We get up and have some coffee at Costa’s in Madrid. He lets Banana, the bunny, out of it’s cage to hop around and the seemingly benign Banana eats a hole straight through Nick’s headphones. He’s bummed, as it’s the second pair he’s gone through on this tour. We eat a little bread and walk over to the van to drive to Porto, Portugal.
The drive to Porto is kind of a long one. The landscape is arid. It’s no wonder now why the Spanish and Portuguese ended up settling where they did during their conquests. Oddly enough, for all the traveling I do I’ve never been to Mexico (I’m going in 3 weeks) but I’ve been told by the guys that these parts of inland Spain look almost exactly like Mexico. Maybe minus the taquerias.
We get stopped at the Spanish/Portuguese border. To our delight, instead of strip searching us like in Croatia, They just ran a dog through our van. He didn’t find our huge stash of heroin, but he did clean some of the crumbs off the van floor. Good dog.
When we get into Porto we load into the venue, which is an interesting place. It’s like a supper club on the 4th floor with a pretty good sized venue in the back. The floors are finished wood and the sound is atrocious because the treble and high mids are bouncing all over the place. Every snare hit from John sounds like a gunshot anyway.
After dinner, we take a walk. Porto is by far the coolest city we have been to on this tour. It definitely does not feel at all like the western world. There are port castles everywhere (like El Morro in Puerto Rico), it’s old, it’s dense and it looks like Bladerunner. From pictures I’ve seen of cities in North Africa, I’d say it looks more like that than say Oxford or Stockholm. It’s definitely got that poor people living simply in warm weather feel.
We walk down to the river, which is about a thousand feet lower in elevation than where we started, and the walk was through a really poor section of town. They were tons of cats everywhere. When we got the the river, the idea of walking back up the hill does not appeal to us, so we take a tram that looks kind of like a pope-mobile roller coaster back up the hill. It costs us about 1,50€.
Back at the venue we hang out on the internet for awhile and watch the opening bands. There are a bunch of people there. The band plays and it’s a good crowd. At least good enough for an encore.
After the show we head back to the hotel arranged for us. We’re all hungry but nothing seems to be open so Nate and I make some sandwiches. Our room is awesome. It has 3 beds and a huge balcony overlooking the city. There are bats outside so I go check those guys out. They are eating bugs near the light. There are no outlets to charge anything, which is weird. We pass out for about three or four hours because we have to be up early for a drive to Zaragoza, Spain.
I wake up in the hotel at about noon in Castellon. We bust out of the hotel and are in search of fruits and drinks for the drive to Madrid. About halfway down the street I realize… I’ve left my phone in the room. Thankfully the nice lady at the counter has it. We grab it. Get some avocados and tomatoes and get on the road to Madrid.
I’ve been talking about getting a knife to cut fruits, bread and cheeses along the way. I found one at the gas station. It’s pretty rad, it has a boar on it in some ivory color with metal work on the handle for 7€. I also grab a huuuuge block of some spanish cheese and some bread and now we’re in business.
I forgot to mention that I finished the biography about Brian Wilson called “Catch a Wave”. I gave it over to Nick and he read it. Highly recommended. I’ve moved on to a biography about Bobby Fischer called “Endgame” and on this day I finished it as well. It’s especially good at being a biography and not too boring about the chess stuff. Brian Wilson and Bobby Fischer have in common that they were pretty incredible at what they did, but they are fucking nuts. Wilson getting very involved with substances and Fischer was a tyrannical asshole, God rest his soul.
When we get into Madrid, we make a stop at Santiago Bernabeu (sp?) which is the stadium where Real Madrid plays. Personally, I’m more of a Barca fan but it’s cool nonetheless. They are trying to ding us for like 16€ apiece for a tour of the field and it takes an hour. Fuck that. Dima gets a little soccer ball at the team store and we take off for the venue.
On the way from the stadium to the venue there are protests that are making our lives a living hell. They are protesting eduction cuts. College is free in Spain and the kids would like to keep it that way. There are probably five thousand people protesting. It’s a mess. In the traffic, John is trying to coax Nate into telling a girl that she is “muy linda”. Trouble is, she’s not that cute and Nate doesn’t take the bait.
We get to the venue about an hour later and parking is a mess yet again. Eventually we get settled and load in. Costa and Luigi are the promoters and they take good care of us. After load in we walk over to their place through the narrow streets of downtown Madrid. There are a ton of transvestite hookers along the walk and it’s a funny sight to see. Costa has wifi and pizza and snacks and a bunny named Banana that just roams free. Banana has a ton of personality, but he gets freaked out when there are seven dudes roaming around the place
After dinner we walk back to the venue and the guys get ready to play. A few of the people from the band All Fits show up and It’s nice to see them. The guys play and there is a ton of dance during the set, especially on the part of Costa’s friends girlfriend, who is pretty drunk. She’s a funny one.
After the show we leave the van and walk back to Costa’s. We hand out for a few, pet the bunny, and eventually pass out.
We awake to our french promoter breaking back into the house and fixing his computer. I’m feeling pretty funny because I tore that thing apart last night for the greater good of our internet situation. He brought us fresh OJ and croissants. I pull my clothes off of the drying rack and we say our goodbyes to the Mat.
On the road again and Nate and I are back to our old tomato soup and bread tricks for lunch. Somewhere after we cross the Spanish border we stop at a gas station to refuel and they have a whole bunch of futbol gear there. I grab a Barcelona (my favorite team) scarf and we get a soccer ball. It should be noted that we broke the frisbee somewhere in the alps and we are now game less. I’m also happy to be in a place where I can communicate (albeit rudimental) in the native tongue.
We are headed to Castellon which is probably about a third down the coast of Spain? Not sure, but it’s on the Mediterranean in the area of Valencia. On the way in we have a hell of a time parking.
We load in and park reallllly far away. Which leads me to a thought: If you want the band to load out and play at your bar, thus generating revenue… save them some parking! So anyhow we walk back and see a spot near the bar that we might fit into. I stand in the spot, and Dima gets the van. I get in a face off with a rotund young spanish lady in a BMW about the parking spot. She wants it but I’m standing in it surrounded in backpacks. She eventually starts swearing at me and screeches off. “I’m staying. Drinking my coffee.”
Long story short, we pull the people mover onto the sidewalk and watch like hawks until we get the spot.
The show goes off well for Tera Melos, being the only band. It’s Nick’s birthday today, so John’s little gift to him is the let him play “Another Surf” for as long as he’d like. It goes on FOREVER. Pretty cool. The guys visit with some kids for awhile and it looks like we are off early, as it’s about 10 when we leave.
We roll over to the hotel and decide to get some dinner for Nick’s Bday. The problem is, every damn place is closed! It seems they eat dinner in Spain from a window of 8pm til 10pm. We’ve missed it by about 15 minutes. Eventually, after some searching around, we run into a trusty kebab shop, where the coca cola flows like a river and falafel is growing on trees. The meal is pretty tasty. Eventually we walk back to the hotel and Nick and I chat for a little bit about Midnight Oil and The Cardigans before passing out.
I’m first up in the morning, so I figure out how to use the coffee maker and start swapping everybody’s laundry into it’s proper place. Dima comes back from his run and before we know it, it’s time to leave for our four hour trip to Tolouse. Some of our clothes haven’t dried, which is something I hate because it usually means mayhem for the smell of my clothes.
Our drive is short and we arrive in Toulouse early. We load all of the stuff and and we all set out for a little walk. Nick stays back to chat with family and friends. Out in the world of Toulouse things are pretty cool. It’s a sizable city. There are some cool theaters and lots of shops. There’s a huge river and old architecture that comes standard with most European city. To generalize, I would say that I’m not crazy about France, but I could do Toulouse.
For dinner we had anchovy pizza (nope), tomato pizza (yes), ham and egg quiche (yes, but I’m trying to take it easy on the meat) and lasagna (it’s sweet?!).
The show starts and I later stalk a filming position from the upper balcony. I prefer these filming positions just because they are a little out of the ordinary.
After the show we went back to one of the dude’s in the opening band’s place. Their drummer looks almost exactly like Vince Rogers. I sufficiently messed up the wiring of his computer by hijacking some internet and sharing it. I hung my previously wet clothes to dry and marveled in my sense of accomplishment as I fell asleep.