the original plan was that we were going to go from dortmund to holland for a show. however, the promoter pulled the plug rather unexpectedly when we were in munich, causing a great deal of stress and headaches for jan, rich, and mark. apparently he got 'cold feet', which is rather weird considering how incredibly well attended all of the shows were. in any case, the cancellation left us with a day off, so we went ahead and drove to cologne the day before we were supposed to play, so we would have some time to check out the city.
when we woke up, we were parked in what da5id called "a place where you take cars and shoot them in the head". it was a mix between a scrapyard, parking lot, and construction site...all with a giant tour bus parked in the middle of it. after stumbling outside, i realized we were next to a venue...however, this was not the venue where we'd be performing tomorrow night. jan had somehow managed to get the venue to let us park there and use their power for our bus, which was awesome! that dude is smooth. however, there didn't seem to be anything other than dead cars anywhere in sight, and certainly there was no breakfast catering (a day without ham and cheese sandwiches? unthinkable!). most people on the bus went over to the burger king which was just a few meters down the street. we went in, but immediately left in search of better food. we walked a few blocks into what seemed to be a turkish neighborhood, and were able to get some delicious falafel very quickly, perfect!
back at the bus, the showering and toilet situation was basically part of the club where we were parked. i popped in for a quick inspection and it seemed too gross even for me. it was here we encountered the toilet "shit shelf", which i'll leave to your imagination. i'll just say that european plumbing designs continue to utterly baffle me ("the germans like to inspect things", was pete's quote, which summed it up hilariously). so after a quick sink wash, i was out of there.
the big plan for the day was to get everyone over to the giant cathedral in the center of the city, which involved getting 18 people onto the subway and moved several stops. luckily we were fully stocked up with native german speakers, so we managed just fine. it was raining, which was a big downer for me. the first stop was this massive outdoor shopping center, where we all split up to go walk around (jan: "everyone meet back here at the giant penis at fifteen past six."). we weren't really looking for anything in particular, and seemed to be basically in a big mall, so we went in search of gum, which we never did find. next time, i will bring a minimum of twice as much gum as i brought this time. once people know you're the guy with the gum, you run out really fast. da5id and aaron and i managed to get ourselves rather nicely lost, since the entire area seems to be built on some kind of system of interlocking rings, rather than a grid. as the rings expand outward, they don't always reconnect in the way you'd expect. eventually we managed to find our way back to the group, more or less on time.
next stop was a place literally called "music store", so that sean could buy a replacement part for one of his drums and we could get a new cable for aaron and some extra guitar picks for me. i'd been throwing them out into the audience during every show, so i was running out pretty quickly. the store was cool, though overpriced...and more importantly, had one of the worst interior traffic schemes i'd ever seen...if you wanted to go to the second floor, you had to walk outside, around the building and get into an elevator! want to look at a piano? outside and across the street. it was huge and insane and i paid 6 euros for a packet of guitar picks, which is pretty much full-on robbery, in my opinion. it reminded me of the overpriced 9volt batteries we tried to buy in leipzig.
so after all this, we finally ventured over to the cathedral. it's difficult to find the words to describe it, but i think aaron summed it up pretty nicely "it's funny to see how far people will go to instill fear in people". i shot some video to try and capture some of the scale of this place, i would guess that it's about 15 or 20 stories tall, and incredibly large in every dimension. we went inside, and it's pretty much still a fully functioning cathedral, even though it's a bit of a tourist spot. the stained glass and mosaic tiling on the floor were really quite amazing. it must have taken a hundred years to build this thing, seriously. it's hard to imagine how such a massive building survived the war, but there it was. from outside as the sun was going out of the sky, it looked really demonic, practically black but surrounded by this huge outdoor mall. definitely an "only in europe" type of thing, it was amazing.
after this, everyone was pretty hungry. for some totally inexplicable reason, jan booked a steakhouse for dinner...with 6 vegetarians in the touring party!? we tried to find something acceptable, but to me, salad isn't dinner...it's an appetizer, at best. so, we mutinied and geoff, patrick, da5id, aaron and i went off in search of some kind of asian cuisine, something a little more suited to our dietary needs. we found a perfectly cromulent chinese place, where i ate a decent ma-po tofu, and found out that geoff used to be in that synthpop band 'the nine'. who knew? dinner was hilarious, of course, and we reconnected with everyone else outside, and headed back over to the cathedral for some gluevein, which i found not to my liking. hot red wine is just not my thing, but i gave it a go at least. we saw some models at the louis vuitton store, and that was about as exciting as it got for that evening.
a bunch of us split off to go back to the bus, where we drank and watched some terrible movie i don't remember. it was nice to just chill with people and not have to bust our balls doing a show. eventually the rest of the team came back to the bus, and hilarity ensued, as always. finally passed out and got some sleep.