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Blog: The German Tour: part one - TRAVEL.

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It was very very VERY early on Thursday morning when i trudged along Leytonstone High Road in The Other Rush Hour. It was cold, dark, and i was feeling Not At My Best at that time of day, and I couldn't quite persuade myself that I was actually going to be TOURING GERMANY.

Worse was to come when I eventually got to Heathrow - I was at Terminal 5, which is MISERABLE. It seems designed to put everyone in a bad mood, especially one woman in Security who was obviously missing her calling as The Horrible Headmistress of a Primary School. "Ladies and Gentlemen" she BELLOWED at a huge crowd shuffling through security, "In case it has escaped your notice this is a METAL detector. Take ALL metal objects out of your pockets please". She might have added "I can stay here all morning. I HAVE MARKING TO DO".

My own bad mood slowly disappeared... to be replaced by PANIC. I dash around England easily enough on my own, but it's a LONG LONG TIME since I've travelled that way internationally, and I really don't like it. I've got used to having The Features On My Map with me, and not having someone there to CHECK things with (or indeed to get a Much-Needed-HUG from) made me feel extremely paranoid.

And then when we got on the plane things got EVEN MORE ANNOYING, as I was sat behind an ENORMOUS FAT MAN. They'd given him two seats, as he was so big he'd've squashed someone next to him, but that was no help to me at all. You know when someone puts there seat back as far as it'll go, and you feel a bit squashed? He'd done that but because he was so massive it was shoved RIGHT into my face, so that it was impossible to get the table down and I had to abandon reading my magazine and get out a smaller BOOK instead.

At one point I thought i was being MEAN, as an attendant came down the aisle with an extra seatbelt for him. "Hibbett!" i thought, "He's got a CHILD with him - THAT is why he's got two seats and he's probably heavy because it's sitting on his lap", but no, it was an EXTENSION so he could fit it round him. He was asked to put his seat forward for take-off, did so, but then 30 seconds later put it ALL THE WAY BACK. I tell you this - he got a HECKLOAD of BAD VIBES directed at the back of his neck, especially when we started taking off and he went back EVEN FURTHER. I thought I was going to be HIBBETT PUREE!

Final Moan: the meal was a salmon sandwich, no vegetarian alternative (and no option to ask for one beforehand) and no booze. RUBBISH!

When we arrived we trooped over the gangway and STRAIGHT into passport control. On the other side of that was a mini-carousel - it was weird, like they'd built 20 mini-airports round a central car park, but worked extremely well and soon I was out, buying a ticket, and hopping aboard a bus... where PANIC returned. Had I got on the right bus? Would I know where to get off? My FEAR was such that I ended up getting off a stop early (i later realised), and having a big walk to Alexanderplatz.

For LO! This is where we'd agreed to meet. "We're having a currywurst in front of the television tower" Tim had texted - the TV Tower is VERY difficult to miss, so I strode towards it. I walked through Alexanderplatz station and thought "I wonder where they ... oh, there's Tim, waving!"

The Validators: REUNITED! After a quick conflab (during which we TUSSLED MENTALLY: we all knew whoever took the lead walking off would be in charge of MAPS for the duration) TIM led us off in the direction of our flat. We couldn't get in until 4pm so took a tiny detour to look at The Bang Bang Club, where we were due to play that evening. In the window was a lovely poster based on THIS picture. "What sort of audience is THAT going to attract?" The Validators asked. "A SEXY audience!" I replied and, as if to prove my point, at that moment three GURLS walked by and looked at the poster, SQUEALING with delight.

All right, they were waving through the window at someone, but STILL.

We STRODE off in search of a PUB... and couldn't find one! Everywhere that served beer seemed to be a Cafe and it took us AGES until we found a Russian Themed pub where we FINALLY enjoyed our first beer of the trip. Also our second.

More walking and we at LAST reached our flat, just as the owner arrived to let us in. It was up three flights of stairs and was actually really nice, if a bit, well, Eastern Block. It was actually JUST in West Berlin (the wall had been visible from the window and was only 50 feet from our front door!) but the PLUMBING, like having one tap for sink AND shower AND bath, made it feel extremely old fashioned.

Still, we were IN and one trip to Aldi later (yes, we DID do a "humourous" picture of me looking shifty, having previously declared I'd be Never Going Back To Aldi's) we were settled and ready to start The Tour Proper.

We made up our beds - hey, we may be monsters of ROCK, but we might have been staying up past MIDNIGHT, this was MUCH more sensible - packed our bags and set off to see what Berlin had in store for us. The Tour had BEGUN!

posted 16/11/2009 by MJ Hibbett

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