Saturday, December 8, 2007

Rome, Holland, and coming home

Damn. I can't belive it's Sunday and I''m coming home in three more days. I've been anxious and ready to get home for a while now because it seemed so close, but now I can't believe its over. Travel isn't something I'd reccomend for everybody, you really have to feel up to it, and you also have to feel you can handle almost anything that will come up. Theres definitely no way you can be prepared for it all, you just have to know you can handle it.

I think the real point of the whole thing is the actual travelling, just covering all that ground. Its really a trip to switch back and forth between languages, customs, and such on an almost daily basis, it can be confusing. I get a massive personal satisfaction from knowing I have covered all the ground from one place on a map to another. A friend and I made it to Amsterdam from Rome in 22 hours, and looking at the map afterwards we were pretty pleased with ourselves knowing we had ridden that massive distance on a train, straight over the ground that whole time.

I'm in Amsterdam again, and I've gotten pretty familiar with this place. I can tell my hostel friends what trams to take where, when, and why you would want to go to the Rokerij over the GreenHouse. After a while you start to feel the energy of a place, and get in the rhythm of life. This happens everywhere, but it takes a different rhythm to help you realize there was a rhythm in the first place. After a while, you just know where to go, and thats the next thing I want to talk about.

The most important part of traveling (and other good travelers agree) is to pay attention to yourself and your own reactions to what you see. I call it 'reading omens' in a goofy metaphysical way, but there are actually omens there. So after you get into a mode where you are ready to sense a deep energy, you have to start getting in tune with how your body vibrates with that energy. If you see a street that strikes a chord with you and you feel good about it, you have to go down that street! This is so important to how I travel. Too many times I have met people who just want to 'see' what else there is... and they never just appreciate where they already are. This is not the way to travel. Your feelings are there to help you, listen to them.

Finally the story of the camera man. Once upon a time there was a traveler. All the people who knew him called him Tourist because he lived his whole life never really seeing, at least not for himself. He knew he could'nt really see because whenever he saw something really special, he had to take a picture to save it and look at it later. Maybe he would show it to his friends because they might see something he didn't. Even they realized that what they were seeing wasn't anything at all, it was just a well rendered 2 dimensional copy, so they didn't really see it either. One fateful day, the Tourist's camera was stolen, and since it was everything to him, he simply froze on the spot like a statue. It was if his whole life was gone because he hadn't figured out his pictures and now they were gone. So he was frozen, looking at the ground; after all the great things he had seen in his life he was forced to watch a single scurrying ant. At first it bored him, he was about to see the Grand Chapel of Colisseum Greatness and this was nothing compared to that. Then he just watched the ant go about its business and soon enough it began to interest him how the ant walked. Soon he was fascinated. He wanted to study ants forever. He wanted to find out all he could, and when he decided this about what once bored him, he was unfrozen. He spent the rest of the day just looking at all the wonders of the ground, and then slowly, day by day he knew he could really see, and he looked at the world with different eyes.

Someone told me this story and I don't think I'll ever be a tourist again.

So I'm off to do some shopping and find a decent tattoo shop. Be back soon.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Paris: City of Lights

Bonsoir! Sava?
So I'm now in Marseille and this one might take a while because the keyboards here are tré mal, and quite different; I'm pecking around and trying to get my bearings.
I also have a lot to say about Paris. Chiefly, what a town. Seriously. I don't think I made it to bed before 4 at all, and after 5 days my sleep cycle has pretty much adjusted to that schedule. In a city that never sleeps, this is a good thing.
Secondly, Chàmpagne is very cheap here in France, and corks have been popping all over the place.

Stayed at a very interesting hostel, I ended up being almost a secondary caretaker, cleaning up beer bottles, dealing with some assholes and such, the Parisiennes just don't care. Last night for example, I was helping a strange Japanese kid get into his room which was locked. I was knocking on the door trying to wake up the bright fellow who locked the door and then went to sleep. All of a sudden some pissed off Frenchman came and tossed the Japanese kid down a flight of stairs (he wasn't hurt too badly probably because of the aforementioned champagne) and this really pissed me off extremely. The Japanese dude was actually apologizing. So my Brazilian friend Flavio and I got the guy kicked out. Partly because I was hanging out with the owner and I could swing it. The kid was just so defenseless, and I knew the feeling of being in a strange place and no one caring. He thanked me very profusely, with a lot of bowing and arigatos.

The louvre was brilliant, if a little overwhelming; they say if you were to look at each piece of artwork for 10 seconds it would take 7 weeks to see the whole thing. I saw all the sights, scaled the Eiffel tower for a magnificent view, and shared a mango with Jim Morrison (okay, left it on his grave).

I also had a very suprising and 'fabulous' experience. A friend and drinking buddy said his friend was going to take him to a club, so a big group of dudes from the hostel decided to go with. We realized something was fishy when the friend showed up wearing golden leather pants. We get to the club and we soon realize whats up, the small club had about 100 people, and 2 girls... it was a gay club!
We decided, what the hell, and mozied on in. We had to squeeze through the tiny place to get to the bar, and we all recieved some not so accidental gropings in the crowd. One guy in particular, with a candy necklace and skintight sweater took a particular liking to me, and reached out to stroke my hair. I just smiled, said "yeah, its real" and kept fucking walking. I was shocked. We got out of there pretty quickly but it was good for a few laughs.

I made many friends from many nationalities in Paris, and my language skills have been getting a good workout. Brazilians, Japanese, Mexicans, Canadians, Tunisians. Everybody enjoys a good party. The Paris architecture is gorgeous and at night, everything lights up. Very nice.

So now I'm in Marseille, and I must go find a hostel so aurivois for now!
I love them comments, don't be afraid to slap em on there, it really keeps be going, and then I wont have to eat MacDonalds to feel at home...


Thursday, November 22, 2007


Where to start? First I just want to say I miss all of you reading this. If you don't know me and you're reading this... I miss you too. So today makes 2 weeks since I've been gone, and I can already tell I will be seeing things differently when I get back, which is a good thing. I think I'll take a lot less for granted. I've also had to change many things about myself to adapt here. But that is for the better as well. I guess my last post was from Doolin.. sorry for the wait but I haven't had the time it takes to write a decent post. And I feel my post should be good this time, because the last few days have been just amazing. After one night of heavy heavy revelry in Galway with some Canadians, I set off for the Netherlands. Since my policy is traveling on the ground or water, never in the air, I was ready for some kind of crazy trip. It took me about 2 days to get here by train and ferry. I got into the UK at about 5, and from there the train lady told me I had the trip from hell. Thanks train lady.She was right though.My travelling style is very seat-of-the-pants, 'winging it' if you will. Its because of this that I annoy the locals by asking timetable questions, or "Where is platform 9 3/4 please?". Then I usually have to wait for trains that don't come and take roundabout routes to my destination. Somehow I always get there. St. Christopher (the patron of travellers) seems to be on my side and for that I am very thankful.I got to London euston at about 2 in the morning. Needless to say many of the trains were stopped for the night, and I definitely could'nt catch a ferry at 3 in the morning from Harwich (the coast cities where ships go to Holland). So I wandered out of the crazy crazy train station to find a place to stay. I must have wandered for about an hour and a half trying to find a hostel. I was about ready to just sleep on the street bum-style. Somehow I managed to find a hostel, a big hotel size one, and I got their very last bed.My state at this point was pretty sorry, I think the night of aforementioned revelry had shocked my immune system, and I had an awful cough and was very congested. From the symptoms it seemed like I had bronchitis, but I won't gross you guys out with the gory details. I took my Influenzinum medicine, and got a good nights rest. The next morning I got to Harwich, and found out that the ferry didn't run until 11:30... PM.So I had to kill 12 hours in this tiny English town. I went to the library and read books. Back to the train station to play my guitar for 7 hours. It sucked. Some shady characters of about 19 came by with their girlfriends, about 14, who sat there and looked at me and giggled.I just played guitar and wrote in my journal for a while.The ferry was insane and very relaxing. It was damn expensive, and I realized after a little while that it was an overnight luxury deal, very Titanic.It was about 100 dollars, but it was the only one I could take and it turned out to be worth it for the rest and relaxation value. Since the food situation is so sparse, I ate their all you can eat buffet, and got kicked out after about two hours haha I dont think they were prepared.Amsterdam is an amazing city. And I swear it's not just the weed, theres definitely something about this place I really like. Cities all have a certain feel, and this one is very unique. Its like the crazy ski-lodge techno banger party zone, but at the same time the bookish cafe coffeshoppe, all rolled into one. The canals and bridges are very beautiful at, especially at night against the black water.I have met many cool people, many not so cool people. I have see the women in the windows, and the crazy reefer scented coffeshops. I have ridden tram after flying tram (one I was on hit a bike, but thats another story) and the cars that drive on the right side of the road.I could definitely see myself living here, and I think of many of you guys who are reading this, and I wish you were with me.Tomorrow Im going to belgium to drink some beer.I'll try to 'keep it regular',-Forrest

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Well here I am in Doolin. I got here tuesday by a wild bus ride that started at 5:30 in the morning. The bus drivers here are amazing, and they burn it all the way down tiny Irish roads made for carts and horses. 100 km/h, right tire glued to the center line, missing cars by inches. Everything here has been grey and windy for a while especially here in Doolin which is very small. It has:
200 people (locals)
81 horses
50000 cows
2 million sheep
120 tourists (not really people)
1 market the size of your thumb
3 obligatory pubs
7 closed resteraunts
1 Big-ass bull, really pissed off

Let's just say I've had a lot of time to think, theorize, play guitar etc.

On the upside, things are a bit cheaper here, I can usually get by on under 45$ a day. So tomorrow I'm leaving for Galway and then Amsterdam on the weekend. Amsterdam dammit! I've been excited about that one for a while now. My hostel friends have all been there and we talk about it for hours. We really talk about anything to beat these godawful Doolin blues. This town has the energy of a corpse.

All I've been doing is hiking really, but thats a lot of fun due to the awesome scenery. Actually, J.R.R Tolkien got his inspiration for the Hobbit here, and I can see why. There are ruins everywhere and various towers and broken down old houses. Little stone walls divide almost everything. If you've ever seen The Princess Bride, the scene where Andre the giant climbs up the cliffs of Insanity was filmed here. I hiked up to see the Cliffs of Insanity yesterday which was a lot of fun. So really, the scenery is indescribably beautiful, but thats no fun to read about.

The only story of any real interest involves the really angry bull from the list. So yesterday, I took that hike to the cliffs with an american kid, Kellen who I met here at the hostel. He's from Washington near Seattle, a tall gawky kid thats still pretty cool and sharp. We were cutting through peoples fields willy nilly, over their prized little stone walls snapping photos all the way, and in one of the fields we saw a funny little sign warning us to 'beware of the bull' I'll try to snap a picture tomorrow before I leave. Being the fearless adventurers we are, we just kept on walking, more or less oblivious. We walk a bit more, snap a few more pictures. Little did we know bulls aren't photogenic. Im trying to frame a photo, taking my time and Kellen gets this look on his face like he just found out his junk is covered in green sores. 'Oh fuck!' he starts running. I get the idea and start running. I don't look back because I know theres 1300 pounds of angry beef about to charge my ass, I definitely heard his trampling and snorting. So I just dove over the nearest wall into a desperate judo roll, look back and saw the fuckin' beast of my nightmares. In retrospect I have no idea how much in danger I really was, maybe not at all.

I proceeded to chug my 187.5 mL bottle of wine.

Our little adventure ended with two hours spent trying to hitch a ride. We got two, one was in the wrong direction (embarassing haha), the other one was from an american father and son who took us all the way back, even though they weren't going that far.

so next time I'll be writing from Amsterdam, and you guys just know that'll be a good one.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

the Emerald Isle

Okay so I'm on a time limit here, the prices at the internet cafe are pretty steep, as everything in Ireland is really expensive. I'm writing from Killarney in the southwest of Ireland. My legs and body are really sore but I'll get to that later.

I got into Dublin at about 7 in the morning on thursday. My flight sucked and afterwards I felt like I'd been run over by a truck. I thought I was getting in at 5 PM so I partied it up on the plane and stayed up to watch the simpsons movie. Stumbled through the airport, dazed and a little confused, found the way to my hostel, talked to some kid from Sweden who was nice enough to cover my bus fare. I've discovered that a little friendliness to a stranger gets you in the door, then you distract them with stories and conversation, and they pay for your expenses. Well maybe that isn't quite whats going on...

Dublin is really small. Buildings are rarely over four stories, and the city itself can be walked over in a day. It's no NYC. I spent most of thursday, lounging around, getting rid of my jet lag. Did I mention everything is really expensive in Ireland? Looking around now, all the resteraunts I see have 15 euro entrees. Thats like 20 bucks if youre too lazy to google the exchange rate. I chatted with a few people around the hostel who were really cool compared to who I was about to meet.

2:00 AM. Someone flips on the light in my dorm, I hear what I thought was people talking. I expected to be woken up in the night, thats par for the course in hostels. What I saw was one short, drunk Irishman talking, to himself in two distinctly different voices. I rolled over and opened my eyes which was mistake number one. He shook my hand and plopped down next to my bed and took off his shoes and the room was immediately filled with an odor of dried fish and vomit. 'Mah feet steenk don they?" he queried innocently. Yeah... they do. "Oh... a geetar, gimme a blahst!" What? he wanted me to play him a song which I was nice, or stupid enough to agree to. He wanted Whiskey in the Jar. I played it. He forgot. He wanted me to play it again. I didn't. He showed me his god awful psoriasis. He really really smelled awful. He insisted that I took his cell phone number, telling me that his sister was looking for a 'filly'. If she was anything like him I'd say she is shit out of luck.

He smoke and drank in the room (neither of which are allowed in hostels) and threw the butts and cans out the window trying to hit the poor people walking below. He wanted to play my guitar but had no clue how, as he strummed away I looked right into his eyes and sure enough they were blank, and crazy.

So much for the first night, but I needed it to rest and get adjusted anyway.

The second day was a lot more successful. I took a bus to Killarney and to my dismay the kids in front of me had been to a Serj Tankian show in Dublin the night before. I was pissed that I missed it, really insanely pissed. We shot the shit for a while and pretty soon I was in Killarney. I went up the street to find the hostel a girl on the bus had mentioned.

Did I mention that my pack was heavy already? I guess not but it is, damn heavy. Shane says my abs are going to get ripped from compensating from the weight, but it might just bruise my shoulers.

damn the time is ticking here, each 10 minutes I spend posting is another $1.60 oh well, thats just how much I love you guys.

The hostel in Killarney fufilled my vision of Irish hospitality. It was all stone and wood, with a real fire crackling in the hearth. The proprietor is a bouncy Pole named Martin who runs around the place with a maniacs agenda, disappearing only to come in and out of what I assume are hidden passageways. He calls everyone 'my man' in his thick round accent (think 'Goldmember') and says fuck at least once a sentence, as a noun, verb, adjective, even an adverb.

I went out that night to have my first legal beer with a microbiology PhD from Prauge who was staying at the hostel. Following my 'keep talking, they will pay' rule I regaled him with tales of madness and mayhem from Berkeley Springs and he bought me a couple pints. We saw some street performers, two firedancers, a drummer and a whistler. One of the firedancers asked me to light her fire and I said what they really needed was a guitar. She asked if I knew anyone and I said I might.

I got my guitar and came back to help them make some euros which we did. The music reminded me of jamming back at home, out at Nate and Cy and Lynns with handrums. It was a lot of fun and when I started playing and the fire girls were going people were taking pictures and video. We shot the shit afterwards. They gave me a beer, and I stopped to take a leak in an alley, which felt very Irish.

The next day I rented a bike (the origin of my sorness, as well as a general lack of good nutrition) and cruised around Killarney. I saw an authentic castle that was in worse shape than the Berkeley castle but older. I stopped in a tree and wrote three songs. I found an old abbey that was under construction and borded up, but there was a crawlspace in back and I explored a bit. Very da vinci code.

thats all the time I have more soo