We got up at 5 o’clock in the morning to have a free highway heading towards the north-east of Germany! I drove our RV for the first time (after the test drive at the dealer’s place…) during Ivan worked on arrangements for our concert program. I must say that it is real fun and quite relaxing to drive on the right lane with 100km/h following trucks. It feels a little like being a truck driver myself and I prefer this to car driving! Of course, it’s a little slower too and in addition we did a few breaks to fix the stickers on the RV, so we needed quite a while to arrive in Berlin.
In the late afternoon, we finally reached the capital and discovered by coincidence a lake near the city centre! Of course, I jumped into it and swam with a dozen of white swans! They didn’t seem afraid of humans and walked self-evident on their towels and stole food behind their back. Somehow you could feel on the swan’s lifestyle the Berlin atmosphere of freedom which is characteristic for this German city! It’s multicultural and colourful so that everyone can be free realizing their dreams. Berlin is a puzzle of 12 different parts that were independent villages in the past. Each of them has his own characteristic and Berlin people find their home district according to their interest, way of life… Artists, Hippies, intellectuals, nature lover, rich, poor…can feel home here! Between these parts, there is nature, river, wood, parks and it explains also how we found “Swan lake” in the middle of the capital…
We had dinner with my good friend Anna in one of the “hippie districts” which I’m personally attracted to, maybe because of the incredible Indian Restaurants…
Our first concert in Berlin was a private concert, Thomas H., a friend of my colleague, invited us to play in his apartment. We didn’t know Thomas, a retired history professor, but we liked him immediately! Entering his apartment, we were surrounded by thousands of books, LPs and music sheets! The high walls of his small flat were covered with wooden shelves stuffed with books of every imaginable author and style, books on the floor, books on the piano, books on the sofa, don’t sit on them, don’t fall over them and find a place to put your cello chair…: a big chaos, but it seemed at the same time that every book, every word has his place and there was an order, just not in our understanding… Thomas sitting in his green velvet armchair made this “piece of art” complete, his aura of knowledge, calmness like a stone in the thunderstorm pulled us in another world immediately and we felt this ambience surrounding us.
Before our rehearsal he made us Darjeeling tea in a precious historical Japanese tea pot, we sat on the antique sofa next to the antique piano (a family member since generations that had survived the two world wars!) and he began to tell us stories about his life, music and Berlin history bringing it into life like we were there ourselves as a part of a great novel! He made us forget time and space and even the reason why we were here: to rehearse for tonight’s concert…!
Well, we played for a lovely Berlin public, inspired by this special site! Living room concerts are very special for us, it’s more private and communication between public and artist is more direct than in a big concert hall. Like the word chamber music (“chamber” means “room”) says, the tradition and roots are in private concerts like this!
It’s quite stressful to drive our RV in big cities! Of course, Ivan is driving in these situations, I’m more talented at driving comfortably on the right lane of the highway… Somehow in Berlin the traffic lights work differently, the red light comes suddenly so you must push a full brake every time which our RV with his proud weight doesn’t like so much! By the way when you don’t close the closets with the special bottom there is a big noise in each curve, pushing out the content to make big explosion on the floor… We learned it quite fast, I even wrote a checklist what to respect before taking off… But still it happens that some little closet decides to stay open, so we have already the daily conversation on the road: Ivan “what was this?” Me: “Nothing”.
So, we decided to take our bikes heading into the bigger cities, we have
huge bike bags to carry all recording equipment for the video shootings and put the instruments on our back. We might look like small RVs and it needs some balance training but still it’s more fun than to take the subway…
The second Berlin concert was in “Caffetteria Buchhandlung”, a traditional and very colourful bar in the heart of Berlin! They serve handmade and creative food and cookies and the most convincing part was especially for Ivan: their CHOCOLATE cake! Our stage was on a platform near the ceiling so that Ivan hat to sit down to not break his bow during his play…
We played some new arrangements that Ivan had just finished writing in Berlin and we were thrilled how people liked it. The Swedish medley of folk music and (of course) ABBA which we will record for our Sweden Video also had its first performance in this bar! During the “after-show-party” with Mojito and way more than one huge piece of the fantastic chocolate cake (with its melting inside - life is good -!!!), we met some interesting and crazy people from different countries. Some of them were totally in their own universe talking and philosophising about meaning of life, how to be creative and change the world… One guy was so creative or maybe drunk that he didn’t respect the order of our Tour Book and drew a nice picture in the middle of the book (where there was supposed to place for France!). Never mind: France connects Berlin! Stroke of genius…or stroke of beer?
But the best for me was to meet some of my best friends that I hadn’t seen for a too long time! GREAT EVENING!!!
By the way one of our great friends is Anna (the other one: “Tita-Anna”), for us she represents the way of life and freedom that is possible in Berlin!! She is an incredible open minded artistic and social person that found her own “system” for life going with the flow and taking spontaneous and crazy decisions, not afraid of anything! She moved 12 times in the last two years inside of Berlin and she reduced her belongings to just a few things that makes it easy to move and travel! She is a professional and successful architect with so many other talents that now she decided to start her carrier as a piano player: she already has her first performance booking in a Polish festival playing from 8pm to 6 in the morning! We improvised together in her Berlin flat share and she proved us that although she plays the piano for two weeks and knows two accords, she can improvise really great for ten hours in the festival! Her district is now the hippie part Kreuzberg where even on a Sunday there is life on the streets like in Spain!
Last but not least we had a great time with my “old” school friend Ari who is now working in the ministry of Berlin (and I’m very proud of her!). We made plans in which of the capital on our way she will fly to travel with us in the caravan! Hopefully she will follow us to every country!
Learning by doing is one thing, but learning by not-doing is working too…: the roof window of the caravan is a great invention to look at the sky and have the freedom feeling to be nearly outside! But when you DON’T close it on a day where a thunderstorm comes to Berlin flooding even basements and subway stations, it was a quite bad surprise coming back in the evening, finding our bed transformed to a “water bed”. Luckily our friend Anna (“Bike-Anna”) had given us the keys to her apartment as she was on a bike trip (she is by the way the founder of www.bachbybike.de!!!). We had told her that we would of course sleep in the caravan, but now we changed our opinion, took our whole bed stuff to her home to dry in her living room! Her nice apartment on the last floor with an incredible view on entire Berlin inspired us to stay there the 4 days of our Berlin time while our caravan had enough time to dry out and was well prepared for the trip to our next destination Sweden!
Before we got on the ferry from one of the nordest German cities Sassnitz, we did some big shopping for our time in Sweden where food and drinks (especially alcohol!) are incredibly expensive!! People looked at us like we were expecting a 3rd world war storing food for a year… Never mind, we were happy to fill our fridge and many other parts of our RV with fresh, long-life products and of course lots of nice wines to make soon new Swedish friends… Our ferry departed at 11PM to arrive at 3AM in the early morning in Trelleborg Sweden. We chose this crazy time because we could just sleep comfortably in our RV instead of sitting in the ferry’s inside with many people like in my past ferry-experiences… After driving in the ferry’s “belly”, everyone rushed out of their cars to go up. We also went outside on the ship’s deck for a moment to breathe a little ocean air and feel the windy character of the dark east see before planning to sleep after our long driving day. Coming back to the car department in the lowest floor of the ferry, we couldn’t go back in, these idiots already closed the doors! No way to get in again (apparently, it’s forbidden to stay in the vehicle, that’s maybe why everyone went out…?). We didn’t take anything besides our jackets and as all seats were taken by then, we just laid down on the hard floor next to the metal staircase trying to sleep like dogs and dreaming of the warm and cosy bed in our caravan…
After a few hours of suffering: tired but very happy to arrive in
SWEDEN!!! …coming soon…
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