Saturday, June 18, 2005

my europe

As I’d mentioned before in my homesick ode to Chicago, there’s nothing that makes you feel more pent up than several consecutive 15 hour days at the library, knowing that there’s no respite in sight. [grabbing your hand so we can skip, wizard of oz fashion, down memory lane]...vignettes from Europe.

It started in Venice, where our gondolier looked just like Robert Redford. I took in nothing of the scenery but the view of our guide in his red and white striped shirt. He was 35, I was 19, he spoke almost no English, I think I would have married him had he asked. Maybe he did, but I just couldn’t understand him. We met some Australians at dinner (serenaded by “la vie en rose” on the accordion) and drank red wine with them until the sun came up. The night we left we had an hour before our midnight train, decided to wander and stumbled across the Contarini Bovolo staircase. It was eerie and beautiful, lit by little else but the moon...

In Munich we headed straight to the hoffbrahaus where we had these beautiful Serbian waiters smuggle out two of the litre mugs for us. We stashed them back at the hotel and went clubbing with those gorgeous waiters. I picked the tall one and we made out like high schoolers in all our (my?) drunken glory. i think I was sober for all of one hour in munich but I loved it...

New years was nicer in Nice, being able to yell, "bonne nouvelle annee!" endlessly and being kissed by a dozen French men every time you did...

A brilliantly sunny day in Monaco where everyone drives a Ferrari and you could literally eat of the ground, it sparkled so. We grabbed baguettes, pomegranates, and brie and spent it walking the hill on which the castle sits. For kicks we stopped by Monte Carlo in the evening and played slots, just so we could say we gambled there, amongst those who flew in on private helicopters wearing white tuxedo jackets...

Zurich was pristine and civilized. Cars stopped a mile back if they suspected we wanted to cross the street. Shop workers came outside to help if they saw us looking the least bit lost. It seemed everyone spoke English, and French, and German…it made me a ashamed to be a clumsy American with nothing but a working knowledge of Spanish...

Berlin's surrealness, paying tribute to peace by preserving evidence of war nestled in between the Gap and a McDonalds. It was all at once modern and a sad kind of old. What remained of churches that had been bombed had been left standing like a time capsule scattered about the city like chards of glass...

Stunning is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Prague. Our hotel owner was an overly-friendly man named janna (pronounced yahna). He was a photographer and begged us to pose for him. His portfolio contained no nudes, and I think he was harmless, but we didn’t want to take our chances and politely declined. He sent us to the best restaurant where we ate 5 course meals for $12 a person after a generous tip. The most amazing puppet (marionette) show of “the Barber of Seville” that I will never ever forget...

Ah paris! Gazing at the setting sun with a gargoyle at the top of Notre Dame, having batted our eyelashes enough at the two young men who told us we’d just missed the last entry up, and them letting us up for free after-hours, where we had the thing all to ourselves. We spent an entire evening on the left bank with the owner of the legendary Shakespeare & Co., George Whitman, and his partner in crime. I didn’t love Parisians and it was so good to find a couple friendly New Englanders, the cutest old men you’ll ever meet. They told us stories all evening about the countless famed writers who had rested their heads there...

When I think of Barcelona I think of Mamma. She owned the hostile we stayed at and babied us all. Wanted to know when we’d be back, did our laundry, and tucked all 20 of her guests in at night. She was crazy and loud and pushy but I truly felt like she loved every guest like her own child. We always looked forward to coming home to tell her about our day. And the view from her place was amazing.

17 people who played with me:

Blogger Larry said...

Wow.

6/18/2005 1:20 PM  
Blogger R. U. Serious said...

When you said he lookedx like Robert Redford, do you mean attractive young Robert Redford, or "I'm a walking ad for sunscreen" Robert Redford?

Damned If I Know

6/18/2005 6:15 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

This post made me think of my semester in Italy - the time of my life. If any of you young kids are reading this you have to study abroad, you will never have more fun and learn more in your life.

6/18/2005 9:36 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I agree. Wow.

6/19/2005 12:03 AM  
Blogger cadiz12 said...

me too. studying abroad or traveling all around europe is one of the most priceless experiences one can get.

6/19/2005 3:06 AM  
Blogger AM said...

Wow. So my aunt was right when she told me to travel around Europe when I'm already above 18 since it's going to be more fun.

6/19/2005 7:46 AM  
Blogger jac said...

Nice. You made an armchair travlogue with a touch of your style.

6/19/2005 8:18 AM  
Blogger Ale said...

don't mean to be a downer... but to this day i have not been able to "get over" my year in italy... i think it created some kind of imbalance in my head that i can't seem to reverse back to normal--

6/19/2005 11:08 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

I wish I had had the money to do something like that. Maybe someday though…

6/19/2005 3:37 PM  
Blogger jazz said...

serious: he was somewhere in the middle. i love older men ;)

am: def. go when you're old enough to remember it. i wish i'd waited another year or two maybe. it seems like forever ago..

jon: it was cheap. we saved by riding trains through the night, staying in cheap hostels, i had only a backpack and lots of black clothes. and febreeze. febreeze saved my life. i was gone a month and a half, spent like 1,000 total. that's less than a months rent for me.

6/19/2005 4:25 PM  
Blogger Syar said...

i'll have to be a repitionist and say wow. and i totally made that word up. I haven't travelled in 9 or so years, and I'm dying to finish my diploma here so I can up and leave. ah europe....I so love you for posting this. I'll agree with jon. I don't have enough moolah to go to a place where their currency is 7 times mine.
=(

6/19/2005 11:04 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

That’s not really that expensive, but when I had the time, I didn’t have the money and when I had the money, I didn’t have the time. What a cruel world we live in…

6/20/2005 1:05 AM  
Blogger Gloria Glo said...

Someday. Someday I will go to Europe. And it had better be half this beautiful. Well described, jas. I felt like I was there.

6/20/2005 1:29 AM  
Blogger Gloria Glo said...

Jas, your profile image breasts may be the only pair better than mine. I'm really getting a complex here. How can I save for Europe when I'm so busy obsessing over obtaining fabulous breasts?

6/20/2005 1:30 AM  
Blogger Chronic_Roll said...

I was wondering about Barcelona. How easy it is to get around that place without knowing Catalan?

6/20/2005 10:56 AM  
Blogger cadiz12 said...

half of the spaniards who visit don't know catalan. it's pretty easy to get around if you know a little castilian and i think enough people know english that you won't be totally screwed even if you don't. some people will be snotty to you no matter what. barcelona is a must-see.

6/20/2005 5:00 PM  
Blogger Digitalicat said...

You're taking all of us with you next time, right?

6/20/2005 11:22 PM  

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