Part 1: Out of Europe

Ciao! Writing to you from the harbour of Salerno, where me and my intrepid companion Edu are about to set sail across the Mediterranean to that Hebrew-speaking island in the Levant, Israel. The boatmaster is just gruff enough to fit the mental picture, just as the crewmembers smoke, the city smells and the seagulls sing/whine as if to fit in the stereotype. It took us a good while to find a way to cross the middlelandsea that does not involve flying; the boats on the sea between Italy and Northern Africa are plentiful and highly publicized, but are strictly one way.

It has been an eventful week away from home. On Saturday the 3rd me and the Larry the Kat crew (including film crew) left for Antwerp, to play in the Pekfabriek, footage of which will be released later on. 500 people went as wild as we did that night, and while the rest were drinking and celebrating, I semi-soberly split my luggage between that which was to go home and that which was to continue on to Africa. At 6 AM I boarded the blablacar with the friendly Flemish couple who would be my ride to Strasbourg, ironically a stop on the way just like last time, although the journey is headed in a very different direction this time. I saw the Alsace in the snow, played and drank with old friends and was surprised by a French chef who invited me to stay for dinner, supposedly as an exchange for my music but sadly the language barrier prohibited such certainties.

In Zürich I stayed for two days, drinking Glühwein (and other assorted beverages), visiting the quaint old town (which, in its guild-organised wooden simplicity, belies its status as a financial hub and one of the most expensive cities in the world), climbing the Uetliberg through the snow and the impossibly angled trees and trying not to imagine how one day in Zürich would probably get me ten or more in Africa. It is interesting to note how countries seem to become more boring and paranoid the richer they grow: there is not much barlife or a party scene to speak of and the people are one of the richest in the world, yet they are on the brink of electing a populist party to power over the fear of immigrants taking the spoils.

Rarely have I been stunned by a city as much as I have been by Florence. The consistency of its beauty, the scope of its art treasures and the sheer magic of its villa-covered countryside is astounding. I arrived during a beautiful sunset, bathing the river Arno in red and lo, my luck held: in the following days I was treated to naught but sunshine. ‘Tis a city which would make even the most cold, sober man poetic. I witnessed the Chinese hordes assail the Botticellis and Da-Vincis in the Uffizi, cycled through the countryside with a beautiful Indian girl and played, sang and drank in the hostel tavern until the sun came up (poeticized take on “until the lights were turned on and the drunks were grudgingly ejected from the bar”).

Edu and me finally met up in Naples, going to the ruins of Pompeii the next day (needless to say that was on my bucket list for a long time) and having dinner in Sorrento further down the beautiful coastline. We climbed down to the port level and found a hidden, deteriorated old building hidden in a crevice in the cliff, down behind a few classy hotels and actually just behind the invigorating “forbidden area, trespassers liable to be prosecuted” sign (sudden thought: prosecute and prosecco have the same root, couldn’t they have been a bit more similar in meaning too?). Here we spent the night with a nice bottle of red and a first evening to talk a lot and really get to know one another (no homo). Also experimented a bit with cameras and equipment to record a song I wrote inspired by the day called “Amalfi“.

We made it through the first leg of the journey, admittedly an easy one. Catch you all next time when I will have time to tell the stories of the high seas and our levantine adventures!



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