“This is as far as I can take you, kid. You can take the bus from here to the centrum”, the driver who had just given me a lift from Klaipeda to Vilnius, a road that stretches over the 300 kilometers. The bus was full, making my large backpack quite inconvenient. Uncomfortable I squeezed my way passed a couple to find grip before the bus departed. I could feel the eyes being on me. As the bus departed with a spurt, I relaxed my eyes and stared at nothing. My mind began to wander and I thought of how great my weekend had been. Reinhardt, the man with his adorable laugh, took me to the top of the K-shaped building for one last beer. He made his way to a table at the window. A king’s view we had. A view that concluded the lagoon, the Curonian Spit and the docks. My eyes spied the stage where the Jazz musicians had been playing the weekend. For hours I had danced with strangers while the air was filled with the beautiful, melodic tunes that is jazz. Never before listened to such music, I knew it would not be the last of it for me. One band stood out in particular, when I all of a sudden was dancing to Nothing Else Matters. “Newlux in their own way and jazz style perform world famous music hits…” Breakers of established Jazz music stereotypes they are called. The waitress gave us our brewskies with a grand smile. A single drop of water slowly made its way down the glass to wetten the coaster. A golden bath with on top a tiny cloud. Standing on the bus, I ran my tongue over my lips as my mouth got watery. The two of us dinked our glasses and enjoyed the feeling of the cold beer gliding down over our tongue and down our throat. It was rich of flavor. A big sigh of delight left my lips. Putting the glass down, a smile appeared on my face. An ending fitting of a great weekend.
John Lithgow, famous singer and actor. A man with a sense of humour drier than the Sahara in summertime. I had the honour to meet his exact replica and his lovely wife touring the Estonian island Saaremaa. After saving me from horrific mosquito gangsters, they had offered me the home now occupied by their son, do I happen to find myself in this city. So this is where the road takes me next, to meet the son. I had walked the main street that lead me to the meeting point. Many faces passed me and eagerly my eyes read all of them. When I noticed names written in stone, my legs paused. Slowly I continued, focused on the building. One stone covered a story, which I read feeling gloomily the further I got. A man had jumped, because meeting the reaper would be better than being in the hands of the KGB. I sped up my pace again, knowing I would soon visit the former KGB building now representing a museum of genocide victims. However, that is a tale for another time. It had been a small walk from there to the Cathedral square. Up a hill I could see a tower. Looking around my mind was already checking streets, buildings and places that needed to be explored. Soon I would know every street and its purpose. A guy walked up to me and I knew it to be Lauris, the son. His eyes gazed sluggish out of his skull. He wore ragged jeans and a simple hoodie. A small rucksack hung from one shoulder. Short hair, to the millimeter covered his head. With a smile his hand reached out to mine. Nice to meet you too. For the rest of my stay, we did not see each other much. We saw mornings and evenings. We spoke small talk, no more. I was welcome and he was happy to have a plus one in his huge residence. However he often remained to himself, quiet and closed. The closest we got was watching a game of soccer together, neither caring which team wins.
What catches your eye, Danny? She asked as we watched over the city. We had climbed upon a hill that gives view over the entire city. The Cathedral square and the Gediminas tower stood out like an elephant in short cut grass, the Bernardine gardens gave colour to all and the three crosses of vilnius rose above them all, higher than any standing tall upon a hill. But the answer was none of these. Churches. Many, too many to count. A warm smile rested on her beautiful face as she watched me trying to comprehend the amount of churches that occupy this city. She had poured me one of the most delicious cups of teas I had tasted when I was still milking cows at Radhadesh, the welcoming Hare Krishna community. A half year had passed and now the two of us were wandering the capital of her home country. Her head shaven did not take away attention of the beauty that rests on her face. Side by side, we strolled along a creek. My favourite place, she tells me. Our eyes both at the water streaming, racing over the rocks and pebbles, dodging left and right, under and up. A swing hung above the water, attached to a bridge. Slowly it swung, moved by a soft wind gracefully gliding past. Moments like these make it easy to see the pretty in a city. A walk through the gardens that are filled with Nature’s beauty, a glance at the little Jewish Ghetto and visiting the Republic of artists. Admiring all the great monuments and structures, art and musea, plays and performances. Forgetting the poor and sad drunks, but mostly the horror that lies in its past.
Rainy days had been spent inside, hearing the rain tick in its own tune on the window, curled up reading or writing. Sunny days I explored every branch and leaf of the grand, wide forest or the deepest, furthest alleys of the city. Then an uprise in cultural, festive days came to Vilnius. Musea with free entrance, plays and movies without cost, street performances around every corner. At every moment there was something special going on. Whether it was impressive plays with fire bursting up in the sky as you hear people ‘wauw-ing’, a group of children dancing or a collection of balloons playing music and pumping out mist over the square as a man in a white-onesie loops around and around. Weird, yet fascinating. For a moment’s visit, I had gone to a play I now hardly remember, having left when the man was aggressively fueled by alcohol.
Marija, a girl I met near Palanga, had invited me to a concert that was to celebrate the friendship between Ukraine and Lithuania. Raindrops dripped from the sky when we arrived. Beautiful songs were already being sung, yet my accompaniment was waiting. With time the crowd enlarged, all wanting to hear Jamala sing. Winner of the Eurovision songfestival, one I had not followed and gladly, there being so much drama. After saying her words, she began. A voice powerful and clear, filled with emotion had entered the air, traversing to the eardrums and hearts of many. Goosebumps stood on my arms and a shiver went down my spine as I had a taste of her emotions. Deserved winner or not, she has a voice that many would wish to have. It was when she began to sing the song ‘1944’ that it began pouring. Left and right umbrellas opened, forming a cloak protecting from the drops. The further she was in the sung, the more drops, not only from the sky. I witnessed tears rolling over cheeks and a few blatantly crying. And I kid you not, before the song had ended, a grand colourful rainbow covered the sky. I did not know Jamala. I do know, that she had brought a magnificent performance with a lot of meaning to these people.
Being from the Netherlands, it was quite difficult to go out for a beer during the championship without the question; Why are the Dutch not playing? Personally not giving many fucks about all this, only to indulge in the joy and cheering that comes with it, I must say that these conversations do not interest me. Smile and walk away, was what became my tactic. Another attempt when Lauris had pointed me to a reggae party that might be fun. Johnny Osbourne had flown from Jamaica giving one helluva show. Blithely and hopeful I went, using my screenshots to guide me. I wore my Iron Maiden shirt, in a desperate attempt to find another fan may he or she carry the second ticket. The ticket my companiment of before, the guy who had started the idea of this trip, was supposed to wave at the reception of coming concert. Only a few days left. Near the old tracks, Lauris had said. However, ’twas dark and my sense of of direction is not known for being excellent. A lady approached me, her bosom almost popping out of the tight bracelet she was wearing. A skirt short, too short was hanging on her hips. She asked for a lighter, so I lit her cigarette. Then she asked if I wanted to join her, her eyes on my wallet. Two men before had given an attempt to find me a company as well, with dollar signs in their eyes. My wallet remained tight, as I continued with one earbud out. Brought back into focus, I figured I could ask this lad down the road. A guy, Colombian born and Spanish raised, with only a few years on me paced in my direction, holding two burgers. Directions I asked, a friendship I gained. He pointed to my shirt and asked, Iron Maiden? Then I knew my second ticket had a place.
Johnny Osbourne. Nearing his seventies, you would expect a Mariah Carey at New Year’s Eve performance. But no, he gave it to his audience. A small place next to tracks out of use. Left and right marijuana was smoked and beer was consumed. Laughter and music filled the air. Everyone danced til their legs weakened. He had a voice deep and sweet and an energy that I wish to have at such an age. When the crowd kept shouting his name, time after time he played his last song, until it was even for him too much. The crowd emerged at his feet as he lingered to converse and say his gratitude. Gio and I finished our drink and said goodbye. See you at the concert!