Thursday 26 August 2010

Germany 6 - Friends, Lights on the River and the Home of Jagermeister

August 14th

Time to go our separate ways, Julie left at crack of dawn so we said our goodbyes the previous night.  Debbi and I walked to the station and said our goodbyes there, she was heading for the airport, I was going to Braunschweig to spend my last few days with friends Chris and Andy. 

A teenage girl with a huge Rottweiler dog (that was bigger than her) sat beside me.  I love dogs, but am a little wary of those kind of breeds, but this young dog was amazing.  He was so well trained and obeyed every command the girl gave him immediately. It was fascinating to watch.

The train pulled into Braunschweig station.  I looked around for Chris and Andy but couldn't see them so headed for the exit, then I heard a familiar voice calling my name, it was Chris with Andy close behind.  It was so good to see them again.  I'd seen Chris briefly when U2 played at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin last year, but hadn't seen Andy for a few years, so it was really good to be able to spend a couple of days with them.

We drove to Wolfenbuettel where they live.  Their home is spacious, yet homely and full of interesting items from their travels.   It is decorated with an artistic flair, including wonderful photos they had taken themselves and fascinating U2 memorabilia.

That afternoon we went back to Braunschweig to visit Chris's parents to celebrate her mother's birthday.  Their home was large and a very unusual, modern design.  Chris's parents were lovely and made me very welcome, her mother was looking after everyone.  We spent a few hours there chatting and having a delicious meal.  Chris's mother paid me a really great complement (for me anyway) saying my German pronunciation was very good, I was well chuffed, though really, I didn't speak that much as everyone spoke good English.

That night at 9pm we all went down to see the Lichtparcours 2010, which consists of a series of art installations along, on and nea the River Oker in Braunschweig.  After a chaotic time getting on board the boat we eventually got sat down and set off into the dark.  There was a guide, who I listened to for a while, but it was quite tiring to try to follow the language so in the end I just let the installations speak for themselves, after all that's what art is all about anyway.

The first one I really liked was called Braunschweiger gipfel.  On the photo to the right it doesn't look that exciting, but it was much more interesting in real life because as well as the blue lights there were also various strange electronic sounds, almost like it was talking to us and quite hypnotic.

The next one we saw was my favourite, it was situated in a pool close to, but separate from, the River Oker (we had got off the boat for a while). It was called 8,33% (which I guessed was the amount of an iceberg that is visible above the surface of water).  It was a very beautiful iceberg-like creation.  It slowly turned in the water the light bouncing off it's mirrors and reflecting the water and making it's own art as it sparkled in leaves of surrounding trees.  The iceberg itself was also perfectly reflected in the still water.  You could walk all around the pool it was in, and it looked so different as the angle of view changed.  I thought it was stunning, there was no noise, it was very peaceful and very beautiful.

The next installation nearby was called Appearing Rooms.  This consisted of fountains that had "rooms" that people could enter as the fountains moved.  It seemed was a lot of fun, there was a lot of laughing as people tried to avoid getting soaked, it was art that people could really interact with.  I was struck by the difference between Appearing Rooms and 8,33%.  One was fun, full of laughter and noise, the other was serene and peaceful, yet both were fascinating.

We headed back to the boat and continued along the Oker past some of the most expensive, and exquisite houses in Braunschweig.  We passed more exhibits in the Lichtparcours, but my favourites were those I have already mentioned, but it was still interesting and pleasant quietly floating along the river.

Eventually we came back to the boarding point, half an hour late as the river was flowing faster than usual and it took longer than normal to get back to t was really where we started out.  I really enjoyed the trip it was something really unusual and different.

(All photos in the above post are taken from the Lichtparcours website here)

August 15th

The weather wasn't too good today, the first bad weather day since I'd been in Germany.  But we went out to look around the historical area of Wolfenbuettel.  As it was Sunday it was quiet, Germany still has a day of rest on Sundays only bars and eating places are open.

The old town area of Wolfenbuettel was picture-book pretty, gorgeous timbered buildings, a baroque-style palace, even a house where Casanova stayed for a while!  And everywhere was so clean, we really could learn a lot from the Germans regarding things like that.

We stopped off and had a lovely crepe and drink in a cafe before heading back home.  Chris and I spent a while watching the amazing film she has made of their recent trip to India, she really is very talented and has put together a very professional film that captures the sights and sounds of that country. 

That evening we went back into the town centre where we saw the Jagermeister shop, Apparently Jagermeister (a liqueur) was invented in Wolfenbuettel and its headquarters are still there.  I remember my mother who hardly ever drank alcohol used to love an occasional Jagermeister.

We went on to a Thai restaurant, Yiet Thai, for our meal.  The window we sat out looked out at the large house where the Mast family, who created Jagermeister lived.  The meal was very nice, but we had to wait ages for our main course.  Both Andy and I were getting impatient, (I hate waiting for my food in a restaurant) but Chris as ever was her usual calm, patient self, not allowing hersef to get wound up by waiting.  The meal was worth the wait though, it was delicious.

Back at home we spent our last evening together chatting and drinking wine, it's so good to spend time with good friends and try to to put the world to rights!  Chris and Andy had made me so welcome in their home and spoiled me, thanks guys!

So, that was it the end of a hectic tour of Germany.  It's been a ball, with lots of fantastic experiences.  And as I sat in the plane on the way home I realised that Debbi, Julie, Chris and Andy were all people I first got to know through a mutual love of U2.  We are proper friends now, beyond U2, but without that initial love in common we would never have had the chance to get to know each other.  That's pretty special isn't it?


Tuesday 24 August 2010

Germany 5 - Bad Oeynhausen, Westfalia, Memories ......

Another lie in after a late night post U2!  At noon we walked to the Haupt  Bahnhof, a short distance from our hotel and got the train to Bad Oeynhausen.  This is the town where my mother was born and lived until she met my English father, married and moved to England.  Last time I was there was a very sad time for me, it was shortly after my mother died in 2002 and I went there to scatter her ashes in her favourite place in the Kurpark.  I had to be very surreptitious whilst doing it as I was told it was illegal to scatter ashes in Germany, but I knew that she would have wanted to go back to the place she loved more than any other, even after 50 years in the UK.  Seeing Hannover was close to Bad Oeynhausen I felt I wanted to visit to remember the good times there years ago.  Debbi and Julie wanted to come with me which I really appreciated.

As the train approached the town I began to see place names I knew, Buckeburg, Minden, Porta Westfalica.  Then I saw the Wiehengebirge, a forest-clad low mountain range, with the Kaiser Wilhelm Denkmal,  a large stone monument, two thirds up the slopes.  I've many memories of that place, the main one running down through the forest with my mum getting soaked during the mother of all storms .  Not the most sensible thing to do LOL!

We passed over the River Weser, where my grandfather used to fish and the family had picnics, I have loads of photos taken on the river's banks, luckily my family were avid photographers who catalogued life in Bad Oeynhausen and the surrounding area from the late 1800's. 

We pulled in the south railway station, and I quickly got my bearings and we went along Bahnhofstrasse towards the pig fountain.  That probably sounds odd to non-Germans, but pigs are a symbol of good luck in Germany.  The fountain represents the pig farmer who first discovered the healing waters of this spa town in the mid 1800's.  I couldn't resist posing for a photo pulling one of the pigs' tails!  LOL.  The centre of Bad Oeynhausen was much as I remembered it which was good to see in this fast changing world.

Portastrasse, where my mother grew up led off from the pig fountain.  The large Victorian house is now gone, sold in the 1970's to make way for a bank's car park.  But the street otherwise was the same, large Victorian houses, tree lined, with a fan-shaped cobbles in the road.  My grandfather was a dentist who held his clinics in the house and even today I noticed that there were still medical practices there. 

We then walked to the nearby Kurpark, a beautiful park with the old bathing houses where people used to go for their "cures".  Bad Oeynhausen still has many clinics where people come to get all kinds of medical teatment. 

It was a beautiful day (as they say ) and it was pleasant walking through the park.  We nearly got caught by fountains that weren't obvious coming out of the paving - a few seconds more and we would have been soaked!  The Jordans sprudel, world's highest carbonated, thermal saltwater fountain is in the Kurpark, but unfortunately was not on when we were there, I can well remember being fascinated it when I was a little girl though, it can reach 40 metres high.

We sat on a seat close to the fountains just relaxing in the sun.  I had scattered my mum's ashes in this park, and I felt close to her there, something I have not felt  anywhere else,  it wasn't a sad feeling it was a good feeling.

We then went back into the town centre for something to eat and found a nice place (the name of which I can't remember) and sat outside.  We had a lovely meal, the cake Julie and I had was absolutely delicious and it went down very well.  We took our time, just watching the quiet life of the town pass by, very relaxing.

I'm really glad I went to Bad Oeynhausen.  My last visit in 2002 was overshadowed by a cloud of grief, now I've moved on emotionally, and like Bono so eloquently put it a few years after his father's death, the pain doesn't go away, but the temperature goes down.  That's very, very true and I was able to enjoy this visit, relive fond memories and feel close to my mother.  I have no relatives in the town now, and I don't know if I'll ever go back, if that's the case I'm pleased my last memory of the place will be a good one.

This evening was our last night together, Debbi and Julie were going home the next day and I was going to visit friends in Wolfenbuettel.  We went out for a meal in Hannover at a steakhouse called Maredo opposite the gorgeous opera house.  We had a lovely steak meal and delicious wine, it was a lovely way end our holiday together.

Monday 23 August 2010

Germany 4 - Hannover, The Aliens Have Landed

All photos in this post are (c) Christine Moeller.  Thanks again Chris for letting me use them.

August 12th pm.

We treated ourselves to a taxi to get to the stadium, it actually turned out to be cheaper than if we had gone on the train and it was so much easier.

We waited where we thought the band would enter the stadium once more.  Again they arrived with a police escort, this time with sirens blasting!  I counted the luxury car convoy and got 14, but I'm sure I missed a few as I was also trying to see through the blacked out windows.  So no meetings again, during the 360 Tour U2 have definitely been
more distant which is a shame, but then again a meeting is a bonus, they don't have to meet and greet fans.

We had good seats 11 rows up the lower tier on Edge's side (we always seem to end up on his side).  We got talking to a girl who was sitting beside us, she had come by herself from Berlin and this was her first U2 concert. 

They opened the same way with Stingray and Bono doing a circuit of the catwalk doing his funny, clumsy "dance".  I just love it, such fun!  Still don't know what Bono shouts out every now and then, but he did finish with, "Achtung baby!" though. 

The show followed the same set as Frankfurt, but the atmosphere was very up, Bono was in one of his jokey, fun moods.  At one point he started talking in an alien-like voice saying that they come from a "Little green planet called Ireland".  Then went on saying they had crash landed their space ship and needed to be re-built by German doctors and nurses.  He kept laughing and saying sorry but he couldn't stop himself, still speaking in alien tones he told us one of the nurses was at the concert and it was her who stamped made in Germany on his arse.  He introduced Edge as R2D2, Adam as Princess Leia and Larry as Darth Vader.  I've never seen Larry laugh so much as when he heard that!  Bono introduced himself as "The big hairy one". 
It was just so funny, I've never laughed so much at a U2 concert.  Some of the general concert goers there must have thought what a strange accent he has!  Maybe he's on too many painkillers?? 
Glastonbury seemed more defined and it was easier to hear the lyrics as the sound was clear than at Frankfurt.  The ending to me sounded rather Vertigo-like.  "It's getting better," Bono said, "You don't mind us experimenting on you?" By now he'd dropped the alien accent .  The song didn't get as good a reception here as it had in Frankfurt.

The original video to The Unforgettable Fire was there again I was pleased to see, it just works so well.  What an amazing song that is and the band were just very young men when they created it.  Bono said something in German before the song, and even to me it sounded terrible - my German friends confirmed that Bono's German is lousy and they found it very hard to understand.

At the end of City of Blinding Lights Bono got a girl out of the audience and they walked, arms around each other, along the catwalk.   He took so long about it that he was late getting ready for Vertigo!  The band kept repeating the opening music and eventually Bono got in place saying, "Sorry, I was just giving her Spanish lessons  -  uno, dos, tres, catorce!"  This is the first 360 show that I have been at wher he hs got someone out of the audience.  I'd missed that because for me and most fans it is part of a U2 show, when Bono gets someone on stage we all feel like we are up there.

Crazy was more "evil" in Hannover, I think that was what I was missing in Frankfurt, the menace and rawness and that was there tonight.  Loved him yelling out "RRRRRRRiot!"

We had bought cheap binoculars at the stadium and they were great.  Now I can't remember the song but there's a point where Bono is on the bridge on our side and turns to walk back to the stage, well in complete unison Debbi and I raised our binoculars to view a tasty back view of Bono.  We looked at each other and laughed out loud!  Great minds.

Streets was a uplifting as ever it's always mind-blowing to look round the crowd when this song is being performed, so many people singing, clapping, dancing in unison, it's certainly a special tune.  At the end of the song when they were preparing to leave the stage before the encore, Edge playfully threw a punch at Bono, who jumped back and laughed.

After the encore Bono mentioned that Paul McGuinness was born in Hannover "About 125 years ago."  He then went on to lead the audience in a rendition of Happy Birthday  for the band's "Friend and mentor" Wim Wenders who was going to turn 55 in a couple of days.

Then Bono continued, "I would like" we could tell that he was distracted by something, he continued, "Just fix that speaker."  He then gave the speaker three hefty kicks before saying, "There it is!" with some satisfaction.

He then went on to dedicate Moment of Surrender to Robert Enke, a Hannover footballer who committed suicide last year.  The lights went onto Larry, he stood up and was wearing the local football team's jersey, this really seemed to strike a chord with the crowd and I actually found the song very moving that night. 

So that marked the end of 360 2010 for my friends and me. The girl from Berlin was radiant, smiling from ear to ear, she'd loved the concert.  I thought I'd be feeling sad that it was all over, but it had been such a fun, uplifting concert that we all left feeling animated and happy!

Frankfurt and Hannover had exactly the same set lists yet the shows felt very different.  The crowd were more receptive and enthusiastic in Frankfurt.  Bono was more ebullient and downright funny in Hannover and his mood transferred onto the crowd it was a real party gig. 

During the Frankfurt gig I kept thinking Bono's even smaller than usual and couldn't work out why he looked different.  Then at Hannover I noticed that he had relatively normal shoes on, quite high heels, but fairly normal soles.  Maybe he had to wear those very thick soled shoes for his back problems rather than vanity.

Bono seemed back to his old self fitness wise, though Deb and I both noticed that once he winced and froze for a second when he was taking a big step up.  He also didn't run at all or get his leg over the bridge as he used to do.  He must have worked very hard to get well enough to do the tour, bless him.
We got the train back to the centre of Hannover and once back at our hotel opened the wine and nibbles and chatted about the gig.  We had our now traditional after the last show U2 quiz, it was close but Julie won.  It took us ages to come back down too earth after the gig!

Now we are already tentatively planning our next leg of  U2 360, 2011 in Canada.  I think that we will see a very different show next year (but I hope Bono keep wearing those trousers ).  

Sunday 22 August 2010

Wish I'd Been at This Gig!

Just HAD to interrupt my German adventures for this:

Helsinki 360 night 2 -  Another new song played Every Breaking Wave, fabulous!

No Line on the Horizon re-appears in a semi acoustic version, even more fabulous!

Listen to them here

Germany 3 - Hannover, Lakes and History

August 11th

We chose our beds over breakfast this morning - we'd stayed up until 3am celebrating seeing our first U2 gig of 2010 in our now traditional way - with champagne, wine and nibbles.  So next morning Debbi and I were feeling worse for wear, though Julie as usual was fine, she must have hollow legs!

We checked out and got a taxi to the main station where we would get our train to our next destination - Hannover.  Frankfurt had surprised me, I really like the place.  I don't know why, but I didn't expect it to be so green, have skyscrapers and lovely river walks.

We had treated ourselves to first class tickets for the trip so were able to use the Deutsches Bahn lounge, a good strong German coffee helped Deb and I feel human again.  Our train left on time, it was one of the older trains so the first class wasn't that special, but it had been cheap so we didn't mind, at least I got my coffee in a proper mug rather than a cardboard one!  

Our hotel was smack in the centre of the city, an ideal base.  After settling in we headed to the AWD Arena where the gig was being held the next day.  It turned out to be another lovely location for a stadium, lots of greenery and beside the Maschsee, a large lake.  We laughed at the amount of posters advertising the gig, hundreds and hundreds adorning almost everything standing!  A few hardy fans again were staked out by the entry gates, I didn't envy them.

We walked the short distance to the Maschsee and found an area at the head of the lake full of restaurants, cafes, bars, stalls, musicians.  Boats glided on the lake and huge fish snapped at the surface of the water hoping to find a tasty morsel.

Writing of tasty morsels we were peckish by now and thought it would be nice to eat here.  So we went into nearby Julian's Bar, sat in the outside eating area (it's such a treat eating outside for the English as we can rarely do that mback home) and had a lovely meal there.  It was a warm evening and we relaxed and chilled out as we looked out over the lake and watched the people passing by, a great way to end our first day in Hannover.

August 12th - Morning

I woke up to the sound of church bells, something I love about being in countries like Germany.  This was our only chance to see a bit of Hannover so we walked the short distance to the old town.  It was a lovely area where I felt as if I'd stepped back in time.  Timbered buildings, cobbled roads, fountains, ornate stonework. 

We went into the Marktkirche (market church) which was quite plain in design, but there was an amazing triptych behind the altar.  In one corner it showed how the church had been pre-war, more ornate with decorated ceilings.  Only the shell and some of the thick supporting columns were all that was left after the war.  During the restoration they incorporated parts of the old building into the new walls. 

Saturday 21 August 2010

Review - City Hotel, Limburgstrasse, Hannover

Name and Address
City Hotel, Limburgstrasse, Hannover, Germany

This hotel is located in the city centre, within minutes walking distance from S and U-Bahns,  and the main railway station.  There is a taxi rank two  minutes down the road.  Shops, restaurants and bars are all close by.  The hotel is also five minutes walk from the lovely Old Town area of Hannover.

The hotel has a small reception area with a few seats, there are machines where you can buy coffee, tea, soft drinks, beer.  There is also a large dining room that is only open for breakfast.

Again we had single rooms, they were larger than at the previous hotel, each of our three rooms was different in size.  They were clean and had everything we needed.

You can get a ticket that entitles you to free public transport from the hotel.  We were not told about this when we checked in and only found this out two days into our stay.  Also at check in Debbi asked if the room she had was a smoking one (as we had booked) but she was told it was not.  We noticed a seating area on our floor that had an ashtray so we asked if that was a smoking area  and it was.  I think the young lady who checked us in needs to give guests more information! 

NASA's Space Rock Song Contest

Click the link and vote for Beautiful Day!

NASA's Space Rock Song Contest

Friday 20 August 2010

Germany 2 - Frankfurt, Showtime!

All photos in this post are (c) Christine Moeller.  Thanks Chris or letting me use some of your amazing photos!

10th August

Show day, we were all excited and headed off to the stadium in the afternoon.  We waited for the band to arrive, it was a very hot day but luckily where we were in the shade of the forest and even had log seat to rest on.  We got talking to other fans which helped pass the time.  One of the security people told one of the German fans that U2 would arrive at the airport at 4.30pm and then come to the stadium.  That seemed to be true as at around 5.40pm security was increased, we were told to stay where we were and if Bono wound down the car window we could go across.  A convoy of cars headed by two police outriders arrived, and sped into the stadium.  I've never seen U2 arrive in such a convoy, it was impossible to see into the cars and no one wound down a window and anyway it would have been difficult to stop a the convoy would have been backed up the road. Of course it was too soon to have a band sound check which was a shame, I always enjoy listening to them.  Ahh well, c'est la vie!
We went into the stadium and had something to eat sitting in the lovely sunshine.  We went to our seats, great ones at the front on a small tier inbetween the upper and power tiers on Edge's side.  Kasabian were the support, they were ok.

The Claw and stage all looked the same to me, though I've heard some people saying they thought the catwalk was smaller.  It must have been difficult to erect as there was a kind of capsule suspended high up in the middle of the stadium which was held in place by horizontal cables.  One of the Claw legs was very close to the capsule and the "spike" had to be placed between the cables, it must have been a logistic nightmare, no wonder it was already nearly built on the Saturday that we arrived in Frankfurt.
I'm not going to review the concert song by song, I'll just write about aspects of it that stood out for me.
As before, Space Oddity opened the gig, but the band's entry was different, they all walked on together from behind the stage and then went straight into Return of the Stingray Guitar (typical long-winded U2 song title LOL!)  I really liked the tune, which was mainly instrumental.  Bono was doing a circuit of the catwalk during it, throwing funny Zoo-like poses.  It was humourous and yet also very touching as it was almost like Bono was showing us he was all better after his operation and we, the audience, were celebrating that with him and sending him our love.  It felt very powerful and I felt very emotional myself, we nearly lost him as a performer and I was so glad to see Bono cavorting around the catwalk in his own inimitable way .

The next song was Beautiful Day, followed by a generally very "up" rockin' set.  I really missed No Line on the Horizon, don't know why they dropped it, it was well received live last year.  I had purposely not listened to Glastonbury on the Net so this was my first experience of it, and boy did I like it, a real rocker!  I'm so glad U2 were brave enough to play new music live, it was a new U2 experience for me and a very good one.  It was very well received by the crowd too.

Bono thanked the German doctors and nurses who treated him recently and said he now had "Made in Germany" stamped on his arse!  He likened U2 to German cars, Edge was a Mercedes Benz, Adam a BMW and Larry a Trabant.

Miss Sarajevo was brilliant, I am still stunned by how Bono can sing opera like that!  The audience clapped and cheered as he gave everything he had,  a spine tingling moment.

The video for The Unforgettable Fire had been changed.  It was more colourful and very pretty, but it didn't have the same link with the music.  The Crazy remix seemed a bit different, the chorus was more upfront, it seemed more refined, and though I liked it, I preferred last year's version.

Walk On and the masks are gone!  Yay!  Instead the people carried lanterns with the Amnesty International symbol on the front to highlight their Free Burma Campaign.  In my opinion this worked well and it touched me much more than the creepy masks.

Hold Me, Touch Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me replaced Ultraviolet in the encore.  The steering wheel was now lit up in red, which was much better.  Now I'd been disappointed to hear Ultraviolet had been dropped, but I loved HMTMKMKM!   It was performed in a very theatrical way, Bono looked menacing, the red of the steering wheel reflected in his glasses added to the overall effect. I'd forgotten that I really liked this song live much more than on CD.  Loved when Bono sat on the wheel and swung on it, he'll be on a trapeze next!

With Or Without You was simply stunning.  The show finished, as last year, with Moment of Surrender, (dedicated to those who lot their lives in the terrible crush at the recent Love Parade in Germany) and I still feel it doesn't work well as a closing song.  I felt that night if the show had finished with With or Without You it would have been perfect.

General comments - Frankfurt had a great audience, very responsive, there were times when the whole field and much of the stands was leaping about, wonderful atmosphere.  There were a couple of minor technical hitches and the sound wasn't the best I've heard.  And finally, I must say that those tight leather trousers of Bono's make me glad that I'm a woman and can appreciate how they cling to his delightful arse, thighs and other bits, fabulous!

Thursday 19 August 2010

Review - Depot 1899, Frankfurt, Germany

Textorstrasse, Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt


Depot 1899 was a tram depot until 2003 after which it was converted to this restaurant.  It has a large, pleasant outside area on Textorstrasse where you can watch Sachsenhausen life go by.  There is also a large, ultra-modern inner eating area.  I had a delicious stew of chicken in horseradish sauce with celery, apples, carrots and potatoes.  Debbi ordered a German dish that was mainly belly pork and the delightful waitress tried to explain what it was (as many people, including myself, hate such fatty meat) by rubbing her tummy and I managed to understand some of what she was saying!  Luckily Debbi was fine with that dish, but it was nice of the waitress to check.

Northern Star Rating  * * * *

Review - Trattoria i Siciliani, Frankfurt, Germany

Walter-Kolb-Strasse, Sachsenhusen, Frankfurt.


Seating areas inside and outside.  Serves until late and we were not rushed by the staff.  We all had pizza, which was good, can't comment on the other Italian food on offer.  The staff were ok but not the most helpful and we didn't get the wine we ordered, we only noticed it after a while, too late to send it back.

Northern Star Rating  * * *

Germany 1 - Frankfurt, Skyscrapers and Forests

August 7th

Debbi, Julie and I met up at Manchester for our flight to Frankfurt, (we all live in different parts of England) we were all excited, we'd been anticipating this trip for such a long time. 

The flight was pleasant and only about one and a half hours long.  As we descended into Frankfurt airport we saw the Commerzbank Arena (stadiums seem to be called arenas in Germany) below, the Claw being clearly visible, only the red spike was missing.  We noticed the stadium was situated within a forest, how unusual

I'd heard Frankfurt was a nightmare airport (it was certainly big) but we navigated our way through it wit no problems and before long were in a taxi heading into the city. 

We arrived at the Maingau Hotel around 9.30pm and were greeted by a very nice receptionist and soon were settling into our rooms (we had single rooms) which were small, but very clean and had all we needed. Soon we were out looking for somewhere to eat, it was now 10.30pm and we weren't sure if we'd find anywhere still willing to serve.  But a short distance from our hotel we found the Trattoria i Siciliani, which was busy and ok about serving us.  As it was a pleasant balmy night we sat on the outside terrace of the restaurant.  The tables had candles in tumblers which in turn were in paper bags, erm, unusual....

Our pizzas were very good and reasonably priced compared to the UK (well almost everything abroad is reasonable compared to UK prices!).  We were fascinated by a tiny, tiny little dog sitting in a young girls handbag at the table opposite, so cute!  Another thing the UK could be better with, allowing dogs in public places more, like France, Germany embraces its relationship with man's/woman's best friend and dogs are welcomed in restaurants, bars and shops.  Nice.

August 8th

We had an excellent breakfast at our hotel before getting a taxi to the centre of Frankfurt for our tour of the city.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't too good, and though it was warm it was raining.  Everyone sat upstairs in the bus and we set off.  The guide was very funny and gave his info in very good English as almost all the passengers either were English speaking or understood the language. 

He told us Frankfurt was over 1200 years old and was situated on the River Main.  It is the major financial and transportation centre of Germany, and it is the seat of the European Central Bank and many financial institutions.  I was surprised the city had so many skyscrapers, and it often is nicknamed Mainhattan because of its distinctive skyline.

The city suffered much damage in World War Two when it's famous medieval area, Romer, was destroyed.  Some of this area has been reconstructed as it was.  As the sun was now shining we decided to have a snack near Romer, but as we only had a short break we did not have time to explore the actual place, so we decided we'd go back there after the tour.
The retractable roof of the bus was taken back, and every time we passed low tree branches we got soaked!  We had "tree alerts" to try our best to avoid a cold shower.  But the weather steadily improved and soon we basking in warm sunshine. The photo lef tis me taking the bull by the horn!

After the tour ended, we got out our map and worked out how to get back to Romer.  We walked along with banks of the River Main, which was very pleasant.  Boats and barges chugged along the river and people promenaded or just sat and relaxed in the beautiful weather. 

The Romer was lovely, I think it is good that it has been reconstructed.  Yes it was touristy, but at least part of Frankfurt's history has been recreated rather than it just disappearing into the ashes. 

We decided to walk back to our hotel as it was just a short walk over the pedestrian bridge that spanned the Main River.  We had a slight delay and had to stand back whilst they filmed a short scene from a film on the bridge.

We rested for a while before going out to look for somewhere to eat, unfortunately the rain had started again.  We found nice Italian restaurant in the narrow streets north of our hotel.  It had lots of atmosphere, and a woodburning stove which produced gorgeous pizza, unfortunately I didn't take note of the name of the place.  We took our time, chatted and had two bottles of delicious red wine so we didn't really notice the rain on the way back to the hotel!

Is U2 playing Frankfurt?!  Julie and me in Frankfurt

August 9th

We decided to go check out the stadium today, Abroad we aways like to see how to get there in advance. We walked to the nearby Sud Bahnhof to get a train to the stadium - that's when our problems started.  I'd heard the ticket machines were confusing and boy was that true.  The stadium - stadion - was on the map but when we tried to find it in the price list it wasn't there!  We looked at other maps, until finally on one map it was marked as F-Stadion.  That worked, after about 20 minutes we had the right ticket!  We had to change trains at the main station, which is huge, again it took us a while to navigate our way through it, we breathed a sigh of relief when we finally sat in our seats. 

The Stadion stop was quiet, surrounded by forest and we had a lovely ten minute walk through this forest to the stadium which you don't really see until you are nearly there.  There were already a few fans camped out in the blazing sun at entrance.  They must be dedicated and determined!  We found where we thought the band would arrive the next day, we wanted to see if we could met them when they arrived at the stadium. 

We headed back and decided to have a meal at a place called Depot 1899 close to the station.  I had an unusual dish of chicken in a creamy horseradish sauce with apple, celery, carrots and potatoes, it was lovely.  We also tried the apfelwein that the Sachsenhausen area is famous for.  It's a kind of cider that can be taken pure, sour or sweet.  We got it pure, I probably would have been better with it sweet as I found it a little too tarty for my taste.  We sat for ages there watching life go by as the sun set and a balmy night fell, I just love living a different kind of life for a while. 

Debbi and Julie in the forest around the stadium in Frankfurt

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Review - Maingau Hotel, Frankfurt, Germany

Name and Address
Maingau Hotel, Schifferstrasse, Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt, Germany

In the Sachsenhausen area, just south of the River Main, yet just 10 minutes walk to the old town of Frankfurt, the Romer 15 mnutes from the city centre.  U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and the south railway station are all within a few minutes walk from the hotel.  Sachsenhausen itself is a lovely area full of shops, bars, restaurants.

The hotel has a small seating area in the reception area and a large, classy looking dining room.  Apparently the restaurant has a very good reputation unfortunately we were not able to try it out for dinner when we were there.  The breakfast was excellent, and if you ordered one fried egg (which were the tastiest eggs I've had in a while) you always got two!

We had single rooms which were small, but had all we needed.  They were spotlessly clean, every area of the hotel was the same.  I have stayed in much more expensive hotels but I can honestly say this was the cleanest hotel I have ever been in.

The hotel staff, without exception, were very friendly, helpful and also spoke excellent English.  It is a family run hotel and felt warm and homely.  I would not hesitate to highly recommend this hotel.

Northern Star Rating   * * * * *

Back Home - For A Little While

Got back from my 360 Tour and holiday in Germany last night.  Had a fantastic time, lots of travelling, sights, entralling gigs, good food and company.  Over the next few days or so I'll write it up on my blog.  Hopefully I'll get it finished before my next trip abroad which isn't far off!  I've decided I'm also going to write reviews of the places I've stayed at and restaurants I've eaten in, maybe they will be helpful to others who are travelling to the same places in the future.

Friday 6 August 2010

Pizza's Here! U2 delivers for fans (No Spoilers)

U2 bring out pizza to their fans after they finished rehearsals last night.  Lovely story, U2 look after their fans.  Now it's nearly time to get rockin' U2 360 2010 starts tonight!

Pizza's Here! U2 delivers for fans

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Afloat in Dublin

There was an article in the Irish Times that I found very entertaining. Full of Irish humour, informative and Bono even manages to figure in it a few times! It made me so nostalgic about Dublin, must try those boat trips sometime, they sound "Deadly!" To read the article click the link below:

Boats, Bono and Ronnie Drew's Crane

Tuesday 3 August 2010

I'm Going to Explode!

I'm off to Germany soon and a week tonight will be seeing U2 play in Frankfurt. I've tried to avoid the info about setlists gained from fans at the rehearsals but have heard some news and boy is it exciting!

I think that as this leg of the tour so nearly didn't happen because of Bono's emergency surgery, I had kind of blocked it out as I really believed it wouldn't happen. Then it was announced that the tour was definitely going ahead and since then my excitement has steadily mounted. By time I get to Germany I'll be ready to spontaneously combust.

Nearly time to RIOT! (U2 fans know what I'm on about there eh?)

Check back here for a full report of the holiday and U2 gigs. Bye for now.