Internet access has been terrible the last couple of weeks, hence the lack of posts! I believe the last was right before Italy. We drove from Belgium to Milan and stayed at a hotel near the airport with a cute hotel cat and a great Italian restaurant next door, the first of many geat meals in Italy. I had homemade raviolis! We woke up the next day with a new temporary tourmate...Entrance! Guy is awesome and a good friend and it was such a nice surprise to travel with him and hang out and play music. The airport situation is a little insane in Italy. We flew Alitalia to Sicily. I was so, so excited the whole plane ride and especially when I could finally see the mountains from the plane! It looked a little like the Southwest actually, kind of barren and dry and very hot, but right on the Mediterranean. We learned about the crazy Italian drivers on the way to the hotel. It was a little scary! People don't really observe lanes! The area around the hotel was interesting, it didn't look like much at first, but then if you walk a half a block up the street there's an amazing inetrsection with inceribly beautiful statues and fountains in a circle all the way around it. There were punk rockers sleeping and stray dogs lingering about. The streets had archways of lights all up and down them, like I'd seen only in the North End in Boston and in Little Italy in New York around the holidays. At night they were lit up and so beautiful, some multi-colored and some just white. The venue that evening was outdoors, just like all the shows in Italy, and free. It was in front of a convent (I wondered if the nuns liked the music?!) and in a bombed-out neighborhood that one of the locals said the US bombed during WWII. Some of the shells of old buildings had beautiful designs that almost looked Mayan. There was even a huge tree that was entirely covered with lights! (Jona has a picture on his blog: www.teamyacht.com)It was a Sunday night and rather late, but so, so many different people came out: older folks, families, younger kids running around, dogs, and fans of Devendra's. It was very community-based and even had lots of carts selling things like toys, beer, animal-shaped balloons, and cotton candy. The vibe of the show was really wonderful and I was so glad to have had that experience in Palermo!
The next show was in Rome. Kelly picked us up at the airport and drove us past The Coliseum and Circus Maximus on the way to the hotel. I was so glad he did or else it would have been like Paris: I've gone there twice and never even seen the Eiffel Tower in person! It was really mind-blowing, you could almost feel the ancient vibes of Rome. The show was at a park that used to be the grounds of the palace of the Royal Family before they got deposed in WWII. Tons of people came to the show! We met some nice girls, Laura and Laura, that worked at the venue, which even had a store that sold books, records, and DVD's. It was actually the only place where I've seen Vetiver CD's in Europe. Like Palermo and Faenza, we sold lots of merch that night. It was one of those nights I felt like a bartender where people were just waving money in my face and I could barely keep up.
The drive to Faenza was so insane, we took a route through the mountains that we weren't really aware was so curvy. It was sort of like driving on the 1 up the coast of California. We had to stop and fall out of the car because we were so dizzy! But is was very beautiful and every so often on the side of the road there'd be a shrie to the Virgin Mary. Faenza was really cool, the venue was basically in a courtyard right in the town square. There was a flea market going on when we arrived and they even had soy gelato, which was sooooo delicious. The show also went really well, but the best part was after the show. Carlo, the promoter of the Italian shows, took us to this "restaurant" in the middle of the country up a dirt road that was open just for us!!! It was about 2 in the morning and they made us incredible food that was all grown right there. Even the meat was from the farm! It was probably some of the best food I've ever eaten, and we got to eat it outdoors by candlelight overlooking the fields and a lake. It was the perfect ending to our wonderful time in Italy.
Moving onto France. Fortunately the next place on our journey was Nice. I couldn't believe I was actually on the legendary French Riviera! Our hotel was right on the beach, which was covered in stones. As soon as we got there we dropped our stuff off at the hotel, put our bathing suits on, and ran across the street. The water was so warm and we made it in right before the sun went down. That night we walked to a Mexican restaurant that turned out to be surprisingly good. Our waiter, who had lived in San Diego for years, was really friendly and at the end of the meal put a bottle of Mezcal on the table for us! One shot was more than enough, that stuff was strong!
The next day we got up early to have breakfast, as the breakfast at Radisson's are not to be missed. Guess who was sitting next to us: Van Morrison, whose show we had missed the night before. Probably one of the strangest celebrity sightings of the trip. He looked kind of frumpy (hey, it was breakfast!) and clearly did not want to be bothered, so we didn't talk to him. Then we spent the rest of the day tanning on the beach and swimming. What a life! I even took off my top as that is the norm in France and I hate tan lines. It was a little weird to do that in front of the guys, but I have to look at THEIR hairy nipples all the time, don't I?!
The show that night was pretty bizarre, it was actually for the Nice Jazz Festival. The venue was in the middle of an orchard and there were trees right in front of the stage. It was definitely not as organized as Montreax or Roskilde. I hung out with my new friend Leslie Feist, who I met on the beach and is in Broken Social Scene. She was there seeing her friend Gonzales, who played right before Dev. We went back to the hotel for a nice dinner overlooking the full moon and the water. Later I hung out with Leslie, Gonzales, and his dad at the hotel and the beach after the show, which was really nice.
After Nice was a show on the grounds of a 16th century castle near Clergoux, France. It was a nice change from huge festivals: it was sort of in the middle of nowhere and only about 100 people saw the show. I think most of them had never even heard of Devendra before.
Then: another huge festival! This one, in Carhaix, was more like a Roskilde-type event. The dressing room area was amazing, they had showers and free massages and internet (it only worked for a little while) and even did our laundry for us. Unfortunately it was raining - mud everywhere. The performance was incredible because of the huge amount of people. I think someone at the festival estimated that 20,000 people were watching the band
when they played! Twenty thousand!!! Afterwards they shuttled us off to a "press conference", which was hilarious because Noah, Dev, and Jona basically turned it into comedy hour and even had the interviewer, this old dude, singing along with R. Kelly by the end. It was such a surreal thing to do, to have all these photographers and reporters in a tent while some guy asks them a bunch of questions, that they just basically had as much fun with it as possible. It was great. We then got whisked off to dinner, which was some of the best festival food I've had on tour. They brought us giant plates of seafood that looked like baby lobsters that even I was a little freaked out by eating, although the tails were delicious. I just couldn't bear to eat the insides of their heads, even if it was the best part.
Afterwards, we stayed at this weird "institute" in the woods that was more like the place we stayed in Denmark: no receptionist, phones, very minimal. Peaceful, but definitely weird.
Since then, we haven't had any shows, only lots of driving and an almost intolerable 18-hour overnight ferry ride from France to Ireland. The food was HORRIBLE and there were tons of kids running around everywhere. We had tiny cabins with bunkbeds. It wouldn't have been so bad but there was a storm and the boat was rocking so hard I couldn't believe it. The result: piles of puke in the hallway!!! Pretty gross. We watched Batman Begins, which took our mind off the rocking for awhile, especially Jona and Andy, who were looking pretty green.
So now we're in Cork, Ireland. It's nice to be in a place with a city center, internet, etc. We had dinner at an amazing African restarant that had some weird Nigerian malted Gunness drink that tasted like liquid cereal.
Now I'll be off to the hotel!