Atomium and Amsterdam

The last half day in Brussels brought going to see the Atomium – a giant blown up structure of an atom built for the 1958 World’s Fair. And it definitely looks like something that came from the 50s. It’s totally fabulous. It reopened after a restoration project and you can take escalators and an elevator into each of the “spheres” of the structure. Totally cool. It could use more history and old photos from the construction and the fair but it was still great. Picked up our luggage after and headed by train to Amsterdam. The train took us through Antwerp, The Hague (which I thought was in Switzerland or something) and Rotterdam. Everything looks much like Belgium, since they were all one in the past, same type of architecture and set up. I’m quite tired with the “low countries” now, I’m ready for Berlin. Did see traditional windmills however, just in seemingly random spots. Pretty neat. They also have modern wind turbines. Oh and we passed FOUR nuclear power plants on the train ride – 2 right around Brussels. I thought that was interesting/exciting.

Brussels Photos

We have an apartment again – and I don’t remember booking a “suite”. It’s pretty nice but I have to pay special attention to the bill, because 1. I booked through expedia and thus have already been charged, and 2. they better not charge me extra for a suite I didn’t book. They are doing renovations of the hotel, so I’m thinking maybe this was all they had for us…Our suite is in a separate building like in Cologne but up 2 sets of very small spiral staircases, then the suite itself has another small spiral staircase. I’m going to kill myself trying to get out with my 50 lb suitcase. A bellhop or someone carried it up for me haha.

We took off to walk around the area a bit. It’s very cold, yuck. And while it’s fairly pretty I’ve decide this is just not my kind of city. I just don’t get the right vibe from it. Nothing seems extremely interesting to me, the pretty things are quite spread out and not gathered into a true “city center” like Cologne and Gent and even Brussels. It has a definite more dangerous feel to it, and it clearly can be a city of depravity hahaha. I get that vibe from it, where I don’t really get that in Las Vegas, the supposed Sin City. I’m glad we’re only really here one full day. People can call me lame for not whooping it up in Amsterdam. I’ll have to think of some ridiculous story to tell people at work hahaha.

Tomorrow is a show day, and Paradiso is in the general area of the Museum District. Plans are to get up early and go to the Van Gogh Museum then go right to the venue. It’s supposed to be cold and rainy again.

Amsterdam Photos

All the rest

Maybe I should talk about everything else that happened aside from meeting Trent Reznor.

Gent – the 2nd day we went out to the Dr Guislain museum of psychiatry. When I discovered it, it was the main reason for staying in Gent over Antwerp for a few days, it sounded so cool (especially to me). It is in Belgium’s most well known asylum – part is the museum, and part is school area, with a new psych hospital close by. Dr Guislain apparently pioneered alot of psychiatry in Belgium, building the hospital based on research of what works best in treating patients. Unfortunately the “History” part of the museum didn’t really go into what exactly these elements were, which would have been interesting. But they had alot of history of Dr Guislain, the hospital, others that worked with him for improved treatment for the mentally ill and for mentally retarded children. A bulk of the museum is “outsider art”. They have a current exhibit called Beyond Good and Evil, and featured works with those themes – not just from patients, but from other…”normal”? artists, and other tribal cultures as well. Quite interesting but to me, the “outsider” patient art was more interesting. I want to make crazy art. Maybe if I stop taking my meds hahah. There is a fine line between “outsider art” and “toddler art” however – some of the things just…unworthy of such a distinction. Other stuff was quite amazing including this very involved installation that I can’t even describe – strange dolls and just…stuff. And it wasn’t just a collection of crap like what Psycho Ted left behind in the REA terminal. Most of the artists had blurbs about them, not going into details about what exactly is wrong with them mentally, but describing their life and situation. Not all of the artists were mentally ill either, some just considered “outsiders” or “folk”. It was really interesting.

Spent 3 or 4 hours there, and by that time, the Castle of the Counts was closed (closed at 4, last entry at 3, and we thought it closed at 5) so we missed out on that. Nights were early and I wasn’t feeling well that day so I stayed in the hotel the rest of the night. Watching bad American movies with Flemish subtitles haha. Tommy Lee Jones should have fired his agent after “Volcano”.

The 3rd day, with somewhat crap weather – cooler and cloudy – we went out to Lede to see the Castle of Mesen rather than stay in Gent and go to the Castle in town. Castle of Mesen isn’t quite a castle, but it looks more like an old hotel with a church attached and it was used for a variety of purposes one being a boarding school. Oh, and it’s in ruins. Ha. Beautiful place, and by far the most ruined building I’ve ever been in. It’s quite what I would imagine the Overlook Mountain House in the Catskills to look like if they hadn’t gutted the inside and just left the shell. All the upper floors in Mesen were collapsed – thankfully with exception of the theatre space, though I had to climb up a sketchy ladder to reach it – which made it interesting when trying to access other areas of the building. The chapel area had more intact stained glass windows than Transfig back at home. Very surprising. As a whole the place hadn’t been stripped too much – large sections of decorative railings remained, as well as some very pretty ceramic tiles. If my suitcase didn’t already weight 50 lbs some of them would have been coming home with me. There are a few other buildings on the property – which is actually in a public park – including what seemed to be a stable, and school area. Very pretty place. After a few hours there, we returned to Gent, got dinner, and early night again.

Gent Photos

Obviously I haven’t seen much of Brussels other than the walk from the hotel to the venue. Strangely – while we took a taxi from the (wrong) train station to the hotel, we passed an area of town where police were setting up big barbed wire fences – the type that they had set up between trenches during WWI. What the hell? The news last night said there was some kind of large protest against the Bush Administration at the EU on Sunday, that must have been it. Anyway. The hotel is not far from the Grand Place, and before the show today (Monday) I headed out to walk around with the camera for an hour or so. Very very pretty buildings around the square, again, something you just don’t see in the US. I couldn’t find the peeing boy statue though, it’s somewhere around here, but I bought some chocolates of him instead. I feel better having gone out this morning, haha I did see something while I was here. I still want to go to the Atomium tomorrow before we catch a train to Amsterdam. I guess it’s going to be dependent on whether or not we can keep our luggage at the hotel after we check out in the morning. I don’t know how close and convenient it will be to get to the Atomium then back to get the luggage, but oh well. It was the one thing I wanted to see in Brussels.

We have a very short time in Amsterdam as well, 2 nights I believe, and really only 1 full day – a show day for me. We fly from Amsterdam to Berlin, so timing of the flight will determine what I can do there. Aside from walking around and seeing the red light district and the night life in general, I want to go to the Van Gogh museum. Eh Amsterdam doesn’t really appeal to me because all I know about it is the drug stuff. So I’m not really upset. I’d much rather cut Amsterdam short (and miss the 2nd show) to spend more time in Berlin.

Gent Arrival

Thursday morning, way too early, we departed Cologne for Gent, changing trains in Brussels. We’re at a pretty posh place in Gent, one of the NH chain hotels, because it’s cheap. Gent is apparently cheap in comparison to Brussels and other European cities. I’m just excited because I bought a Belgian waffle from a street vendor haha. So yummy.

Anyway, we left to explore the center of the city. It’s supposedly a 15 min walk, but I think it was more than that plus we went around in circles a lot. Again, way too much walking. Made it to the center and checked out St Nickolas Church. It was very nice and very different than what we’ve seen so far, but it’s so hard to really compare to the Dom. After that, St Baaf with the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb triptych by the Van Eyck’s. Oddly…you have to pay 3euro to see the actual work, but they have 2 reproductions of it in the church, one of them huge. I was going to pay to see it anyway, so I can be an art snob but then a field trip or tour of teens came through and I didn’t want to wait for them. The church was also very nice, and very strange as it is decorated with strange water color looking paintings. Which also had priestly robes painted to match, on display in the crypt. With everything being in non-english I couldn’t quite figure it out but one of the clergy must have been an artist or something. One of the art museums in the town is closed for renovations and some of the religious works were moved into the crypt to remain on display. Cool to see other artists names I recognized like Rubens and Bosch. Lots to see in St Baaf but no photographs allowed, of course they want you to buy their postcard photos. That’s ok. Wandered around lots, then went back to the same area to go to the Belfry. 3Euro gets you to the top and through the 3 floors to see the bells, the clock works, and a great view of the city. Unfortunately it was quite hazy so, while very nice out, visibility was sort of crappy. Got a better idea of the city layout though. Also the belfry had the best weather vane ever. This huge copper (I think) dragon, complete with metal flame coming out of its mouth – which actually they’d somehow make him spit fire during festivals or events. They had 2 versions on display (and they’re huge) from ages ago as they had to be replaced. They’re missing a huge tourist merchandising opportunity by not selling stuffed dragons or small metal reproductions. Loved that thing. They actually didn’t sell anything…

More walking around, passed one of the castles, along the river, finally wandering back to the hotel. I’m in bad shape physically. Every muscle I have hurts right now, I’m an invalid. However tomorrow I hope to get out to the museum of psychiatry in one of Belgiums oldest asylums, and some of the castles. We plan to get out to Lede to the Castle of Mesen before leaving for Brussels on Sunday (show day). I only hope Mesen is still standing, as rumors of its impending demolition have it disappearing right around now, though nothing was really clear.

 

This is probably the only time I’ll be online from Gent – 10 euros for 24 unconsecutive hours….yikes. Photos to come.
 

Eau de Cologne

So Cologne in review.

  1. lots of dogs
  2. lots of pizza
  3. lots of ice cream
  4. germans love david hasselhof

Ok just kidding about 4…sort of. I did find Knightrider in German on the tv one night.

Our hotel/apartment was great, lots of room good location. Unfortunately either in the building or near by, construction was being done. And at odd hours – in the morning, then seemingly not during the afternoon, but then into the night, as in 10pm. Plus I think groups of kids go to the Puppenspiel, because there were a lot of loud groups of children. If not for the noise it would have been much better. We didn’t take advantage of our included breakfast, cuz I’m a loser and I like to sleep.

We had great weather the entire time – sunny and around 60. Perfect really. The joke became that every pretty building had scaffolding on it and was being restored/repaired. It got ridiculous after awhile.

I can’t remember what I said in the quick post at the internet cafe but

  1. Dom = gorgeous. I just don’t know how someone can even fathom designing something like that, and then building it…*mind blows* I guess that’s why it took 600 years to be finished. Very worth it though, even with the scaffolding and the 452 some odd steps up the spire. The treasury was cool to see even though I am not well versed in Catholic memorabilia and accessories. Shows just how much money the church has, and has had in the past. Ridiculous really. Share the wealth, feed starving kids, do something.
  2. Many other awesome buildings. The city hall was what looked like an old church, complete with a mooning sculpture on the side. Lots of other churches, just stuff that is very different than what you see in the US.
  3. Museum Ludwig was the modern art museum near the Dom. Spectacular museum. It was really quite exciting. They have one of the largest Picasso collections, with lots of his drawings framed right from being ripped out of sketch books. Very cool. I know Adr2 hates Warhol but they had some stuff he did that was better than his more well known stuff – though the boxes of detergent and brillo pads stacked up wasn’t quite art to me, tho he did paint them all. Saw some Lichtenstein up close, and my fav Francis Bacon. It was all very inspiring, even the crap stuff, cuz it makes me feel like I can put something together and sell it to some art snob for lots of cash hahaha.
  4. Lots of walking around, huge shopping area with like 4 H&M stores haha. I’d just like one closer than an hour away.

Things closed pretty early, and aside from Sunday when we arrived the area around our hotel, with tons of restaurants, it was pretty quiet. If some of them had 2 customers it was a lot. Odd. But even the bars seemed dead, and not being a drinker, nights were spent watching South Park in German, resting my sore feet/legs etc.

Cologne Photos

Achtung!

Hello from Cologne. I’m on a computer in an internet cafe so this will be quick, and probably with wrong letters here and there because the keyboards are different.

Arrived in Dusseldorf on Sunday, then trained it into Cologne. Train was late, but no big deal. Got into the hotel – actuallz a 3 bedroom apartment, HUGE esp compared to our closet of a room in London. Went right out again to see the Dom and take pictures. Walked around FOREVER until it was dark, managed to order some italian food from a restaurant near by, then crashed. We are in the old section along the Rhine. It’s filled with all sorts of restaurants and bars, cobblestone streets, tons of hotels. Very easy to get lost but Iäm managing. The language barrier hasn’t been too bad, I just don’t talk to anyone unless it’s absolutely necessary. No internet in the room, so pictures will wait until Ghent or some other spot with hotel internet. I felt bad using the hotel desk computer last night to check important email last night.

Anzwaz. It was mass at the Dom on sunday, plus getting dark, so we returned Monday (after finding out the museums are all closed Mondays) and wandered around. Climbed the 562 or so odd steps up the belfry/spire. So out of shape, but I made it. Great view though obstructed by fencing so bad pictures. Climbed back down, checked out the treasury full of ornate gold and jeweled Catholic things…crosses and rings and shrines etc. Walked forever again, shopped now that the stores were open, more walking, and more walking, got more italian food (the prospect of ordering something strange and gross horrifies me, pizza is safe), took the tripods out for night shots of all the same places we shot during the day. Walked across the train bridge to the other side of the Rhine, and back. No more walking! Crashed again.

Today I went to the Ludwig Museum – Art – and lots of it. Fantastic really. So many important artists and works of genius. Very inspiring. I keep thinking of the Resistance Art show and trying to figure things out about it in my head. Don’T KNOW WHAT TONIGHT BRINGS OR WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS KEZBOARD THAT ITÄS ALL IN CAPS NOW: THINGS CLOSE EARLY HERE TOO; AND GET QUIET REAL FAST: TOMORROW IS THE SHOW; WHICH REMINDS ME I HAVE TO FIND OUT HOW TO GET THERE; NEED A MAP: THURSDAZ WE LEAVE FOR GENT: OK THIS IS ANNOYING; DONE NOW: NITE

trent cancelled the show zesterdaz apparentlz….and as expected i may trz to go to some of the extra shows i initiallz decided not to go to…hahah. surprize. but he has to realize hes an old man now, and he cant go on singing every day the kind of songs and shows that he does without hurting his voice. take some days off man. i think iäll try for the extra brussels and berlin shows。。berlin, not sure though because there is so much i want to do there。 well see

Meeting Old Friends and NIN London #3

Morning

Got up early to finally meet up with Kevin at Paddington Station, before going to meet Glen and his family at St Pauls. It was sorta weird to finally meet him as well, cuz like I said it should have happened 10 years ago. We had coffee at the station, then headed to St Pauls, got more drinks, and sat on the steps to wait for Glen at noon. Caught up on everything since we were last in touch (aside from last week haha). Glen and his wife Anna and his 2 kids arrived. Cute cute kids, Syd a budding photographer haha. We walked over the Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern. One of their exhibits at the moment are big slides that run from different levels down to the bottom. We all took a ride down, it was the shortest one, but wow super dizzy at the bottom. Syd loved it and went down a few times. The kids needed some food, so Kevin and I started looking around. It was one of those moments where I don’t get art…and when I think I need to stick some branches into some plaster and make up some long pretentious bull about what it represents and how awesome it, and I am and get someone to buy it for 1000s of dollars. One of the art works was a railing attached to the wall. Wtf. But then we did also get to see Dali and Picasso and some Monet, art that was actually something special and different. It was actually someone creating something from nothing, not going to Home Depot, buying a piece of railing, and calling it art. The 2ndfloor had an exhibit you needed a ticket for but part was free, by Gilbert and George, very political pieces, lots of color and text, and generally cool looking work. We went to find Glen and family, and Syd went on the slides again, then we started to walk back toward St Pauls. I wanted to get to Brixton around 3, and Kevin had to get to work.

Afternoon

So we departed and I headed to Brixton. Alex and David were already there and told me to get my tickets right away because Brandy had been out to say something was going to happen. Well…that didn’t work out in the end. Brandy ended up coming out around 5 or so to tell everyone that nothing was going to happen, Trent changed his mind, and we could all go get food etc.

I was in a bad mood, feeling literally sick to my stomach, and claustrophobic. Once in we were in the usual place but I decided I wasn’t going to be able to handle it today. I was getting hostile and feeling like I was going to snap at someone so I headed back a bit. There were rails in the middle of the floor every so often so I headed to stay near one of them. Well everyone I ended up being around was ridiculously annoying in one way or another. If it wasn’t couples who needed a room, it was the idiot who kept glaring at me when I’d push him, after moshers pushed him into me. Dude. Push them back into the pit retard. I finally left that area too and ended up behind the sound board…dealing with these drunk kids who were irritating. I stayed there though because there wasn’t much choice left haha.

3 shows, 3 different setlists. They began playing The Downward Spiral all the way through until The Becoming, in order, but skipping Ruiner. After The Becoming came Last which sounded way better today for some reason – not sure if it was because I was far back and the acoustics were better or if it was just better. From TDS we also got Eraser, Reptile (yay) and Hurt (boo). I thought it would have been neat if they did just play TDS all the way through. What else did we hear today…Wish, Gave Up, Help Me I Am In Hell, La Mer/Into the Void, No You Don’t, Only, The Hand That Feeds, Survivalism, Dead Souls, Head Like A Hole….Trent talked a bit more, and it seemed as if his voice wasn’t bothering him as much. But by the end of the show, the closing Hurt, Hand that Feeds and HLAH it seemed to be bothering him again.

Awesome show of course, despite my crap crowd experience and being hostile and irritated. I must say the merch bootleggers in the UK are way better than the US. Because of the people I’m with I didn’t find it appropriate to yell “I don’t even like nine inch nails” when they would ask if I wanted a shirt. They just wouldn’t get it and would think I had tourrettes or something. But I thought it to myself. And actually I’ve bought 2 items…a black and red stripe girl shirt with the NIN logo, and a pretty nice zip up hoodie that has the logo and “performance 2007” embroidered on it. It’s also amusing to watch the coppers carrying arm loads of confiscated bootleg shirts haha.

I’m on the verge of convincing Adr2 to meet us in Brussels or Amsterdam. 🙂 Somehow things don’t feel exactly right without her next to me, and I find it hard to get as excited by myself. So much of the tour has been shared with her, that it’s just weird. I need someone I can just look at, and know what we’re thinking about, regarding some idiot near us, or a super hot Trent moment. Tho Alex did a good job in sharing hot Trent moments. And he’s straight hahaha.

So the first leg of the journey is over. We depart for Dusseldorf/Cologne tomorrow morning. The non English speaking leg begins. I won’t be nervous until we land and everyone’s speaking something else. Though that’s not that much different from work – just a different language that I don’t know being spoken.
(I remembered another Bono Trent moment – in the preshow music Trent’s now playing Lou Reed’s “Sattelite of Love” haha Maybe next Trent will come out in gold lame and devil horns haha)

London Photos

Meeting for the First Time

Today brought FINALLY meeting Pierre (aka Luis), my friend from Mexico City who I met on compuserve 12 years ago. Didn’t really think it would ever happen, but yet it did, and in a country neither of us are from. In the end we both thought the meeting went better than expected. We actually both thought we’d have nothing to say in person and that it would be weird but it really wasn’t at all. I expected him to be shorter and sound mexican, but he was tall and he sounds just as American as anyone, leaning a bit toward sounding Brit. David and I met him in Camden Town and I did my shopping trip through Camden Market buying a few cool new things. A very cool place, I wish we had things like that near me or even Toronto. We walked forever, I forget all the places we went. We had lunch at a pub, then went to Harrods cuz Pierre thought they’d have Pez haha. They didn’t but it was cool because I didn’t really remember much about Harrods from the first trip 11 years ago. They have this sort of lame memorial to Princess Diana and Dodi in the lowest level. As far as memorials go, it wasn’t as nice as it should be I think.

What else did we do? Went to Oxford circus to shop more, ended up at Hamley’s toy store, which amused me because that is where MJ went 10 years ago when I was here with all the mj friends. Found some Pez there, so at least Phill will get something, though I think they’re not too great. Also Covent Garden, with raher uninteresting street performers, and more shops. More walking, eventually going to Liverpool area to see Jack the Ripper’s haunts without taking the tour. Pierre was a great tour guide, telling us that “something happened here, the tour always stops here” haha. We went to the famous alley, and by “Jack’s Pub”. The pub sold absinthe and I felt like I should have some, as wretched as it is, just because I could hahah. We didn’t go in so no absinthe (thank god). Walked more, got tea/drinks someplace, then wandered back to the station. 9 hours later, said goodbye and David and I headed back to the hotel. Alex had gone on a day trip to Stonehenge etc and didn’t have a key, so we thought he might be waiting for us.

On the way home we got on the wrong train, ended up missing the only stop that we could switch at, so we got off at some station to back track. Kevin called and I don’t do good on the phone to begin with, especially not walking, so I stopped to talk. Then we all get kicked out of the station because of a “reported emergency”. First thought, bomb. I thought of Jerry being on the tube when it was bombed, just in a different area. So everyone was ushered out and standing around at street level waiting to see if they’d open the station up. We had no clue where we were and how to get home. It was cold and eventually asked how far the next station was, then walked to it. Got back to the hotel just fine after that.

Long day of lots of walking, so lazy night in.

 

Also I forgot in the first concert post: During Piggy Trent has a spotlight below him, which he picks up and goes into the crowd with, shining it in everyones faces. I think Trent’s been watching old U2 concerts too much. First the going on stage with the house lights on, then the other Bono things from summer that I commented on but forget now, and now copying Bono’s “Bullet the Blue Sky” routine. Nothing wrong with that though 🙂
 

Departures and Arrivals

Observations from the flight and recap of Day 1

JFK Delta terminal – ridiculously dated looking with lots of mirrors. And almost $8 for a slice of pizza and a gross snapple iced tea.

Alex and I were such nerds, we had almost a 3 hour layover and nothing to do. I remembered I had left the NIN DVD in my laptop before packing, so we watched it. And tried not to sing along and rock out and be too fangirl/boi.

Temperature in London, 54F, heat wave!

Dinner on the plane was better than I remember it 10 years ago, but then again I wasn’t such a microwave dinner expert at that point in my life. Pasta with salad and a cold roll etc. I should have taken a picture of it in the tradition of my father but it was too difficult to get my camera out at that point. My “Single Serving Friend” next to me offered me his cheese spread….

The airplane first claimed they’d be showing us Dreamgirls, but instead we got Rocky Balboa. Yet another sign that Adr2 should be here with me!!! I looked up at the screen once and did a double take cuz Sly Stalone looked just like Jeordie haha. The airplane also showed us a commercial for the CIA, and Criss Angel (woo!)

We arrived in London on time I guess, though it took a long while to get through customs and then longer to get our train ticket. By that time our luggage had been round and round on the claim belt until they were taken off and just waiting there for us. That was nice and less stressful for me.

Gatwick Express brought us to Victoria which then brought us to Edgware where we are staying. The guy who sold me my tube ticket at Victoria thought I was Scottish?? I said no, Canadian 🙂 Anyway, Edgware is an Arab neighborhood with lots of little grocery stores and electronic stores. The hotel claimed to be 400m from the underground station. 400m my ass! We got stuck in a rain shower walking to the hotel. David was already there and we ended up running into him as we walked. That was about 10am and we couldn’t check in until 2. We stowed our luggage away and left to waste 4 hours walking around the neighborhood. Discovered a small farmers/street market, got some cool socks, and stopped at a greasy spoon type restaurant that sold something called “bubbles”. Overtiredness kicked in and we were really silly and retarded. Alex had a moment thinking that the pepper was brown sugar. I had my own moment later when we passed a Chinese acupuncture herbal medicine shop and Alex said there were 25 pound massages – I thought they were massages that made you lose 25 pounds, not massages that cost 25 pounds. We walked forever, by Regents Canal full of house boats – David called it a trailer park of house boats – to Paddington station and back, into some art deco antique stores to scout for the terminal, etc. Finally checked in and crashed.

Up and out again around 8:30 we headed “down town” to Picadilly Circus so Alex could see London’s Times Square. Wandered around and ended up going by a Hard Rock Casino – a combination of my last 2 jobs, I had to go in. Except it was members only. But it was free to become a member. Very small place but excellent reuse of an old theatre space. We got some food there, then wandered some more. Ended up finding Chinatown, then ended up in Trafalgar Square, continued walking toward Big Ben and Parliament. Along the way we passed Downing Street. Definite increased security from 10 years ago, but much less than the White House, where you can’t even walk by it 4 blocks away to look at it from across a huge lawn. In front of Parliament there were 4 tents set up with protestors who have been there for 6 years. We talked to one of them, named The Ant, who was a quite interesting fellow. His arm was in a cast and shattered from escaping from a holding cell in Oxford and falling a few stories, all while trying to protect trees. Now he’s up in London as a part of this war protest and planned to stay there for a while.

Far too much walking, and it was late and the tube ended up shutting down at some station where we didn’t know where we were, so we cabbed it back to the hotel. Very Very VERY long day.