The coolest place I ever was

Writing is easy–thinking of a subject is hard. Even Gail and I stay home and do nothing occasionally, and what am I supposed to write about then?

So up pops a new website dedicated to making my life easier by suggesting a topic every day. No, I don’t have any idea how they think they’ll make a living, but I do this for fun so maybe they do too.

This is today’s topic–the coolest thing you’ve seen in another country. Here goes nothing:

It’s no secret that I like to travel. Going to a World’s Fair is like going to 150 countries in a few days–and seeing the best of all of them.

In the spring of 1992, I went to a World’s Fair in Seville, Spain. It made sense to me–I didn’t have a job or any money, why not go see the world? I got a ticket from a consolidator for peanuts, stayed in cheapo pensiones , travelled in 2nd class train cars. If you’re looking for adventure, it’s sometimes easier to find on no money.

I spent a few days wandering Madrid, hanging out in the Prado, enjoying the free music in the Plaza Mayor. Then the bullet train to Seville. I watched Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan in Spanish. Oddly, it was just as good.

The Fair was the greatest thing I ever saw, and that hasn’t really changed in the intervening 18 years. Over 130 nations put on exhibits–the rich ones built their own huge, ultra-modern pavillions, the poor ones just brought some native goods to sell and set up in pre-fab block buildings.

At night, there were marvelous concerts under the stars, Giant shows on the first Sony Jumbotron I’d seen. Multi-lingual sing-alongs in the many pubs (but the Aussies did it the best, naturally)

I saw a dozen IMAX movies, including some in 3-D with technology that is only now becoming commonplace. The nightly fireworks were better than Disneyworld. It was just an incredible experience.

Gail and I went to a World’s Fair in Lisbon, but it couldn’t compare. There is a fair going on right now in Shanghai that is reportedly drawing 500,000 visitors a day, with 9 hour waits to get into some pavilions. I wouldn’t wait 9 hours in line for a front row seat to the second coming, so we won’t be going there.

After Seville, I spent a few days on the beach at Marbella girl gawking (topless beaches in Spain), then the long train ride back to Madrid, in a very full 2nd class cabin. Turns out that Spanish farmboys ride in 2nd class, too, and they don’t shower much. It was a verrrrry long train ride.

Okay, that worked pretty well, I’m glad someone suggested this topic, and I had fun remembering the trip. Hope you had fun reading about it.

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