Three Months in Europe | June to September 2017

For three months I traveled through Europe, landing in Munich early in the morning on the 1st of June. Michael picked me up from the airport and we took the train to a nearby village where he worked with a carpenter to create specially-made boxes for a British artists work. I sat in the sun and slept while Michael and his colleagues worked. Large calendar prints of half-naked women hung on the walls. “We’re guys,” the head carpenter shrugged.

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From Munich I took a train to Paris to meet a friend from Tennessee. I accidentally booked two nights for a male student’s neighboring extra twin bed in his small nine-floor walk-up apartment through Airbnb. I slept their, listening to his snores during the night and sweat beneath the heat of his iron in the morning. Then I booked a room at another place and enjoyed a new view of the Louvre.

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I returned to Munich for a few days and then road a train to Vienna to visit Austrian friends, Riki and Sophie. I stayed in a Riki’s stunning apartment in the center of the city. We swan in the lake, saw an exhibit about feminist artists, and ate meals on her deck.

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Sophie and I drank aperol drinks in the courtyard of her art studio.

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From Vienna, I flew to Düsseldorf to meet an art director named “travel birdy,” hoping to make her living through dynamic travel posts on Instagram.

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From Düsseldorf I flew back to Munich for a week before taking a 14-hour train to Barcelona to meet a friend from New York traveling alone to the city for a week’s vacation. I stayed in her rustic, beautifully designed apartment for two nights. Each morning my friend wore a bohemian wrap and ate a concoction in a little bowl on the wooden deck, looking out on to the back-side courtyard of other apartments. We feasted on good seafood and toured the city, walking uphill to the Miro museum and paddle boarding in the warm Mediterranean.

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Two nights later I moved to my long-time friend’s apartment. Adriana and her now husband, Cami, live in the Gothic district. They are both art professionals, studying in Barcelona to advance their degrees, Cami in photography, Adrianna in arts management. I was Adriana’s plus-one at her graduation, as her family is in her home country, Venezuela, and Cami was at a popular photography festival in Lille. She wore a shiny blue robe. Her professors walked down the aisle wearing tall hats with tassels to the tune of the wedding ceremony. A few weeks later I returned to Barcelona to attend Adriana and Cami’s wedding – a private affair at the Portuguese consulate, since Adriana’s father is originally from Portugal, followed by a lavish lunch at a charming organic restaurant, singing back in the Gothic district, and a potluck gathering at the beach.

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Sandwiched in between Barcelona were trips to Lisbon. I had an expected stay visit with Ana, a Portuguese woman working in a popular tourist café who I photographed in 2015. This was followed by an unexpected visit with cousins, visiting their son who is living the dream, settling in the center of Lisbon.

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I met fellow artists, braved the freezing cold ocean, walked aimlessly through steep city streets, and ate garlicky shrimp with heads. Just before leaving I photographed a chef cooking for her soon to be released cookbook at Madragoa Café.

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From Lisbon I left for Germany via Switzerland, to visit a friend from Jamaica who I met at the beginning of the year in Costa Rica. We also traveled through Panama, a foreshadowing for events to come.

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We rose early and toured what felt like the entire country – Baaden to Geneva for a posh lunch-cruise where I ate 28 swiss franc tofu; to Montreux-ville for a walk along the water; followed by a glass-enclosed train car up the side of a mountain to Gstaadt for a 18 swiss franc aperol spritz; and finally back to Baaden via five transfers on what became an endless, amusing night.

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I stayed with Shirley in the middle of the mountains and picnicked by the lake.

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After three days an express bus brought me back to Munich. I first stayed with glass artist, Mahbuba, a close friend from Afghanistan who cooked meals of spiced vegetables, salads, and spicy stews. Mahbuba wrote a book that chronicles her life, from Afghanistan to Russia, and finally Munich.

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I then took the u-bahn back to the center of Munich, where weaving artist, Susanne, welcomed back to “my room” in her apartment. Beautifiul carpets cover wood floors and expressive work hangs on the wall. Her father was the director of an art museum in Kiel. She creates large woven sculptures that exhibit internationally. She treated me and her niece to a day at the lake where we swan in cool, clear water and napped in the sun. At night we attended a house-warming at her friend’s newly inherited country home. The scent of grilled sausages filled the air. The next day I saw Susanne’s latest work, on exhibition at Haus der Kunst.

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I biked through the English Garden to a beer garden with the feeling of being in the forest, watched surfers brave the choppy waves on the river outside Haus der Kunst, and prepared for an early flight.

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