On the road again. I do believe it will be an easy Tour.
For travelling my options are the train, the bus, the car and eventually a cheap flight.
For my accommodations my plans are the CouchSurfing community and any Youth Hostels.
The map is East Europe and South Europe, with a loop from Germany to Germany. As it is summer time the packing will be light : a sweat and a light jacket for the cool weather, a poncho for the rain, a pair of boots (I always carry a pair of closed shoes) a pair of sandals and 3 of each body clothes, a bathing suit, a cap, a little bag with toilet accessories . I have the habit of washing my light clothing in the sink with warm water and soap, it’s good enough. Now a days the most important and precious carrying are the electronic devices ; tablet, cell-phone, wires... I will use my tablet as a camera and GPS and computer... My telephone won’t be of too much use as it will be excessively expensive to use it out side France.
My planning is clear until Slovenia, after that I will adapt day by day.
But I did buy a Global Pass on trains for 22 days, still the cheapest and easiest way of travelling in Europe. 484€ for 22 days consecutive, only free on slow trains, we have to add 10€ for each Speed train.
The first show will be in Mainz on the 20th of July.
Unfortunately the Train Global Pass doesn’t work for me in France as I am a French resident.
So, plan B is car sharing with Bla Bla car.
First from Angers to Paris then Paris to Frankfurt (the closest biggest city to Mainz).
I leave my home town on the 19th of July.
The ride is perfect until Paris. When I check my email at the closest Starbuck Cafe I have a message from the second driver telling me he won’t be able to drive to Frankfurt.
Oh no! Already stuck.
I request rapidly another ride and I am fortunate enough to have a ride available one hour later and I am most relieved when I realize the ride is precisely from the train station I am in.
Great! Finally the driver, after 5 hours, will drop me at the train station in Mainz in the early evening. For 60€ I reached my destination.
My first CouchSurfing host will come and pick me up at the station. We share a glass of wine and a toast of cheese. I have my first night on a couch, comfortable and safe.
The 20th of July MAINZ
Today is THE day, the first one of a long journey with a show almost everyday, so, moving every day for 3 weeks.
Of course the Fans are chatting on Facebook. The main discussion is about the Setlist. A lot expect a changing. This is none of my concern since I’ve decided, any way, not to buy any ticket. A free show is always a great show. So, my concern is more the logistic of the trip : travelling and sleeping.
I meet, in the early afternoon,at the train station, Johannes. Irene and Ushi will join us later.
There is a pre-meeting organized in a Cafe with some Fans. The streets are full of festive people. There is a Fair in Mainz.
We spend the afternoon chatting and then I walk alone to the venue.
It is an open air show but seated.
A nice woman hands me a ticket as her husband is sick and was unable to make it to the show. She is from Ireland.
The show is supposed to start at 9 p.m. but in fact it will be 9:30 p.m. when Stu will appear strumming his guitar.
The 5 first songs are as usual but then I hear a tune I don’t recognize. Bob starts “Ramona come closer...”. Whoa! To Ramona revisited! More unusual songs will follow.
"Sad songs and waltzes" (unrecognized by me) is a Willie Nelson song.
"'till I fell in love with you". A song I hardly know.
At last a change. I am far from the stage but delighted. That promises a great Tour!
"Sad songs and waltzes" (unrecognized by me) is a Willie Nelson song.
"'till I fell in love with you". A song I hardly know.
At last a change. I am far from the stage but delighted. That promises a great Tour!
The first rows are reacting to every change but the average audience doesn’t pay attention. The public is a mixed of young and old, a lot different from the last American tour with an average of ‘old’ Dylan Fans.
I rapidly catch a shuttle bus then a night bus to my destination. I was afraid to be late but the show was only 1 hour and a half with only 17 songs and no intermission. The kind of ‘festival setlist’ Bob did in Europe previously. Does it mean we will have an outdoor setlist and another indoor setlist? But remember that Bobby Dylan has absolutely no logic!
When I reach the Julia’s CS apartment 2 other Fans are sharing the room with me.
We chat until late in the night. I finally crash on the couch at 2 a.m.
I don’t remember if I had any food that day...a Bretzel, maybe!
21th of July TUBINGEN.
It’s an early morning start to the train station, the next stop is Tubingen.
I have a CS Host as well. Brigit will wait for me at her balcony to show me the way upstairs and to my room (private). We share around a cup of tea then I contact Johannes so we can both walk out in the beautiful little city. We eat a pizza, we chat, we relax.
I go back to my room to get ready and I have the excellent intuition to bring my rain poncho with me.
It starts raining as soon as I reach the venue and will not stop raining until morning. Unfortunately it is an outdoor concert. It is also General Admission, but I decided some while ago not to queue anymore ; too much time wasted, too much stress, too much tension among the Bobcats...I won’t compete or fight!
I find myself a free ticket, one for Tim and one for Franky. It was easy as no one will care to stay in the rain to try selling.
I am surrounded by a crowd of 5 or 6 thousands. To my surprise the security accepts people getting in with umbrellas. That will be a problem. There is no way for me to get close to the stage. I try to get a spot on the left side of the stage, far away, but I have absolutely no visibility between the tall persons and the umbrellas. I can hear another outdoor setlist. “Blind Willy Mc Tell”, “Shelter from the storm” (right in the spirit!)...I was expecting “The Levee’s gonna break” or “High water” (with that kind of weather!).
There will be no intermission and this time it is all for the best. We are all drenched to the bones.
I meet with Maxime, a young French Fan, travelling with a backpack. He has no place to stay tonight and he’s all wet. So I call my CS Host to ask her to rescue him as well. First she’s cautious but finally she says yes if we come inside the room all clean and dry.
We take all the precaution and we share the bed for few hours of deep sleep.
At least we are dry.
We quickly pack up in the morning to leave the house at 8a.m.
The next stop for me will be Bramberg. I separate from Maxime to team with Johannes.
22sd of July BAMBERG
I have a CS Host but she asks me to go to her home only at 8:30 p.m.
I walk around the pretty little city of Bamberg. I don’t find any way to connect to WIFI.
As I start to be tired in the late afternoon I call my CS Host. She agrees to open the house at 6 p.m. so I can put down my backpack and rest a while. The only problem is that Regina has no WIFI. It is a problem for me as I need to connect to Internet to plan my train schedule and to contact my next CS Host or book a Youth Hostel as a plan B.
This is a day off so I have a dinner with Regina and go to bed really early.
Next morning Regina prepares for me a breakfast and directs me to an Internet Cafe.
I contact Brigitte (a Fan from Germany) and we decide to go to a Museum in Nuremberg where they have a special exhibit on Monsters. We go back and forth by train and we have a pleasant afternoon.
I get ready for the evening show. Tonight it will be indoor, seated with a capacity of 6 000.
All for the best as my feet and back are hurting me now.
I see a lot of Bobcats, maybe 15 or 20 all together. It is not easy to get a free ticket but at last I have a balcony seat. I see the back of Bob on the piano. Not so bad and the sound is excellent.
Tonight the first part is the old setlist with “I’m a fool to want you” before the intermission.
This show is the usual 20 songs with “Love sick” as the final instead of “Stay with me”.
All for the best as “Love sick” is more dynamic and uplift the audience to a standing ovation.
I love that setlist tonight. It sounds familiar and resting.
Walking along the river, back to my CS host, I feel good and hum for myself ”I’m a fool to want you”...thinking about someone I wish I could forget, making “Love sick” my favourite song for the time being.
I don’t remember how much I ate today but never mind, I feel more tired than hungry.
24th of July LJUBLJANA
I go to Ljubljana by train with a change in Munich. I will be all by myself as Brigitte decided to go by car with the German crew and Johannes is not going at all.
Nice trip to Munich and no problem with the change.
To Ljubljana the ride is long and I fortunately find a nice Chinese Lady in an empty wagon to chat with. Then a young woman from Ljubljana gives me some advice on how to reach my Youth Hostel. I had no luck with Couch Surfing, not even one answer, the plan B was adequate. I find the Hostel just on time to drop my bag and go to buy food at the super market. There is a common kitchen in this Hostel, time to cook some warm food.
Pasta and tomato sauce will do, plus milk, crackers, jam and bananas, all for 6€. Slovenia is a cheap country. I take a good shower before lying on my bed in a mixed dorm of 7. It is not so quiet and private as CouchSurfing but I don’t have to chat with my companions. We can ignore each other or .. share.
25th of July LJUBLJANA
I walk along the canal towards the old city in late morning and I bump into Brigitte.
We seat for a cup of tea, chatting and relaxing. Tony Garnier passes by and I say “hello Tony!”. He smiles. Tony is a great guy, he seems always happy.
We walk to the venue in the early afternoon as Brigitte wants to be in the line. The venue is indoor but it is a General Admission. I walk back to my Hostel, take a shower, eat some more food, relax a while, walk back to the venue. The line is short, only about 30 Fans queuing.
By chance someone hands me a free ticket early, so early that I can, without any effort, be second row on the rail, by the piano. What a luck! Finally I will see the face of my sweet Bobby!
The show will start as usual, and will go on as usual, but nothing is the same since I am in front and sing along with Bobby. I can follow the words on his lips. He doesn’t show much emotions but speak out clearly and ‘guttly’. It took a while to fill up the sport arena but the public is respectful. Some one behind me sings along as well!
Great show, great city, great feelings. I love Ljubljana. Highly recommended.
4 Fans share a taxi to the downtown area. We pay each 2€. Alright, it was my little luxury of the day.
I walk happily to the Hostel and crash on the bed. My night is agitated as youngsters arrive late in the room. I’m up at 5:30 a.m. The next stop is Wiesen Austria.
26th of July WIESEN
The train leaves at 8:05 a.m. with a change in Celje and 5 hours ride in the country side. I have another conversation with a Chinese man. We exchange, we nap, we eat (crackers and jam). I catch a local train to Wiesen.
I almost missed the stop as there is no station. I find myself in the middle of the country fields. Did I make a mistake on the destination? Nope! 2 young Fans are also...lost.
We are 2 kilometres away from the festival site. No bus, no train, nothing. A car with 2 nice Wieseners decide to give us a ride. Well! Thanks.
I rush to the first and only cafe of the site and plug my tablet. Frederica is here and I hear the loud laugh of Alrick. Ok! This is here. I spend some time in the cool air with a coffee and the left over of crackers and jam. I heard there is a camp site so I walk all the way there to a country field. 2 tents and a van are parked and there will be the only ‘freaks’ camping!
And me. I open my sleeping bag , not because it’s cold (on the opposite) but to protect myself against the insects. I sleep for 2 hours, pack all my belongings in a black plastic trash bag, leave the bag in a corner of the field (hoping no one will find it) and move back to the fest site.
Thousands of people are queuing or getting in. It will be outdoor, half protected by a canopy and General Admission.
Tim is here and Franky and Lea. We are the poor ones looking for free tickets. Johannes will give me one. Thanks Jojo.
I’m in with Richard, a discreet Fan from Amsterdam. We are in the back with a poor view but a lot of Fun!
Though it is an outdoor show and supposadly a Festival the setlist is the ‘normal’ one.
I told you, Bobby has no logic!
Well! The ambience is festive, cool atmosphere.
To my surprise almost no body will sleep on the spot. No after show party. Every one will drive back home ... every one? No!
The poor and the wretched will have a hard time. Tim, Lea and myself have no where to go. Of course no Couchsurfing or Hostel here. The first train will be leaving at 6 a.m.
The weather is not so bad and we are in summer and I have my sleeping bag. Rejoice!rejoice!
I walk all the way , in the dark, to the train station, crying my eyes out. I open my sleeping bag, roll myself in it and succeed in catching 3 hours of sleep.
5.30 a.m. I hear some steps and laughing as Tim and Lea finally rejoin me. They had no sleep at all.
We catch the first train to the next biggest city. We breakfast with a donuts and coffee.
Lea will go back home to Munich. Tim and I are moving on to the next show : San Daniele Del Friuli.
27th of July SAN DANIELE DEL FRIULI
Tim and I arrive in Udine tired but safe. Tim will check in a Hotel in Udine. I move on to San Daniele. Stefano promised to take care of me then. I will put my bag in his car and after the show he’ll be driving to Bergamo where Stefano invited me to his family home.
That is a good chance for San Daniele is also in the middle of nowhere.
So I arrive in San Daniele early in the afternoon. It is hot, so hot. The village is in feast. It is a real festival with food treats. I see a lot of Fans that I know but no Stefano for now. He will arrive later. I finally can get rid of my bag. I don’t queue as it is again a General Admission show. Smart of me!
Suddenly the weather changes, the sky is dark and the thunder storm starts slowly but surely. Hundreds of Fans are already in front of the stage. For 2 hours it will fall tons of water. I find refuge under a canopy tent where they serve bread, cheese, olive oil, olives as treats. Oh! Well! That will be my meal. But I’m afraid they will cancel the show, not so much because of the water but because of the electric lights. Luckily after 2 hours a rainbow will form in the clear sky. No more rain. It is time for me to search for a ticket.
I will get a complimentary ticket. I enter the field. It is so wet, I am so tired that I stay all the way in the back, as a spectator. I am all by myself. I space out and almost fall asleep.
It is probably the only show for which I didn’t pay too much attention. I am now cold and try to stay dry.
After the show, the Italian Fans gather around Stefano. We seat for a quick meal. Not quick enough for me. I’m truly exhausted and we have 4 hours drive. Of course I don’t drive but I wish we could leave as soon as possible. I ask Stefano to go, poor Stefano!
Finally we take the road...1 or 2 o’clock in the morning. Stefano and Michele share the driving.
We reach Bergamo at 6 a.m. Just time to crash for 4 hours. We all have to move on to Milano then Roma.
28th of July ROMA
I catch a train for which I have to pay 10€ extra. All the trains in Italy are speed trains. The reservation seat is compulsory.
Roma brings memory back. The specific 2 shows for which Bob changed the entire setlist in 2012. Will he renew the exploit? But Dylan is Dylan!
My first search is for an Internet cafe. I didn’t find any Couchsurfing Host and I had no time to book a Youth Hostel. But no panic, Roma is so touristic that a Hostel is not a problem. Just need to find where!
I find one that will send me to another one. A mixed 8 persons dormitory! Not all the best but safe. Good shower and in bed early. Did I eat anything since Stefano’s breakfast in Bergamo? Not sure!
29th of July ROMA
I have to play the Tourist. I walk...to the Colliseo...I walk...to the Fountain of Trevi where I treat myself with an Italian ice-cream (my meal, after all it’s rich). Walk...walk..walk...
Another shower and ...walk to the venue : The Thermes of Caracalla. It is a splendid decorum. The ancient Roma. Bobby should be inspired!
But Bobby is Bobby!
A nice couple hands me a ticket. I feel a lot better as the Bobcats around don’t pay too much attention to my distress. I feel ostracized. What did I do wrong?
I follow the couple and find myself 3rd row centre. Whoa!
All the Bobcats are front row or second row but I don’t care. I did pretty good with a free ticket.
I enjoy myself so much despite the fatigue. I am of course physically exhausted but morally up.
The venue is truly magnificent and Bobby is right in front of me, in centre mike.
The setlist will be normal but suddenly all brand new as I explain to my neighbour what Bob is doing on stage. The Bobcats rush to the rail at the end. I see that Bob doesn’t even pay attention.
A great show after a beautiful afternoon.
We all slowly move out and I bump into a group of Italian Fans, including Stefano. They say nothing so I believe they all go to bed. So do I.
Next day a photo is published on Facebook. The Italians , the Germans and some other Fans I know went to a meal after the show. No one invited me.
I definitively feel ostracized.
My heart is crying and my eyes are bleeding. Why oh why?
30th of July ROMA
I pack up at the Youth Hostel and move to a real Hotel with a private room.
Brigitte offered me her room as she decided to go to Lucca with the German group by car.
I walk to the Vatican in the afternoon but I can’t find the way in, somehow.
I rest a lot in that private room. I have a good night sleep.
1st of July LUCCA
Next morning I walk to the train station. Next trip is to Lucca.
I pay again 10€ for the reservation seat to Firenze and catch a slow train to Lucca.
I have absolutely no plan for Lucca. Maybe sleeping out?
My main concern is to drop my bag somewhere but the train station has no luggage lockers as often now a days in Europe. Johannes agrees to keep my bag in his room. Thanks Jojo. We spend some time together talking but I want to see the city. I walk, walk and walk.
The ‘venue’ is strange : just a stage up in the middle of a square. How in hell they will stop people to hear and see without paying?
They start blocking the entrance of the square in late afternoon. My good friend and Fan Bjorn had given me a ticket for that show. But I booked, in Roma, on Internet, a flight from Torino to Barcelona. It was the cheapest way for me to reach Barcelona as my Global Pass is not valid on the French territory. I need to recover some money. I decide to sell the ticket and try for a free one later. I succeed after one hour of trying. I will get a free ticket right before the show. Mission accomplished!
The opening act is an Italian ‘Bob Dylan’. ??? I don’t understand a word!
The show is good but the audience not so much enthusiastic. They seem to recognize (as always) only ‘Tangled up in blue’. And at the end they react to ‘Blowing in the wind’.
The Bobcats are piled up in the front.
At the end I am at the same time tired and excited. What to do for the rest of the night?
I bump into Johannes and half refusing, half agreeing I will finally lie down on the floor of his room. Only for few hours. Thanks Jojo.
Up at 8 a.m.
2sd of July TORINO
Again in Torino Brigitte gave me her room as she will be going with the German team towards Barcelona , right after the show. I walk to the Hotel. So far that it takes me more than one hour. My feet are full of blisters. No one toe is perfectly sane! A torture but all to appreciate a comfortable 4 starts Hotel room. It takes me some time to find a food market.
Only a Halal shop. I buy curd milk and bread. I probably took 2 showers before taking the bus number 10 to the venue. This venue is a Sport Arena. The sound is never good in those buildings. Free tickets in Italy are a challenge. It takes patience and faith. Thousands people pass in front of my sign no one will react nicely. A guy is by the entrance on the phone, holding 2 tickets. I’m sure he’s waiting for a friend and since it’s almost time for the show I believe he will ‘get rid’ of that ticket. And I am right. He hands me the extra ticket, his friend will not come. Thanks! I find myself a seat on the balcony. I see the stage pretty good. Bob is in white and the Boys in black.
I am a little bit disturb for before the show I met an English Fan who talk to me about ...D.
He bought for D. 2 tickets for each of the U.K. shows in the Fall.
Oh!no! I’d almost forgotten. 2 tickets for each show? I start imagining. STOP!STOP!
Disconnect those cables!
I fall literally asleep on the second part of the show. ‘Spirit on the water’ sounds so boring. I wake up on ‘Love sick’. Oh! Shit! Bobby!
I rush out and run to the bus stop. There is no way I’ll be able to walk back to that fancy Hotel. Number 10 will arrive in 20 minutes. Now I focus on my bus stop. I walk 20 minutes, making sure I go to the right direction. I’m a zombie by now.
3sd of July BARCELONA
I wake up 6:45 a.m. Getting ready for the Buffet breakfast of that fancy Hotel.
I will have a real meal. I start with the vegetables, eggs, cheese, bread, coffee, orange juice. A second help with cereals, milk, fruits, yaourt. And a second cappuccino. I ate enough for 2 days.
Thanks Brigitte. Luxury is good sometimes.But I’m not supposed to get used to it.
A second shower and I have 3 hours to plan my way to Barcelona.
I find an AirB&B room in Barcelona for 9€ a night. I book 2 nights but as I am ready to confirm the website is suddenly stucked.
I try again at the Airport in Torino but there is no way to confirm. I will see in Barcelona Airport.
I wait 4 hours at Torino Airport before checking in. I decided to have my backpack as a hand luggage, I’m just wondering if they will take away my pair of scissors and my nail clipper.
But if I have to leave them behind, it’s still less money than paying 25€ for a check in luggage.
Security is cool. I keep everything with me.
One hour and ten minutes flight to Barcelona.
I arrive early but again the WIFI is a problem. I can’t connect to their 30 minutes free WIFI with my Samsung Tablet. I can’t confirm my reservation for the AirB&B and I don’t have a plan B. I can’t even find a Youth Hostel. Shit!
I decide to stay at the airport as it is safe and secure if anything else. I try to find myself a soft couch but the security move me out at 1 o’clock then again asks me to seat at 4 o’clock. No rest for the poor!
I wash up in the toilets and take the first train to downtown. Everything is closed except a little cafe. I take a coffee and a croissant. I plug my tablet and search for a Youth Hostel.
I walk there for more than one hour but on my arrival Raphael offers me food and drinks. It’s a friendly atmosphere. I like it.
I take a quick shower. I connect with WIFI and decide to join the free tourist trip at 2:30 p.m.
After all this is Barcelona. I will sleep when I ...die!
I go back to the hostel to realize the show is sooner than I thought. Just time for me to take a shower and be ready.
I walk again half an hour to realize the venue is inside a botanical park and there is an opening act. Shit!
I meet with Johannes and Richard. Plus other Bobcats. The tickets are hard to get. Alrick will hands me a ticket. I’m so surprised that I don’t even say thank you. He’s mad at me. But why?
The venue is a stage and in front a floor and then seats (but the view from my seat is blocked by a palm tree). Nice surrounding but the show is again boring. I am so tired that, again, I fall asleep on the second part of the show. I can’t help it.
They give bottles of wine after the show. I grab 2 and hand them to Alrick, just to show him I’m not un-considerate. I’m just so tired , most of the time.
I walk quickly to my Hostel. Raphael had cook for some clients. He kept noodles for me.
5th of July ZARAGOZA
I wake up at 8:00 a.m. for a good breakfast, probably my only meal of the day.
At 11:30 a.m. I am at the train station, direction ...Zaragoza.
I go strait to the tourist Office and ask for a WIFI connection. The Lady is more than helpfull and patient as I also plug the electric wire right inside the office. I always try to stay polite and correct but I have some needs.
I do have a Couchsurfing Host in Zaragoza, maybe because it is not a tourist city or maybe because I had been lucky to find Pablo. I bump into Stefano and a friend of his. I didn’t know Stefano planned to come to Spain. Weird!
I catch the bus 23. The driver is nice enough to direct me to the correct stop. I practice my broken Spanish and maybe that helps for the communication.
It takes me a while before I find the condominium but ... all the paths lead to Roma...it is just a question of time to reach the destination. Pablo is hosting another guest ; a young man from Canada. After a moment of chat and rest Sam decides to join me for the Bob Dylan adventure in Zaragoza. We need 2 free tickets as Sam is not a rich lad.
At 6:30 p.m. , after a light dinner (thanks Pablo), we walk to the venue about half an hour away. Sam is good company. I show him the trick of ‘begging’ for a ticket. The same as begging for anything : one has to be humble, polite, smiling, answering stupid questions with good humour, and most of all blocking all bad feelings and harsh remarks. Some people have a mean respond to things they don’t understand or are afraid of. Poverty is not a contaminating sickness! And as Bobby said “don’t criticize what you can’t understand”. What struck me the most is that all those Fans are fond of the song “Like a rolling stone”. But their attitude shows that they didn’t truly understand the meaning of it, or they have another understanding of the philosophy of that song? True, we are not in the 60’s anymore. None of those Fans are Hippies. For most of them Bob Dylan is just a Legend, an Icon, a Memory from the past.
The Hippies of the 60’s turned Yuppies in the 80’s. Bob was smart enough to understand that nor music , nor songs (how much revolutionary the lyrics) will change the world.
The show will start at 9:30 p.m. and Bob is usually right on time. At 9:15 p.m. someone hands me a complimentary ticket. I immediately hand it to Sam and press him to rush in. That will be his first Bob Dylan concert. I’m happy for him and somehow feel confident. At 9:25 p.m. a couple gives me another ticket. I rush in. By pure chance I am next to Sam (of course this is not my real seat). The venue is a Sport Arena. All the way on the top the sound is muffled. Sam says he doesn’t understand a word of what Bob sings!
So I show him another trick : how to get down on the floor at the intermission and grab any empty seat close to the stage.
Bob is in a good mood. He’s doing some variation on ‘Tangled up in Blue’. His phrasing is original. I enjoy myself for my day had been easy with nice people. I forget about the fools. I didn’t talk to any Bobcats.
When Bob ends “Long and wasted years” I signal Sam to move on to the stage, being carefull of the security. But only for “Automne leaves” we have a rush to the stage.
I run and Sam follows. We are right in front of Bob!
For the first time of the Tour I can see his clear blue eyes.
“Love sick” is MAGIC!
Some Fans sing along, maybe Bobby can hear? It makes him happy, it makes him mad? Who knows?
He seems to see the public, he looks alive!
It makes ME happy! “If you’re happy, I’m happy too”.
We walk back home with Sam. We are in bed at 2:00 a.m.
Next show is in Madrid and no day off. The night will be short.
6th of July MADRID
Up at 7:00 a.m. Pablo offers me a cup of coffee. The trains are full going to Madrid, I have to wait 2 more hours. “It’s life and life only”.
In Madrid I have a place to stay with a friend of Johannes ; Luis. He is also a BD Fan.
I believe that we would be 3 of us sharing, but I imagine wrong.
I got lost in the Madrid metro. I finally ring Luis’ bell at 2:15 p.m.
Fortunately he’s home and offers me a cool drink. It’s outrageously hot and humid.
I relax and snooze on the couch and we chat about BD.
We move on at 7 p.m. Los Lobos will be the opening act tonight. I wish to see and hear them. Maybe they will join the BD and Band for some songs?
You don’t always get what you want.
To my utmost surprise, the crowd is cold and distant.
The venue is again a Sport Arena. The capacity is more than 10 000. So probably 6 or 7 000 ‘FANS’ walked pass me. No one, no one never pay attention to my sign. Whoa! And that for more than 2 hours. To my relief Frederica didn’t get a ticket neither!
My plan B is to find out where is the smoking area and sneack in. Apparently there is doors opened in the back.
I wait until 10:15 p.m. to make my move.
There is no smoking area outside but by pure chance a door is opened. 2 persons enter in the building , I follow. They are immediately stopped by security. I slither away. I AM IN!
I climb the stairs to the balcony. There is less control and more empty seats than on the floor.
The second part is predictable but nonetheless I feel happy. In Madrid I saw half the show.
A crowd packed up around Bobby’s bus after the show.
He will rush inside, ignoring the Fans.
Bye, bye Bobby! Good night and sweet dreams!
You are right those Fans don’t deserve your attention. Ah!ah!
Johannes and Luis get together. I realize that Johannes is not staying with Luis but booked a Hotel room. I can’t figure that out. They want to go to a bar to talk. I just want to go to bed.
Why people can’t understand that I am exhausted after a day and an evening on the road!
Until I see Bob on stage I am in a permanent anxious state of mind.
Only after the show I am able to relax and then my nerves are all down. So either I sleep, either I have a break down.
Then people believe I’m mean and bad and they call me NUTS!
Of course it is a lot easier just to be able to buy tickets, take a cab to a fancy and private hotel room, have a good meal in any restaurant.
This is not the way I travel. And this is my choice.
Finally they drop me at the apartment. I crash on the couch.
Luis computer is down and so is his WIFI. I have no way to plan my next trip to Granada. The best thing to do is to go to the train station early in the morning and find out about the trains.
So, after a short night, I close the door behind me and Luis sleeping in his bed at 7 a.m.
7th of July GRANADA
By a “simple twist of fate” I find an Internet Cafe 1 block away from Luis’ apartment, and it’s open.
For 80cts an hour (for the Internet connection) I plan and book 2 nights in a Youth Hostel in Granada. I had no luck with the Couchsurfing there neither.
I rush to the train station.
As in Italy most of the trains are speed trains , so I need to book a reservation.
The booking office is packed and the service not efficient.
I wait for more than one hour just to find out ALL the trains to Granada are full this day. Shit!
I am able to connect to WIFI and Kath advises me to catch a bus.
I am back on the metro, direction ...the bus station.
I will have to wait until 4p.m. but the fare is only 18€. I would have had to pay 10€ for the reservation on train , plus I would have had lost 14€ for the first night in the Hostel.
So all things considered I have a good deal. The bus ride is only 5 hours, paradoxically the same as with the trains.
There is a cafeteria with warm food. Since I have 5 more hours to wait, I treat myself with eggs, bacon, potatoes and Coke. The diet on the Road is not the priority. Food is always welcomed!
The ride is pleasant. I catch some sleep.
In Granada the Tourist Office is still open and I find the Hostel direction easily. I catch a bus.
The location is right in the Tourist area. A pretty building, clean and quiet.
Though the temperature outside is around 40° C. The room is cool.
I take a long and cool shower and go to bed.
Tomorrow is another day.
8th of July GRANADA
A free continental breakfast and a free Tourist trip. The word FREE sounds good to me.
The guide takes us to the old Arabic quarter of Granada. He will mention with passion the persecution of the Muslims by the Catholics, the Inquisition in 1492. When I mention the persecution of the Jews , as well, the young guide will just reply that there is no more Synagogue in Granada! Oops!
Another shower and it is time to walk to the venue. Another Palacio.
Thousands of persons again passing in front of me in total indifference.
Indifference from most of the Bobcats as well!
Poverty is NOT contagious!
10 minutes before show time a nice couple will hand me a ticket. Thanks to you, good hearted people!
The palacio is packed. There is no reason to be on the floor : visibility ...null.
I stay on the rail of the balcony, twisting my neck to catch , here and there, a glimpse of the stage.
The sound is not the best but I am in after so much desperate hope.
The atmosphere is festive where I stand. Fans try to pay attention to the stage though they also enjoy a little beer. I can’t understand why people go to a show just to ...drink beer.
At least I can dance and sing and no one pay attention to me. I am a weirdo! Yippy!
They probably believe that I am the one drunk and stoned! Wrong! I never drink and smoke on the road! Ah!ah!
I walk a long walk back to the Hostel.
At 2 a.m. I crash on my upper bench.
That will be a short night again.
9th of July CORDOBA
A continental breakfast is welcome as I don’t remember when I ate last. With that heat, drinking is a lot more important. The water from the tap is good enough. Why do we have to pollute the planet with plastic bottles?
The first trip is by bus. I step in the bus and bump into Tim and his girlfriend.
I chat with my neighbour, a young man from Boston studying the immigration of Moroccans to south of Spain. It sounds interesting.
The train is right on time and comfortable.
I walk to the Hostel (no Couchsurfing here neither) under the heat. It is over 40° C.
The Hostel is close to the Mosque/Cathedral, by the river side.
The Manager is from Senegal. We chat in French.
I have a bench on the top. I take a shower, cook myself some pasta, drink a lot of water.
I walk to the venue in the late afternoon, only half an hour away (by pure chance!).
Today this is a General Admission and outdoor.
One line is formed and a man gives me a ticket rapidly. Then by a pure chance again a second line is formed.
I see the opportunity of being close to the stage.
And I am second row by the piano. Whoa!
Bob is all in black, with a little feather on his black hat.
I can see his face and the lines of ... time passing by. His eyes are now like 2 slits. Can he see?
I still have a doubt about his hair! Dyed for sure. At no time he will take his hat off on that Tour. Not for what I saw! It looks that the hair is glued to the hats : black or white.
The boots are the same : those black and white Cowboy boots!
His suits seem always a size too large.
The shirts will change shape and colour.
The belt secured tight around his waist.
He’s slim almost skinny.
No rings on his fingers.
And often that body expression with his left hand on his left side.
His two hands open to the public for the final ovation : ‘take me, I am yours’ ???
His face shows no expressions , hardly any contact with the Band (just to signal the end of a song), least with the public.
Only in San Daniele Del Friuli ( and God knows why ) he introduced the Band.
Only one time (if my memory serves me well) he said ‘Thank you’ in Italian.
After “Long and wasted years” he will sometimes pretend to concert with Tony or Charlie or George or Donnie but I know by now he will do a Sinatra song.
Charlie changes his guitar and they do “I’m a fool to want you” instead of “Automne leaves”.
That will be all for the surprise.
They will switch from “I’m a fool to want you” or “Automn leaves” or “That lucky old sun” or “Full moon and empty arms” either on first part or second part of the show. Promoting slowly but surely the Sinatra albums.
Those songs, remarkably interpreted, will please the public. But I wonder, how many, among the crowd know those songs are not Dylan songs?
I walk back to the Funky Hostel with a satisfied mind. The air is cool.
I sleep for 5 hours.
10th of July SAN SEBASTIAN
I am up at 7 a.m. That will be a long day today.
I am up at 7 a.m. That will be a long day today.
First there is a free visit of the Mosque/Cathedral from 8 to 9 then free visit of the gardens.
Everything free is good to take! This is my philosophy.
There is no breakfast in that Hostel. I take a little ‘Cafe con leche’ at the Cafe next door.
I can go without food but without Caffeine in the morning would just kill me!
The Mosque/Cathedral is IMPRESSIVE of Grandeur. Large, Long, Tall.
I am not sure I like the Christian Icons. I prefer the Geometric designs of the Arabic Style Architecture.
The Muslims as the Jews (being both Semit people) have no right to paint or sculpt any human beings. Man was made at the Image of God , and God should not be represented, certainly not looking like ...Santa Klaus!
I’m glad I succeeded in making it to Cordoba.
The Mosques in Istanbul are splendid but this one is just MAJESTIC.
All those buildings show the Splendour and Power of South of Spain (Andalusia) in the time of the Arabic Conquest. Islam is not necessarily linked to anger and terrorism.
Muslims and Jews lived in perfect harmony for four centuries.
Moses Maimonides worked side by side with Averroes in developing Philosophy and Humanities.
The Golden Age was interrupted by ... the Catholics. The inquisition perpetuated by a ...woman : Isabella I of Castile.
All together, over the time, Christians have been responsible for more massacres and persecutions than any other Religions.
If Jesus was a Man of Peace why so many died in his name.
As Bobby said “Sometimes Satan comes as a man of Peace”.
In Spain as in Italy the Grandeur is from the ... past.
I breath a cool breeze strolling along the gardens. This is the Alhambra in miniature.
Pools and fountains refreshing the hot climate of Andalousia. I’ve been told Cordoba is the hottest city in Europe. Another one for my records!
Back to reality at the bus stop. I am taking the bus number 3 to the train station. After 45 minutes of anxiety the bus slowly comes to the stop and ... moves on. What?
The driver doesn’t stop because the bus is full! What a jerk!
I jump in a taxi. Either I pay 5€, or I miss the train.
For the first time I booked my trains in advance.
First train will take me to Madrid where I have to change the train station.
I’m getting used to the Madrid chaotic organization.
I am at least able to relax in the train to San Sebastian also called Donostia in Basque.
Half sleeping, half enjoying the landscape it will take me 9 hours together to reach Donostia.
Fortunately I have a CouchSurfing Host in that city.
Elena will be kind enough to wait for me at the train station. What a relief.
But Couchsurfing is a social exchange so again and again I have to tell my stories about Bobby Dylan. And why and how I do what I do.
Did I ever meet Bob Dylan?
It seems so much essential for every one.
Nobody never asked me if I ever met my favourite painter...Pablo Picasso.
Elena explains to me that tomorrow she will be gone visiting some friends in Bilbao.
She gives me the keys of her Home. No hesitation. She doesn’t even know me. Not as much as some Bobcats on the road.
A little sandwich of ham, a glass of water, a nice shower and finally a good night sleep. There is no show tonight. I have a private room with ... 2 beds!
11th of July DONOSTIA
Elena makes a light breakfast. At least a cup of coffee.
I spend some time on her computer while she’s doing some house cleaning. I need to plan my last ‘Tour Leg’ in France. My Global pass is over and I still have 2 more shows to attend.
I prepare the Plan B with ‘bla bla car’, the European ride sharing on line.
I already found 2 CS hosts which is a relief considering the shows will be in the middle of no where! I mean in small cities.
I invite Elena out for a lunch. We go to a pub for coffee and tapas, she takes a beer.
At 3 o’clock I believe I want to visit a little of Donostia. It had been my dream since the beginning of the Tour to go for a swim in San Sebastian. Well! What you want is not what you gonna get!
The temperature is 19°C. And it’s cloudy and at times rainy. No swim!
Elena goes on her way, I take a bus to the downtown area.
The Tourist Office Lady is nice and helpful. I take a walk along the bay. I treat myself with an ice cream ‘dulce de leche’, take photos (including one or two of the “beat the street’ Bobby bus passing by me).
Time to reach the venue.
It is again a Sport Arena.
Luis (from Madrid) promised me a ticket for tonight but...
I try to catch the attention of the hundreds fans queuing to get in. Maybe at the end 5 or 6 thousands.
I don’t have any luck.
Luis comes, he has 3 extra tickets. He gives me one. Thanks Luis!
I try to sell for him the 2 extra. But the Spanish crowd is strange. No one seems to believe I have tickets for only 25€.
I don’t find any one in needs of tickets. Whoa! I walk inside with 3 extra tickets. Unbelievable!
I sit all the way on the top, in a little corner. I see the stage alright. I enjoy myself. I sing along and no one pay attention to my craziness!
The setlist is again the same. I hope that at least Bobby enjoys himself!
Donostia is a pretty little town. Maybe Bobby had time for a swim!
And I hope the Band had some rest. They must be over tired after the Spanish Tour Leg and the heat.
I rush to the shuttle bus after the show. I need to catch a night bus to Elena’s home. She’s not there and I can’t walk to the apartment.
Thanks to the Social European Spirit, they do have a bus every hour, all night long.
I got lost but I use my broken Spanish and finally I am in my room. All by myself.
I make a sandwich of ham (the left over) and drink a soda.
I take a long shower and sleep until ...8 a.m.
12th of July ALBI
My ‘bla bla car’ planning is a little bit complex.
One ride to Toulouse then one ride to Albi. The timing is short as I am supposed to take a metro in Toulouse.
The first meeting is at 12h20 but there is a misunderstanding and we look for each other for half an hour.
Oscar and Sara are cool enough to wait for me so long.
Off we take the freeway. We stop for a quick lunch but I can afford only 1€ of baguette and water from the tap.
Kamel(the other guest) lives in Toulouse and he will explain to Oscar how to drop me at the metro station.
I wait for the next ride. Jerome is right on time. Him, his girlfriend, a German guy studying in Toulouse and I are going to The Festival of Guitar, the Bob Dylan show.
Vincent (my Couchsurfing Host) will wait for me at the train track in Albi.
Everything works perfectly.
Vincent cooks for me a little meal and I can connect with his WIFI.
He lives 10 minutes walk away from the Festival.
The show is at 9:30 p.m.
At 9 p.m. I walk to the entrance. It is a Festival, outdoor. There was an opening act so ALL the people are already inside the site. How can I get a free ticket?
Che and Siobhain are also outside and Tim. I don’t talk to them anymore. Conflict of interests!!!!
I decide to buy a ticket. Oh well! That would be stupid to be right here in Albi after all the trouble and not be able to be in.
I do like ‘normal people’; I go to the box office and pay cash : 49€.
I move as close as possible to the stage on the side of the piano. I reach the 5th or 6th row, not too bad.
The first 3 songs are the same but...
The 4th is a surprise! “Don’t think twice, it’s alright”. And on and on, the setlist is incredible. Oh thank you so much Bobby dear!
It seems to me that this is a new Tour all together.
The people around me speak French, they look in good spirit and don’t pay attention to the setlist. I know this is special. They recognize the songs from the past. “I’ll be your Baby tonight” (yes Bobby!).
1. Things Have Changed 2. She Belongs To Me 3. Beyond Here Lies Nothin' 4. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right 5. Duquesne Whistle 6. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight 7. Pay In Blood 8. Full Moon And Empty Arms 9. Cry A While 10. Visions Of Johanna 11. 'Til I Fell In Love With You 12. Shelter From The Storm 13. Blind Willie McTell 14. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum 15. Desolation Row 16. Ballad Of A Thin Man (encore) 17. All Along The Watchtower
For me, I’m delighted with “cry a while”, I cry on “’til I fell in love with you”...I jump on “Blind willy Mc Tell” ...”Tweedle De and Tweedle Dum” sounds so sweet (who cares about the lyrics)...”Desolation row”, “Ballad of a thin man” and “All along the watch tower” are bringing memories from past Tours.
The Magic, finally, the ‘Shot of Love’.
I don’t see any Bobcats and truly I don’t care.
I walk back to Vincent’s house. I will share a bed with a young volunteer but anyway I will have to be up at ...4 a.m.
13th of July SAINT MALO DU BOIS
I have first a ride to Toulouse with Chloé.
We walk half an hour with Vincent to reach the meeting point.
Chloé drives me to the metro. I change stations rapidly and wait for Benoit at the train station. He will drive me to Vallet, close enough to Les Herbiers where Monique (my couchsurfing host) will pick me up. Monique will go also to the Bob Dylan show at the Festival of Poupet.
Between the ‘bla bla car’ and the couchsurfing I will meet a lot of persons within 2 days.
But they are all really nice and open minded.
I spend the afternoon chatting with Monique after she had cooked a nice warm lunch.
She drives to Saint Malo Du Bois.
The Festival is small and intimate. There is a capacity of 3 or 4 thousands no more. It is open air and General Admission.
Thanks to Monique I found a ticket for 50€ (real value 79).
And thanks to Monique we sneak inside , close to the stage. By the piano, of course.
The stage is small and low and Bob so close.
Next to me I recognize Steve , a follower from the U.K.
I enjoy myself very much. It looks like Bob and the Band are playing in my living room.
After the large arenas in Spain, it feels strange.
The setlist is again exceptional.
“The levee’s gonna break”...”Jolene” ...some of my favourite songs...Bobby sings for ME.
And I don’t care if he doesn’t look at me. He knows I’m here.
Ah!ah! It is my time of delusion!
Steve had some hard time reaching the little village and he has no place where to go tonight. So I ask Monique if he can share the room with me. She says it’s alright.
We chat until late in the night.
We have to be up at 9 a.m. for I have another ride sharing from Cholet.
Monique offers us a nice breakfast.
We say goodbye at the train station.
I have a ride with Gaetan, back home.
Globally that Tour was an easy and pleasant Tour for me.
The transportations worked fine and the accommodations were comfortable or just safe.
I discovered some pretty cities ; Ljubljana, San Daniele, Lucca, Albi.
I took some time to visit more important cities ; Roma, Granada, Cordoba, San Sebastian (Donostia).
I missed the Prado in Madrid for lake of time and organization.
I missed the swimming in San Sebastian for lake of ... courage.
I met some fine people mainly through couchSurfing and ‘Bla Bla Car’.
Some Fans were friendly and helpfull, some ... indifferent or hostile.
As for the concerts :
2 were under the rain : Tubingen and San Daniele
2 in beautiful decorum ; Roma and Cordoba.
I didn’t like the Sport Arena , mainly in Spain. They were too large and the accoustic not good enough.
The largest crowd was in Madrid.
The smallest crowd was in Saint Malo Du Bois.
The most fantastic (for me ) was in Albi.
The most boring (for me) was in Torino.
Bobby prepared 2 setlists : 1) 20 songs within 2 hours
2) 17 songs within 1 hour and a half
All together :
1 Things have changed 19
2 She belongs to me 19
3 Beyond here lies nothing 19
4 Duquesne Whistle 19
5 Pay in blood 19
6 Early Roman kings 17
7 Workingman blues #2 15
8 Waiting for you 15
9 Tangled up in blue 15
10 Full moon and empty arms 14
11 Spirit on the water 14
12 Soon after midnight 13
13 High water 13
14 Simple twist of fate 13
15 Forgetfull heart 13
16 Long and wasted years 13
17 Blowing in the wind 13
18 Love sick 13
19 Scarlet town 13
20 Automn leaves 12
21 Ballad of a thin man 6
22 All along the watch tower 6
23 Tweedle De and tweedle Dum 5
24 Desolation row 5
25 Don’t think twice it’s alright 4
26 Visions of Johanna 4
27 I’ll be your Baby tonight 4
28 I’m a fool to want you 3
29 The levee’s gonna break 3
30 To Ramona 2
31 Shelter from the storm 2
32 ‘till I fell in love 2
33 That Lucky old sun 1
34 where are you? 1
35 Cry a while 1
36 Jolene 1
37 A hard rain’s a gonna fall 1
38 Sad songs and waltzes 1
Not bad for a 74 years old performer.
Thank you Bobby Dylan!
See you soon.