Saturday, September 22, 2007

bonn gone wrong

Day 5

we woke up this morning full of energy and positive attitudes
had a nice relaxing breakfast at the hotel
in it's big old dining room
then i dragged our luggage down 3 flights of stairs
and through the parking garage
before we set out to find an electronics store
to buy a new GPS system
i had been given written driving directions from mausefalle's owner
and my new musical sidekick
we made the first two turns
got on the highway
and headed to our exit only to discover it was closed for construction
we had no choice but to drive on
and quickly found ourselves heading out of Bonn into the german countryside
10 miles later we came to an exit and turned around
to try and come back to Bonn
we then called Gunther (the GBS system)
and he somehow managed to guide us
gingerly to the department store
after about 45 minutes of missing streets
making u-turns
and occasionally *#!#$%^
i then headed inside to procure the golden GPS
after finding a nice man who spoke english
to help me find the right system
(the tom tom 1 europe XL)
i then took my prized possession to the checkout counter
and whipped out our Amex
only to find a bewildered cashier
at the other end of my card
wagging her finger and speaking loudly in German
now this place is like the Best Buy of Germany
and they don’t take credit cards
special German EFC cards and cash only
a fascinating but sucky discovery...

so now poor Gunther has to guide us to a bank
to try and get some cold hard cash
30 minutes and several rounds of cusswords later
we arrive at the bank
no parking within miles
so jayme does some fancy parallel parking into a spot that is actually too small for our car leaving about ¼ of the car sticking out into the street
good enough, right?
i dash inside the bank for some quick cash
only to find they will not accept our ATM card
but they helpfully suggest going into the center of town and finding a Citibank
that “might” give us cash from our credit card
now things are beginning to get a bit "rough"
at this point we are extremely tired of our Bonn fiasco and decide we should head to Dusseldorf
my TV appearance is scheduled for 1:30
and even though it's only an hour away
we have a feeling even leaving at 11am was pushing it
jayme had been noodling with the GPS system that is built into our microwave car
and we decide to give it one more shot in taking us to Dusseldorf
we punch in the address and VOILA!
it gives us a route
we are thrilled...
so we start following the route and after 15 minutes become worried
as the roads are getting smaller instead of larger
and cows are appearing alongside or toyota microwave
10 minutes later we are literally in the middle of nowhere
when our british tour guide proudly announces
“you have reached your destination”
we are at the end of a dead-end street
in the middle of a farming community
we shake off our microwave GPS bungle
and somehow i navigate us back toward Bonn
after cruising down a hill where i swear a camera flash went off
as we sped past
(i bet i have a nice little surprise coming in the mail for me soon)
by this time Gavin is saying from the back seat,
”i don’t want to go back to Bonn! no Bonn! no Bonn!!”
we stop at a gas station to ask directions to Dusseldorf
no one speaks any english
i buy a map
that turns out to be 10 euros worthless
we have no choice but to call the Gunther Buskies telephone guidance system
once again
out of sheer desperation
now i'm sure we sound like complete idiots at this point
but let me share
a few things about driving in Germany we you...
their street signs can sometimes be 3 and a half feet long with names like Gerscmuddelbilderkindertanzen and then the street immediately following it is Germutterbilderkindertanzen
so when someone tells you to turn right on Gerscmuddelbilderkindertanzen
and you say, “Germutterbilderkindertanzen?” and they say, “No! Germutterbilderkindertanzen!!”
you turn right and of course it is the wrong road
and of course that road turns into a highway that is taking you to another country
also, sometimes there are no street signs at all
sometimes the names are worn off of the signs
they have multiple street signs on one corner
one street – three signs, three different names
i have NO idea what that is all about
if you are not in the city but are being guided on the autobahn you will often find many exits with similar names – its fun to try to decide between two of them at 120 miles an hour
then there is the double and triple exit phenomenon –
where you exit the autobahn only to find that your exit has an exit and so does that one
which one do you take?
we like to randomly choose the middle one – we feel it is lucky
another fun fact about the autobahn is that if you make a mistake
and you are headed in the wrong direction you can drive for 30 minutes before you reach an exit
there are only very specific exits that you can use as a u-turn
we believe this is a carefully guarded German secret
because we never actually found one

so to re-cap our fiasco…
we left our hotel at 9:30 am to make an hour long drive to Dusseldorf
we finally made it at 2pm
the ride to Dusseldorf
with our GBS phone guidance system
was pure spinal tap
i then missed our exit only 1 kilometer away from our destination
this is when my first big #$%*!!!!!!!
let loose
then we spun off on another 45 minute wild goose chase
trying to get back to that exit
poor gunther
i felt really bad for him
trying desperately to guide us
while we were clearly unraveling
and our cell phone started dying
this is when the real panic began to set in
i must admit i was beginning to come a bit un-glued
but just when the phone was about to die
a miraculous stroke of good fortune
i accidentally turned on to the street where i had originally missed our exit
spinal tap 8 nourallah 1
we were back on track now and finally got to the TV station
around 2
what should have taken an hour
took about 4
but the good news is we made our target
the TV show went really smoothly
it was a state of the art studio
with a really nice hostess
who interviewed me for about 10 minutes
then they played “the world is full of people” video
on a gigantic screen
then we chatted some more
in front of this cool backdrop they assembled
of various images from my website
i performed “don’t be afraid”
without any screw ups
it was all really positive
so although the journey to get there was beyond terrible
at least we’d accomplished object 1
now you might think this was the end of day 5
and this blog
you’re wrong…
we’re only about have way through our day
it’s only 2pm!!!
we still needed the GPS and a bank
so we decided to go by taxi
the safest way
the taxi took us to a Citibank
we got the cash (thank god)
and then he took us to a store where i run in to purchase the system
Gavin and Jayme waited outside watching the meter tick rapidly away
and smelling the unique and disturbing body odor of our cab driver
i finally returned after 3 trips to the top of the high rise trying to find floor 5
and the taxi driver took us back to the garage
where our car is parked
30 euro cab fare
thank you
now we’re mentally exhausted and starving
it’s 3:30
we inhale lunch in beleaguered silence and then head for Aachen
where I have a gig later that night
at least the new GPS works like a charm and we only get lost once
(damn second autobahn exit)
Jayme slyly booked a posh hotel from the TV station
because she knew we would need something to make us feel better
it was really nice
super mod
with great big floor to ceiling windows
and an absurdly euro cool bathroom
it was also right in the center of town
my show was at the Rastatte
another place i’d played last year
and actually my favorite show from 2006
it’s called a “culture room”
which hosts book readings, art showings
and occasionally
live music
the people who run it are the incredible hosts
they all live in the 4 story building the houses
the club
this year I got to meet its founder
he was away on business on my first visit
we had a really relaxing dinner upstairs
and great conversation
in one of the upstairs apartments
we ate some sort of amazing salmon/potato/spinach/cheese dish
with a salad so fresh i’m sure it was from their own garden
the best meal i’d had yet in germany
the show was fantastic

about 40 people

listening intently

3 encores

lots of cds sold

so although it was a long

and hectic day

in the end

we escaped unscathed

and the TV and gig

were both fabulous


Anonymous Anonymous said...

man, you need a camera crew. your adventures would be perfect for bravo or a&e.

dave little

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha, Ha! We took that route in Germany once as well. Missed the turn and ended up in Luxenburg. Big bus barreling directly towards me on a one way street, me going the wrong way. M screaming at the top of her lungs!

Good luck to you, I am not welcome in Luxenburg any longer. :^


12:32 PM  

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