Naturally, when one engages in all of the “night before” packing, planning, and last minute everything-ing for a trip abroad, the mind wanders to previous travels. Memories begin to flood in from my Euro-expeditions in a spinning circular Rolodex. It’s been longer than a decade since the last trip across the ocean.
Some first peregrinations there pervade the senses: During a few years in the early 1990’s, I spent hours on end in a rented lorry driving on the wrong side of the vehicle (it was rented in London), to nearly every mid-sized nightclub in Europe with an “up-and-coming-band” from Los Angeles. Thinking myself the only one of sound mind and disposition, I volunteered to be the driver everywhere but in the U.K. where I was certain I would kill us all. It was bad enough to be driving from the passenger seat with the stick shift to my left, but top it off with driving on the wrong side of the road too? No way.
Recollections begin to drift in as I triple check my suitcase:
- 5-days in the Czech Republic with 2 days OFF (the only ones) in Prague.
- a morning off in Vienna where a store owner gave me the wrong change for a bottle of water that cost elf-neunzig. He kept my entire fünfzig per diem, claiming I only paid him fünfzehn. I told him the fünfzig was all I had in the world for the next 3 days and surely he would see it in his drawer as his mistake. He cast me away. He was rotten. I sat outside his store on the sidewalk, sipping water and crying. I made sure that everyone who walked by knew he was a cheater. He finally walked out and handed me the proper change two hours later. He tired of my bad publicity to his potential customers.
- a tavern in the north of England that had just received ceramic swag advertising Boddington’s Bitters, handing me the coolest ashtray that I still use to this day as my key holder near my front door.
- the 6-hour detention of the band arriving in Stockholm by ferry from Copenhagen because a rock band must surely be carrying drugs purchased from those lenient Danes. Every panel was ripped from the interior of the van, every nook and cranny searched with flashlights, along with the lead singer (a female) and I strip-searched by poker-faced, big Swede female, zero-tolerance officers who knew we must have something in the hems of our pants or other hidden places. The only thing they found in the vehicle was a tincture of Valerian and several ashtrays filled with previously smoked, rolled cigarette leftovers. Most members of this band did not even imbibe let alone partake in any drugs beyond herbal remedies. Well, the drummer and the lead singer drank enough for everyone, but…We finally made it to the gig way past sound check only to find they had been booked in a discotheque with no stage monitors and a surround sound system wired from the DJ booth. I got very creative with the mix that night…on the fly.
This excursion will be quite unique for me. It’s the first time I’m traveling alone and my voyage holds a unique bookend of time to spend in Reykjavik, Iceland for two days each at the beginning and end of the trip. The fairy-tale land of music by Sigur Rós, Björk, Of Monsters and Men, Seabear, and the Icelandic Airwaves awaits. Drop me in the Blue Lagoon upon my arrival after 11 hours in the air.
The extras about one’s travel: you pull out your passport after having not looked at it for a few years only to find you look either like a fugitive or someone in the witness protection program. Who is that staring back at me? You friends circle around to wish you well in various lovely personal send-offs: some provide a lovely new book to read on your trip, a pocket “Italian for Travellers”, and a reminder to take your pencils to doodle.
Stop back in to check out the travel blog here. You’re welcome to hang out with me to see, hear, and watch as I trip the light fantastic in the lands of my people.
Cheers to Liz the Young Adventuress for the photo.