Saturday, October 11, 2014

Roadie Report 71 by Camilla McGuinn - Germany and Austria


     The song "Get To You" kept going through my head as I pulled out my computer to write about the German portion of the tour. It is a song about a journey to get to a person loved. We love our journeys.
View from a train window in Germany

     Long train trips offer a perfect opportunity to write the BLOG but it means my eyes keep darting from the keyboard to the scenery speeding past the window. We are amazed at how much beautiful open land there is throughout England and Europe. These countries are centuries old but only the cities are crowded. The farmlands are abundant with delicious vegetables like the ones my grandma used to raise. Tomatoes with flavor! If I'm ever home long enough to pick a ripe tomato, I plan on planting them in abundance, but I'm married to a troubadour who never wants to stop carrying  his guitar to places where folks will listen. Thank you all so much for listening!

Cologne Cathedral
       Castles and Cathedrals are scattered everywhere. They took centuries to build but the solar panels and wind turbines are new to the landscape. We are sincere proponents of using the power of the sun and wind. Germany has miles of solar farms and thousands of houses storing the energy of a new time. Remember the stone age ceased because they found better ways, not because they ran out of stones. Our hope is that our oil age will cease when the ability to store the sun's energy becomes available, cost effective and important to everyone.

German Solar Farm
     When we talk about the different countries we have visited, Roger always says that he loves Germany because everything works. Well Germany was having a glitch when we toured in September. Our "boot camp" continued!

Cologne Train Station
     Figuring the logistics for three and half months was a daunting task, but I was sure that the German portion of our train connections would be exactly as listed. After a wonderful stay and concert in Antwerp, we boarded the train for a long trip to Hamburg. Little did we know that the German train drivers had called for a three hour strike. Our train left Antwerp on time, arrived in Brussels on time and in Cologne on time. With a 55 minute connection time we strolled to our next platform. The September weather was sunny and warm. Sitting on the platform watching the people was delightful. We felt confident that all was well with the world. Then announcements in German began and every so often one in English. "Due to the strike the train to Hamburg has been delayed 30 minutes." We were still comfortable on one of the few benches available. After 30 minutes, I became less comfortable. I went to check the electronic platform board. Our train was in the station but at a different platform. It was boarding.

    I ran to get Roger and our luggage. The escalator down was working. When we got to the escalator going up to the changed platform, it was out of order. We didn't have time to look for an elevator, so we began carrying our heavy luggage up the escalator steps. The metal steps were not conducive to dragging the wheeled bags up, so we had to lift them. Now I thought we had sparsely packed for our almost 18 week adventure, but lifting our bags on that escalator caused me to lament at having to need anything at all. Half way up a young couple who was passing us picked up my second bag and got me to the top. I broke a rule, left my bags there and ran back down to take the guitar Roger was carrying. We each carry one guitar, one roller bag and one misc bag. Roger also carries a third bag for those last minute things like water. We boarded the train just before it pulled out of the station.

    The first German concert was in Hamburg on September 7th. Peter, the promoter for the  eight German concerts and the one Austrian concert of our tour, met us at the hotel. We had worked with Peter five years ago. He wasn't only a promoter, he had become a friend.

    We traveled by train to all but one of the cities with a day off every two days.

    The train from Oldenburg to Nuremberg was delayed reaching our connection in Hannover. We had 14 minutes to change platforms. That wouldn't have been a problem if the train had been on time and especially if the electronic platform list had been working. It was working  except for the part that listed the platform for our train to Nuremberg. Once we found the location of our connection, we ran to the platform but the elevator wasn't working. One more time we were dragging our bags up the stairs. Finally as we reached  the top of the stairs  we caught site of our train just leaving the station. We laughed as we simultaneously said, "Boot Camp!" Fortunately,  I had a rail planner app on my iPhone. There was another train to Nuremberg in 30 minutes.

Dinner Time
      The train arrived in Nuremberg in time for dinner. Walking the ancient streets in the cool evening gave us a sense of history. We found a beer garden to enjoy a delightful traditional German dinner.

Osnabruck from our hotel window.
Osnabruck restaurant
Osnabruck is a city we have never visited. The old part of the town is graced with  beautiful cathedrals, shops and restaurants. Our lunch time server told us the city is beautifully decorated for the Christmas season and is a destination for many during the holidays.

    The tour schedule doesn't always give us the time to  fully appreciate the cities and we did wish that we had more time especially in the vibrant city of Berlin to visit the museums. Germany's cities and countryside are like paintings and a walk through history.
Roger in Berlin

    On our way to the last German concert in Stuttgart, we lost another electronic device. It was a perfect storm. The train lurched, a box of crackers fell into a glass, the glass fell into Roger's Apple MacBook Air computer keyboard. The computer was destroyed. One iPad, one camera and now one computer had become pieces of dead hardware due to liquids. The camera was replaced and now we had to replace the computer because Roger still had two more lectures on the Queen Mary 2 during the November 12 crossing to New York. The presentation was dependent on the computer program showing  pictures, video and audio clips. Roger had diligently backed up the lectures on a separate hard drive. We decided to wait until we got to London to visit the Apple store for another computer. I decided that I didn't really need another iPad. Life just got simpler.

Roger taking the computer apart.
     The computer disaster didn't dampen the Stuttgart concert. It was in a wonderful venue with a great sound system and happy audience. We left a note for Elvis Costello who was playing there a few weeks after Roger.

     Our TGV train left our final German city, Stuttgart on Sept 23rd for London via Paris on the Eurostar. Our traveling "chops" were now fine tuned. Navigating the  German train stations became as familiar as our beloved highways of the United States.  We were hoping the "Boot Camp" training was coming to an end but even the glitches from London to Germany had already become a funny part of our sweet memories.

Linz Austria