First and foremost, let me wish all of you a healthy, happy and struggle-free New Year. Since I myself am fully aware of the impossibility of my own year/existence being devoid of struggle, the least I can do is wish good things on others. Now, I'm sure you are all desperate to know about how I spent my New Years Eve, if only to, you know, point and mock. But before we get there, I think it's only fair that we jump back and talk a little bit about the build up.
As you may recall, the day after the that whole Christmas thing I found myself running out of Madrid like a bat out of hell, bound straight for Berlin. Well, Berlin, by way of Palma de Mallorca, so, you know, 10 hours of travel just to get to an umlaut, but, you know, I'm not bitter. I finally arrived in Berlin, after the weirdest and, honestly, more ghetto series of plane rides of my life (at one point we were shuffled onto a bus and just taxied around the runway for a while until the plane was ready for us. Standing room only. Smelly smelly European people. I think you get the idea. Now, as for Berlin itself, well, Berlin is, honestly, weird. It's a weird place, it's a huge struggle, it's exactly what you'd expect of a city that was divided by a giant marked up wall for several decades and then re-united in the modern era. The most edible naturally German food to be found in the city is called currywurst, and is a sausage served with ketchup and curry and fries. Sure. There is even a museum devoted to it, but given that I only had three days in Berlin, I had to give that one a miss. However, I did get to spend my days wandering around some of the riches of the ancient world (so graciously and kindly ripped out and stolen by the Germans, thanks, guys), and observing some "Bruegel" guy and his "art work" , apparently he's, like, famous, or something? I don't know, all the signs were in German. Go figure. The upside of Berlin is that everyone, and I really do mean everyone, from the cab drivers to the coffee shop waiters, speaks English. Given that this is not the case in, say, Spain, for example, this was something I found really quite exciting. The downside of this turns out to be that, and I don't know why this is, but when Germans speak in English, well, they just tend to sound, how to put this, amazingly, astoundingly, totally, well, RUDE. Really really rude. Honestly, downright mean. I don't think that they MEAN to, per say, or that there is an intention for cruelty, but they just YELL at you, it's unreal. At a VERY nice Austrian restaurant I attended with Ben and Michael (hi, guys!) and their family the oh-so-proper maitre'd actually barked at us "hurry up, hurry up!" as he shepherded us to our table. Now, granted, there were, like, 12 of us, but STILL! If only we tipped here in Europe, then it could reflect that treatment. I suppose that's why we don't. Just one more reason to blame the Germans.
Waving auf Wiedersehen to Germany I jumped on a flight and made my way over to the sunny shores of England, to bask in the balmy weather and get myself a tan. Much to my shock and despair, it was foggy and rainy! Who would have guessed it? Here in London I celebrated the New Year with a bunch of public school boys, my friend Andrew, (hi, Andrew!) and some fairly disturbing British Art. I must say, as much of a struggle as I am, I can't help by like London, with it's delicious Indian food and it's horrifying social systems. Outside of New York I've never heard so many different languages spoken on public transportation, and you kind of have to love that, don't you?
Or perhaps it's just that I love London because it's the last stop on my way home. And tomorrow night, just before the Tube closes for the evening, I will be on my way to London's Heathrow Airport, to while away the evening drinking in the airport bar and waiting for my flight to be announced. Is it going to be a struggle? Well, of course it is, have you seen the title of this website? Is it going to be worth it? Well, after a long period of wandering, gentle readers, let me tell you, that to get home, frankly, swimming the Atlantic ocean would be worth it, let alone flying over it. So, for all of you following along at home, I'll catch you across the pond. It's been 100 days in Europe for me, and I'm ready to say Adios, Ciao, Chuss, Cheers, and Au Revoir. It seems that for me, there's no struggle like home.
Leah Franqui is a fairly interesting person/director/writer/reader/eater/drinker. She likes ugly dogs and dislikes her hair in the morning. She's a sucker for environmental causes and plays hardball with deals on chewing gum. She is a struggle.