there are so many pieces i wrote after various travels that i have sitting around- i am trying to get them onto my blog, one by one, so that they're more accessible. there are some i am not going to bother posting on this blog- i wrote a piece about my interview with kevin spacey and the time i found a copy of The Neverending Story in the used bookstore that most reminded me of that movie- but none of those are very long or, i think, very interesting.
and once i went to palestine and israel and for some reason didn't write much about it- i had a lot to write, but i was emotional about the experience and failed to really capture my thoughts; and now of course many of the details about what i felt are lost.
however. the following is a piece i wrote that did capture an experience:written saturday, June 10, 2000
so i just got back from europe and i'm feeling, well, a little melancholy at all the endings i'm experiencing lately. a little relieved to be able to rest. and a LOT cleaner (showering every day is GOOD).
the trip started in ireland- we (devon, kara and i) fell in love with it right away. i saw most of ireland by bus, as we traveled from city to city- it's amazing. the constant rain results in a landscape that is every bit as green as its reputation suggests. and, interestingly, the countryside here has a much 'wilder' feel- the wilderness is not penned in; the impression i got was that the cities were built among the wilderness. yet they are definitely urban.
in the Aran Islands, we hiked by night to the top of a mountain with the guidance of a neighborhood dog who adopted us- not knowing his name, we called him a variety of things before he finally answered to Boombaladdy. of all things. up there, we were alone in the world, standing at the ruins of a castle and hearing nothing but the waves. "and just when i climbed this whole mountainside... to wash my eyelids in the rain"
- leonard knows.
after a week in ireland i felt as though it were as much mine as chicago is. we never stayed more than a couple of days in any one city there, but life in ireland- well, life in transit in ireland- was becoming the norm. it's strange, but this was not a foreign country. i was obviously far from knowing ireland well, but the point is that the world shrank in a way. i loved the thought of going to six more countries and knowing that they too would become mine.
on to england and then france- the first day we did paris the touristy way- i loved that, but the best part of the day was that evening when, sitting by the seine, waiting for the lights to go on along the river (and singing les mis songs, of course of course), we suddenly saw, in the distance, the eiffel tower EXPLODE in flashing lights. it was awesome- the whole monument was covered in firecracker bursts. we looked at each other, looked back at it- it was mesmerizing. according to a nearby frenchman, they light the tower up like this for ten minutes every hour until one am. (the lights display is in honor of the year 2000.) so it was 10:15 pm, and we wanted to be at the tower when it flashed again. so we booked it- ran there and made it just in time. this time when it began flashing, we were right in front of it. it was raining that night, and in one of the puddles we could see the reflection of the entire flashing tower- it was all very picturesque.
earlier that day we visited the louvre- my favorite part of that was the architecture within the building; the ceilings and doorways were carved with such intricacy. i can't imagine why so much effort was put into the ceiling when everyone's attention is on the walls.
but regardless, it's beautiful.
two days later we were in nice- the french riviera is heavenly. we spent five and a half hours at the beach, just staring at the water- which was such a deep shade of blue that the sky looked white in comparison. i don't know what it is about a large body of water that leaves me so enthralled and contemplative. it is such a grand sight to behold- everything mysterious and powerful and calming at once
the paradise-hopping continued- the next day we were in venice. this was a completely different kind of beauty. venice was a city that in some ways was exactly what i was expecting- but mostly it surprised me. much more commercial than i had thought, and yet it retains its definitive culture- with its courtyards and piazzas and pigeons and basilicas and water buses and marketplaces and accordian players and music and thousands of maze-like back alleys... i can't believe people actually lead normal lives in venice. it's such a fairy tale. we took a nighttime gondola ride, of course, and oh. it was so 'wings of the dove' ;) i loved it. we couldn't hear anything but the sound of the oar hitting the water. this trip has given me many picturesque moments, but this was one of the best.more than ever before, i've gotten a sense of how small the world really is- before, when i've traveled, i've taken a plane to get to a certain country, stayed there, and then taken the plane back. this always creates a sense of distance, vastness- as though i must travel long to reach a foreign place. this trip, though, this france today and italy tomorrow and germany the next day has made distance seem small- basically i feel very much a part of the world as a whole. i know part of this has to do with the fact that these countries are right next to each other- but despite their proximity they've retained very distinct cultures. i felt like we were crossing into one world after another.
on to germany and then austria- in austria, salzburg was my favorite. we saw all the 'sound of music' sights- it was actually pretty interesting visiting all the places that appear in the movie. we then watched the film that night at the hostel, and kept exclaiming, "the fortress! we were JUST there!" or "the garden! we were just THERE!" since salzburg is mozart's birthplace, we caught a concert. a really good one, actually- we loved it.
one of my favorite parts of the trip was going onto the alps- we went up a mile by cable car, and then we climbed to the top of the peak by foot. we kept climbing higher and higher, stopping on the way to play in the snow. and what a view. we had to stop every couple of minutes just to look around- and getting to the top was definitely worth the climb. standing up there was simply inspiring.
after austria we went to amsterdam- did the anne frank house, which is a must-see. it is a moving experience- and interestingly i emerged more heartened than depressed. the tour focuses, in a way, on people's capacity for compassion
so. there's the run-down. the trip is over- devon, kara- or, as i should say, sebastian, eliza- it's been awesome. these three weeks have been incredible. we've shared a lot of beauty- and weirdness - and women with lobster claws doing the macarena on the canal- here's to the late-night heated discussions- here's to the hilarity and the bullfighting ;) here's especially to mel c's catchy little song. i've summarized the trip here in a couple of pages, but what i've seen and learned could fill a hundred- in all i've had a great time and may the adventures keep on coming.