As we rolled into Dublin the morning after my final festival, a fellow festie boldy proclaimed in a voice ruined by drinking and singing: “Welcome home, fuckers,” — at which point the bus erupted into laughter and ragged cheers. For me, it was the end of a three plus month journey across Europe. 15 festivals in 15 weekends in 15 different countries (with a few extra sidetrips/countries added to the mix).
Like any great adventure, there’s a bit of a hole left when it’s over. For over a hundred days, my life has consisted of experiencing European festivals. From the massive parties of Sziget in Hungary and EXIT in Serbia to beachside fests in Corsica and Italy and boutique festivals like Amsterdam Woods and Norway’s Bergenfest, I’ve only scratched at the surface of the scene over here.
Traveling alone is one of the most rewarding experiences in this lifetime for me. But it can be frustrating and draining and even mind-numbingly boring at times. What kept it fun were the people I meet along the way — campground neighbors, hostel roomies, train companions. What has kept me sane was the help you gave me on this trip. Maybe you didn’t realize it at the time or thought it was a small thing that you have already forgotten, but to me it meant the world.
You offered me snacks on a train, cooked dinner for me, and shared your food. You’ve let me crash in your home when I didn’t have have a place to stay. You helped me at the bus station when I couldn’t speak the language and you gave me a sleeping bag when I didn’t have anything. You took me into your festival families without any reservations and filled me with beer in Germany and champagne in France and palinka in Romania and rakia in Serbia.
And you made me laugh. A lot.
So thank-you everyone for your help and your kindness on the road. This list is too short — I wish I could include everyone I met like the Corsican pharmacist who assisted me with an extremely odd request, the Norwegian airport security officer who yanked off a troublesome belt, the elderly Swiss couple who helped me out of a bind deep on a deserted mountain pass, or the business man in Serbia who gave me extra dinar when I was just short of a bus ticket.
As I write this, I’m sitting in a sunny cafe in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and my plane back to America leaves in just under an hour from Barcelona. I’m skipping it to see a few sights, catch up on the piles of photos I took, scribble a few words about this adventure, and catch my breath. Who knows, there might even be another festival or ten to attend in the coming weeks.
Hopefully we will meet again or for the first time. I’ll be that guy standing next to you in a packed crowd pretending to take pictures, probably with a beer and most definitely having a good time.
See you down road, fuckers.
September 13, 2015