I am back. And the question we of course have to ask is whether it was worth 190 euros to go and see a band? Well, is the sky blue, is breathing beneficial to living, does ecstasy start with a letter E? Yes, it was utterly, totally, thoroughly perfect. The music was fabulous, the show was amazing, I have sung, rocked and laughed. I am so going again.
But, let us start from the beginning - as the saying so elegantly goes.
I left Wednesday morning in the chilly weather of four degrees, congratulating myself for having taken gloves along. The bag was just a touch too heavy, since I had decided to drag not only couple of books, but also my computer along. The trains were thankfully working - the strikers would not have gotten my full sympathy if they had prevented my seeing Eisbrecher.
I am getting utterly familiar with the main train station of Frankfurt, which reminds me a lot of its sister in Helsinki. Maybe it's the glass roofing and the fact that it's an end station. I was early - because of the fear of strikes and the need to find alternative routes - so I spent nearly an hour at the station reading the argumentation book (which I of course did not take away from the institute, since that is rather forbidden. It just...materialised there. I could not tell it to go back, could I now? I mean, that would just have been rude.)
I continued reading in the train, only occasionally being interrupted by the tunnels and the fact that the lights in our compartment did not work. They did get them fixed eventually, but by that time I had decided to give my attention to the scenery. I wish I had pictures, because it was really very beautiful. Well, just imagine valleys and hills and a thick morning mist blanketing it all.
After three hours and fifteen minutes the train pulled to the station at Augsburg. I found my hotel, which was very near the station and went to see the city. It's the second oldest in Germany and the name already hints at its founder - one Octavianus, also known as Augustus.
I got myself a map and decided to find the location of the night's concert. I wanted to know how long it would take to walk there and if I would feel comfortable taking the walk back to the hotel alone in the middle of the night. The route was easy and beautiful, mostly through the old centre, and took some 30-35 minutes. I found the Rockfabrik; thought I saw the guitarist going inside. He glanced at me - twice - but if he could remember my face from the couple of pics he may or may not have seen...well, then he has one phenomenal memory.
I headed back slowly, took a look in the cathedral and stopped to have a bite to eat before returning to the hotel. I got reacquainted with the modern day wonder called television and came to the conclusion that having one at the institute would have been a good way to learn German. It would also have been an effective way of distraction and I would probably never have started with the writing if there had indeed been a television available. So blessed be the tv-less state of existence.
Time went by, I got ready and walked to the venue. I knew that I would not blend in with all the goths, so I didn't even try. I got myself something resembling a cider and found a place to sit. Which turned out to be a fantastic choice, since I had an amazing view to the stage - which of course required sitting at the railing and then finally standing on the bench; sorry people behind, but you guys weren't even moving a muscle. The two goth girls next to me knew how to sing and headbang though, so I didn't feel at all alone.
It was utterly, totally, thoroughly perfect. Concerts at their best are such a physical experience. The music goes through your body and you can just yell and let go. In an Eisbrecher concert you can also laugh, because Der Kapitän is not only smart and charismatic, but also bloody, bloody funny. Fantastic.
I didn't stay and wait for the band to come out after the concert. They do that pretty much always, but that would just have been too much of the good stuff for one night. Maybe next time if I speak better German by then and have a camera that actually works. Because there definitely will be a next time. In fact they should be touring again next spring for the new album. If I'll start whining again about how much it costs to fly to Germany to just see a band, hit me on the head and tell me that there is no cost too high for a little piece of paradise.
Yeah, I bought myself a Schwarze Witwe t-shirt and walked back to the hotel. The adrenaline rush kept me smiling all the way back and the darkness smiled back at me. Plus a way too flirtatious young man who asked for a light and did get me to dig out my keys, but even he couldn't ruin my good mood.
Yes, it was perfect. And if you thought that was it, then dream on. We have just covered day one. This is, I'm afraid, going to be one those epics again. If you got tired, you can always skip to the end and click on the link to see piccies. They pretty much cover days two and three anyway.
Day two started with me slowly waking up. It was still fairly early so I just lazed around in bed for awhile, watched nature shows and worked on my dragons. There are three of them already and I still find them as meditative as ever. Finally I got up, took a shower and headed out again. I checked the map, decided on a direction and took off - daydreaming of the concert the night before and deciding that I needed a new character for my story, someone with Alexx's unbridled charisma and cheeky self-confidence. He gets to be someone powerful, "brutal und doch charmant" in the words of the song.
I put a stop to the daydreaming after five minutes or so, since I needed to concentrate on the town around me. It was very beautiful (see pics; the first ones last) and I strolled slowly onwards, turning to old narrow streets whenever fancy took me. I was happy and smiling again and a man on a midday stroll greeted me with a "Hallo schöne Frau!" - quite spontaneously and without afterthoughts, which made me even happier.
I saw Fuggerei - the oldest social housing project in the world from the 16th century. There are people still living there - for a yearly rent of 88 cents, plus three daily prayers for the founding family of Fuggers. Merchants and bankers, who were wealthier than the Medicis in their days and responsible for some of the opulence of the city.
There was the cutest little cafe on the premises of the Fuggerei. Attached to the gift shop, with only three tables in a small room with a fireplace. I had tea and homemade potato soup, which really breathed warmth into the body. The smallness of the room made it very familial and in a good way. If I had a cafe or a restaurant, I would like it to have exactly that sort of atmosphere.
On Friday I again got up earlier than necessary. My train back was scheduled to leave only after six in the evening, so I didn't hurry out of the room. I dug out the computer and decided to do some writing. Do you remember when I wondered if it would be nice to get up in the morning and just write fiction? Write for a living and call that the day's work, do some research to get the setting and details right, soak up experiences and impressions? Well, is the sky blue, is breathing beneficial to living? It would be so perfect.
Around 11 o'clock I left the hotel and took my bag to the train station for safekeeping. I had seven hours to see the city, which I had fairly thoroughly walked through the day before - the old town that interested me anyway. I decided to concentrate on the museums today and not be in a hurry about it. I saw art and walked in the footprints of Marie Antoinette in Schaezlerpalais; I saw the wonderful Maximilianmuseum with city history and most amazing models of old buildings. I examined, I peered in from the tiny windows to see the intricate staircases and beheld the water mills and towers. I saw the marks of chisels on the hands of the wooden sculptures and caught hints of how it is done. I marveled at coinage and silver work. It was all very exciting, but I am not quite sure what it means.
I bought a book from the museum shop which illuminates aspects of the city life in the 16th century from the crafts and guilds to water supply and coining, from the buildings to the people. It also has a nice, even if a little too small map of the town, which I can use for the story. I sat in the cafe for nearly an hour until it closed and leafed through the book. If I want the story to be convincing, I need to research the physical and mental worlds of middle, archaic and mythological ages. Which led me to the realisation, that the honour cultures also interest me mainly from the viewpoints of fiction. I don't really wish to answer research questions; I want to write fiction, maybe descriptive popular histories. Not that research wouldn't be "fictional" sometimes - how many of those theories are just opinions, wildly imaginative leaps of fantasy and word magic, which shrouds the fact that the point of a four hundred page long opus could have been stated in less than ten.
Yes, but that did not stop me from enjoying some aspects of honour cultures and Miller's book (which I of course did not take from the institute, but apparently it wanted to keep company to the argumentation book) on the way back in the train. I had to switch trains in Stuttgart and ended up in a strange old-fashioned (?) train with odd compartments. I should have taken a picture, because it might have been a good setting for a short story about misunderstandings and unactualized possibilities. If you excuse me, I think I need to go and scribble that idea down.
Pictures from Augsburg
Currently listening to: Subway to Sally - Die Trommel (bloody good song by the way)