It’s always great to be back in Germany and the more we tour, the better it seems to get. Berlin is unique in many ways but every time we visit, it’s more and more difficult to imagine the Berlin prior to 1989 when the wall came down. I visited during tours a couple of times back then and it was a vastly different place to the way it is now but the differences between East and West are still noticeable. West Berlin was wild and it never seemed you needed much of an excuse to party. The huge expansion and rebuilding of the old Eastern parts of the city are very much in evidence, no more so than virtually right outside our hotel. A huge area has been excavated and has remained that way for the past 5 years or so. Berlin’s plan is to erect a fake Baroque palace, a copy of the Hohenzollern Stadtschloss that once stood where the hole is, the site culminating the great avenue called Unter den Linden, at whose other end is the Brandenburg Gate. In December 2008, a little-known Italian architect, Franco Stella, won what passed for the building’s competition, which required a design faithfully reproducing three of the four original facades and much of the interior courtyard, leaving the fourth to the designer’s imagination. I’m not quite sure what the latest is on that. I’m sure Berliners could enlighten me. One other thing Berlin has become notable for is Curry Wurst. If you’ve had one, like me, you’ve probably only had one and will only ever have ‘one’. Bernie spotted a top wurst stand near the venue.
Our first day in Germany and it’s a day off. Only one thing for it, a spot of lunch at our current, favourite haunt in Berlin. Der Augustiner Restaurant. As has been widely reported by both Richard and myself, there is little doubt as to which beer we cherish on our travels. Brewed in Munich since 13 something or other, their Hell (Helles) brew tastes, as Jim Cox puts it, “the way most great beers smell”. Richard was first to extend the invitation and although I have pretty much cut out beer from my dietary regime, today was the day to let my hair down. We marched across the small square by the Hugenottenmuseum and the Französische Friedrichstadtkirche church as though we hadn’t eaten for weeks and were in the presence of some inexorable mirage. The order was a litre of Hell each and a couple of the Augustiner Wursts. The waiter did double check that we understood the size of the beers. I suppose they get a lot of tourists and a litre of beer can appear shocking at first. Not so for our advanced thirsts.
We toasted and supped the most delightful brew knowing full well that a large chunk of the day was about to disappear into oblivion. The next thing I knew, I was woken by a message from the guys that we were to assemble in the lobby at 7:45 for dinner at a nearby Italian. Thank goodness the gym (that room again) in the hotel is up to the mark. My morning visit was followed by a swim in the indoor pool and a repeat swim to try and wake myself from the beer fug at 6:30. It worked a treat as by the time we sat down for dinner, I was starving. The meal was utterly delightful and the day off was done.
Show Day –
Another morning swim and I was ready for a wander around the busy shopping areas nearby the hotel. Nothing purchased, I just wandered aimlessly and took the odd snap. We departed the hotel for das gig at 3:30 and it was the usual bowl of delicious soup, sound check and then return to catering for another battle between desire and sensibility. I opted for a small portion of the Pappardelle carbonara. Delicious! We were ready to take to the stage at 8pm to a completely sold out full house. The call for “house lights” and Paul ‘Crocks’ Crockford stepped up to the microphone wearing his Union Jack jacket and bellowed his time-honoured words only this time in German and we kicked off the first tune. The reception was fabulous…as it always is in Berlin.
It’s great to be back.