Day 6-Stuttgart

Stuttgart-10/09/22

Waking up in Stuttgart, we had a full day ahead to explore the city before our gig. We decided we should join the free walking tour to get a feel for the city centre and learn a little more about the history. The tour began opposite the central station and took us past the old and new palace, the town hall, marketplaces and main shopping streets,  providing some interesting knowledge, although admittedly we struggled to understand some of what was being said as the English was a little hit and miss at times. 

One of several pretty marketplaces!

Having taken in the sights, it was already time for lunch and a further stroll around the city. It was great to stumble upon some live jazz music, a man offering chess matches in the street, and the fruit and vegetable markets. With the day seeming to fly by, we headed back to get ready for our gig. Another 2 trams later and we made it to our gig, a living room concert in the home of an amazing painter! (Once I have his permission I’ll update this with a link to his work!)

A few months earlier he had commented on an Instagram post about the tour, offering to host us for a concert, but apart from that we were complete strangers. Yet the evening was amazing in so many ways! Firstly, the candlelit room. Secondly, the attentive audience who let us not only play songs but tell the stories behind them with every detail. And finally the feeling of connection when strangers get together and share an experience, and suddenly you have a room full of new friends. The evening followed a slightly different format to our previous gigs as we alternated between songs rather than doing a separate set each. Not only was the gig great but we also made a very generous amount on the hat passed round after the show, which means we can eat well tomorrow! With the next day once again fast approaching, we headed off to get some rest before our morning train journey! 

Stuttgart was another reminder to talk more with strangers, share experiences, and that the world is a truly wonderful place!

The new palace (I was too wrapped up in the gig to take photos but have some video footage to share at a later date!)

Day 5-Grevenbroich to Stuttgart

Grevenbroich to Stuttgart-09/09/22

The day of trains! With a positively late start to our day we were delighted to have a hotel breakfast buffet at our disposal and took full advantage. Checking out and walking the 10 seconds to the train station, yet again thankful at this very handy hotel location, we headed to the platform for train 1 of the day. A 20 minute delay was an indication of how the rest of the journey would go. It was meant to take 3 and a half hours and just 2 trains to get us to Stuttgart, but 5 hours and 5 trains later and we thankfully made it, extremely glad to have a day off and not be rushing to a gig (as sadly our planned gig was cancelled). 

A few thoughts on German trains at this point. Some of them are very nice, feel a bit more luxurious than UK trains and the luggage racks are much better, bigger and in convenient locations. However, I don’t think any of them have ran to time yet so I’m not convinced that they actually have a timetable at all! With our feet touching the ground in Stuttgart we got, you guessed it, another train/tram out of the centre to drop our bags at our hosts house. 

Thankful for a comfortable roof over our heads, we relaxed a little before all heading out for some pizza. The tram ride on the way included a great view of the city, as it’s extremely hilly, and also had the bonus of feeling slightly like a rollercoaster ride. One delicious pizza and an ice cream later, and we took full of advantage of our evening off, relaxing and chatting before getting an early night. 

We’re staying in Stuttgart tomorrow so here’s hoping that we end up on far fewer trains! Day 5 felt very much like a throwback to myself and Courtney Visser going on a busking tour many years ago called the Too Many Trains tour! (No photos today either as they’d just be of many trains!)

Day 4-Düsselfdorf and Grevenbroich

Düsseldorf and Grevenbroich08/09/22

With a cup of cinnamon tea in hand (quite an odd taste but I really enjoyed it!) we embarked on mission one of the day, dragging our belongings to the train station. Arriving late morning in Düsseldorf, Lea had some meetings to take so I left her, and thankfully most of my luggage, in a hotel lobby and ventured off for some solo exploration of the city! 

My meandering began with a stroll through the shopping streets, particularly enjoying the names of some of the shops, a park with plenty of ducks, and the Altstadt, old town. Whilst there weren’t any standout buildings in this area, the town hall was pretty, and the streets had a relaxed and pleasant feel to them, much less hectic than the centre of Hamburg. Continuing my walking tour down the river, this was my favourite area in the city. The promenade runs down from the altstadt to the Rhine (media) Tower, and with plenty of time still to spare I decided to go up the tower to the viewing level, 163m in the air. Learning a very fun fact along the way (the tower has the worlds largest decimal clock on the side of it), I enjoyed the views of Düsselfdorf from above, and supposedly Köln in the distance, although I didn’t spot any of the cathedral, perhaps it wasn’t a clear enough day!

View from the Rhine tower overlooking the river

Walking back past another park, I headed back to collect my belongings and grab some lunch with Lea before our train. The area next to the train station is called Little Tokyo, and is full of asian shops and restaurants. We were surprised to learn that this is due to Düsseldorf having a large Japanese population, as many Japanese companies gravitated towards the city after the second world war. We headed to a vegan Vietnamese street food spot just down the road and ate some delicious rice noodle bowls! 

Tasty lunch!

Another train later, and we arrived in Grevenbroich, the town that our gig was taking place in that evening. Beyond happy to see that our hotel was across the road from the train station, we checked in, very much enjoyed the comfort of a lovely hotel, and headed off to Kultus das Café, ready to soundcheck. The space was wonderfully set up with sound, lights, and every instrument you could wish for, and a Wurlitzer from the 1960’s that played tunes such as Jailhouse Rock!  They had also put our tour poster up around the venue which was very cool to see! Extremely grateful to receive some pizza, we then sound checked and enjoyed chatting with the staff, locals, and concert organiser Stefan. The show was one of my favourites so far, with not only an engaged and warm audience, but great sound and lights too! And after finishing the show with a few songs together we sang another song to claps and cheers for an encore! Not only that but a hat was passed around, and we were incredibly grateful for the generosity shown by the audience! 

With the venue emptying out, myself and Lea, stayed to chat into the early morning with new friends, and before we knew it Friday had rolled around. Deciding that sleep would be a wise idea, we headed back to the hotel to get some rest. What a day! Thank you so much to Stefan and Kultus was Café for having us and for everyone who came to see two strangers from the UK perform! My heart is full 🙂 

Photo Credits: Kultus das Café
Photo credits: Kultus das Café

Hamburg-07/09/22

Hamburg-07/09/22

Another early alarm, and the sight of darkness awaited us on the start of day 3, but ready to explore Hamburg we set off to the train station. We had a long journey ahead, with 3 trains to catch, but managed to haul our belongings successfully to our next city! 

After arriving at our very cool accommodation and venue for the evening, Cab20, we were once again glad to rid ourselves of our belongings (squeezing them into our cabin. The hotel is a cabin hotel meaning all the rooms are functional but a little on the smaller side)! With Lea keen for a more relaxing afternoon we walked towards the town hall, wandered the busy streets, and then headed out of the centre slightly to Planten un Blomen, a park and botanical gardens with a whole host of interesting sights. 

The town hall

A quick exploration round the Japanese garden, and view of the lake, and then it was off to find a cafe for a bit of relaxing time and a slice of cake. We were in luck as we stumbled upon an area of the park with a stage, where an orchestra were performing a free outdoor concert, and found a small cafe just next to it! It always feels very much like a holiday to me when there’s relaxing music, warm weather (it was still very warm!), and a chance to sit in the park during the afternoon! 

[Side note about the park and a cool feature that I think needs to make it to England. It has some fun looking water games like a small pond where you fire the water cannons to get a ball in the opponents goal!]

Looking towards the rose garden, which proved ‘Roses Aren’t Always Red’

With the serenading over we headed back to get ready for our show. Having been fed with a veggie burger, it was time to hit the stage for the evening which was in the bar/reception area. Whilst it was quiet, our audience were very friendly and intently watching the show and we both played a fully acoustic set followed by a few tunes that we’ve written together. Post show we enjoyed talking with some of the people watching and another twitch community member who had not only travelled some distance but also made a pasta hat (for reference I have a fairly strong accent and said the words pass the hat on stream recently but it was heard as pasta hat and so it is now very much a thing)! The perfect way to end a very relaxed gig for day 3. So far I’m loving the fact that the gigs have been such different settings but most importantly the people that we’ve met along the way! The world is full of wonderful people if you just say hello to them!

Gig time!

Utrecht-07/09/22

Utrecht-07/09/22

Day 2 began with a bumpy bus ride that led us back to Amsterdam station, ready to head to our next stop, Utrecht. After discovering to my disbelief (how could our suitcases really be that big?!) that our luggage didn’t fit the station lockers we were relieved to head to our B&B and drop our bags off before journeying back to the city centre to explore.

With a modern looking high street and shopping mall similar to most in the UK, Zara, Starbucks, and a plethora of high street brands, we thought we’d try our hand at busking. First setting up near to Starbucks we began singing some of our favourite cover tunes but without amplification had no idea if we could even be heard. A few songs in, and 1 euro earnt, we were a little apprehensive of our endeavour. We moved spots fairly quickly, to a little further down the high street, but foot traffic was slow and earnings even slower! We decided we’d give it one more shot, and headed towards the characteristic and older part of town, where the cathedral, canal, and charm of Utrecht was on display. 

This was the bridge we set up on! Pretty views!

Setting up on the bridge, we finally had a little success with plenty of smiling faces, some delicious free falafel from one of the cafe’s, and a few donations. Sadly not quite enough for our museum tickets that we’d hoped to earn, but around 15 euros richer than we were previously. We took a quick look in the cathedral and grabbed a bite to eat before heading to one of the coolest music museums I’ve been to! Located inside a former church, the Speelklok museum houses a collection of self playing musical instruments, such as music boxes, musical clocks and street organs. At exactly half past the hour we joined the English tour around the museum (glad to have Google translate prior to this to be able to understand a few of the information boards! The camera scan feature is amazing!) and learnt more about the origins of many of the instruments, how they worked, and got to hear lots of them in action! Here’s a few of my favourites: 

This one not only plays music but the birds inside fly around too as it plays!
This is an example of the street organs and a smaller version of the massive dance organs that were also on Display!

A quick trip back to our accommodation and some more food later and we headed to Tivoli Vredenburg, our stage for the evening. Walking in this was a big music venue with several venues inside it, and with varying events happening that evening it was busy! We were playing the Rabo Open Stage, located in the foyer area by the bar with a wonderful stage setup. Concert organiser Kees explained the set up to us and we received some drinks vouchers, which I was delighted to find out included fresh mint tea, (bring on the heavy tea drinking) and then took a seat as the first act took to the stage to an excited crowd. Performing under the name Coos Veldpaus, the first act was brilliant and kicked off the night perfectly. Next Lea took to the stage and performed her set of gripping tunes, clearly enjoying being able to hear herself properly on stage. The difference it makes is crazy! Finally, it was my turn to hit the stage. Beyond excited that they had a Nord keyboard that I’d also be able to play, I started the set with Hate To Be Wrong and the audience seemed to get on board with some polite head nods and chair dancing. The most interesting part of the gig was the changing nature of the audience. There were people coming down escalators, many sat in and around the bar, an influx of people leaving one concert and catching the last part of my set, and it meant that there was the challenge of pulling people in from all directions who were there for something else but then became a part of the concert. It was a perfect reminder of why I love performing live, watching faces light up, and people becoming a part of that song or that moment in time. 

With a few more members of the twitch community in the audience, it was lovely to meet them and put a face to a name! Another bus ride later and it was time to hit the hay before a 6am wake up and 5 hour train journey to Hamburg! 

Happier than I look on this photo!
Gig 2, that’s a wrap and the brilliant sound engineer 🙂

Amsterdam-06/09/22

Amsterdam-06/09/22

An early start to a very monotone alarm and darkness (I guess that means summer is over now?!) got us moving on day 1 of the tour. Off we went to take the Eurostar to Amsterdam with more than our body weights to carry! 

After a 4 hour train we arrived early afternoon to a very hot and sunny city and began mission 2 of finding the bus to take us to our host, and concert organiser, Paul’s house. 

Having dropped our turtle like shells we headed back out to explore the canals, rubber duck shop, and all the buzz of Amsterdam city centre. It’s a truly charming city, with pretty streets, but the usual commercial shops that have made their presence known!

One of the pretty streets!

An iced coffee later and it was already time to get ready for the show but not before we had the pleasure of a 3 course veggie meal courtesy of Paul and Zaal 100, who offer this every Monday ahead of the concert! 

The venue was a small but community led space and it was lovely to meet some members of my twitch community too! After a set by another singer songwriter, Oscar, myself and Lea took to the stage! I loved playing to a receptive audience who were on board for a sing along for walk and talk! A perfect opening gig, and with the tour well and truly under way we’re off to Utrecht today for show 2! 

Post show ‘we were here’ photo!

Before It Begins (01/09/22)

01/09/22-Let’s Get This Show On The Road!

With less than a few days until tour begins it’s time for some last minute packing, set list preparation, and lots of excitement! To keep you posted on myself and Lea G’s joint headline tour across Europe I’ll be posting a daily (or almost daily) blog with updates of life on the road. If you’re hoping to catch a show here’s where you’ll find us:

A few shows have had to be cancelled/moved but we’ll be busking/potentially adding some new dates as we go!

Having originally planned on doing this tour in 2020 it’s been a long time coming! I can’t wait to take you on this adventure with us! Let’s gooooo

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