Faraway, So Close
My first big world adventure started in March 2014.
I left home with big plans – to attend my first proper tour of the legendary Rolling Stones. I had never traveled outside Europe and I had made the decision to start this adventure on a whim.
I heard about the tour, I had an opportunity to travel on a small budget to Australia and almost instantly decided to go. I didn’t know anyone but I was confident I would make friends on the way and the entire plan had all the right reasons to be fantastic.
Just before boarding the big plane I checked twitter one more time and read the horrific news that L’Wren Scott (fashion designer and Mick Jagger’s girlfriend had just committed suicide). I had the entire 16h on the plane to realize that by the time I would land in Melbourne the tour would be off.
It was painful! There I was in the beautiful city of Melbourne feeling numb. I felt extremely far away from home and almost lost.
I was staying in a hostel close to St. Kilda beach and I was walking on the beach at night gazing at the sky and listening to these two songs on repeat. The first one was about me and the excruciating feeling of being so close and far away while the other was about Mick, L’Wren and the entire world:
The roadtrip and brightest sky full of stars
I had booked a trip from Melbourne to Adelaide (where my first concert was supposed to take place) on a mini-van with a group of tourists. I met my seat neighbor Finja Lynn from Germany who was finishing some studies in Australia and was about to go back home.
She understood I was down and kept trying to lift up my spirits on the way.
Driving along the Great Ocean Road had an uplifting effect. We stopped overnight at the Grampians National Park where I saw an incredible sky full of stars without any city lights or pollution – to this day it’s the most amazing sky I’ve ever seen.
There were kangaroos and wallabies jumping all around the area.
Little by little I was getting better and as the van was getting closer to Adelaide it was like we were following a ray of sunshine that was brightening up Adelaide.
Adelaide – home of the broken hearts
Upon arrival at the hostel I was getting tons of messages from this guy who had read my blog post about meeting the Rolling Stones in Abu Dhabi. He offered his guidance if I needed any help booking accommodations or telling me about collateral gigs that were set with the Stones musicians along the tour.
By this point the tour was postponed and most of the Stones crew had traveled home. Some of the traveling band members were still committed to holding their side-gigs and most of the fans traveling for the show were still in town.
I had clear instructions about the venue: The Gov where Bobby Keys and his group would be performing a set for the heartbroken fans in Adelaide.
I arrived at the venue a couple of minutes before the show started. It was a big club with a back terrace and lots of Stones t-shirts everywhere.
As I only knew this guy from the photos it was slightly difficult identifying him in a packed place.
I texted and got a reply that he was in the front row enjoying the show. I went there, we met briefly and then I moved towards the back observing the scene and watching the show. The set wasn’t very long but it was enough to sweeten the mood and lift the spirit somewhat:
Live With Me
What Is Life
Whatever Gets You Thru the Night
You Look Like I Could Use A Drink
I remember very well I immediately loved their performance of “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”, it became one of my favorite tunes right then and there.
The Greatest Rolling Stones Fans In The World
I was still not really in my element, I didn’t know anybody and here I was with the biggest Stones freaks in the world – a bit scary at first!
There was this one guy who was a painter and gave me a miniature painting along with his card, I told him to subscribe to my channel since we were recommending art!
I wanted to have a souvenir so I got the t-shirt, grabbed a beer and when the show was over this guy Richard Fox introduced me to his friends, some from Adelaide, others from all around Australia and this Japanese lady called Sonoko.
He mentioned she is the biggest fan in the world but that she is very private and I shouldn’t shout out too much about her in my expected photos, videos or blog posts from the stories. I found that a little bizarre but decided to comply with the advice.
We started talking and telling our stories. He was this freak collector with an entire room full of Stones stuff – The Voodoo Lounge and she was traveling everywhere for every show.
I knew almost nothing about them before this moment and I was a completely new person for them as well but the way stories were being told had a familiar feeling for all of us and there was this feeling of trust from the begging.
They were surprised I had traveled all the way there on my own without even knowing anyone else and I think that was my way of impressing them and since that moment they started calling me Little Sister.
Who have you met so far? Ah, the band? And we’re the first fans? You started with the best!
They told me stories about Bjørnulf and his Stones forum, about concerts they had been to and their favorite tours. It became clear that all of our different experiences are pointing towards a Holy Grail – a lifetime dream and a must for any big music fan – getting to Buenos Aires to see a show with the best audience in the world.
That night we made a pact to meet in Buenos Aires when the Rolling Stones would confirm a concert. At that point I was confident I would find a way to get there if there would be a show.
At the end of the night I felt like home, in spirit. The next day I traveled to the stadium where the show was supposed to take place.
This is the one video I posted from that night.
“Are you Marie? Yes! Are you Andreea from Romania?”
As I was standing in front of the stadium I noticed someone was watching me trying to record some shots on my little GoPro. We started chatting and it turned out this lady was someone I had twitted with months before when this whole thing was just an idea.
It was incredibly surprising how we simply just met there without even setting a time or even knowing each other. She had traveled all the way from Canada and we were sharing the pain of the cancellation and the thrill of experiencing this beautiful place.
In the evening I met Sonoko and we went to a cover band show and talked for hours, she was trusting me and I was enjoying her company. Like Richard wrote on the poster he sent me now as a souvenir: You walked into a club all alone and left with two lifetime friends.
Shortly after that, close to Adelaide in Glenelg I watched the sun setting in the ocean for the first time (until then I had only seen sunrises from the sea) and even met a Romanian high-school friend who was just happening to be visiting in the same time!
From that point on the adventure was exciting, I visited Sydney, Melbourne again and spent more time to get the vibe of the city and fall in love with Australia.
In Sydney I got a message from Jaime Castaneda inviting me to visit his Stones collection – he had another friend visiting from Germany – Gerhard who I would later meet in many places all around the world and even at his home.
I made it to the magnificent Great Barrier Reef and from that moment forward I was confident everything would be alright. Later that year I made it to some European shows which I did not have in plan. After every show I would meet Sonoko and we would tell stories. We did this again and again and we last met in Stockholm and said goodbye for at least twenty times, one of them was the last one.
In 2016 the Stones announced the long awaited Buenos Aires show, I met Richard there and Sonoko was with us in spirit. After conquering as much as possible of South America I met Richard again in Las Vegas and overall we have met three times in three different continents and in total spent about 70 hours together, he lives on the other side of the world where seasons and time are completely opposite, still I genuinely feel I have found a lifetime friend while chasing a dream which came true and built other dreams on the way.