Voyage Toujours Tales – Concerts – U2

Combining travel with other passions is something I’ve been doing for a while. Many others do as well. Foodies want to go to that special Michelin starred restaurant in Paris, oenophiles want to travel to Champagne, Burgundy or Bordeaux, car enthusiasts to Porsche’s home in Germany or Ferrari’s in Italy. You get my drift. Since most of my favorite childhood bands came from the U.K. and as a child I longed to travel to Europe, once I did the usual tourist “Top 10” here and there, I started thinking of what I could do when I returned to my favorite city in such and such a country. One of the things I combined was taking in a concert of one of my favorite bands. I had an accomplice in my high school friend. She and I met by our high school lockers when she commented on my Police poster! We had one class together our entire high school career, but what brought us together was music. The Police, U2, INXS, Depeche Mode, New Order, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, etc. If you are from the L.A. area and were a teen in the early 80’s and listened to KROQ radio station, you know all these bands and several more, too numerous to name here. She didn’t have the exact tastes as I. For example, I don’t think she was into DD or Spandau, but we were generally into what was called the second British Invasion.

My first ever live concert was in L.A. at the L.A. Sports Arena. It was a concert for Amnesty International in 1985. U2 was one of the bands and they were and still are one of my favorites. My friend and I were recently reminiscing about our concert travels and I relayed to her the first time I heard U2 on the radio. “The first time I remember hearing U2, I think I was 13 or 14 and listened to the Unforgettable Fire Sunday night on KLOS’s 7th day, where they play the whole album, if you recall.  (My brother and I) were listening to it.  The sun was starting to go down and it was dark by the time they finished the album and we listened to it there in the twilight. One of my favorite tunes is the title song.  It’s haunting, melodic – and I’m not sure that I even know what it’s about.  I think the sounds stir my soul more than its content.  The mixture of the strings, the drums and even Bono’s voice all get me.” U2 would tour a year after Amnesty to support their own album, the now legendary, The Joshua Tree.

So when I started traveling to see bands, it was magic. The first show I saw outside of my area, was U2. They had set up a couple of shows at Sun Devil Stadium just outside of Phoenix. They wanted to film some live shows for their upcoming movie, “Rattle & Hum”. Boy, talk about going on the cheap. I think 6 of us piled into a five seater car, drove from L.A. to Phoenix, stayed at a Motel 6 and I’m not sure what we ate, but I’m sure it wasn’t very nutritious! The tickets to these 2 nights of concerts was $5 for each night. I think my cousin paid for my tickets and the hotel. I don’t remember too much about the trip but I can remember both concerts. The lights going down and all the lighters lighting up. Yes, kids, before the lights of cell phones, we used lighters! Even those of us that didn’t smoke had one when we went to a concert. A beautiful sea of sparkling lights like you were in the middle of the desert watching the sky. Those concerts would be immortalized on Rattle & Hum.

I like a lot of U2 music that is not considered their “hits”.  I even liked some of their funky stuff like Zooropa, Achtung Baby & Pop.  After Unforgettable Fire, I went back and listened to War, Boy & October and was really hooked on them.  I was really into the whole new wave of British/Irish/Scottish/Australian music in general.  Videos were big and although we did not have cable/MTV, there was, speaking of Richard Blade, MV3!  I think it was on Channel 9 if I remember correctly.  I liked the exotic locations and artistic value of those videos and it fell in line with my view of wanting to go see the world, which I had had since leafing through the pages of the Encyclopedia Brittanica and the country pages which always started off with a map of the country.  I always loved geography.

I would go on to see U2 many times. I believe the last time was during their 360 tour at the Anaheim Stadium in 2010. I have yet to see U2 outside of the U.S. My dream would be to see them in their native Dublin. There’s still time as the band is still together and, I’m sure, have another world tour left in them.

Later on, I would often consciously coordinate my travel around concerts. More tours to come. Stay tuned!

Voyage Toujours Tales – Rainy Days

When you travel, are you fixated on the sunny skies, time outside in the sun? Well, some of my most memorable days have been rainy! That’s right. I am originally from Southern California, where its favorable weather about 90% of the year and maybe that’s why I like a little inclement weather once in a while. In this clip, we are taken to the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in Scotland and to the opposite end of the world, Milford Sound, New Zealand. Both days spent in those locations were rainy and boy, did I have the time of my life.

Isle of Skye, Scotland – May, 2019 – A celebration of my 50th found a group of my friends and I in Scotland. We started in Edinburgh where we spent a few days enjoying the usual sites, Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat, etc. before heading out to the Highlands. Our base was Glencoe. One of our friends had a distant mate that lives on the Isle of Skye and we went for a day trip – Americans! Isle of Skye deserves more than a day trip but it was a memorable one. We had lunch with his friend and then went to the Fairy Pools. The skies opened up and started to rain as we arrived. Luckily, everyone with was properly dressed and we ventured forth. What is it about rainy days and letting the kid inside you want to leap out and make a splash in the puddles? I always find that in UK, the gray skies intensify the green and grey of the rocks in the hills and it’s such a technicolor mash of beautiful melancholy. Just fabulous!

On the other side of the world, some of those same friends joined me on a trip to the South Island of New Zealand. I arrived a couple of days prior to take a bit of the capital city of Auckland. The weather their was quite agreeable, as it was throughout the NZ trip. It was September, 2017. Celebrating the 50th of another friend, we decided NZ was the place to go. She and her husband had previously been to the North Island a few years prior as a celebration to a wedding anniversary, now, it was a celebration of her 50th. This time, just a handful of us took the journey. It was about a year after the tragic earthquake which devastated Christchurch. When we visited, there was much to be redeveloped, but it was still a nice visit. We drove south to the southern part of the South Island and ended up in the town of Te Anau as our jumping point for the glow worm caves and the Milford Sound. Both experiences were fantastic. The day we went to Milford Sound, the weather was okay in Te Anau but by the time we got to Milford Sound it was rainy. Not to worry! What that meant for us was a cornucopia of waterfalls all along the cliffs of the Sound. On the deck of the boat looking at all the waterfalls, still able to see the tops of the cliffs and a few boats in the Sound was an elation of my soul that I can still feel.

So, even when the day is misty, rainy, grey, look on the bright side – you just might have the time of your life!

Friday Night Louvre Visit – 2014

What are you doing on Friday night? If you’re in Paris, why not visit the Louvre? The Louvre is open late two nights a week. The Louvre has approximately 35,000 works of art on display. They have more than 380,000 works stored there, so they are only displaying about 10% of the best of what they have in over 650,000 sq ft. of space. The most visited work of art is the Mona Lisa but it’s ridiculous to come here just to see her, in what is my opinion, not one of my favorite Leonardo works of art. The museum/palace/fortress, is a gorgeous architectural space and the variety of works from Cycladic art dating from 3,5000 B.C. to the 19th century paintings are extraordinary. Take your time and wander through its the vastness of space and its history.

The museum is in a U shape with the Denon wing on the right, if you are facing the Pyramid entrance. The Denon wing houses the Mona Lisa, The Venus de Milo and the Nike of Samothrace to name a few. The Antiquities wing is housed in the Sully wing and the sculpture garden and Dutch works, some of my favorites, are housed in the Richelieu wing along with what was once Napoleon’s apartments. The center courtyard to this U shape is the Pyramid entrance or the I.M. Pei pyramid.

If you got rid of the crowds, you could get lost here. I don’t mean lost, as in you don’t know where you are, I mean lost in its grandeur. Don’t forget to look at the building itself. Every single space is occupied and that could get exhausting. I once spent just about 12 hours in a row here, and it wasn’t enough. Don’t let that scare you. If you are looking to see the “must sees”, you can do this in about an hour or so, if you know how to get there. Take a look at the map and plan your attack. But, if you have more than just a couple of hours, give her the time and respect that she’s due.