Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Greece, Italy, & Germany

I spent most of July in Europe, flying into Athens, Greece just in time for another round of government worker strikes (this led to no ugly scenes; although I was kept out of the Acropolis due to a strike that day). Mostly I stayed on the island of Milos, in the Cyclades.

I liked Greece a lot. The violence of those rocks against the sea is inarguable, something that doesn't abide fools. It's plain. And it's beautiful to the eyes, the ears, and nose. I remember an evening ride over the hills of Milos, on the back of a Vespa my travel partner was driving. The sagebrush scent in my nostrils was a memory of childhood summer in Southern California. It wasn't hard to see why farmers would give names to the patterns in the stars; a particular thirst demanded it. We crested a hill and saw everything to the west, across the harbor and to a great lavender mountain sprinkled with the lights of a town like a handful of sugar; and I thought, That's enough. No more is necessary. Not like California, where greed is forever building a scab across the coast.

After Greece we made our way across the Mediterranean, through Dubrovnik (extremely good photojournalism gallery in the old city, War Photo Limited) and Sardinia to Spain, where I shot a Spanish wedding (stories and pics for another post). After Spain I flew to Germany and took a few days making my way down the Rhine Valley, from Koblenz to Mainz, then rendezvousing with friends in Munich.

I had a lot of love for Germany. I admire the fact that you can carry a beer around the streets and yet you don't see broken bottles everywhere, no one is schlepping about drunk, and it's clean. And the trains are a goddamn miracle of timekeeping. Munich is a town I think I could get used to, especially the architecture: they leave forms simple and let the sunlight do the heavy lifting. And the Alte Pinakothek and Pinakothek der Moderne are fantastic art museums; I learned about Neo Rauch at the latter.