Tour Diary - June 12, 2019
I had a nice sleep at Julian and Pia’s place in Hamburg. I hid Pia’s bicycle in the room I was in so I would wake up when she left in the morning but she was stealthy and I didn’t hear her at all. Late start it is, it’s my M.O.
I raid their tea station and find a lemon orange something or other. It’s quite good but I neglected to photograph it as I was still mostly asleep and then Julian says “If you want to catch that train we have to leave in 18 minutes.”
He’s very punctual.
Julian is also a faster walker than I am but I’m blaming some of it on the broken wheel. Today the cobblestone claims it’s twin. Now when I tell you the wheels are broken, they still technically *work* but it’s like if you’re driving your car and you get a flat and you drive it until the tire actually falls off the rim and you’re left driving on the rim. That’s what has happened to my suitcase. They were these nice wheels and now I’m on a smaller hard plastic rim. It still rolls, not as well and much slower.
For an example of Julian’s walking - last night we could’ve taken a bus but he looked at the sign and said “8 minutes? That’s too long to wait.” and then we walked for 20 minutes to his place.
Hamburg, Germany is pretty far north and the sunrise was at 4:50 am. This is also new to get used to as well as it being light outside until about 9:30 pm.
Julian leaves me at the Hamburg train station and I’m fine, I’ve done this before, piece of cake. I walk up to the ticket machine, purchase my ticket to Bremen, put the cash in and get my ticket. Now the printing on the ticket is not completely clear. You can read most of it but track number and exact time of departure are two things that not all the numbers and letters printed out. I walk around a bit trying to figure it out but finally go to the DB information stand. She looks at my ticket and says “Track 13, it’s loading now.” I hop down the stairs with all my bags and get on the train on Track 13. The sign on track 13 says “Bremen 12:15”. I find a seat, eat my sandwich and start reading a book.
But I’m still not sure of myself so I ask the folks sitting next to me. “Is this the train to Bremen?” The couple looks at me and nods yes. Ok. Good enough for me. The book is nice, the countryside is beautiful but some of the train stops don’t sound familiar to me so I take out my phone and open up my Maps app. It takes about 10 minutes for me to get enough signal to figure out where I am and I am nearing the town of Lüneburg and that is to the south and east of Hamburg. Bremen is to the west and slightly south of Hamburg. This is not good.
I pack up and get off at the next stop. At the counter there I have to buy a return ticket to Hamburg for 7 euro (on a different train which is across the street) and I ask the lady at the booth what happened and she said vaguely “yes, there was another train on the track where the Bremen train goes but it was yellow and you wanted the red train.” or it was red and I wanted yellow - whatever it was, I was on the wrong train. And the couple that said I was on the right train, turns out they were just being polite as they didn’t understand anything I was asking them. I could’ve asked them in German or English and they wouldn’t have known.
My one hour trip to Bremen will now take three hours.
I’ve worked up a bit of a sweat and I’ve climbed a bunch of stairs with a guitar, backpack and broken wheeled suitcase so when I sit down, the couple in front of me asks if I’m ok. My Fitbit starts telling me I need to cool off for 10 minutes and they like the stickers on my guitar case.
They are Canadian but live in Nicaragua and are on a 5 month, once in a lifetime trip. They are both retired and they are visiting friends and family they haven’t seen in years. He is originally Iranian and when he was trying to get out of Iran in 1981 he had a fake passport that it took a while for them to change his appearance so he looked enough like the photo for him to get out of Iran and then apply to be a refugee in Germany. After a few years in Germany, he moved to Canada, and went back to his real name and became a teacher in British Columbia. She was also a teacher and grew up in the Toronto area. I’m amazed that they tell me about leaving Iran on a fake passport but they are both very realistic about it. “It was the time and I couldn’t stay in Iran, it wasn’t safe.” His mother wouldn’t leave Iran and on this trip they met up with her in Turkey “one last time.” She is in her 90’s and they don’t expect to ever see her again.
We start talking about music and I give them one of my postcards, we talk about different bands and I mention how I love Blue Rodeo and most things Canadian. “A friend of mine, her brother is in Blue Rodeo.” She couldn’t remember his name but she was sure of it. I named off all the members of Blue Rodeo and she couldn’t remember who it was. We start talking history and books and they tell me of a book I have to read by a famous Canadian musician and she can’t remember the name of the musician again so I’m listing off all the Canadian musicians I can think of not expecting her to say “Downey, what’s his first name? Great writer with a unique voice.” Gord Downey? Yes, this woman in her 70’s went Tragically Hip on my ass.
I make the transfer, get the right train and now it’s going to be close. I can’t make the train go faster. I’m getting in at 3:26. I have to leave the Hauptbahnhof (train station), catch a taxi to Hertz, pick up my rental, get to the warehouse and pick up PA equipment and then get to the venue by 4 pm with a start time of 5 pm.
There’s no way in hell I can pull that off.
Did I mention that I haven’t showered since Monday?
Anyhoo - I meet up with Heiko, pick up the stuff, the venue is not far and I get there and we set up and I start at 5:07 pm.
Für Elise is a coffeeshop in a residential type neighborhood and it seemingly caters to active mothers looking for a place to bring their kids while getting a coffee or beer. It’s also where a bunch of my fans have come to see my first show. All together there’s about 45 or 50 people here and maybe 25 of them are under the age of six. It’s distracting at times but not as distracting as my brain that has pretty much just run to this gig, set up and started performing. I go to play one song and I can’t because my slide is still in the car in my suitcase. I think about another song and it’s a twelve string song and I pick up my twelve string tomorrow. Maybe this other one, nope, the looping pedal is still packed away.
My set goes fine but it’s a little disjointed as a cohesive unit and with the kids running about distracting mine and everyone’s attention it takes a lot of effort to keep everything on the tracks. But my fans are so awesome. I can see a couple of folks singing along to the songs and I’m back at it. I advise everyone not to get too close because at this point I can smell myself and it ain’t good. We sing along and I sell cds and drink lemonade soda and none of the kids even asked to touch my guitar. That is crazy.
I’m looking forward to a shower and a sleep and so I get back to the artist flat I’m staying at and spread out all my stuff and organize for the two months ahead of me.
There it is - the 100 euro I couldn’t find at my house. It was packed in a Crown Royal bag and stuffed in my suitcase. Things are looking up already.
Oh, and Petra brought me a gift of chocolate and beer! I will share the beer but you can’t have my chocolate.
See you tomorrow.