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
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
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,