Last of the 20th Century's World Fair's/ and those books.I said to myself, Dennis, you love to travel. You got a little business, and a professional job, and your 51-years old. The time is right. This is the last of the world fairs for this century. I sat on that thought for a week or so.
Then I said, lets do it; meaning me. And so I took a flight to Lisbon, picked up a few books prior to my departure, one on traveling within Lisbon, and around it, and a book called: "The Night in Lisbon", by Erich Maria Ramarque; very interesting; about WWII. Not that it would have a lot to do with my trip. But I like getting into the mood. And such things help me set the mood for my adventure.This was not the first time I used books, and great authors to pave my way mentally to visit a once in a life time geographic location in world, such as Lisbon, and a once in a century World's Fair.
I guess if the Worlds Fair wasn't going to be there, my interest would not have been as passionate as it was. But being in Seattle Washington in l967, and going out to the Space Needle, helped me make up my mind. The Worlds Fair was their in l961 or l962, I think. Plus, Elvis made that move: "It Happened at the World's Fair", in l963.
Put that all together, and along with the thinking period, the ingredients were just right.Back to the books though, books with such great authors like Hemmingway, who loved Paris, and Mary Renault who loved Greece, I read most all of their books from cover to cover. And Ramarque, who loved to write about Europe and WWII, all inspire me to travel; some to their personal locations. The places they write about in their novels. Their books helped me make up my mind.
And everyone needs a little help in such conspiring. And these people I mention, when I visited their locations where they have gone and lived, stayed, or visited, I which I call their cities, I always feel a little more at home, welcome when I arrive. As if I know some one there.
I never feel the stranger. If I look up, it is because of something new, not because I feel like a tourist.I travel a lot, as you may have figured out, and I put a lot of thought, planning into each trip.
It's like having a great dinner at each location; if anything, one can due, and the rest, I really don't care about. And in making a comparison, with selecting a trip, vs. a dinner, you don't pick out the wine usually before you select the main course of the dinner. That is to say, you know what kind of dinner you're going to have [city or location] usually before you make all the plans.
I like fish, steak, pasta, and Chinese food. And so there are many cities I can go to, and enjoy them. Now it's simply getting the right wine [author and the story] to help with the trip. That is, the wine, I mean. The mood will be set automatically thereafter.
For some reason it fuels itself. Like passion. The fuel for Lisbon was the World's Fair. The passion was set probably a long time ago by Elvis, and his movie, in l963. And Ramarque refueled it in l996. And the passion too, was refueled.
And when I heard about the Fair, the stage was set. I had the money. Passion is a most interesting thing some times.
But you really need the package. And don't expect someone to make the party for you. You make your own happiness. I met a girl in Iceland once that thought like that. Oh, well, that's another story.
I best say with Lisbon; anyways, a zebra.That is to say, some times it is so strong, my desire that is, it is like the stripes on a zebra. You can't get them off, only cover them up. Trying to change is like trying to stop an alcoholic from taking the next drink. As long as there is a will, there will be a way.
Or put the opposite, if you have a way, it's hard to counter the will and say no. But it is a good passion I think. It hurts no one, adds to the world economy.
I have my bills paid. I do not drink or smoke, and so this passion seems to be in check.I'm not sure what I would call my city, besides St. Paul, Minnesota; and although I was born there, and have a home their, so did F.
Scott Fitzgerald, the great author who wrote: "The Great Gatsby", who, matter-of-fact, lived but 2-miles from my home. And so maybe it is really his home. It was before it was mine anyways.
But there are other cities I could live in. Maybe call my own. Such as: Seville, but it was home to Hercules, his birth place, and so it belongs to him.
I could say Paris or Lisbon, but we agreed it belonged to two other authors, Hemmingway and Ramarque.I'd say Kyoto, but my wife would get mad, it is where I went after reading the book: "Memoirs of a Geisha", by Arthur Golden. And so I best allow him to take ownership of the city, and leave well enough alone. Now that were on Kyoto, let me share a moment. I went down to the Goon, district, the area Mr. Golden talks about so much in his Geisha book, and talked to a few Geisha's there.
One showed me around her café-of sorts; maybe I should call it a tea house. Another Geisha allowed me to take her picture. Funny thing happened when I got back home from that trip, I discovered the Geisha I met on the main street in the Goon area was in a book I happened to pick up at Barnes and Nobel, in Roseville, Minnesota; small world.Maybe the Inca city, called Cuzco, at the top of the world, over 12,000 feet high, in Peru, I could call my own.
And it is beautiful; but when I was there having dinner one night [gunny pig], a woman from Australia, happened to say to me as I was eating looking out the 2nd story window at the beautiful, Cathedral, "I love this city; I've been here over a dozen times. I'm going to sell everything and move here soon". So it is really her city. I had never been to other city 12-times; New York, 3 times, and Paris 3-times; but a dozen times. In my head, that means she owns the place.
It's an astronomical figure to return to a place 12-tiems, unless you had business, or some other ties there. She has probably set up house there already. It was in l999, I went there.And so I can't comment to any city. Wait a minute, I just thought of one; a city that is.
Maybe, just maybe, La Paz, Bolivia, could be my city. But I've yet to return. I've only been there once. About six months ago.
Someone said every time I return from a location, a city, to be exact, I say I want to move there. Maybe, more then one person has said that too me. Anyways, the city is grand, and it is higher then Cuzco. It has a beautiful Cathedral like Cuzco. It has an archeological site called Tiwanau, which has the famous: "Gate of the Sun, "and of course, like Cuzco, which has Machu Picchu.
But I won't jump the gun. I remember what everyone said, and I need to at least return more then 3-times because I no longer want to live in New York, or Paris.After traveling 490,000 air miles I've yet to find a place to say it is my city; as others have done. And it doesn't seem to bother me all that much. St. Paul and Lima, Peru are my homes.
Family and friends are there. And for now they are great places. Maybe the world is my city. And I will have to live with that.
Actually that is not hard to swallow.Now back to the books. You might be surprised what you find in these books, novels if you will, about the locations you are going to. I started to read the book: Seville, by James A. Machinery, before I took my trip to Spain. I never did finish it.
But Seville won my heart. I even went out and bought a car by that name.After reading these books and then visiting the places I had read about, some of its history seems to fly right out into my face. The paths, city streets all come alive. You will remember them on your trip; and if you forget, you will most likely try to find out what that memory loss was, when within arms reach of it. If you are like me, you will take a few notes after reading the book.
Like when I went to Asia Minor, and visited Troy. I took a book with me, although I had read it prior to the trip, three or four times. I'm not sure if I even looked at it while on the journey. But when I got back, I kind of felt the book and I had taken the trip together. And I did a little journaling. Not enough to distract me from my living in the moment though.
I don't like to miss too much. That is why I do not take movie cameras. It takes the sport or fun, or whatever it is great, out of a trip. A camera does not seem to do that as much.
It is part of my adventure, the book reading that is. Troy will stay within me forever, as will Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgil's Aeneid; as will as Malta, and its sister island Gozo, where I ventured into Odysseus' cave. Where I was told, it was the very place he lived for seven years after leaving victoriously from the besieged city-fortress of Troy, journeying home, around 1260 BC [but of course not making it for a long spell]. I visited Troy in l996 and Gozo in 2001. In my mind, one is linked to the other; although I never knew I would be going to Gozo, '96.
It kind of did a closing on Troy for me. When on Gozo I could visualize Odysseus' long journey home. And in a like manner, when I was at Troy I could visualize the 10-year battle that took place there.
Maybe Malta will be my city-state. There I go again. I have not even booked a second flight there yet. It is a country island.
It is about 20-miles long, and 10-miles wide; and has two other small islands belonging to it. One could almost jump to each of the other islands as they are so close. I think the small one is something like 1-miles long, and half of that wide; and Gozo about 10-miles long and 5-miles wide. St.
Paul, Minnesota could put all three of them city-states into its city boundaries I think. Yes, I love to travel as you can see.Anyways, you end up having coffee at the same locations the people do in your books, automatically; or going to the edge of the docks in Lisbon looking out into the ocean and wondering about the great earthquake that took place there a few hundred years back, devastating Lisbon. You hear the romantic and tragic voices of the past. That makes ¼ of my trip. That is, trying to experience a moment of what they did, or what happened.
Standing in their foot prints kind of. Not becoming them, just visiting them. I like being Dennis, so I don't take it to the point of trying to be like an Elvis imitator. But I like his music.
When I arrived in Lisbon, I went as usual, to my hotel first. And as usual, I could not really sleep. I figured out my system for jet-leg thought. I usually try to adjust either by taking a 30-minute nap after arrival at my destination, or look at the clock, and adjust to the time of the location, tired or not. If it is 9 PM then I get ready for bed. If it is 3 PM, I go get a cup of coffee.
If it is 6 AM, I get another cup of coffee, and if it is 10 AM, I look for a nice location to have brunch. In 36-hours my body will start to shut down; shortly after that, I may sleep 13-hours straight, -- adjusting.Prior to this, as I have indicated, coffee, a little brunch, and I will have been so wound up thereafter, that there is not way of standing still, and so I usually go and see a site. For instance, the Tower of Belem, in Lisbon, is a reminder I to me that this area of the world was once a world power. It was built around AD 1515.
I think what I liked about Lisbon the most, was that it had a little of everything, at a decent price; that is to say, a little of San Francisco, some of Rio, and a lot of the old winding streets of Paris, or Malta; and a number of grand churches. But this is not why I came, even though it was one of the best hidden secrets in Europe.Yes, you got it; it was the last World's Fair of the 20th century.
About a year after I had attended the Fair, I heard that only about 100,000 Americans had went to visit the fair. Most were Europeans, to my understanding. I am not sure why, but they did very little advertisements on it. I had found two articles on Lisbon's world fair to be, about 6-months prior to it, in some newspaper, and magazine in St.
Paul, Minnesota. And the second magazine I found, about 3-months prior to going, in an article while it was taking place. They did a marvelous job in cultivating the land scope for the project.
It's clowns, and monitorial, space tower, along with its grand aqueous, many foods made it a success, but not in the advertising department, or in the number of American people that attended. I had heard not too long after the Fair, it fell quite short of a profitable attendance mark.Although I like the Worlds Fair, what I guess I felt was lacking was the rides; or at list the kid in me felt that.
The Midway area for what I am use to seeing a fair, was more of a plaza area for world cultural venders; what happened to the roller coaster, the merry-go-round is what my mind was telling me. No candy frost and very little circus type atmosphere. It was more on the scale of an international United Nations get together I told myself, so clean, too clean. No hot dogs, peanuts, or candy; but some real nice well looking restraints. But maybe that is the American in me. I am glad I went, but it was too conservative for my liking.
But maybe that is how it is suppose to be. I guess I was judging it by the movie Elvis put out called: "It happened at the Worlds Fair"; which he acted and sang in during the early l960's.That day at the fair, I had lost my travelers checks, which were replaced the next day; either someone pick pocketed me, or they simply dropped out of my spot coat sometime during my visit. And I did get to see all I wanted to, for the most part.
But I was glad to go back to the hotel that evening. The fair was just something I had to do, like when I went to Japan, I had to go see an International Sumo wrestling tournament. It was costly, but it was great. But after a while it got boring. As in Maui, Alaska, and Iceland, I had to go to such things as whale watching, submarine diving, and exploring a glacier.
But Lisbon would remain one of the great cities I would tell myself I could live in if necessary. And to this writing there are only 5 or 6 locations in the world I could make the claim for; or would put into this category. Along with Lisbon's great scenery, and foods, it has a marvelous history.
Portugal's Temple of Diana located in the town of Evora, about 100 + miles from Lisbon, was a grand, site; a monument the Romans were surely proud of, as well as the inhabitants of the area, to this day.One of the other great features of Lisbon, especially by night is St Georges Castle [Costello de Sao Jorge] which I could see each evening and morning out of my hotel window, was a nice reminder of their beautiful stone work. But the one thing I loved the most and I don't know why, was the "Elevator de Santa Justas". I went there about 5-times, going to the top of this cast-iron tower having brunch. I loved the view, and the uniqueness of it. I doubt there is another like it in the world.
Maybe that was my Lisbon. I always seem to find something I like a little more then anything else. It reminds me of going to San Antonio, in Texas, and going to the Alamo five times. I just never got tired of it: --or Paris, which I've been to three times, and I seem never to get tired of the grand church of Notre Dame and walking along the river front.There was no real suspense on this trip [which I am happy for], to make it stand out, other then at the World's Fair, when I got a little pushy trying to get ahead of few people, who would not let me to get into see the huge aquarium.
The guy got a little resistant, and so I walked over to the police, and told him I needed to get ahead of the line, which consisted of about 3000-people, because of my heart condition [which I have, but for the most part, was not really a question of being in danger at the moment, although standing in line a few hours more could have provoked something, I'm still trying to justify it]. In any case, he put me in front of the line. As I was walking out of the aquarium, after seeing everything, that other trouble maker [me being the first] was just coming in.
He looks at me, and didn't say a word. Revenge can be sweet, even if you really don't seek it, but it happens automatically.Not sure if that makes me a trouble maker, but it didn't get out of had. It was just a nice low key adventure; the dancers on the sidewalks, the hiring a taxi for 4-days to drive me around the city, and country side, the site seeing, the people watching, shopping.
And so good night my lazy city, sleep will, and prosper, you have done well..Dennis Siluk's website is: http://dennissiluk.tripod.com.
By: Dennis Siluk