i just finished reading Thomas Mann's "the Will to Happiness" from his collected tales with "Death in Venice"
the story of a sickly man who defies death for years desperately seeking happiness and as soon as he gets the woman he's pined for all that time he dies the night of their Wedding.
Like the story of my friend Tapestry who was sick with HIV for 12 years or so the last time i saw him he had finally found a boy he could love and be loved by who could accept him totally push him in the ways he needed to be pushed rush him in the ways he needed to be rushed Accepted. -- He'd gotten very ill since he had this love thin, "full blown AIDS" he said... they had excellent love and travels all the places he had been wanting to go and joy of joys his new love took him to live in Ireland finally outside of the US in an old castle somewhere by the sea:
He died a month later.
& i feel like i've seen and heard this story so many times before i've often wondered is it always happiness? fulfillment? is that satisfaction?
to stay alive is a constant struggle more obvious for some...
what keeps me alive?
what am i yearning for? really?
and do i really want off this planet?
in the last years i've seen myself just become a crotchety old man wise and weary and constant nothing overly important but present to those who need that.
will my life ebb on like that?
is there a great desire that can find that will release me?
will there be a battle against a blasé existence?
or some passion that needs completing?
my life, perhaps more than the world as a whole, is a mystery to me.
we had a reservation on an early train to prague so we could spend a few hours in Dresden on the way down ... so Dieter woke us at about 7:30 ugh
but we got to have breakfast with Dieter and Friedel though neither Leo nor i are really into eating breakfast early in the morning it was nice to see both of them to see us off..
we walked to the U-bahn ahh, good-bye Berlin
took the U2 one stop up to Zoo Station navigated our way up to our platform.. and waited: The train was ten minutes late
i walked around taking pictures and only then realized how close Dieter's was to the Bahnhof
i snapped a few faces from the crowd then it was time for the train to come i looked at our ticket to know which car we should get on, which seat then stuffed it back in my pocket and got in line to get on the train with Leo tons of people getting on while waiting a woman came up to us and handed me our tickets "are these yours?"
wow they had dropped out of my pocket without me noticing ' thank you '
always zip up.
we had to buy tickets to go to Prague because our Eurail pass doesn't cover the czech republic.. oh.
so off we went through more snow covered fields we were riding second class backwards in small seats stuck among other seats tired we just vegged.
still it was about a three hour ride to Dresden
when we got there we got off put our luggage in a locker and walked out into the city
the people at the train station gave us a simple xeroxed map the town didn't look too big we walked over the capricious ice through the communist looking town square shops flat fronts tall bland apartment buildings
snow glass cement
on a Monday
we walked through one square to another though things looked older there there was still a spaciousness that was unnatural with the architecture
Leo finally found a wool scarf that he liked he's been looking this whole trip cheap, €8
we walked through old snow, old city big buildings rebuilt for tourism what are they now?
into some churches gawdy restorations
we stopped and got a sausage two sausages and cup of hot wine
not understanding that there was a refund on the mug the wine was served in "Tassenfand" i made a bit of scene because i thought she mis understood me and charged me for two when i asked for one so i asked the guy to give me two...
it all got cleared up but left a sour experience feeling in me
i didn't like dresden i found the whole place depressing.
the one thing i was really interested in was an old palace that had been destoyed but not bulldozed they wanted to restore it but didn't have the money so we could see the skeleton of the building the bricks with bits of plaster and paint still stuck on them history in layers honest honestly something..
from there we went into another church but this one was restored in the communist days instead of trying to make it look like it used to they used the undamaged fundaments and then sprayed stucco on the rest of the brick work it was all grey and blank looking like the static on a TV screen it suggested the shape of the church gave it a space for us to be inside but there wasn't really anything there yet at the bases were the ruins of the original church weather worn broken statues walls arches .. it was beautiful
an organ concert was going on so we sat and listened..
Leo couldn't get over the lighting fixtures: "Sputnik" balls with golden flares coming of them
we left and i felt thoroughly depressed at this point ready to leave Dresden though i got a bit brighter when we walked by a fountain fixed in a wall with a krononus head spouting water and a big mouth with a tongue pushing out on the bottom as the drain
i took a picture.
the lady taking our reservations in Berlin said "two hours in Dresden?" we thought we needed three but she was right ... we headed back to the train station to see if we could make the train an hour earlier but we missed it in leu of getting some good german bread so we sat and read
more Thomas Mann for me...
the train was, again, ten minutes late and a platform change so we had to move all our stuff
i was tired!
when we got on the train our reservations, again, had us facing backwards but i noticed most of the car was empty and unreserved so i moved to the other end of the car facing forward
Leo was reticent but eventually came over to sit next to me.
the scenery changed dramatically now we were traveling through a valley alongside a river it was ... again .. beautiful
small towns crushed into the flood valley floor against the cliffs, high mountains backing them everything contrasted with snow
bridges ... as the sun set we headed in to Prague
no real trouble with our passports but the novelty of getting border control everything in unified Europe now..
we got into Prague at 18:37 or so night had fallen
there was a nice lady looked kinda like my mom standing outside the doors of the train asking any of us if we needed accommodation ... just trying to make a living
but we already had reservations ... and oddly enough a guy down stairs from the platform from that hotel asked us if we needed a room.. no but we took the brochure he had coz it had the address and a map on it the better for the Taxi drivers...
i changed some money $200 turned into 4680 Czech Krouns
out to the Taxi stand there... weren't taxis... there were "train station transport service" cars we loaded our stuff in and asked how much it would cost the guy showed us a printed leaflet that said 986Kcs which is €30
the distance to the hotel was about a Mile
What the Fuck Ever.
we couldn't talk him out of it he said it was a fixed price
we got out of the car
the guy behind him said "how much?"
we said €10 and he gave it to us
still we got stuck in traffic when we got into town crazy.. the words on the signs... never have i seen a language that looked more like someone just randomly hitting a keyboard..
we sat in traffic for about 10 minutes about 2 minutes from the hotel... one of the things i love about Europe is i can hear songs on the radio that i know and actually like which very rarely happens in the states however in eastern europe... as i've also experienced in Peru and Brazil i get to hear songs i've almost forgotten about ... and wished i had. today's treat while stuck in traffic was an extended remix of Milli Vanilli's "Blame it on the Rain" ... though that song pops into my head occasionally over the years : as my child hood was inundated with it i haven't heard it since i was an early teenager and never had i heard this incredibly tedious remix
well... welcome to prague it ended just before we got to our hotel.
when we checked in our room was just what we wanted
through the lobby to the back a little house thrown in under the hotel two small rooms to the right ours was the first, 51 back by the toilet was 52 the toilet was shared
our room had three nice big windows... that opened onto the back of the hotel two firm beds, like in germany and a table.
we put our stuff down and then went out for something to eat.
right next to our hotel was a Chinese restaurant dishes for about €3 impressive but we wanted Czech food but which to choose? the old city (which we were very central in) was filled with tourist traps and tourist food is generally overpriced and Shit
however nothing was too expensive here a .5 liter of beer was 28Kcs (€1) Pilsner Urquell was on the door of almost every restaurant and i don't generally drink mass produced shit beer but Pilsner Urquell was the first beer i ever enjoyed...
i looked at our small map compared against the gay map Leo had torn out of an old 2002 Spartacus guide and we tried to find the generic gay bar called "Friends" ... to check out the scene and get a better gay map of the city ... but it was no where to be found... so we wandered around a bit crunching through the ice and snow looking at menus in windows a woman came out and said we could come in and eat a place with a simple tourist menu OK ... it was a cellar restaurant old brick vaulted basement beautiful
the Pilsner Urquell was still very tasty and i had goulash with dumplings which was wonderful though the dumplings were a bit heavy... gluten balls
it was very nice though we were very tired so we walked home from there and quickly went to sleep.