Friday, November 23, 2007

How Much Longer is This Tour?

Left: Köln, photo not by me

Happy Thanksgiving (yesterday) everyone, I'm here in Köln, Germany, a place I chose to fly to from Prague based entirely on the cheap German Wings airfare--$60 one-way. It's a quick 90-minute train ride to Liege, Belgium, where my gig is tonight, and thankfully, the German train strike was quick and efficient, German-style, and I was easily able to reserve a seat thanks to the very helpful and fluent-English-speaking lady at the Deutsche Bahn office, who had a nose ring, by the way. It came to about 30€ ($44) round trip from Koln to Liege and then back to the Koln Airport on Saturday where I'll catch a flight to Munich. I'm starting to feel a little like everything in Europe is within what Americans would consider commuting distance: if you can't fly directly to your preferred country, fly to the next-door country and hop the train, and it'll take you basically the same amount of time it takes to grab BART to the airport in San Francisco. By the way, Prague got much more enjoyable on my last day, and I met some more people who restored my faith in American expats, two English teachers who were very sympathetic to my run-in with the Transit Police and said they'd also tried to run the first time they got accosted, thinking they were being robbed. We had phenomenal Indian food at a random place in Prague's outskirts, randomly enough.

But now, I'm in Germany, and I kind of forgot how tough it is to be alone in a country where you don't speak one word of the language: a flustered inability to make yourself understood is far more anxiety-inducing when you're standing there by yourself. Köln is lovely and about 15 degrees warmer than it was in Prague or around Poland, enough so that I've been leaving my scarf in the hotel room. Speaking of the hotel, the CityClass Europa, directly adjacent to the main train station and the cathedral, was 48€ ($70) for a single room, and while there were a lot of nicer-looking places in the 80-90€ range, I figured the $40-50 savings would be worth it, but jeez, it's pretty bad: smaller even than my tiny room in Frankfurt, with a built-in twin bed that wasn't quite long enough for me, non-functional WiFi, and a distinctly orange tint to the water when you first turned it on. But with even an espresso, tiny juice, roll and yogurt at the free-WiFi coffee shop I'm writing this from coming to 7€10 ($10.43), you take your savings where you can.

Perhaps it's the holiday or the fact that I'm under the aforementioned language blackout, but I'm kind of pooped. My feet are sore from walking around, my one pair of jeans I've worn the whole trip are starting to sag unpleasantly, and I could really use a burrito, pollo asado, especial style. But coming up in a few hours I won't have time to dwell on my petty annoyances, as things will start to ramp up again: the gig in Belgium is set to be pretty large, Bootie Munich should be wild on Saturday, and then it's off to France where from what I understand the transport strike has pretty much wound down, merci Dieu. I'm completely baffled about what to play for the Belgiums, and unlike my mini-hit in Poland, I don't have any tracks that explicitly address, say, the country's current governmental crisis or anything. Also, hopefully they aren't too perturbed at me for rooting for Poland over them in the recent Euro 2008 qualifying match. Sorry guys, but when in Warsaw…

So, what do Belgians throw when they hate your set? Waffles? Mmm, airborne breakfast cake.

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