Friday, September 30, 2011

To the Old Continent Again

After our intense past with the highs of Italy & Bergen, and the lows of Spain (yes, Spain; I still remember), still, I have to admit: I love Europe.

There’s quite a bit of magic there in the Old Continent. Everywhere you go in Europe, you’re bound to see something unique that you can’t see anywhere else—mostly because Europe is, after all, old. Ever country you get to walk / ride / drive through, presents its own history in ways that are as hard to explain as it is easy to experience. You can see—forget see; feel—that people, lots of people have lived there before you.

Now I am not a culture buff; museums, galleries and the like are usually of little interest to me. But if that’s your fix, then Europe is certainly the place for you to go. Heck, to see buildings and artefacts from the Medieval times, you need not even step into a museum in some cases; just walk the streets, gaze at the buildings, the bridges and the towers; breathe in, and feel it.

This is why I am happy whenever I get the chance to travel to Europe. If only I had the brains to travel more often when I was actually living in Israel… oh, if only I knew back then. Flights from Tel-Aviv to Prague, for example, sometimes sell for as low as $200-250 round-trip. London—which is of the furthest places to (in Europe) fly to from Tel-Aviv—sometimes has sales for about $500 round-trip. Or you can just fly to Frankfurt for cheap and take a train virtually anywhere.

I’m all packed now. Sitting in JJ Cafe a stone-throw from my apartment, listening to bizarre new-age music; to my right, a man and a gorgeous woman are sitting talking nonsense. They don’t look like a couple—something there just doesn’t add up. He’s speaking profanities every so often, she’s bragging about her work (modeling) being an easy cash-cow. One of those no-brains-involved, light-headed chit-chats you tend to overhear ever so often here in the “life is oh so easy” city of Vancouver—precisely those types of dialogs I can never bring myself to participate in, let alone initiate.

Checked in to my KLM flight departing tomorrow to Amsterdam; even paid an extra $187 for a “Premium Economy” seat—it’s either that, or I’d be stuck in some middle seat in Economy Class (all seats left were middle seats) for approximately ten hours.

My now-famous (well, sort-of) green backpack was brought to Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC; that’s just about your #1 place to go to, in Canada, for outdoors / travel needs. Quite an amazing store) a few days ago to have some of its strings re-done. Purchased nine years ago and still rocks like a champ.

Everything’s ready… except for me. Ever since I moved to Vancouver, I find it hard to get the 100% motivation to get up and travel anywhere—the reason being that I now live in my dream place. Living here, for me, is already some sort of a vacation because I am absolutely in love with this place. But hey, I’ll sleep on it and see how things go. I should be all ready to go tomorrow.

Arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, I will immediately be boarding a train en route to Delft, to meet my buddy Jeroen. A few days there to unwind, before flying to Dublin (Jeroen will be attending a few shows as well) where Mark Knopfler’s and Bob Dylan’s tour begins.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

West Coast Autumn; from Dublin to Rotterdam

And so after a magnificent summer in Vancouver, spent—to some considerable extent—either on the beach or very close to it, it seems like the sun has sailed away and autumn is here. The breathtaking beauty of Vancouver-in-the-sun has been replaced with a less breathtaking—yet still much enjoyable—greyish hue.

It isn’t cold here yet; it’s comforting to know, though, that even at the winter’s peak, temperatures here are still above zero and snow is seldom seen in the city.

My first summer in this pearl of a city appears to be over, making its way to autumn. It’s September already… and as every year, there’s the “September thing”.

In every year since I came to Canada, the month of September always had some weird “atmosphere” in it. It seems as if the chilly winds of September carry the seed of change with them; just when you think you became comfortable enough where you are, doing what you do, comes the breeze of September and shuffles everything.

While living in Waterloo, Ontario, I used to rent out two bedrooms in my house to students (as Waterloo is world-renowned for its excellent universities). September was when tenants moved out and new ones moved in: old, familiar faces to bid farewell (mostly with extreme jubilation on my part; seldom, like in Laura’s case, it was hard and sad) and new, unfamiliar faces to welcome and get accustomed to.

The Jewish high holidays usually take place in September, emphasizing the feeling of being away from the family.

Travel plans are usually done in September, as the outlook for the rest of the year becomes clearer and my annual visit to Israel can be scheduled without being worried of it interfering with everything else.

And of course, last but not least… September is when autumn comes.

All combined, it gives me the feeling of some sort of an end… end of something. Change. A slight touch of melancholia. Change. Again.

People who know me well would tell you how I dislike promising things I don’t know for sure I’m going to deliver. Rarely, if ever, do I put the carriage before the horse.

I won’t get much into the details of how and why, or why it took so long; I’ll suffice by saying that things haven’t been very simple here over the last few months (relatively speaking) so only very recently I finally made up my mind.

I will attend the first third (ten eleven shows) of Mark Knopfler’s joint tour with Bob Dylan, from Dublin to Rotterdam, inclusive. I will fly to Amsterdam to visit my good friend Jeroen this coming Saturday; on October 5, I’ll be flying to Dublin and join the tour (as a spectator; no, I still haven’t made it to the band’s line-up) by trains and a couple of flights, ending my share of the tour in Rotterdam.

Plus, I may be doing some writing throughout, in this blog you’re reading at the moment.

So, if you happen to catch one of these shows, come by and say hello; don’t be a stranger.

I just have to warn you in advance, though, to avoid confusions and shock. I know it might have been a bit irresponsible for me to do it, but I did. Please, try to contain yourself if you come by and say hello and find out that something’s not quite right. Don’t freak out.

I shaved.