Posted on 31 July 2012 by brett
Pearl Jam Prague Finale
The Pearl Jam show in Prague was so inspiring that we decided to spontaneously follow the 10 Club to Berlin for two more shows. It did help that our new PJ friends (Dave & Lauren) offered their hospitality in Istanbul if we joined the parade. And, just when things were getting exciting….. we met our favorite guitarist Mike McCready at the Prague rail station. What an amazing guy traveling like a normal dude with his friends and family.
Mike McCready at Praha Train Station
In hindsight, I wish I had told Mike about my friend Kevin. I vividly remember our sophomore year at the University of Maryland listening to Mike’s side project “Mad Season”. Kevin loved the “Above” album and always wanted to play it along with Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains Unplugged. Mad Season is up there with some of my favorite albums of all time. The band consisted of Layne Staley (Alice in Chains), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees), a friend of Staley’s from drug rehab and of course Mike on lead guitar. Like Kevin, Mike had alcohol abuse issues…. but fortunately was able to turn his life around. I wish I could say the same for Kevin and think about him everyday. We badly wanted Pearl Jam to play “Release” in Kevin’s memory. Continue Reading
Posted on 29 July 2012 by brett
Stufstock 10 – Rock Music Festival
About three hours Southeast of Bucharest lives a tiny hippie fisherman’s village called “Vama Veche”. The Romanian Black Sea spans from the beautiful Danube Delta in the north to resort-ridden areas around Constanta…… and of course Vama Veche in the south near Bulgaria. Local people have mixed feelings about development along the Black Sea, especially those that remember special places like Vama Veche during Communist times. Known for its nude beach and intellectual counterculture, it’s amazing that Vama Veche existed during Nicolae Ceauşescu’s reign. Since 1990, Vama Veche developed quite a bit relative to prior years. A movement called “Save Vama Veche” was created to help preserve the environment and stop mass tourism. Since 2004, the Stufstock Rock Festival has played an integral part in preserving the spirit of this small beach town. It has drawn upwards of 50,000 people each year.
Our dream to visit the Black Sea came true when our friend Calin had the big idea to take us to the 10th annual Stufstock Rock Music Festival. We were worried about booking accomodations, but everyone in Bucharest kept saying that the town is tiny and everything is “close”. The drive to Vama Veche was pretty much uneventful except for a famous bridge crossing the Danube River called “The Anghel Saligny Bridge” (formerly King Carol I Bridge). It was built between 1890 and 1895 and became the longest bridge in Europe and the third longest in the world. Today, it is used for railway trains. Continue Reading
Posted on 20 July 2012 by brett
Palace of the Parliament
I always described Bucharest as this dingy old Communist-era city struggling to find its way into the 21st century. Each previous visit was for business and I seemed to only notice dark aging historical buildings and American fast food restaurants. I badly wanted to know the real Bucharest during some leisure time. Only liberated 23 years ago (in 1989), who can fault Romania for taking time to show its full potential to the world? Romanian people are some of the most welcoming, curious and passionate people we’ve visited this year. After Communism, there was a conscious effort to teach English as its second language and embrace American Capitalism and pop culture. We walked the streets of Bucharest searching for a deeper explanation into its past to uncover current barriers to the future. Our old friends were excited to spend quality time for my birthday in Bucharest……… then, travel with us toward Transylvania and to the Black Sea. Their genuineness, passion for a brighter future and persistant smile didn’t disappoint.
The Big Fountain of Unirii Square
How can we give a proper portrayal of Bucharest without discussing Romania’s Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu (1965-1989)? I mean, the guy demolished much of the historic centre and built the largest Parliament building and boulevard in the world. He paid off the country’s debt and physically moved Churches to hide them from street view……. all at the expense of his Romanian people. Continue Reading