Prophecy Fulfilled, Completed, Done: Recap Pt I

I’m home, safe and sound. A little bit tired, but ok. Time to look back.
After the first ride from the station to the hotel, I settled in and thought of my immediate future. I would have to ride to the gig, a further 18 kms, watch the bands, maybe help a bit. No problem. Then the thought came, slowly, with much force. I would also have to ride home, likely after midnight, on roads without bike paths and with many twists and blind turns. The rain came. Makes everything easy sometimes! I studied German Television, drew and went to bed fairly early.
Friday I woke up and went downstairs for breakfast and the actual check in. The hotel offered an impressive amount of diverse things for breakfast! I thought I was early, but not early enough for eggs. Still, I ate until I was full, took a few muesli bars in the emergency case I couldn’t eat while at the gig and prepared for the first and last ride I would have to do for this gig. While getting my bike in order an old German couple walked out of the hotel to their car. I said ‘hello’ as I always do and realised that my German is not so good to start up random conversations with the elderly. He asked if I was a musician and I figured for the purpose of this conversation it would make our lives easier to answer that I was. He asked where I was playing, so I had to get out a map and show him. Success! My limited German is enough for some times. I rode off.
A great many people had already arrived to the production office and it appeared I was entering a meeting of sorts. This was a pretty great chance for everybody to learn my name and where I was from because I had to announce it to the organiser, Andreas. It made it hard later when I was going to talk to everybody individually and I would say “Hey, my name is…” and they would say they already know. My main two pals at this point were Morgan and Leo. Morgan decided that he wanted to keep me company as I started my security shift (I was only to let people with black wrist bands through the door). Leo was meant to do the same duty but his was a step up, after the person got passed me, to get passed Leo they had to have a white wrist band too. Leo quickly established that he wasn’t interested in his job and came over to talk often (I would then try to do both) and would get caught by an organiser. For the most part it was an extremely lazy and easy thing to do, almost nobody ever came in. There was free food and drinks available so I took part in that. The downside was that I missed a fair few bands. I could kind of hear them, but not well enough to pass judgement on the quality of songs or performance.
Not knowing many of the bands I didn’t have a preference to organise a trade to go see them, but I did go out every so often and catch a few songs. Everybody was nice that I talked to. The sound in the cave was surprisingly very good and clear. My experience of German sound engineers has made me think of this as the norm though, they mix very well.
Other things maybe not worth mentioning so much but I dare to because I can. There was an artist exhibition up the back of the cave. His art looked to deal with loneliness, sadness and fear of death. Fitting for such a gig. He had sold only his brighter drawings though. Brighter as in the ones that were mostly white. Those that were extremely black filled were not popular for purchase it seemed. I also only saw one girl who had drunk too much and was told later that she threw up.

Bloody Prophecy!

Nobody could predict that Google bloody GPS would have you go through the bloody German forest, in the middle of bloody nowhere, where the wolves, bears and bloody witches are! That’s exactly what bloody happened when I got off the train at Balve to ride my bike 18 kms to the bloody hotel. I took the bloody long way, all on the roads.
I’m writing this from the hotel while I wait for the rain to stop. It’s another 18 kms to the bloody cave where this metal festival called Prophecy fest happens.
There’s an Australian band playing. I’ve never seen them before.

Hongerige Wolf Festival

Saturday had us travelling to a tiny town called Hongerige Wolf, which is near the border, on the Netherlands side. We knew that a festival was taking place but had no idea what to expect. Hongerige Wolf is a tiny town near Groningen, it looked like there are maybe 30 houses on farms in total. What they do for the festival is open their fields for campers, open their barns for bands and get a few stages for DJs, bands and some performance art. Many of them also offer food and drink for a fee. It’s a great idea, surely it boosts the economy.
We saw a few singer songwriter duos and a few novelty bands. One such band play a variety of brass wind instruments and put on a bit of a show at the same time. The show appeared to be about two people who fell in love during the war, the man had to fight and was killed. The soldiers returned to the girl for some reason.
The performance art was funny and challenging, in particular because it was in Dutch. There appeared to be a show dealing with homo-sexuality and the feelings of loneliness and lack of acceptance that still exists. I think. There was a bit of nudity of course (it’s art!).
The food was diverse although dominated by all offers of soup. We declined. I had a falafel roll that was freshly made and delicious, later on I had an iced tea, also delicious. Ingrid had nachos, a toastie and a mango juice. You guessed it, all delicious too. Although I thought the juice was too sweet for me.
The  night eventually ended with an African group who played a kind of reggae and dance music. It went on and on, we wanted to dance more but the body needed rest. We returned home around 3am.

Sunday Souvenirs in Paris

Otherwise how do you prove you were there, right?

Paris is beautiful. The weather was fantastic, they have great things to see: the people, the architecture, the popular tourist things. It smells. Oh how it smells! It’s at times like you’re trapped inside a portable toilet and the temperature is steadily increasing because of bacteria respiratory cycles. We even had the pleasure of witnessing a woman check her surroundings and then squat to wee. I don’t know how she didn’t notice the tourist bus that was stopped next to her or perhaps it was a special part of the tour… then there’s the constant presence of this acid spit. You must watch where you tread because this continuously bubbling saliva is everywhere.
Our final day, we used the bus to deliver us towards souvenirs. We wanted fondue for lunch, the only thing we had left on our list, unfortunately the chosen place is not open Sundays. Despair took hold of our wretched beings! Luckily it wasn’t for long. Across the street also offered fondue. We made good of the list and insulted the waitress by getting so full before emptying the fondue pot.
We saw the Sacré-Cœur, which is as beautiful as all things Paris, perhaps more so, with the white purity that it exudes. We bought things for loved ones and to prove that our trip to Paris was as real as the moon landing.
Oh that brings me to the bus driver. I think he got a mention in my first day of Paris post. Well the bus was at least one hour later than the scheduled time. I had joked to Ingrid that it’s probably the same driver that was late in taking us to Paris. A bus for a different company pulled up and it was him! To make things slightly more comical, he woke up another bus driver who was on our bus! The late bus driver took control and got us on the road until Brussels, where we got another Germania driver.

Paris: The Sights, The Smell

Feeling pretty great after a good night’s sleep and ready for breakfast.  The hotel deal included breakfast, so we stumbled down for nourishment.  The early bird gets the worm and somehow that same bird ate a large amount of everything before we arrived.  Still we got enough into out bellies and I must say that the coffee machine made a very good cappuccino.

Now the uncertainty of the day ahead emerged and had to be addressed.  Deciding that we’ve already paid for the bus tour we should try our best to avoid paying again for it.  We went to the office of the tour provider and it worked and all was well.  We spent a large part of the day being driven around Paris, see all the sights and learning of the history of the city.  One of the greatest aspects of the bus tour is that you go virtually everywhere you could want, which was convenient for us, one of the stops was near the creperie that we had marked to visit.  We had crepes, oh boy!  Ingrid had one with Salmon and said it was amazing.  I had a crepe with cheese, mushrooms and possibly ham… hard to remember.  It was good.  All was forgotten after the dessert crepes though.  Ingrid’s chocolate sauce was one of the finest displays of wealth one could participate in.  The honey that accompanied mine was also delicious but it’s hard to compete with chocolate.

Nighttime was revealed Ingrid’s surprise for me.  She had booked a table at a very small restaurant that had a great deal of cow related things: photos, trays with cows, little toy cows.  The food was delicious forms of beef.  After dinner we re-visited The Tower, you don’t need me to name it, you know very well which tower.  The light display has the colours of the French flag and lots of people gather around the base of the tower to sit… really.  We sat too, for a little while.  Numerous guys were trying to sell us drinks, we weren’t interested.   That was very nice and restful.  It was spoiled by the attempt to get home.  The Metro stops working around midnight.  On a school night, sure, that seems fairly reasonable, I suppose.  This was Saturday night.  I know why Parisians don’t wake up until 9-10am, they are busy walking home after a night out*.  We walked until we eventually caught a taxi.  We were concerned with the route he was taking, maybe he was pushing up the meter, but we were thinking far more sinister things, he could have really taken us anywhere, to be met by anyone.  It worked out fine though, we slept around 2am.

 

*I must confess that it’s still not nearly as bad as the Blue Mountains line in Australia.  I cannot believe that anybody supports having the final train down the mountain leaving Katoomba at 10pm.

HeadOut Not Quite a Scam

Ok, this post is purely for those who may happen to use the service by Headout. It’s probably not of any interest to anybody else.
As written in this blog post, we travelled to Paris and had bought a bus ticket for L’Open Tour’s Hop On, Hop Off service.  Head Out had a great deal, I think for 2 days on the bus, we would save €9 each ticket.  We were skeptical that the deal would work.  We did a search and there seemed to be fairly positive and also, more importantly, comprehensive feedback all over the internet.  So we put our faith in other user’s feedback and made the purchase.

My email soon received the ticket with advice that we must print the voucher and go to Cityrama Paris, 214, Rue de Rivoli, Paris to redeem the tickets.  Upon arrival at the address in Paris we were told that they had relocated not far away.  Once we got to this new address the service lady kindly told us that there was an issue with her company and Headout and that she’ll see what she can do but that they are currently not authorised to accept the voucher.  Her phone call to management confirmed it and we were offered the option of buying new tickets or contacting Headout to organise with them some other arrangement.

We tried calling Headout, several times, no answer.  We left a message asking them to call us back when they are able, left our details and waited.  We also sent them text messages to get an “instant reply” as per their instruction.  The next day we received a text advising that they are investigating and will contact us with a solution.
I called my credit card company and requested that the payment be suspended or cancelled as we have paid for goods not received.

Out of frustration we decided to go to the L’Open Tour office itself.  Success!  They printed us tickets with no fuss.

It’s been a week since our attempt to contact Headout and we’ve still not heard anything.

My advice would be that if you use Headout for booking the Hop On, Hop Off bus service through L’Open Tour is that you go to L’Open Tour’s shop address: 13 Rue Auber, Paris, France.  It worked for us at least.
Further advice would be that Headout do not seem so concerned with providing customer service.  We’ve still not heard anything and coupled with their no refund policy, this is not a good way to operate.