It's strange how captivating it was... I'd have to say it's own of my all time favorite inanimate objects.  So I checked out the Tower and the museum.  I needed to get some francs, so I headed out a little further to the Banque de France. Then I realized I was right by Notre Dame so my path was working out great.  I went up the tower for a great view of Paris and to check out the gargoyles and the bells.  The lines were pretty horrendous though. I was standing around with two English girls.  They said, "We're pretty used to standing around in lines." The English are notorious for lining up.  I said, "Yeah, and it worked out pretty good too for us because it made you guys easier to shoot during the Revolution... like ducks in a row."  They thought it was pretty funny.     I love joking with the English about the Revolution.

So I headed back to the hostel where I met a few people and was invited in on their spaghetti dinner. The hostel has a kitchen, and I ended up joining in on someone's spaghetti every night.  After that, we all went back to the Eifel Tower which I love even more at night.

So I did lots of more stuff in the beautiful city of Paris (yes, I did make it to the Louvre eventually). I even met a few Parisians.  Contrary to popular belief, I found the French to be as friendly as anyone else and willing to speak English.

On my last day in Paris, I went to the famous cemetery there and saw (among others) Jim Morrison's grave. The bust was gone (stolen I think), but there were still lots of flowers, notes, and whole cigarettes that people left for Jim.   Seeing it brought some nice closure to the Doors songs I've had stuck in my head.

And now I'm off to Tami's party.

Till next time,



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