How to fall in love with European summer
Since leaving the dry and dusty land of my birth, where spring and autumn don’t exist and, until recently, rainfall was so infrequent that it was cause for celebration, I have developed an obsession with the weather that borders on maniacal. Whereas prior to moving to Europe I had generally only checked the weather report to see whether it would be hot enough to justify taking a day off study/work (anything over 38 degrees and kids get sent home from school, a principle which I have continued to apply well into my adult life), my years on the Continent and in London have engendered in me a laughable compulsion for weather-checking, weather-discussing and weather-predicting. Well, it would be laughable if there was anyone to laugh at me, but actually they’re all too busy weather-checking, -discussing and -predicting.
I’ve gotten to the point where I generally now regard the weather as kind of ever-persistent but not-too-talkative lover. Or, should I say, series of lovers.
There is the summer romance, who sweeps me off my feet in May with sweet nothings, a concoction of scents – mint, blossoms, sunscreen – and enough mojitos and Pims that I fall head over heels for him. Every night we stay out late, go dancing, sit on terraces, picnic in the park. Life is so good that even my paranoia begins to slip away, I limit my weather-checking to once a day, I start to think that this time, this time it might really last.
Then, sometime during September, he drops me cold. I didn’t see it coming and wonder what little signs I missed. I take up with an in-between rebound, and to be fair to him, he tries his hardest. Sometimes he’ll give me sunshine and take me dancing and I’ll think that this, too, could be the real thing. But the next day he won’t return my calls and leave me stuck inside all weekend. One day he’s hot, the next day he’s cold.
He’s long gone by December when I take up with my depressive winter lover. We hardly talk, preferring instead to spend long, dark days inside watching Grays Anatomy. My paranoia is at its height, and I’m weather-checking two, three times a day, just praying for a small sign of change. Sometimes, we’ll spend a weekend together in the mountain and things will start looking up – we feel fresh, energetic, alive – but as the sun sets at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, we return to our melancholy. After he finally leaves me in February (“it’s not you, it’s me”) I’m too wary to take up with someone else, and spend the next few months in tentative flirtation mode, waiting for my summer romance to show his face.
This past weekend, summer guy finally showed up, in the form of an amazing long weekend in Barcelona. Ridiculously bad sunburn aside, this was the type of summer adventure that renders the depressive winter guy a distant memory – days swimming in the Mediterranean, eating gelato and tapas and drinking jugs of sangria and freshly made mojitos right on the beach, and nights at Primavera Sound festival, dancing to Animal Collective, the National and Girl Talk.
It is without doubt in the form of the festival when the European summer really proves its worth. The long days and not-quite-scorching sun are totally conducive to hours perched on a grassy knoll listening to live tunes, and the mix of different nationalities and languages somehow translates into a joyful, easy going crowd of music lovers. It is the festival that really makes you fall for your summer fling. Dancing until the sun comes up, brown skin, salt in your hair, you feel like this is going to last forever.
Let’s forget that heartbreak and the winter guy are waiting around the corner. It’s festival time, and even Geneva and its surrounds are turning on the seductive summer charm:
Festi’neuch is on this weekend in Neuchatel – see Moby, the Wu Tang Clan, Gotan Project and DJ Shadow.
Fete de la musique on 17-19 June transforms Geneva into a completely different city – there are people! in the streets! dancing! and drinking caipirinhas!
On the same weekend there is the B-Sides festival in Lucerne, featuring The Go! Team, among others.
On the weekend of June 30 to July 3 St. Gallen (waaay over the other side of Switzerland) will host Openair St. Gallen with a seriously awesome lineup, including TV on the Radio, the National, Queens of the Stone Age, Beirut, Dizzee Rascal etc.
Of course, the infamous Montreux Jazz Festival is on from 1 to 16 July. If you can afford tickets, there are some fantastic acts playing, including Arcade Fire, James Blake, Laura Marling and Paul Simon.
Finally, Paelo Festival in Nyon looks set to be a cracker, with a lineup that includes The Strokes, PJ Harvey and The Chemical Brothers. Alas, tickets are sold out, but surely there must be someone around town you can bribe, right?