Nice

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I went to Nice on the 4th of August – three weeks after the terrorist attack on their promenade. That trucker had just driven for two kilometers (1.3 miles) across the crowd of people, leaving the boulevard covered with bodies.

When I arrived after my long trip through Monaco, I was hit by the fact that you couldn’t tell Nice had just been through Europe’s Katrina – I found Nice surprisingly similar to New Orleans, yet more discrete [yeah, I don’t know either, is it being French or is it being Nicean?]. In both of these cities you can hear a lot of music and see people living their lives fully, trying to make it up for the catastrophe and create a new order, based on joy and happiness. I’m not saying it works. I’m saying there are people trying to do something good and there are people, who want to be cool. Yes, there’s crime, there’s poverty, there’s desperation. Yet in these two cities you can see rise of the music scene, which helps people deal with what happened through giving them freaking loads of fun. I mean seriously, what’s better than a street brass band? Or all the jazz going on in Nice!

The only sign of anything ever happening was that every time that I tried crossing the street with an English manner, someone would stop me. At some point I said ‘hey, the car was so far away!’. My friends answer was just: ‘dude, we’re in Nice’.

It wasn’t easy to me at the beginning. My CS host, Bryce, disappeared two days before I was supposed to come to Nice (which was on the 3rd), he would not answer my calls, texts, emails… nada. I had to stay a day longer in Sanremo; I contacted Zied, another Couchsurfer who’d agreed before to host me; he said I could come to his place, just he’s got some friends visiting and I can’t tell them about CS, I need to pretend I’m his friend. Ok, Zied, not a problem. The other guy, Bryce, on the 5th he texted me something like: sorry, I forgot, bummer, it’s better you’re not staying with me. What a guy. I kept it cool and polite.

Once Zied opened his door, we became friends. Such a great feeling! And he seemed so active – he cooked, we played music, we spoke about deep stuff, then we went out to the beach, met his friend on the way, I visited a night club for a loo, we played some music on the beach, he went into the water, I just sang even more, we tried finding a place for a beer, yet all of them were serving shitty shitty French bear, so every time we smiled and continued the search; finally we found an interesting one and got kicked out of it, then we sang in the streets and walked home. All of that after 6:30 pm, when I arrived to his place. Awesome, I love active people!

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We both loved ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ and I think we played it so well. I had fun. So much fun.

And then one night out in the city, with his girlfriends and some ice cream, we bumped onto that CS dude, Bryce. He didn’t recognize me first, when I told him he did not apologize. All he did was being a dickhead and hitting on the most lawyer-looking of the girls.

The next day Zied dropped me off on a gas station and I went off to Marseille. Well, not that fast. Actually it was tragic. But I met a Peruvian guy called Genghis Khan. Very handsome. Didn’t speak English at all.

The history of my trip to Marseille will be a separate post, for now I’ll just finish Bryce story. I decided I should have left him a reference and so I did. I wrote that maybe he’s great, I don’t know, yet my experience with him was shitty, I was feeling insecure, stood up, ignored and surprised he didn’t even say sorry when we met’. A month later motherfucker gives me negative reference saying stuff like ‘it was a personal emergency, I explained it to her in advance, she behaved demanding, as if I was a free hostel, she was rude blah blah blah blah’. WTF Bryce? I was extreme angry, that was just so not fair!

The moral is: some people are assholes and some are less.

Check it out:

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Nice

How I got kicked out of a country*

*  joke of a country, yet legally still a country.

 

The last time I was trying to follow any time line, I shared my stories of Italy. Let me tell you what happened next.

I was hitching from Sanremo to Nice. An Algerian couple stopped, they didn’t really speak much English, yet they knew all the other languages: German, French, Italian, Spanish… uneducated me. They were going to Monaco. For a moment I hesitated, I didn’t want to go into the country, yet I decided to go with them and just play it by ear.

Unfortunately we ended up having communication issues and I ended up somewhere in Monte Carlo, just on some street.

I walked up a hill, had a coffee – the stuff was basically waiting for me to leave, they were very surprised when I tipped them; and it’s not like they’d done anything to deserve it, I just thought: fuck it, I’m in Monte Carlo, I need to tip – that’s one of those point you cannot miss on your trip to that place.

I left the restaurant and went walking towards the highway, following the signposts and cars which seemed like they really want to escape. No place to stop though, only pavement, roadway and the places which suck out all your money; stores which sell caviar worth 400 EURO per rather small portion; casinos; I continued walking.

I turned around the corner and there it was: a place with loads of space for me to stand and well, some space to stop the car for a minute. I stood all happy with my sign saying ‘NICE I’m nice to J’ that lovely old lady came by and wished me luck in both French and English, the sun was beating and I was feeling rather sick.

There is this reddish scar on my neck, this itchy, painful, suspicious pink thing of unknown origin. I covered it with a scarf, yet that made it only get worse from the heat. So I wait for the lift quite desperate, my water’s almost finished, and there he is, a cop of a motorbike arrives and says something in French, very angry.

‘I’m sorry, I don’t speak French’ I say – in French, ‘Do you speak English?’

‘We speak French here’ he answers – in English, ‘Autostop – no no no’ he adds shaking his head with disappointment and wavering his finger like if he wanted to have it stuck up his own ass.

‘Not true’ I answer, ‘I checked it and no, it is not illegal to autostop here’.

He starts yelling in French, getting red, says something about me not even speaking the proper language and he says ‘no autostop in Monaco. You need to leave the country, now.’ – in English, ‘I will go up the hill to the border and wait for you to leave’ he says in French, gets on his motorbike, says ‘move!’ and takes off. He also mentioned somewhere that the end was a km away;

It was at least a mile and a half.

So with a backpack on me and a guitar in my right hand, covering the pink thing on my neck with a scarf using my left hand, feeling very sick and angry, I walk up the mountain. There is no shade, it’s around 12:30 – the exact time of when I did not want to be on the road (I don’t know yet, how hot it will get). My bottle is almost empty, there is nowhere to refill it – around me only houses and expensive short-term rent apartments.

I begin to lose control, I’m barely  moving, my body is dehydrated, I am tired, my neck feels weird – when I turn my head left, the left side of my mouth starts to roll saliva like crazy. And it burned. It was so hot, my head was uncovered… My used the scarf covering my neck to cover both, my head and the pink scar.

Suddenly – there it is. A little booth with a Dunes, or however that joke of a country calls their border guards; and the mean cop.

I come up and ask the guard, in French, ‘Do you speak English?’

He barely looks at me, says ‘no’ and turns his face the other way.

‘Is it France or Monaco?’ I say in French pointing at a piece of land.

‘This is Monaco’ says the guard – in French – looking at the place where I’m standing, ‘and that is France’ he says pointing at two steps away, on left.

I’m furious. I take two steps into France, just so as to past him, turn around and look at them; my heart is beating, I am burning, my head is beating, the mind using its full power to control my reactions. I smile like a loon, rise my ‘NICE I’m nice too J’ sign up and stand there, in front of them, on the street.

They were angry, a little bit, and then I just went away, to sit down on a bus stop and get my shit together. I checked it, the bus would come in 15 minutes so if I didn’t get a ride sooner, I can just hop on ; And yeah, I didn’t get a ride…

The bus was 1,20 or 1,50. I should have just taken it in the first place!

I arrived to Nice, scored a pharmacy for something for the weird burn, a pub for a sandwich and went off to my next CS host, one of the most important ones (even though the last time we saw each other we were rather hostile); that’s a new story though and I’ll save it for the next time.

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How I got kicked out of a country*

Everything is… Paolo

*Zajebiscie – (adverb) ‘fucking awesome’ (rude but positive)*

When I went to Charlottesville, VA in July, my friend Lawrence gave me that shirt saying ‘everything is zajebiscie’ (as an inside joke). I promised I’d take a picture of me in that shirt in every place I go to. Of course I haven’t done it so instead I’ve started recording my drivers saying ‘everything is zajebiscie’ behind the wheel. Later on – just some people.

Here’s what I missed in the Italy post. Paolo, my host from Sanremo, saying the magic words:

And you know what? At that particular moment, everything was.

 

 

 

Everything is… Paolo

Monkey attack

Hello everybody, finally I’ve put my hands on somebody’s laptop and can update my stories. Let’s start with this one…

Going to Gibraltar I did not know what to expect. Hot and humid or chilly and windy? English or Spanish prices? British or Spanish coffees? So many unknowns… The one I was mostly preoccupied with was: monkeys or no monkeys? – as my host from Benalmadena, Claire, claimed they’d taken them away. [seriously, I was extremely excited about meeting those cuties!]

I started the day from visiting Main Street and finding a Polish guy performing songs by Dzem. I did not say a word about it, because I’m a nice person, yet he must have seen the look of recognition on my face, as he greeted me in Polish. I mentioned it’s shame I didn’t take my baby guitar with me and so he let me play his. I made 50 p during that song – just enough for the rock’s entrance. The universe was playing well that day…

I enter the park, climb the stairs, it’s very hot so I take my shirt off and continue in bra only and I climb up to meet the monkeys (I’ve been already told by my host, Fabio, that the monkeys indeed are up there, just quite vicious and smart; he said: hide away the jewelry, as that attracts them, they also steal food and just whatever they can, really). There’s a Czech/Slovakian family all around me – a lot of people and their kids/babies. Suddenly one of the monkeys grabs that ladies bag… I take a picture, laugh and think ‘eeh, tourists…’.

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As I climb Charles V Wall, karma comes back to me – I get surrounded by 4 monkeys (my jewelry already in the bag), the biggest one (let’s call it BM) stares at my bag, I know what they want from me, so I hug it. BM pulls the bag from the bottom, I pull it back up and we struggle like that for three rounds, with me shirtless yelling ‘no you stupid monkey, give me my fucking things back you bitch, give them back to me!’ and mothers covering their children’s ears. The strap of my camera falls out, so BM moves its focus onto that. We struggle for the camera this time, after a few rounds and me constantly yelling, I bang the monkey with the London Coffee Festival Bag, win the camera over and yet another fight begins, I yell even harder and when BM is getting ready to attack, I just let it go, as I don’t want to end up in a hospital on my trip. The monkey takes out my lunch (packed in a plastic box, a couple of layers of foil and a plastic bag, smart one!), eats it in front of me and at the same time guards the bag so other monkeys can go through it and see if they like anything (surprisingly they don’t, not even the cookies).

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Every time I take a step towards the bag, BM gives me the bitch look (yeah, BM stands for BITCH MONKEY) pulling it’s chin forward and opening it’s eyes wider – so I wait and collect evidence. Finally a guy coming from downstairs manages to distract BM and uses a stick to grab the bag and pass it to me. He says ‘run’ and we (me, him and his absolutely terrified girlfriend) climb up to meet more monkeys. With babies. Doing toilet on the stairs. At that point I’m terrorized by wild animals and passing them by is the last thing I want to do, there’s no other way though. I look in the eyes of the girl and she’s totally pissed; her boyfriend motivates us, gives the monkeys some food and we pass.

On the top there’s a lot of those monsters so I make my way down straight away. It’s long and scary, I’m on my own now. I get lost a couple of times, I’m out of water (luckily I find a shed of some construction workers and they share they fill my bottle), finally I find some people and we walk along each others.Then we get lost again. Then it takes so long and I’m so tired. I put my hand in the bag and I find some cookies. How come? Yeah, obviously right after I take them out, a couple of monkeys run to me like crazy so I just throw the packet in their face and run away screaming. And there they are – two men with a spliff and a car. I ask them ‘is it the way down at all?’ and they offer me a lift.

In the car I tell them my story, they share some smoke and offer to give me a round of the city to show me the whole thing in a short.

Such a great ride! I asked them a lot of questions, I’m afraid it might have been even too many… but I NEED TO KNOW! They told me about growing up and living in Gibraltar; about the lack of events and music; about how big is the upcoming festival for the reason of being the only one their country holds (where 1/2 of Gibraltar’s population has fun with their friends and neighbors because everybody’s a friend or a neighbor – that what makes the country so crimeless).  Probably not that fascinating place to live… very nice people though and amazing amazing views. Just take a look:

And here’s my favorite host in front of a pretty view:

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As I’m normally very bad finishing my stories, I’ll just say: so that’s the Gibraltar I explored. Plus a few free coffees from a Spanish bartender and a guy on a street quoting my favorite movie scene’s dialogues to his children (of course I picked it up!).

Answers to my entry questions are: it’s hot, expensive, though not like London expensive, the monkeys most definitely are still there and they drink Spanish coffees.

*****

PS have you thought about how unhappy the Gibraltars are about Brexit? 96% of them voted ‘in’ and to be fair, I can not understand the remaining 4%. Unbelievable.
Almost as unbelievable as the fact that some people pronounce ‘mojito’ as moh-ji-to. It’s just not the right thing to do.

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Monkey attack

Quick update from the road – Italy

I’m alive!

I have been traveling for three weeks now and just now got a chance of sharing some of my stories with you.

First of all – I knew it’d be a chalenge to travel Italy, France and Spain without knowing the language, yet sometimes it was just too much. On the other hand it gives you so much crazy satisfaction once you get across the language barrier!

My first ride from Milano to somewhere 1/3-way to Sanremo was a truck driver Tony who in English knew only ‘hello’. Yet we spend a whole hour talking, playing the music together and sharing our stories; somehow. We WANTED to communicate and so we did. If I try describing Italy in one phrase it will be: Italy is very humid, the people don’t know English, yet want to tell you a lot so they try, the women are loud and tabacchi bars are much better than pizzerias.

My first host, Alex, was a … special person. This time CouchSurfing didn’t go crazy. Yet I have met somebody else (in a way through CS, really – just by an accident), a very special person I believe. Hoomam.

He decided to leave Siria after a bomb had exploded next to him. He’d escaped to Sweden where he’s spent half a year living in a refugee camp and learning Swedish; he’s been doing so well that not only after being given residency he became a Swedish teacher, but also speaking English he had Swedish accent. Very lingo-talented, whatever I told him in Polish, he’d repeat with a perfect pronaunciation. Apart of that a very very very amazing person. I had so much fun with him. Serious, so much fun!

Here is us and some canals of Milano:

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And then we met in a Craft Beer Pub Michele – a guy who were supposed to be my CS host but I never requested him. But yeah, the universe brought us together so we could sing ‘Feeling Good’ in the rain of Milano and then take separate ways.

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What else happened in Milano.. I went to the Sforza Castle and found that amazing spot I was not allowed to enter.

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And I climbed (yoged!) that monument in order to take a picture of the Duomo. Faces of the guys having food downstairs, as I pull myself up in my mini dress and of course nearly show my butt – priceless.

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*****

Next step was Sanremo. Apart of my first amazing Tony ride, I drove with an English teacher who just did not know English. I’m being super serious here. Very sad.

Sanremo… very nice. I stayed with Paolo, had a little chill, rode around on his Vespa and checked out the nearby cities and beaches (including the beautiful Busana Vecchia, a true reason for me to come to Liguria), crossed some other language barriers… pretty satisfying. Apart of two things.

  1. my Nice (not so nice) host, Bryce, decided to just disappear two days before I was supposed to stay with him. That story will return in the France part.
  2. Paolo did me some fixing as a physiotherapist and osteopath and something very weird happened to my salivary glands. That’ll will return in the Monaco story, for which I need separate post.

Sanremo had amazing visual side. I mean… just check it out.

 

And so Busana Vecchia. One day in Cracow, years ago, out of nowwhere Jimi jumps on me and Pawel and he starts telling us we have to visit Busana. That amazing place, which was deserted after an earthquake in the end of XIXth century and then, almost a hundret year ago populated again by artists and hippies moving into the ruins and taking care of them. When I found out it was on my way from Milano to France, I had to go there. The reason I went to Sanremo was there was no CouchSurfing in Busana. I felt like there would be a few places to stay there, yet wanted to have the comfort of knowing I wouldn’t be homeless 😉

And so from there I hitch to Monaco. To be continued…

 

 

Quick update from the road – Italy

A new journey begins

Hello everybody,

I’ve been absent for some time, yet there has been so much going on.

The news is: I am about to begin a new journey, this time around Europe – as even here there are places I haven’t explored yet.

On the 29th of July I’ll be comfy and fly with my beautiful Tanglewood guitar to Milan (Italy).
Here she is:

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From there I’ll go to Sanremo and Bussana Vecchia in the region of Italy called Liguria; from there through Monaco to France: Nice –> Marseille –> Montpellier.
Then Spain: Barcelona –> Valencia –> Murcia –> Beneficio –> Granada –> Malaga
And Gibraltar.
Back to Sevilla in Spain.
And then I think I’ll go to Portugal… I haven’t made those plans yet, I’ll really see where the wind blows.

That gives 5-6 countries in a month and a half. Europe’s tiny!

I’ll be hitchhiking and couchsurfing, just as every time, because I want to explore the lands through the people.
I’ve already found people to stay with in Milan, Sanremo and Nice. It’s getting closer so… if you have any awesome friends who’d you think have fun with me and have some space for a human-worm (me in my sleeping bag), please,connect us!

And for now: enjoy July, people!

 

 

A new journey begins

I’m back/London

I know I haven’t posted anything here for a while and it is because the stories were been happening. I get so many of them during my London experience.

I’ve got inspired by today’s one and I want to share, but first I’ll just let you know: I’m OK.

I play quite often. Desperate for a band though. Look at me, so alone on that stage.

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Janek came to London about half a year ago and we hang out

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Also I went to Kew Garden and saw a retarded (yet happy) flower.

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Today’s story

I started work at 6 am, it was a quite busy Saturday morning.

One of the coffee machines went to dishwasher and I was crazy busy on the only one I had. Two guys rolled in – a guy in his seventies-eighties on a wheelchair and pushing him young fellow who was showing me some signs since the door had opened. His hand around the side of his head… I thought he meant one of them had hearing problem but I realized quickly that wasn’t the case.

The guy said ‘coffee, please! Man, I’m desperate for coffee. Medium latte!’ – his eyes were very red, almost as red as the cup on old man’s head. ‘I’ll fall asleep in a second’ he adds and  turns around as the old guy yells:

‘hey Mate, come here! Won’t you introduce me?’

‘Oh yeah’ sighs the guy ‘everybody, this is Charming John’

‘Nice to meet you, Charming John’ we answer.

‘What’s your name?’ asks the old man pointing his finger at me. As I aswer, he asks ‘will you become the mother of my next child?’ exposing his teethless mouth.

‘Let me think about it’ I answer trying not to laugh, pretending to be actually considering the possibility ‘No, I think I can’t, sorry. My mom wouldn’t be proud of me’.

‘Coffee!’ yells John swinging in his wheelchair and yelling like a crank from the depths of hell.

‘Coffee’ tells us the young guy loudly, leans over to us and adds a little quieter ‘just as week as possible. I’m so fed up with that crap, it’s been 8 hours, man! Make it taste like coffee but with no fucking caffeine’

A line starts to grow so I start making the drinks and my Lithuanian barista Dzintars charges the customer who suddenly turns around and says: ‘where is he?! Fuck, nooo, now he’s talking to people!’ and he makes those really fed up faces ‘I am so fed up with this crap, please, make sure you don’t give him any fucking caffeine. He’ll never stop. It’s been eight hours!’

The people stare at both of them and can’t believe the way the young guy speaks about his crazy companion, as nobody know’s what is their relation like.

Finally, he pays, other people are being served. The young guy apologizes to me, I ask if it’s his relative or somebody he professionally takes care of (though I wouldn’t call it professional). He answers:

‘So apparently he lives on the same street as I do. I was coming back from a party and just on my street that guy was riding around, totally lost, he started telling me stories and dragging me around buses, he just made me jump every one. Do you know how much fucking fuss it was with getting him on and off…’

‘At least you get to know inside of all the buses in London, you always learn something. Look at the bright sides’ I say with a smile.

‘Yeah, there may have been some bright sides if it wasn’t for the fact that I had to pay for every ride. We’ve been doing that for the past 8 hours. And he just asks every woman to marry him in a really disguisting way’.

‘Do you think they really mind when he asks?’

At this moment the old guy walks to a chick standing not far from us and proposes (young guy’s reaction: you can walk?!). The chick does not mind as I predicted, yet the young guy tries calming the old guy down. It does not work, he laughes insanely and chats up other customers. Being busy with rush time I only hear some phrases like ‘leave it, sir’, ‘yes, sir and no, sir’ and my favorite ‘cut the crap out, sir!’. The young guy tries explaining to me that the man, who is now back to his wheelchair, had something in common with military according to his stories therefore that may be the only way of getting across to him.

The old guy starts talking to some young girls, I say laughing:

‘I don’t think they are legally allowed to marry you, Charming John’

He’s got nothing to do but agree.

‘Guys, I’m so sorry’ says Young Guy to the girls ‘I feel so bad  I brought him here. What are you drinking? I’ll pay for it’.

In the meantime they spilled something, Dzintars, totally pissed off through a blue roll at them saying ‘please, clean after yourselves’, so on so on … and then they left, together, probably to jump another bus.

And in all that, thinking about how fucking annoying Charming John was and how uncomfortable his companion was with his behavior, I thought… who does those things? Who picks up an old, crazy and totally drunk guy on a wheelchair (who does walk which indeed was a massive suprise to everybody) in the middle of a night and, so as to take care of him, rides the buses (and pays for them) until late morning, putting up with everything Charming John was coming up with?

It absolutely made my day and brought me back faith in mankind.

 

I’m back/London