Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Last Two Days In Europe: Paris

The last show had been played, and the trip finally had to come to an end.  I had two last days to spend in Europe and go out with a bang, and so I left Bordeaux for Paris.  I had never been to Paris before, and had truthfully sort of avoided it on previous trips to Europe.  It always seemed over-hyped and not as interesting as destinations further east.  I was about to realize how wrong I was.  Paris really is amazing, and I hope I can go back again soon for longer than two nights.

What should have been a 3-hour train ride from Bordeaux to Paris turned into a 5-hour train ride due to weird weather conditions.  A cold fog had blown in overnight and turned everything to ice, including the powerlines above the tracks that the trains run on.  It was frustrating, as I was supposed to meet my friend Jess from Kansas City to do some sightseeing.

While the train stop did provide an interesting opportunity to walk along the tracks and take some photos, it was unfortunate that by the time I got to Paris, Jess only had time to help me find my hostel and then had to catch her train out of town.  Kind of unbelievable that the French just didn't know how to deal with this sort of weather.

On the way to the hostel, we stumbled into this "marching band", waving Haitian flags and generally making lots of noise to support the country, which had at this point been struck very recently by the earthquake.

My first bit of sightseeing that evening after checking into the hostel, which was located in the Montmartre part of town, was to hike up the hill and see the Sacre-Coeur.  What a beautiful cathedral, with an amazing view of Paris at dusk.  It was at the Sacre-Coeur while looking over the glimmering city that I finally appreciated Paris, and realized how wrong I had been to avoid it for so long.

Sacre-Coeur from the front.

More pictures to come from Paris, I couldn't possibly cover it with just one post!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bordeaux, France

Leaving Belgium, I entered my last country of the trip: France. I only had one show left to play, in Bordeaux, though I spent my last couple of days relaxing in Paris before flying home. I made the trip to Bordeaux because a good friend of mine from Madison had moved there to teach English, and offered to host a house concert at her place. Bordeaux is in southern France, very close to the Atlantic coast, and is famous for wine. Below are some pictures I took while Caitlin showed me around town, as well as a couple I stole from her of the house concert.

Lovely Bordeaux by the river, and it was the nicest day of my trip yet.

A neat wooden bridge over the road.

This space is apparently usually a reflecting pool, filled with water, but being winter and all, it was empty.

House concert.

My hosts for the evening, Caitlin (middle) and Sai (right). On the left is a random drunk Frenchman giving a rock symbol.

The last show of the European Tour was really fun, and a fitting end to a very successful tour. I love playing shows in Europe, and plan to do this once a year as long as I can. I still have one or two more posts to make covering my last two vacation days in Paris before flying home, but this does it for the tour. Here's to EuroTour 2011!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ghent, Belgium

I left Antwerp by train, bound for Ghent, my other gig in Belgium.  I was couchsurfing that night with Viviane, a wonderful lady who also helped me set up the show that evening at a local bar.  After picking me up at the train station, she took me downtown to show me around a little bit.

More of the narrow, old homes of the type seen earlier in Antwerp and Amsterdam.  All of these buildings date back to the 1600's.

Old buildings line one of Ghent's many canals, making this town very charming.

The tiniest, narrowest building I have ever seen.

Viviane told me that Ghent is known as the City of Towers, or something like that, anyways.  Exhibit A.

Exhibit B.

The show itself was really fun, and there was a really great showing from the local couchsurfing community.  I can't thank Viviane enough for her hospitality, and for arranging a place for me to perform.  Thanks also to everyone that came out to see me in Belgium, I hope to be back very soon!