Jared in Germany

Yodelayheeeehoooooo!

Hello everyone…I am now in Munich, Germany, and this will be short, because I have to catch a train to some medieval castles in 20 minutes, but I wanted to write and give a short update….

After my last note, I stayed in Venice for another day. What a beautiful city. I can’t say that enough. The canals, the facades of the buildings, the people, the stores, the air, the boats, the gondolas, and the unique way of life that exists nowhere else that I know of…incredible.

On my second to the last night there, I decided I wanted to do a little public playing, so I searched out the most beautiful bridge I could find, overlooking a canal that stretched down a medieval looking water alley. I stood on the bridge and began to sing softly. Immediately, a whole crowd of people gathered around me, and started requesting different songs. Pretty soon the whole bridge was full of people sitting down, talking amongst themselves, watching me play, listening intently. I went through my list of covers and some originals….and I put out my hat to see if I could make some money and within minutes it was nearly full…I made $10 in less than half an our….hello dinner! What a great experience!

The next night was the first night of Passover, and I was feeling bad that I didn’t have a seder to go to. I felt pretty disconnected. I am not a religious person, but it feels good for me to be a part of the Jewish holidays. As I was moping about it, I decided to walk to the train station to check the schedule for trains to Switzerland, my next destination. On the way to the station, I passed through the Jewish Ghetto section of Venice. That made me even more sad about not having a seder. But then, I crossed a bridge, and on the right I saw a whole crowd of people gathered around a table, wearing Yarmulkes, preparing for Passover. I thought to myself to go over to them, that I belonged with them, and that they would not turn me away.

So I did…I went up to one of the people bustling around getting ready, and I said to him in Hebrew, “Ani Yehudi, aval ein li shulchan Pesach” (“I am Jewish and I have no Passover Table”). Without any questions or hesitation, he said to me, “Here is your Pesach Table”. I almost cried. There were no seats left, and the whole place was completely full, but there was one empty seat being held by a woman who was waiting for her husband. She said I could sit there until he arrived. He never came. It´s like there was one seat left, just for me. There I was, in Venice, in the Medieval Jewish Ghetto, celebrating the Passover with Jews from Italy who didn´t know me from Adam, but accepted me without hesitation. What a beautiful tradition and common bond we all share.

The next day I took off for Switzerland where I met up with Elyse in the capitol city of Bern.  Not too much going on there, and the airport was basically a tent with a runway….but we met up without incident.Next day we went to Interlaken, the prime tourist spot in Switzerland….right in the middle of the alps. Pretty dramatic mountains. We had a serious view from the hotel window…unreal to think I was in the midst of such mountains…snow capped, jagged peaks with little guys blowing horns and shouting “Ricola!” We took a cable car to the top of a mountain and spent an hour just gazing at nature’s creations….

Next day we hopped a train to Munich, Germany, from where we will see some Castles and Medieval towns and stuff…and then Dachau…a concentration camp. Don´t know how I am gonna make it through that one…but I will do it…it´s my duty to see such a thing a remember and understand what happened. So that´s where I am now…tomorrow we head to Prague!

Will write more when I can, probably after May 1st I will do more writing….

Jared

Jared in Venice

Well Hidey Ho! This trip o’ mine just keeps getting more interesting every day!

After I got forgiven of all my sins in Rome, Jeff and I took a train to Florence…it was a 3-hour ride. We could have taken the EuroStar train in one hour had we known how cheap it was to buy a supplement for a rail passes…whatever.

So, Florence. Medieval and stuff. City of Michelangelo, Dante, Monticello, Leonardo, and several other Mutant Ninja Turtles. I have not been blessed with good weather in recent days, so I have to say the scenery was considerably diminished by the lack of sun. WHY ME? I mean, how often do I come to Italy? You’d think the Earth would cut me some slack, but I guess not.

We checked into our hotel, to a find a biting dog waiting for us on the chair next to the receptionist desk…I was about to pet him when the lady behind the desk said, “Trickie da bita”….and I looked at her with a dumb blank expression. Turns out she was trying to tell me that Tricky, the dog, was a biter…there’s your accent again for ya. So I left the dog alone…I don’t need anymore dog attacks on my trip!

Florence is really beautiful. I have to say I liked Rome better…a lot more going on there. But Florence has some really nice places…its set along a river and there are all kinds of very old looking buildings and bridges across the river. There is a big plaza with a castle looking thing and many beautiful statues around…in the middle is the spot of the Bonfire of the Vanities where much priceless art that was burnt at the hands of the religionists. The main attraction of the city is a HUGE church called the Duomo….its facade is quite incredible, made of adorned and colorful marble, and the inside is rather plain looking except for the dome, which is painted with incredible scenes that look to be straight out of Dante’s Inferno…I think one inspired the other, though I am not sure which came first…

The highlight of Florence for me was Michelangelo’s statue of David. I suggest you look at pictures on the Internet. I was so impressed, I stared for at least 1/2 an hour. Michelangelo’s creation was so real looking, so perfectly proportioned…it looked like a real human body. There David stood, his sling over his shoulder, stark naked, looking off into the distance….and his mouse was out of the house. One thing Michelangelo forgot to do was chop off the foreskin…David was a Jew, after all….

We blew out of Florence a day later…I wasn’t so in love with it…I mean, it was nice and all, but I had just come from Rome, and to me, there was no comparison.

Took the fast train to Venice…3 hours later, I was utterly floored by a city that is so beautiful, magnificent, and dwarfing then any other city or place I have ever been to, anywhere. Venice is so amazing. We got off the train, got conned by a hotel hocker, given directions on where to go, and we set out. The instant I walked out of the station, my jaw dropped. In front of me was the main canal and water taxis and gondolas went up and down with fervor. The buildings look so medieval…it looked like I was in Disney World, but real. I can’t describe how incredible this place is…there are no words.

We got onto the water taxi and took it four stops to where our hotel was located. We found the place and discovered the rooms didn’t look quite like they did in the brochures…this tiny room with two small beds and ZERO space to walk around, cost $80 a night. Rip. Venice, apparently is very expensive, but it’s worth it to see this beautiful city. We set out of the hotel and began walking around the narrow streets, crossing bridges over the many canals…I felt like I was in Madonna’s Like a Virgin video…touched for the very first time. It was great.

So, I have been in Venice for a few hours now…just hung out in San Marco’s square for a bit. I refer you to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade…lots of clips of Venice. Once again, no words can really describe how awesome it is to be here…I feel so….overcome…with…..Gelato.

Pardon me, my gondola is waiting. Venice, another place I have heard of and always dreamed of coming to! And Josh, I think it IS built on Tree Trunks! But, I think it’s sinking and in a few hundred years, it may be no more…heaven forbid.

Jared