::: Norwegian flag
There are those Winter Olympic Games in Norway where everybody waves little Norwegian flags. And I mean everybody. I’m tucked away in my native Slovenia, only watching it on TV, but for some reason I find it cute and the flag itself aesthetically pleasing.
So when I read that otherwise Swedish Clawfinger have at least one Norwegian member, I do not hesitate to raid Vienna shops before the gig in order to buy two Norwegian flags. I have sister with me.
That first time in Arena, and then every time we go to hear them, and we do it a lot, we have the little flags with us. Upon waving it in the first row, it becomes clear that the blonde guitarist responds to the flag the most. One time he comes to us and chirps excitedly in what must be fluent Norwegian. We only understand “backstage” and nod vehemently but don’t follow up.
When there is the dream festival in Germany with all three current favourites represented – Rage Against the Machine, Therapy? and Clawfinger – there we are with the flags waving again. We don’t even mind much that the bus driver gets lost and we miss the first band. So what if it’s Radiohead and I never get a chance to hear them again. Right?
In a pause between bands sister and I sit down on the grass to talk excitedly – in our native Slovenian – about everything that has just happened, only to be interrupted by a guy who first listens and then asks us in which language we are conversing. I’m too busy explaining something to sis to answer him, so I just pull the flag out of my pocket on a whim and wave it in his face.
He removes himself clearly pleased with the explanation, whereas I still chuckle on the inside every time I think of it.
::: Rollins roadie
We love our concerts but select them carefully too. It won’t do to have just another money-grabbing monkey in our faces all night. (Right, Smash-king Pump-kings?)
So it’s no wonder that we find ourselves in the first row of the Henry Rollins gig when he is touring my hometown with his band. A friend shows her ingenuity by producing lyrics on tiny cheat-sheets. She hands them over to a roadie before the show begins, just in case. Good to see the guys grin.
There is a cool vibe and we’re all in a great mood and obviously there is enough comfort in the first row which is not often the case. All those blue ribs from other times come to mind. And the begging for water. Beer showers. One time I even get pulled out during a show. There is nowhere else to leave but across the stage with House of Pain still on it.
But this time it’s calm and the show hasn’t even started yet, there is Plečnik’s open-air Križanke theatre in all its amphitheatric glory, and one of the roadies setting up the stage – just a guy Rollins would hang out with, probably all muscly and tattooed and bald – comes to me and says:
“You’re all right, do you know that?”
::: Greek ferry
After three days on the open deck of the ferry that had us on board since Trieste, we finally arrive to Patras on the Peloponnese. Now all we need is cross first the peninsula and the Corinth Canal and then we are almost in Athens.
Not really but so it feels. Actually it’s about two hours and a half. It’s my second time in Greece but this time I’m packing my own Peugeot 504 and we are in no hurry. As long as we are on time in Piraeus, the port of Athens, where another ferry is waiting to take us to Crete which will be the southernmost point if not of all my life, then at least of the first half.
I’m in for the best month of my life and it’s starting.
What for somebody else or even for me in other circumstances could be the most stressful test, I find enjoyable. Driving in Piraeus is borderline lunacy, lunapark and moon-landing. Luckily I follow the friend’s car, or it would prove almost too hectic. This is the largest port in the Mediterranean after all.
The decision to take my ancient car to Greece like that for a month makes me seem all zen and maintenance kind of girl but I’m far from it. I heavily rely on my friend in the other car.
I love to drive, that’s for sure. I count the moment of passing my driving test among the happiest of my life. I was 21 and another life has begun, not just since Slovenia got its independence from Yugoslavia. In the first months I drove in Italy, France and Germany, and California soon followed.
This is years later and my driving is more seasoned. In the following month I will drive Crete up and down and left and right, and if you don’t count the time when I take a turn up a too steep terrain, slide back down and land on the back hook for a moment, it all goes splendidly.
But now I’m only at the start of this adventure and Piraeus is proving a good testing ground. As we’re nearing the ferry, everything goes so fast that I barely follow. Stick to the car in front, don’t lag behind, react fast, eyes to the car before the car before.
(All this will serve me well decades later in Rome. But Rome deserves an entry of its own.)
Back to Greece, learning for the future, getting into the groove for my eternal August. Once on the ferry, a bunch of car packers is giving us directions using hand gestures in order to pack as many cars as feasible on each deck: a bit more up, back away, to the left, right to the wall, stop!
Once done, the man lets his hands fall and smiles at me with something approaching admiration. His smile is saying: “Not that I ever thought I’d say this. To a woman. Parking. But you nailed it. Perfect!”
It feels as good now to think back as it did then.