You know that this isn’t your average 3rd division football match when over 30,000 spectators show up in attendance. Proud Rangers FC of Glasgow are currently running away in first place of the Scottish Football League One (how this happens to be the 3rd division is anyone’s guess).
One thing I haven’t done since I arrived in Europe four months ago has been to attend a football match, and for 17 pounds I had a front and center view behind the Copland Road Stand goalmouth. I suppose it was convenient that Ibrox, the home field for Rangers, is so centrally located in Glasgow. But curiosity played a part as well; how bizarre to see the same team that competed only five years ago in the UEFA Cup Final—the 2nd tier tournament for European clubs that don’t qualify for the Champions League—playing in a domestic 3rd division game against lowly Ayr United.
I took my seat just after the first half kicked off and got to talking with the guy next to me, a stocky man in his early 30s with a blue Rangers sweater and sporting a fauxhawk. A native of Glasgow, he has supported Rangers all his life, and even got married at Irbox. I asked him what it was like to be playing a team like Ayr when just a few years ago he and his fellow supporters would flood the continent to watch Rangers stand strong against the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United, and Lyon.
He told me that like the aftermath of a nasty breakup, most Rangers fans were bitter that the Scottish Football Association penalized Rangers for financial improprieties by sending them down to the bottom tier of the league—an exceptionally harsh punishment that had never been meted out before, despite Rangers being one of many Scottish clubs with their books way out of whack. The defiant swagger that has always characterized this exceptionally working class, Royalist fan base still remains, but there seems to be an added twist of raw fury that has worked its way into Ibrox.
You have never heard of Douglas Dare, but if you’re a fan of British imports, then one of these days you will. I saw him open the final stop on Olafur Arnalds’ tour for his newest album, For Now I Am Winter. This was not the first time I have seen Arnalds perform, and it will not be the last.
Before I jump into Arnalds’ set, let me share with you a few thoughts about Douglas Dare.
Europe by train: day 19. Berlin, Germany.
I hit a travel wall in Amsterdam and have yet to peel myself out of the pancake position. We’re in Berlin now. We arrived on a blistery cold day. A heavy wind is whipping down the streets of this massive city. The sun sets before 4 p.m.
We’ve rented an apartment here. Whenever possible, especially in Europe, we stay in apartments because we like to have the extra space and the kitchen. Many times, renting an apartment is just as cheap (and oftentimes even cheaper) than staying in a hotel. We use sites like Wimdu and Airbnb to find them (they’re not paying me to say that).
The man who rented this apartment to us is lovely. He greeted us with a smile and left us with a bottle of wine and a stack of Berlin guidebooks.
Not that we’ve used them.
So far, our adventures in Berlin have consisted of doing laundry in the bathtub and patching Brian’s jeans with a needle and thread. We’re both working from our computers. I’ve made soup and significant progress on the book I’m reading (the new Wally Lamb novel). Our biggest outing has been to the grocery store, always an adventure in a foreign country (Is this drinking yogurt? Do I need to weigh my apples or do they do it in the check out line? Is that stain remove or laundry detergent?)
Our shoes are empty by the front door and our coats hang in the closet. I have sweatpants and wool socks on. Berlin isn’t so much asking to be explored as it is to be indoored. Every part of me just wants to curl up in this warm, window-y apartment and rest. So I am. Berlin will be here tomorrow and so will we.
The morning is beautiful and we are rested. The albergue has been comfortable and I have been surrounded by friends. Nevertheless, the journey is not over. I have miles and miles to go. So the four of us – myself, Christine, Juan Carlos and Andres – rise, have breakfast, and hit the road. I feed … Continue reading →
Don’t get me wrong: The Cliffs of Moher are friggin’ amazing. They are awe-inspiring hulks of limestone, soil, and tufts of deceptively inviting grass that erupt 200m (or 700 feet, for you Americans) out of the western headlands of Ireland. The Cliffs of Moher are basically Ireland face-palming the Atlantic Ocean and telling it to piss off. Thus you have the churning sea on one side and the stoic, immovable cliffs on the other, and together they are a sight to behold.
Europe by train: day 16. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
We’re in Amsterdam and I’ve hit a travel wall. Amsterdam is a great city but it’s crowded. Yesterday we took a walk into the city center and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. There was too much humans/bicycles/coffee/beer/drugs/bagels/shot glasses/dildos/scarves/you name it.
We have a hotel outside of the tourist district. There’s a park right next door where I go for my runs each morning. There are two really great bars across the street and a little café that serves delicious omelets for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. They have homemade bread and free WIFI and the customers bring their dogs inside.
People keep speaking to us in Dutch. They think we’re one of them.
“I love our neighborhood,” I said to Brian yesterday afternoon as we sipped coffee in our café.
“It’s not really our neighborhood you know.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I almost yelled it.
I just won’t hear of such things.
Brian has to practically beg me to venture off of our street. I am reluctant, whiny. He may have used the words, “pain in the ass.” I refuse to go back to the center of Amsterdam. The tourist district of Amsterdam feels like a performance of Disneyland On Bike: Canal Edition. I cannot believe I am not in love with Amsterdam.
“Let’s just go across the street to our bar,” I say when Brian asks what I might like to do today.
He shakes his head. “Really? But we’ve been there every single day. And it’s not our bar.”
“Stop saying that! We’re here and it’s ours.”
So we go. Because beer.
On our first day in Amsterdam we went to the Anne Frank House. The museum is in the building where Anne and her family hid from the Germans during the Second World War. It’s where Anne wrote her famous diary. She and her family lived in an upstairs annex of the building. They hid for two years before being captured by the German Security Service. Anne died at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp only a month before the liberation.
Anne’s father, Otto, was the only member of the family to survive the war. He is the one who sought a publisher for Anne’s diaries. Anne wanted to be a writer and she dreamed of one day publishing her account of her time in hiding.
Visiting her home was haunting. The museum is powerful and moving. It was worth a venture into downtown Amsterdam.
I almost wish I hadn’t liked it so much because Brian is using it against me. “You liked the Anne Frank House,” he keeps saying. “Amsterdam is full of other things you’ll like too.”
I know he’s right, but our street is just so perfect. Why give up a good thing?
Tomorrow I have promised Brian a canal tour. It goes right through the heart of downtown Amsterdam. I’m hoping for another Anne Frank House-type success. No matter, it helps to know I can retreat back to our neighborhood, our home, for now anyway.
Hello again dear fellow travelers!It’s been nearly 2 months since I arrived back state-side and life has been a little crazy (a move to a new city, the start of a new job, travel for that job, and then the Thanksgiving holiday).I’ve heard from enough of you that I now genuinely feel guilty for not posting the final few topics I promised to cover.So, between now and Dec 5th, my 2 month anniversary of arriving home, I promise to complete the following but not necessarily in this order:1. A Day In The Life of a Pilgrim(complete with as many pictures as I can accurately find)2. Screaming American: ‘hola’, ‘comprende’ and knowing your geographic relationship to New York3. The Farmacia: A Pilgrim’s Home Away from Home4. Jill’s Favorite Camino Travel Items, Why You Need Them (and what you don’t– no seriously, leave this crap at home, you can thank me later)5. Returning Home: The Adjustment (because there is one)Here we go again peregrinos!JN
One of the first memories I have is of my mother reading books to me. By the time I was three I was able to read on my own, and while I had many favorites then–I was a big fan of Dr. Seuss, the Bearenstein Bears, and Thomas the Tank–there was one in particular that still renders itself in my imagination. I don’t know the name of it, but as I picture it in my mind it’s set in a desolate, wooded place that perhaps Robert Frost would have walked through with a heavy coat and scarf on a chilly autumn afternoon.
In the book, night has already fallen, and an owl hoots into the placid darkness. The narrator takes us to a train crossing, gates raised and bells quiet, the car we are in moving slowly forward when all of a sudden the bells spring to life and the warning lights flash red! To a three year old boy, nothing in the world is more thrilling than the tension and promise of an approaching train. I would pause before turning the page, prolonging the gratification of seeing it come rumbling into view.
Each car of the train was different and carried different cargo, and a picture accompanying it fed my imagination and made me wish that I could hop along and ride with the cows, the coal, and the steel to some faraway place. Just as delightful as the approaching engine was the crowning caboose, the last car on the train, humble and cozy and red–a log cabin-like refuge on the rails from the gaping night. Then the train would round a bend, the bells would stop clanging, the lights would stop flashing, and the gates would lift, and the car would cross the tracks and continue on its journey, with the owl still hooting into the darkness.
Last year Brian and I spent Thanksgiving in Puerto Natales, Chile. We’d just returned from walking the W in Torres del Paine National Park. It was snowing. We tromped through the icy streets to the only brewpub in town and, finding it closed, walked across the empty square looking for a place to have dinner.
I remember being sad and feeling far away from home. We found a pizza place, one of the only establishments open, and sat shoulder to shoulder on a picnic bench, a candle flickering in front of us and people yapping in Spanish all around. We put on our happy faces and ordered wine. I don’t remember what we talked about but I know we were thinking of home.
I remember our first Thanksgiving in Oregon. We didn’t have a single friend. We ate pizza that year, too, ordered and delivered to our apartment door. In those early days we were one step away from giving up and rushing back to Ohio, where we’d both been born and raised. It would have been easier to go home, where we knew what to expect and had people who would catch us if we fell.
I’m glad we didn’t go back to Ohio and I’m glad we pushed through our homesickness in Chile too. This year, we will spend another Thanksgiving away from the people we love. I still miss home. That feeling never goes away, even after you pass that invisible line when you realize you feel more comfortable away than when you’re there.
This Thanksgiving I do not have the same seasonal-enduced homesickness. It’s because this time around I know to appreciate this holiday abroad. I know that next year we will be home for Thanksgiving. We’ll be home for Christmas too. It took ten years of wandering to make us certain: Home is where we want to be.
Right now we are in Bruges, Belgium. We arrived yesterday by train. Bruges is adorable and cozy. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s like stepping back in time. Of course we are already charmed.
Today we will wander the canals and browse the Bruges Christmas market. When the sun goes down we will once again begin the hunt for a Thanksgiving meal in a foreign town.
Afterwards, we will come back to the hostel we are staying in, a room with two twin beds and posters promoting 1 euro jager shots at the bar downstairs. We will hold hands in the dark, our arms hanging in the empty space between beds.
Tonight, when I count my blessings, I will be thankful for our holidays abroad. I will remember to savor all of the things that won’t last forever, which is everything.
Yesterday ended up being a do-nothing kind of day, which is sometimes exactly what you need after you’ve recently been on a suicidal bike ride in the dark. In any case I was at home and thought about my trip so far, and the reactions that some of my friends and family have had about it. As such reflection is wont to do these days, I came up with a list and posted it on BuzzFeed:
13 Big Misconceptions People Have About Traveling Indefinitely
Give it a look and tell me: am I right or am I right?
First time reading my blog? Click here. And don’t forget to subscribe!