On my recent travels to Europe, I brought along a Field Notes Brand Memo Book and another journal to write in. The FNB memo book is small and fit in my pants pocket for the quick note taking that I might need.
The other journal book was for those times in the room or on the plane I might need to write more.
During the entire trip I re-read the first three books of the Dark Tower series (Gunslinger, Drawing of the Three and Wastelands) as well as re-reading of American Gods. Some of the comments I jotted down came from the fact that things spoken about while touring the cities related back to the books.
In Barcelona, I wasn’t struck by much that was comment worthy, and I believe that the pictures that my wife and I took are enough. We had an EXCELLENT time in that city, even though it seems that smoking is a national past time there.
Once we hit Italy, and Florence in particular, I found that I spent more time reading and as such, what I mentioned about finding things that coicidentially related to the Dark Tower stories happened.
Enough of this rambling. Make with the thoughts/comments
— The final day/night there, we had a leak in the ceiling. We placed some towels on the floor as we didn’t have a bucket, there was no one at the front desk, and we didn’t want to have workers in the room. That constant noise added to an AC Unit that sounded like a jet engine…well I didn’t sleep much. When I did sleep, I noticed that I stepped into dreams as a way of shutting out the sound. IN one instance, I walked into a comic book store. In another, it was a tiny house where a Texas Hold’em Poker game was going on attended by people I knew from high school. Each time, when I left the dream, I would once again hear the dripping and wake up. I wrote the following little…diddy…as a result:
Drip, Drip, Drip
Tiny house, poker game
Acquaintances from high school and college
Walk into a comic store in the dream to sleep
To ignore the damnable machine and the
Drip, Drip, Drip
It’s nothing fancy, but it is funny. I was also slightly delirious…you know….from the lack of sleep.
Florence and Tuscany
— While reading Wastelands, it talks specifically about a deli and then an abandond lot on the corner of 2nd and 46th that is the location of the Rose/Tower in our world. I made a note to check it out.
— In the movie ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ the comment is made about the ‘Creepy Italian Trees’ knowing…just knowing. We constantly saw these trees (Mediterranean/Italian Cypress trees) in groupings and larger areas while taking to trains out to the hill towns. Laughingly the wife and I talked about it and I said I was going to write a horror book called “The Forest of Creepy Italian Trees”
— While in Florence, we hit up an Internet Cafe across from where we were staying on a daily basis. On one of these days we sat next to an American girl who was Skyping with her family. She was ‘freaking out’ about seeing the cast of Jersey Shore and telling her family how she was ‘freaking out’ the previous evening when she saw them. I’m a bitter curmudgeon, so I kept wishing she’d freak out enough to pass out and shut up about it already. On another evening, we had the unfortunate pleasure of running into the ‘entourage’ of the JS folks…we hurriedly went the other way. Nothing like exporting the worst of America to another country. I do find solace in the fact that the local Florence government is finding ever which way they can to monetarily fine this group of genetic rejects. 😉
— We did a bus tour of some of the hill towns on another day. One of the stops there was Sienna. I enjoyed the time we spent there. We had a guide for the time there as well. She spoke decent English, but seemed to put a sultry tone on adjectives and the endings of sentences. It seemed especially out of place when she was talking about the Sienna Duomo (main church in the city). Sienna is also known for the horse races in it’s central square (Piazza del Campo), known as the Palio di Siena . Apparently the entire city is broken down into districts that are represented by animals. It explains it more at the link. Anyway, the woman who was our guide was from the Turtle District. My interest in this was ALSO due to the Dark Tower series which has a Turtle as one of the Guardians of the Beam that hold the Dark Tower up. Once again, a coincidence that I found amusing. 😉 Here is the ‘nursery rhyme’ of the Turtle related by Roland in the book:
“See the TURTLE of enormous girth!
On his shell he holds the earth.
His thought is slow but always kind;
He holds us all within his mind.
On his back all vows are made;
He sees the truth but mayn’t aid.
He loves the land and loves the sea,
And even loves a child like me.”
— Back in Flornece, we hit a Picasso/Miro/Dali exhibition at the Palozzo Strozzi. It detailed the three artists works and lives from 1900 to 1925, a time when they were ‘maturing and discovering’ thjemselves. As stated, their styles had not fully matured into what they each would be known for, but you could see the hints and see the influneces both from outside and from each other. I’m not a huge fan of modern art, but the exhibit was very interesting. I did come to realize that I do like works by Dali.
— After this, we went to see another exhibit the museum had called Virtual Identities. This was filled with art from artists dealing with current technologies and social networks and so forth. Very interesting, if at times overwhelming with information…literally. There was a wall, 8ft by 20ft playing a constant loop of YouTube videos….thousands of them. The one tidbit that i took away from there was Seppukoo. It was very interesting, and I have been contemplating it more and more recently.
— On the road to the airport from the Santa Maria Novella train/bus terminal, we saw a billboard selling tickets to an invisble circus. BEST. BUSINESS. IDEA. EVER!!
— And finally, Meridianna, the airline that flies back and forth from Italy to Spain. Their automated flight safety video has a soundtrack and video production right out of the nightly news of some backwater podunk market. I wasn’t really paying attention at first until the music scared the shit out of me.
That’s it, for the stuff I had written down. I saw many beautiful things, was able to appreciate the natural beauty of the Mediterranean and Tuscany, eat delicious food, drink wonderful wine and more than anything, RELAX. I don’t think I had felt so relaxed in a very, very long time. So I am not going to bother to put into words that feeling, because honestly, it is not possible. I just need to hold onto that feeling for as long as I can.