Sunday, August 10, 2014

THREE CITIES, THREE GUITARS: MY EUROPEAN BUSKATION

SELFIE

Yesterweek I was on a European buskation, and this blog entry is about my guitar strumming in Amsterdam, Limerick, and Dublin, with three different guitars borrowed from Alina (from Russia), Michael (from England), and Peter (from Slovakia).

Alina is a Russian ex-pat living and working and studying in Amsterdam.  She is as breathtakingly beautiful, as the original songs she sings while playing piano or strumming guitar.

Alina is one of four flatmates (she from Russia, Mario from Austria, Camille from France, and my son, Travers from Canada) renting a two-story house in posh downtown Amsterdam.  Their house is just a three minute walk to the HOUSE of ANNE FRANK, a twenty minute walk to DAM SQUARE, thirty minutes to VONDELPARK, and a thirty-five minute walk to RIJKSMUSEUM.

ALINA
I took Alina's guitar down to DAM SQUARE (simply known as THE DAM).  The DAM is one of the most popular spots in Amsterdam.  Over ten million visitors a year saunter across this square lined with coffeeshops (where you can legally purchase marijuana or hashish), cafes, little shopping malls, and souvenir shops. 

BUSKING WITH ALINA'S GUITAR
At the DAM the very first person to approach me was ROQUE ANDRES from Regina, Canada.  (When Roque was in grade nine I was his English teacher!  This is the first time Roque had been abroad!  What are the odds!)

ROQUE AND SELF
From Amsterdam I flew Aer Lingus to Limerick, Ireland.  And no I was not tempted to write … There once was a busker from Regina ... (Regina rhymes with vagina.)

In Limerick I chose a spot on a side street next to a pub to strum.  The guitar that I borrowed belongs to Michael Payne, an ex-pat from London living in Limerick.
MICHAEL PAYNE -- HYPNOTHERAPIST
I met Michael by chance, after asking directions from two tippled individuals sitting and smoking on his front stoop right in front of his HYPNOTHERAPIST shop.  Michael had stepped out of his shop and completed the directions after disclosing to us that the two gentlemen could hardly direct anyone off the block, never mind to where we were wanting to go (the GAP, a hike near Killarney). Unbeknownst at that time to Michael, I was a busker in need of a guitar.  And unbeknownst to me, I would be chatting in Michael’s office the very next day (I’ve a strong interest in HYPNOTHERAPY --- Michael please, please be my mentor when I open shop in Regina) and would be borrowing his guitar
BUSKING WITH MICHAEL'S GUITAR
And then I was off to Dublin, where by this time I had determined, that pubbing is the Zeitgeist of Ireland. Again, the guitar fates were exceedingly kind, for in the TEMPLE BAR I met Peter Pisar, who happily lent me his guitar.  TEMPLE BAR is the cultural quarter and tourist hotspot in central Dublin, a place that that has preserved its medieval street patterns, every street being narrow and cobbled.  When I met Peter, he and his band mate, Ivica Nechalova, were being noisily winkled from their buskspot, by a fellow yelling at them from an upstairs office window -- 
No busking allowed until the shop closes in a couple of hours!

IVICA AND PETER
Ivica and Peter, from Slovakia, are members of the band, GREMMY.  Ivica and Peter are in three words as people and as entertainers, AWESOME ... AWESOME ... AWESOME!

(Check out their website, GREMMY.SK)

Upon returning his guitar, Peter reached into his bag and gave to me a Jew’s harp (sometimes referred to as Jaw harp or Ozark harp) as a gift.

Later on in the day after having several Irish beers in several Irish pubs with Travers, I stopped by to listen to Peter and Ivica who had the crowd dancing and clapping to their Cranberries set of songs.







IVICA AND PETER (GREMMY) BUSKING IN TEMPLE BAR
MY SON, TRAVERS, AND IVICA


BUSKING IN TEMPLE BAR WITH PETER'S GUITAR
Then it was back to Amsterdam and back to Alina and back to borrowing her guitar.

Back at the DAM, my last buskapade in Europe, I met with Claudio.  Claudio is a self-described networker, thinker, doer, and dreamer.  Italian born, Claudio was raised in Germany and is now studying in Amsterdam.  I must mention that Claudio is a really good guy!  

CLAUDIO BUSKING WITH ALINA'S GUITAR
SYNCHRONICITY, PHENOMENOLOGY, even EXISTENTIALISM. Call it what you like.  That notion of making sense of the many coincidences on my European buskation must be mentioned.

What are the chances that Roque Andres, who has never before been to Europe, steps off the tram in Amsterdam and walks straight into Dam Square in the heart of Amsterdam, and the first person he connects with is me, his long ago-grade-nine English teacher!  And what are the odds that Roque is in Amsterdam to visit his friend, Sara, who with her boyfriend, has just moved here from Mexico City, and who just happens to be rooming in the same house where I am staying, the house rented by Alina and her flatmates, Camille (from France), Mario (from Austria), and my son, Travers (from Canada)!  At the time I was chatting with Roque I did not know Sarah, who through a friend of a friend had made arrangements to move into our same house the very next day!

What are the odds that the very gracious hypnotist, Michael Payne, steps out of his office right after I’d taken a picture of his Hypnotherapy sign, and right when receiving garbled directions from two drunken stair dwellers!  What are the odds that Michael invites me to chat about his practice (I’m about to open a HYPNOTHERAPY practice very soon) and he also happens to have a guitar on a stand right beside the very chair in which I’m seated sipping his delicious, delicious tea!  And what are the odds that Michael is a devout weight lifter (like myself)! 

What are the odds that Peter and Ivica, when they busk, sing mostly songs of the Cranberries, of whom the bass player, MIKE HOGAN, just happens to own the SAGE CAFÉ  in Limerick, where I had just had eaten lunch the day before!

Yes, call it SYNCHRONICITY (the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but are not) or PHENOMENOLOGY (the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience) or EXISTENTIALISM (that individuals are free and responsible agents who determine their own development through their own acts of will), the very IDEA of making sense of coincidence seems to always work for me.

Some random pictures:
 
THE GRACIOUS MARIO (FROM AUSTRIA)

TRAV STUDYING IN A LIMERICK LOUNGE

 
PORTRAIT OF TRAV STUDYING IN A LIMERICK LOUNGE


TIM: A QUIET AND WEARY TRAVELER FROM NEW ZEALAND

DANIEL-RYAN SPAULDING:  A CANADIAN STAND-UP LIVING IN EUROPE
 (CHECK OUT HIS VIRAL YOUTUBE ... 1.8 MILLION HITS!)


DINNER WITH TRAVERS AND HIS FRIENDS (SARAH, SCOTT, TRAVERS, JULIA, SELF, ALINA)
 This picture (taken by my wife, Carol) says it all!

AMSTERDAM, LIMERICK, AND DUBLIN:  ALINA, MICHAEL, AND PETER ... 
THREE CITIES -- THREE GUITARS.

And ... the title waiting for my next book … 
ONE HUNDRED CITIES – ONE HUNDRED GUITARS!
 

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like you had an amazing adventure! Looking forward to hearing more stories in less than two weeks ( :( sad face for the fact that there is less than two weeks left in our summer vacation, not to hearing your stories)

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