It's that kind of evening I've been waiting for for weeks: we're in a hotel with free wi-fi, cable and decent bed, sheets and pillows. I've got a bottle of red wine, some soft rolls, cheese and this miraculous Dutch treat called stroopwaffels off of our rider in Nijmegen. No show tonight - just kick back, relax and...I wish we were playing. There's never time to see anything on tour, but when there is (a day off) it feels like you lose momentum, spend money and want to be on stage or home.
So far things have gone fine on this trip. We started off the ferry journey running literally on vapors . It took me and Eric four different bank/credit cards to find one that had enough money to buy a tank of fuel. It was like winning the lottery when one went through! Not crying poor, just the cost of the flights, three different car rentals and the ferry ticket (and that Wembley Holiday Inn which seemed so cheap on Hotwire but was maybe a luxury) left us pretty tapped out. In the UK you actually fill up the tank first, THEN pay so it felt like embezzlement in a way, like "look, we're good for it, honest!" But the card went through and we were on the ferry from Dover. Sterling slept, Barry and Eric chatted, I slathered on beauty treatments and lip balms and spritzed myself with perfume in the duty free shop, then read for a while. Arriving in Calais was like being back home in a weird way. Eric and I did this journey so many times when we lived in France that the sight of those seventies brown and white letters "CALAIS" up high in the grey mist gave me a little pang.
Driving through Belgium just made me wonder why people travel. Part of the problem in Belgium is you never know which language to try to speak (not that anyone would attempt Flemish). At the same time I'm happy to be in Europe again.
Eric did most of the driving with Barry picking up the slack. Maybe I will drive, but only if I can practice in a car park first, the right hand drive on the wrong side of the road coupled with manual transmission and these massive trucks bearing down on roads half the size of American highways makes me lose my driving confidence but I hate to be timid about these things.
Cologne was a cool bar, the King Georg - it used to be a strip club/bordello and nothing had changed since those days. We played on the tiny dance floor, no stage, with people crowded around and it was hard to hear anything but we made it through and the audience was great.
Nijmegen is a nice town in Netherlands. The Merelyn was a proper rock club and I really enjoyed playing. We had to get up and leave pretty early next morning and breakfast was kind of a shock - all these healthy and hungover Dutch chowing down and a lady said "Excuse me, do you play together in a band?" Eric asked her why she asked and she said "Because, you look so...creative?"
We drove an hour to Utrecht and tried to find our way in to this massive convention center where they were having Europe's largest record fair. Sterling played solo and then Eric did a short solo set and I sold records and talked to some nice people from Norway, Brazil and Canada who knew Dancing With Joey Ramone which made me feel good. I got to say hi to George DuBose the great photographer who I was lucky to work with a lot back in the NY days.
Then we went to play Le Guess Who festival. Our set was at the funnily-enough-titled "dB's Club". The trash/garage/fuzz event went well and after I manned the merch table and hoped we could get a hot meal because it felt like a day of endless sandwiches.
The hotel was on the outskirts of town, I wondered if there really was a Utrecht? We ate at a pricey brasserie near the hotel simply because it was near the hotel and the food was good and not a broodje in sight.
This morning after a breakfast that was nothing but people who played together in bands - honestly I wondered if maybe I didn't feel more comfortable in the room of healthy/hungover Dutch in chunky sweaters because this was the Le Guess Who hotel and with the likes of Swans and pretty much every other band who played Hudson Basilica festival back in September I didn't feel nearly cool enough - we walked into the town and it was lovely with canals and churches and coffee shops galore some even selling coffee.
And now excuse me, I have another sandwich to eat. Tomorrow - Hamburg.