Posted in coco, travel

Candy makes the world go round

So, you’re in Berlin and it’s raining a bit. Not the best weather to go sightseeing or do anything at all. And then you hit the jackpot. Close to the Alexandersquare and the TV-tower you find this hidden treasure. A candy store. An actual candy store. With cookies, chocolate, lollypops, nougat and so much more. You just have to go in and then they offer you things to taste… heaven for little and big people. Unnecessary to say I tried myself through the cookies and chocolate. It all tasted so good. Next thing you know, you’re walking around with a shopping basket 🙂
Besides all the sweet stuff, they also have the cutest little cans to save all the food in. They would even look good in your house, when they were empty.

La Cure Gourmande, worth a visit. They also have stores in other countries. But this one in Berlin will see me again, very soon!

 

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Posted in hotel, travel

Nhow Berlin

One of my all-time favorite hotels is also in Berlin: the Nhow! As part of the NH Hotel Group, but then so different from a ‘standard’ NH hotel. Nhow Berlin has a theme: music! That’s what attracted me a couple of years ago to this hotel. Being in Berlin a few times a year, you always look for a good hotel, a home away from home. And while music is often the reason for my travels to the capital of Germany, a hotel with a music theme seemed only fitting.

Now, a few years and several stays at this hotel later, I have to laugh at my shocked feeling at the question: “Do you want a pink/yellow room or a pink/blue?” Yeah, while this hotel is not only a music hotel, it’s also pink. Very very pink. But stylish and cool.

Getting curious now? It’s time for pictures. First of all the room.

One side of the hotel looks over the Spree, the canal that goes straight through the city. From there you might have a wonderful view of the OberbaumbrĂĽcke.

nhowaussicht

Then: why is this a music hotel? Well, first of all, it has a stage in the lobby, where you can just walk into a concert or other ways of live music.

And then this: room service. Not only do they bring you food or drinks. This hotel also delivers guitars, piano or a whole dj-set in your room!

nhowroomservice1

Last but not least I do have to mention the elevators. 5 in total, all in a different color, all with different kind of elevator music. Classical, Jazz, Pop, you can choose your ride up to your room. Try them all, but warning for the orange one: being locked up in this orange box, even if it’s a short ride, makes you go a little crazy 🙂

Posted in hotel, music, travel

Expo Milan 2015 and Genoa

On the opening day of the Expo 2015 in Milan Nevio Passaro, my favorite singer/songwriter, had two concerts at the German pavilion. So we went to Milan and visited the Expo. A very big event, which we already noticed as we tried to book a hotel room. Hardly any rooms left and very expensive. We chose our favorite hotel chain NH, the nhow to be exact. A theme-hotel, very modern. In Berlin the nhow theme is music and the hotel color pink. In Milan the theme is fashion and the hotel color orange. We just had to see it. It felt like home.

We took a taxi to the Expo. Remember, it was only the first day, so our cabdriver didn’t have a clue where to drop us of. Very funny, we had to ask policemen and everything went the italian way. Piano, piano (slow and relaxed).

At the Expo we were overwhelmed. All kind of countries from all over the world, had their own little area. So just walking on one of the main roads, you went from Europa to Asia to South America. Really cool. And all the countries had their own kind of food. So knowing that, what do you want to eat? 🙂

The concerts were at the German pavilion, a real stage at a square. Just sitting there, you felt it was very international. Just looking around the people walking by had as many cultures as the countries displayed. Very impressing. Having a concert of your favorite musician in an environment like that, is really special. I enjoyed it very much, even though it rained a little bit. Extra surprise was a guest appearance of Domenico Peronace. He and Nevio sang their song ‘Piccolo re (Make love not war)‘ together.


We wanted to stay in Italy a few more days, but because Milan was so busy, we took the train to Genoa. A smaller city at the coast. The train ride was amazing and Genoa absolutely beautiful. With the mountains on one side and the ocean at the other, Genoa has it all. Our NH Collection hotel was at the water, next to a pirate ship. Genoa is a good city to just walk around, pretty sights all around and not too big. Colorful and beautiful. Great few days there.

Posted in coco, column, travel

Dolphins make me cry

First of all, something you don’t know about me yet: I’m afraid of fish. I’m not just afraid, I really don’t like them, dead or alive. If you want me to eat fish, just make absolutely sure it doesn’t look like one!

So when my travel buddy told me she really wanted to swim with dolphins, my first response was not overenthusiastic. But okay, we were in Florida, wanted to see the Keys and a dolphin is not a fish, it’s a mammal. So I said yes. There are several organizations in the Keys, offering swimming with dolphins and while reading their websites, you do get a weird feeling about animals being kept to swim with tourists. So we looked around a little longer and found an organization, which has disabled kids swim with the dolphins as some kind of therapy. They only have one or two slots a day for tourists, just to finance their therapy sessions. So we paid a little more, just to ease our minds.

When we got to the Keys I felt pretty good. I’m gonna swim with dolphins, I’m so cool. Even when we got to the right place and saw the dolphins, I was still doing fine. First we got a small lecture about what the organization was about, what was going to happen and what we were allowed/supposed to do and what not. I listened very carefully. And then the girl telling us all that, wanted to be funny. ‘Of course there will be other fish in the waters as well, it’s not a pool. Funny is when people get scared when I say that, because they came here to swim with dolphins.’ Why? Why did she have to say that? Now all I could think about the other stupid fish swimming around my legs and the water was dark, I won’t be able to see them. I will imagine them there and probably feel them. I’m gonna be sick!

My travel buddy went first. That way I could take pictures of her with the dolphins as she could take pictures of me afterwards. Seeing her and the other people in the water and how sweet the dolphins were, I did relax again. It was gonna be fine. So I got in the water and got to know the three dolphins swimming with me and two other people. They were mommy, daddy and a kiddy dolphin (which was almost as big as his parents). The kiddy could get a little wild, but his parents would tell him of. So there I was. In the water, which tasted like fish (yuck). Fortunately I was so focused on the dolphins, that I really didn’t think about other fish in the water. There was only one moment in the water I almost freaked out. I was laying there, waiting for one of the dolphins to push me forward at my feet. When the dolphins go underwater, you couldn’t see them anymore and of course, right at that moment, I heard the tune of the movie Jaws. Only in my head and only for a split second. But that is what my mind does, it messes with me.

But hey, what can I say. I did it and I’m really proud I did. I swam with dolphins!

Posted in coco, travel

New York over the years

Lately, with all the documentaries about 9/11 and New York, I’ve thought a lot about my trips to New York. I’ve been there a few times over the past 20 years and of course, because of 9/11, the city changed in those years. Most obviously the Manhattan skyline. So I went through my fotoboxes (unfortunately I don’t have all of that digital yet) and looked for pictures of the New York skyline. Here’s my personal New York-journey through the years.

In 1996 I enjoyed this view from the Empire State Building:

nywtc1

Early 2001 I saw the Twin Towers up close and personal:

A few years later, the skyline had changed, picture taken from the Staten Island Ferry:

nywtc4

And this year I finally made it back to NY and saw the new tower from both sides, one picture taken from the Empire State Building and one from Liberty Island:

The skyline changed, the city changed, but it is still one of all time favorite cities in the world. Hopefully I’ll be back again soon.

Posted in groupie, music, travel

Two in a row, isn’t that boring?

Artist: Gregor Meyle
Where: Waldbad Dünnwald Köln & Kloster Schiffenberg Giessen
When: September 3 & 4, 2016

Have you ever tried it? Two concerts of the same musician in two days? I did. Actually, I did more than that 🙂 I’ve been on tour. But let’s just keep with the two concerts in a row. Recently I went to two summer concerts of Gregor Meyle. Isn’t that boring?

Noooooo. Every concert is different. It’s live, anything can happen. And music hits you differently every time. It all depends on your mood, your thoughts and how deep you get pulled into the concert. Let’s take these two concerts. The first one, in Cologne, was in the middle of a forest. Very relaxed, parking close to the concert, a small restaurant where we could sit and have a drink, waiting for the entrance to open. The audience was happy to sing along. Or better said: every now and then they just started singing spontaneously. With a good band on stage, that’s not a problem. They played along with everything, having fun. It was just a very happy concert, everybody went home feeling good. Perfect.

The next day, in Giessen, the concert was at the garden of a monastery. Parking was far away, you had to drive up with shuttle busses. And right when we got out of the bus, walking to the entrance, it started raining. Really hard. For about half an hour. It was really raining cats and dogs. Fortunately it stopped before the concert started, so we could just enjoy the music. The audience was cool, but more reluctant. And I, personally, was more focused on details. I was standing a bit higher, close to stage. Almost felt like being on stage with the band.

Musically the concerts might have sounded alike. Not really. Different band members on stage, slightly different set, in Giessen a musical guest. But even if the concerts were completely identical, it would have felt different. And good music never bores. Good musician never bore. And Gregor Meyle and his band definitely belong in that category.

So.. if you want to try for yourself, choose wisely 🙂 And have fun! You’ll see that it’s not boring at all. If I have the chance, I’ll do it again. And again. And again.

For a live video of the concert in Giessen, click here.

Posted in coco, column, groupie, music, travel

100

Even on the day where we all think about New York and all the people that died, in the towers, in the planes, in Washington, the brave firefighters, good things can happen. Happy memories can be made, even on September, 11th.

Like for 5 years. In Dresden, Germany. A big tour. Nevio Passaro toured with his new album ‘Berlino’, 16 concerts all through Germany and Austria. And I was at 15 of those concerts. Unfortunately I had to skip the one in Vienna, because after 3 weeks I had to report back to work. That tour was a big adventure. On the road for so many days, so many concerts… absolutely fantastic! (more about that in future posts)

September 11, 2011 was a day like any other in the tour. We all got to Dresden okay, 3rd concert of the tour. Funny location name: Tante Ju (Aunt Ju). My best friend and I knew it wasn’t just another day. We had been following Nevio to his concerts for several years now and by coincidence we got to count the times we saw him live. It turned out, even though we didn’t always travel together in the first 2 years, we had the same amount. So together we did a countdown to number 100. And in Dresden the day had come.

The concert was a dream! Right before the concert we said to each other: ‘Let’s party! This is our concert, our 100th. Today is the day.’ And we did. We went all out. We partied as if there was no tomorrow. And so did Nevio. He didn’t have a clue what day it was, that we were celebrating, but he partied with us. All the way through to the last song, ’50 special’, a party to end the concert and everybody went all out. Until he said ‘I can’t do more’. He was at his end and so were we. This concert shouldn’t have last one song longer. We gave all.

Afterwards we went backstage, we owed him an explanation 🙂 And we just wanted to celebrate with him. Because 100 is not just a number. In every concert, in every time we met, there are memories. Memories of fun times, memories of good music, memories of traveling where the music send us, memories of friendships, memories of love. Just thinking about all the places we travelled to, all the miles we drove, all the times we laughed till we cried, all the times we actually cried because a (new) song touched us straight in the heart, all the people we met and all the emotions that came our way (really good ones, mostly). But also getting to know the man behind the music. The person with all his dreams, his talent, his drive, but also his imperfections and emotions. The guy with the voice that just touches me, time and time again. It didn’t feel like 100 and at the same time it felt like way more than that. So we toasted on our  milestone. Con amore.

That was 2011 and today I’m remembering this day and smile. I will never forget this concert, this day, but we shouldn’t live in the past. And we don’t. It went on and on and on. More memories were added, more emotions were felt, more music was shared. And even though it’s not always a world filled with roses, we keep growing. And someday we’ll celebrate another milestone and another one after that. I’m looking forward to it.

Posted in column, travel

9/11

One of those days. You still remember where you were, with whom you were with and what you saw. I was at work and the first message I got was from a friend: ‘A plane fell down on one of the Twin Towers.’ We were both shocked, because we were on top of one of the towers a few months before. Unexpected trip to NY and somebody told us the view was stunning from up there. I remembered being up there, standing against the window, looking down. Unbelievable high. And then up to the top. Outside. Beautiful.

That day I just cried. Hearing about the people jumping out the windows, seeing the scared people in the streets and of course thinking about the people in the towers, but also in the planes. It was just too much to handle.

Since then I was back in NY a few times. The first time I went to Ground Zero. Heartbreaking. But I didn’t break down until I saw the Hilton Hotel. Remembering that in 2001 I stood there as well, taking a picture of the Twin Towers mirroring in the hotel. The hotel was still there, but in it there was no reflection of the towers.

This year I finally got back to NY and visited Ground Zero again. It just gets to you, but I think the city did a great job with the memorial and the museum. Very sophisticated, honoring everybody who died that day. The pain will never go away, especially for those families losing a loved one that day, but it’s become a great place to remember.

RIP and never forget!

Posted in music, travel

Hard Rock Cafe

If you like music and you want to go out for food, where do you go? Hard Rock Cafe has it all. Loud music (don’t expect to have a silent conversation), music memorabilia and good food. With restaurants all over the world, I love finding this restaurant during one of my city trips.

There’s always something to see and lots of people around, happy waiters and a good atmosphere. For Europe it’s a very American restaurant. Big Burgers, Ribs, a lot of food and free refills. Yep. European are not used to free refills. We pay for every drink we order 🙂

The very best thing to Hard Rock Cafe, wherever in the world you go, is the Hot Fudge Brownie for dessert. Okay, admitting, you better share it with somebody, because it’s big. But it’s worth the eventual pain afterwards. The warm brownie, the cold ice, the sweet whipped cream, chocolate sauce and don’t forget: the cherry on top. Just what a girl needs!

These pictures are from a recent visit in Cologne, Germany.

Posted in groupie, hotel, music, travel

Going on tour…

Musicians going on tour prepare for months. So do their fans. Well, they should, anyway. Obvious preparations for fans are of course buying tickets, looking for hotels and make sure you have enough battery for your camera. I know now that preparing for a tour takes more than that, but back in 1997, on my first concert tour, I was young and unexperienced. It was fun though 🙂

Bobbie Eakes and Jeff Trachta went on tour in Holland during the christmas period. Holland is not that big, so  everything could be done from home. Pretty easy. Only the second concert was in Switzerland, so we had to travel for that one. No problem. We wanted to do all the concerts, so no question about if we were going to Geneva. After the first concert in Holland, we got in the car and started driving. Musicians were flying, but we took the car down there. In the middle of the night, from Amsterdam to Geneva. I drove the first hour, getting to Belgium, so my friend could sleep. Then we would switch for an hour and after that sleeping was no longer allowed. We had to keep each other awake. Young and unexperienced, but it worked fine. At a gas station we bought something for breakfast and we drove through France. That was the best way, because we didn’t want to buy the vignette you need to drive on the highways in Switzerland. Geneva is right at the border of France, we would be fine. (young and unexperienced)

By the time we got close to Geneva, it was already the end of the morning and we still had to pick up our concert tickets somewhere in the city. And then we hit traffic. People going skiing holiday over the christmas holiday. On the highway we hardly got very far. So I got out the map and looked for a short cut. (yes, map… it was way before car navigation systems). No problem. I found one. Way shorter and away from this traffic jam. Did I already say it was late December and close to Switzerland? Yeah, so we took the shortcut, which took us over the mountain, instead of around it. My french was not that good, but the big warning signs with ‘dangereux’ were pretty clear. It started snowing and of course we didn’t have snow tires. With no time to get back in the traffic jam, we drove over the mountain. Very very slow.

We got to the hotel in one piece. Too late to pick up our tickets, but fortunately the tour manager told us to just come to the location, he would make sure we would get in. So we showered and went to the location, where we could just stay inside. Everything fine. Well, not everything, because we never had the chance to exchange money (yes, back then we didn’t have euros and even then: Switzerland still has its own currency). And in the location they didn’t take credit cards. Which meant: nothing to drink or eat. After having just a sandwich at breakfast and being up all night, that was not funny.

Again we were saved by the tour manager. Spaghetti and cola backstage. Felt like heaven. Till you take the first bite and Jeff appears next to you: ‘Hurry girls, the concert is about to start’. Spaghetti turned into fast food 🙂

The concert was great. Great duets, christmas spirit and great voices. Enjoyed every minute of it, but afterwards we were just happy to lay down in bed and sleep. It was a very eventful day. We wouldn’t have missed it for the world, but I’m sure glad I’m more experienced with going on tour now, so that things go a bit more smoothly (with of course some exceptions, but that’s what makes life so interesting) 🙂