Thursday, February 17, 2011

Iron & Wine @ Paradiso

A church converted into a hippies' living room. A hippies' living room turned into a famous music venue, having bands like The Rolling Stones, Joy Division, Nirvana, Arcade Fire and Finnish band Nightwish either recording or filming concerts there. And it took me 6 months to go there for my first gig.

Couldn't think of a better artist for that than my rainy summer day music; Iron & Wine (Samuel Beam). Hearing him sing about a godless brother in love in that bju-t-ful place with fine acoustics was perfecto.

The warm-up act Tift Merrit sounded quite good. Pity though that there was a constant background noise getting worse all the time. The main act's gig started with Samuel saying that the crowd talked through her performance and that we should all together shout "Sorry Tift" and "Next time I will listen and appreciate your music". How embarrassing..

The set of Iron & Wine was quite long, about 1h 45 min, but it didn't matter, everyone was having a good time. I guess being in the first row middle wasn't perhaps the best idea, since I had to look up all the time. Okey, I shouldn't complain, some people don't even get the chance to see him.

It was a bit disappointing that I didn't hear much of his sad acoustic songs and "Walking far from home", which is one the best songs of his latest album, but totally worth seeing how good of a guitar player and laid-back humorous guy he is and also the great touring band. And the version of "Boy with a coin" they played was simply amazing! I already thought that they wouldn't play it, because the song started with a jamming tune, but suddenly the familiar guitar tune started to play and people started screaming. It was also cool to see the roadie dancing on the side of the stage.



Overall it was a good gig, not in my top 3 though, next time I'll focus on the happy songs, then it could get better. I almost got the set list; there were no more left on the stage, so the roadie went through all his papers to find me one, but no more there either. But hey at least I got to see the famous beard.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

5 countries, 3 days and a car

February 3rd, after almost half-a-year it was time to visit a new country once again. For a month already I had the urge to travel around; no more planning what I would do in spring, just do it now. Finally after an exhausting study and exam period, me, Judit, Maria, a new exchange student from Hong Kong Hyacinth (I call her Hangar) and Linda my class mate from Finland, who does her exchange year in Haarlem (where I was supposed to go study first) started our little roadtrip.

Right from the very beginning when we left our lovely cottage, it got stressful, since I had to be in charge of the map. It's really hard to instruct the driver, when you've hardly ever moved around by car in Breda. Luckily we managed to pick up Maria and Hangar with less pain as I thought, considering that I had to talk with Linda on the phone for about 20 minutes so she could find her way to our place the previous evening. I trusted she had a navigator in the car.

After 4 hours we crossed the boarder of Luxembourg, the bank center of the world. We felt a bit nauseous from our ears getting jammed, but at the same time couldn't believe our eyes; there were mountains. With Explosions In The Sky playing in the background, it was a perfect moment.

a stop at a belgium gas station

We had our hotel booked from the airport area and the room with the jail-liked beds and white walls looked like a mental institution as Linda said it. But who cares, Luxembourg City was soon to be ours. Buses from the airport left like almost every moment and one trip cost 1,5€ and a day pass was 4€. Day pass it was. Probably the public transportation is one of the rare things in the country, which is cheap.

Without having any knowledge what to do and see in Lux (since no one really knew much about the country and didn't bother reading Wikipedia thoroughly), we dropped off at the train station and asked for the information over there. The service desk lady seemed like she hated her job, but we got the info what we wanted and so we started our long walking tour. Long not because of walking hugely many kilometers, but long because of everyone wanting to take a lot of pictures. For instance there was this bridge called Adolf bridge, don't know if it's named after that dude with the horrible moustache, but anyways the bridge and everything underneath it was just mesmerizing. So mesmerizing that it took ages to move forward, since pictures were taken from every single angle. Move few meters forward and it looks even more fascinating than few meters back. The general view of the city though looked gloomy with the cloudy grey weather, people dressing in black and everyone looking like a banker.

train station

ceiling of the train station

All of that didn't matter as soon as we got to the valley. The whole place was straight from a fantasy movie. People forget about New Zealand, make your movies in Luxembourg!

We were freezing and hungry. All that we saw in the old centre were luxurious shops including one for pets PFFF. But there was light in the end of the tunnel; McDonalds!!! No, we have to try something typical of Lux. Quick it was. Quick meaning the McDonalds of Luxembourg and Belgium, which was located just next to the McDonalds. After a satisfying burger meal, we really wanted to check out the grocery store, just to see what they have. We had 5 minutes for that, because of their ridiculous closing time. That's what I miss from Finland; grocery stores closing not earlier than 9PM.

Having the day pass wasn't that convenient in the end, so to make full use of it we went back to the hotel to drop of our groceries and to have a nap. We felt really exhausted, but had to go back to the centre for dinner. We ran into a few traffic wardens in the empty streets and asked them for a student budget eating place. First one was McDonalds and another one a Mexican place. First one it was. But only to have a proper comparison to Quick.

Waiting for the bus back to the hotel, we found a bar, which was abnormal from the city scene; a bar, which was nothing fancy with young people dressed indie-style and a band jamming. Finally something normal for our eyes! We stayed outside listening to good music, because Linda was still eating her McFlurry and later on she fell in love with probably a 40-year-old guy in the bus. I noticed from his iPod that he was listening to ABBA. We weren't sure if the we took the right bus, but we didn't care, because it could have been exciting to just randomly tour around. However, for our disappointment it was the right bus.

As we got back to our "home" we checked places where to go to. Really lucky to find out that there was an American military cemetery just a few km from the hotel. Couldn't believe that, but true it was. I remember our history teacher talking about those cemeteries during 8th grade, and since then it had been a dream to see one.

Next morning my dream came true. There is no words to describe the feeling, not even all the pictures can do that, you just have to be there yourself. There with them, who fought in both World Wars.

Then we explored the fortress of the city. Much time was spent on taking jumping pictures. After a good exercise it was time to gain the lost calories back. But again no cheap place was found, so we just bought some food from the super market and went back to our hotel. By the way, travelling by car in the city, you see a lot, but it's really annoying when the route is like a labyrinth.

show off

We hit the country side early evening, it looked really beautiful, but it started to get dark already. The small town/village called Remisch was by a river, but once again we didn't see anything. We just saw a sign saying "France 11km". QUEEE?! France like a city or the country. Only option was to find out. Yep the country. As crossing the boarder, we saw Germany on our left. QUEEE?!?! Some might say that you should plan your trip beforehand, so you know what to expect, but I say these kinds of surprises make trips even better.

So quick stop in France just to see the Eiffel Tower and then Germany for cheap groceries at Norma. We decided to have dinner in Germany after driving around a bit; it was kind of scary to not see the surroundings and I waited for the tyre to burst just like in the movies. Finally, we found a cheap place to eat, which was surprising, since there was a Lux office building just 2 m away from our dining place, so we thought it would be more expensive. 

the result of a vegetarian era

After a satisfying dinner we went back to Lux with Spice Girls playing in the radio. We also decided to go back the same route the next day to just see what we didn't see and through Belgium back to Holland.

And the same route with eyes opened. Okey it wasn't that great as I thought, but hey we got to climb the Eiffel Tower again! It felt like ages to travel to Leuven, Belgium and we had to quickly pick a place to eat, because Linda had to go to the WC. Döner it was. Leuven had beautful buildings as usually in Belgium and probably the coolest pulpit I've ever seen.

leaving the hotel
last chance to buy cheap gas

you know when you're i france, when people show the finger to you

definitely in germany


Wasn't a long way back home anymore, but the wind was so strong that even the cars were swaying from right to left, but good thing we got back safely to Breda. It was a trip definitely needed and another trip will be needed soon!