Dust Over Europa

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A Tribute to Dr. Gonzo

Gonzo:- a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative. The word “gonzo” is believed to have been first used in 1970 to describe an article by Hunter S. Thompson, who later popularized the style. It is an energetic first-person participatory writing style in which the author is a protagonist, and it draws its power from a combination of social critique and self-satire. It has since been applied to other subjective artistic endeavors.

Throughout my 30+ years of recklessness on this little solar-powered jukebox that we call Earth, I learned not to be reckless with only few things. One of these things is aging; the idea that me and time are competing in a race I am certainly going to lose. Another thing is describing something as “life changing”; for whatever reason, I feel most people are utterly reckless with these two words – using them to describe anything and everything. Like a book, or a movie . . or even a person. Truth is, if you objectively examine the timeline of your life, you will find very few life altering events . . . and I am here to share one with you.

Traveling changes your perspective on how you see the world. You learn about different cultures, history, music, religions, food, . . etc. It opens your eyes to the wonders of mother nature and the greatness of fallen empires. However, for most people traveling is usually a one-way road; you’re mostly on the receiving end. Listening. Seeing. Touching. Tasting. You probably travel with your partner or friends. You have a fixed itenary and a list of things you want to see/do. You are in a race to do as many things as possible, and see as many places as possible. You spend a fixed time and a small fortune. It is a lot of fun. A controlled adventure. An escape from your life. You are just a tourist, and before you even know it, it is time to go back home.

Enter reality.

Since the day I embarked on my little vagabonding adventure, I decided not to follow a traditional path, but with eyes settled on Europe. Every trip has to begin and end in Europe.  First question I had to answer was which country I thought I would never visit in my lifetime? You got that? Good. That’s your first stop. Buy the ticket. Take the ride – As Hunter Thompson used to say. Don’t stay in a hotel. Hotels are for businessmen and strangers. Find a small apartment in downtown. Somewhere close to the old town. Every European capital has one. When you leave the apartment, don’t use a map; the place you are looking for can’t be found on a map.

Just walk around the city. Breathe it in. Slowly. All cities have stories to tell, so listen. Most people can’t hear these stories over the noise of hustling and bustling happening wherever TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet led you to. Tourist traps – where food is tasteless and booze is overpriced. You will almost-always see some wanna be sitting there pretending to play local music. Cheap entertainment for white people.

You might as well save yourself the trouble of going to see a meaningless historical monument built by some king nobody gave a fuck about, with a feather up in his ass. Corners crowded with tourists who are chasing a local authentic experience – whatever the fuck that means. Middle-aged men with tired faces; men who were reckless with aging; they forgot that time was never on their side.

Follow your ears instead. You will know where the locals go. Sit there alone in a bar or a cafe. Order yourself a drink. Watch people passing by the streets. Some chasing the game. Others tired of the chase. Street artists. Students. Young couples walking together hand-in-hand, thinking this will last forever. Then, they exit your life, just like they came in, within a blink of an eye. But you’ve heard their stories. You’ve seen their struggle. And then you feel overwhelmed by a sense of hedonism. You close your eyes and could barely remember how your life used to be – it’s like waking up from a half forgotten dream. Then it would hit you right then and there, that you aren’t here on vacation. You’re an explorer. A vagabonder. A nomad – lost in his thoughts in a small european city. The mindset is different, and so is the feeling. A tourist have a deadline, an office job to get back to and a family to support, and this somehow makes his time in a foreign city fun and exciting. When you are traveling solo with no itinerary, fun and excitement aren’t words that can describe the way you feel. You aren’t rushing. You aren’t doing. You are being. Then – and only then, the city would reveal itself to you. And you would know your place in this world and who you are and where you came from.   

You stay long enough in a city and it will reveal itself to you. Only then you move to conquer the next one. Like Alexander The Great. You just keep digging. Knowing there is probably no coming back from this one.

Day by day, you go deeper in this journey. Airports start to feel like home, and coffee becomes your only friend . . and little by little, you lose track of reality.

Reality is too boring anyway.

Long-term solo traveling can be dangerous for the soul.

Take it at your own risk.

You never know . . you might have a near-life experience.

“In San Francisco, life goes on. Hope rises and dreams flicker and die. Love plans for tomorrow and loneliness thinks of yesterday. Life is beautiful and living is pain. The sound of music floats down a dark street. A young girl looks out a window and wishes she were married. A drunk sleeps under a bridge. It is tomorrow.” ― Hunter S. Thompson.


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