So a goodly part of this week and this past weekend (after the Aimee Mann show(1), which was fabulous) has been devoted to getting ready for the Europe trip, for which we depart on Friday!! We start in Heidelberg, as always, to pick up and pack the bike (and recuperate from the trip a bit), then moving on to Antwerp, where a good friends of Jeff’s, Carlo and Gabi live (that’s Gabi in the front of the boat, with her son, Tomas, behind her). We’re staying in the city center, and I intend on shopping most mightily. And eating frites. Lots of frites.
At some point during the Antwerp bit we’ll probably take the bike to Bruges for a day, as it is supposed to be lovely and it’s only an hour and a quarter away.
Then on to Spa, where we hope to be able to have Spa treatments, but at worst we’ll have spa baths. (Scheduling mishap on my part — I didn’t think to make reservations far in advance, which I’m normally quite anal about). Oh well. Worst worst case, we’ll do something like the Castle at Rochefort or Chimay (aka Trappist ale land).
On Thursday, the rest of the gang shows up. This year will be a big one, as it’s the 10th anniversary of EP, with folks coming from Switzerland, Germany, USA, Japan (1), Spain, Portugal, Italy, UK, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden and Ecuador! Needless to say, I can’t wait. I’m not as anxious as in years previous, as I feel like I know folks, and I’m quite glad to be seeing everyone again.
Post-EP we head for Luxembourg for two nights, after which I fly home and Jeff continues on to ride unencumbered for a week more.
The good news about the getting ready is that my comprehensive list (which I update every year with learnings from the year previous) makes everything pretty simple, even though the logistics of preparing for a motorcycle trip can be complex (you have all the normal packing issues, with the additional constraint of everything having to fit in a small waterproof duffel. Add to that the fact that the “gear” is critical — and also complicated — and the whole thing has the potential to be a nightmare.)
In other news, one of my cow-orkers (thanks thebrooomecloset for the terminology) has a cell phone that’s set to play Reveille (you know, the “I can’t get’em up, I can’t get’em up, I can’t get’em up in the morning” song). In general, I think phones should ring, not sing (particularly as they do it so poorly), and in specific, phones should NEVER do this.
(1) The Aimee Mann show was wonderful! Heather and Steve met Jeff and me at the Wellspring (I refuse to call it Whole Foods) to procure foodstuffs. Two loaves of bread, chicken salad, hummus, three kinds of cheese, three kinds of meat, strawberries, cherries and mini-desserts later, we headed out for the show. Product endorsement: I have one of those rolling cooler thingies (that’s not the exact model I have…mine was cheaper at Target) and it ROCKS! Also highly recommended are the chairs that have backpack straps (not the ones that come in the green bags… I don’t like those one bit, as they’re too tall) — they’re low, portable and have a great big pocket on the back into which you can stuff more goodies.
Anyway, she was great. At one point someone hollered “Free Bird” and she joked about wishing she knew how to play it, but then went on to play something else. Much later in the show (during the encore?) she was hemming and hawing (but in a cute way) about what to play and someone (perhaps even the same one) hollered “Free Bird” again.
And she started to play it! Or something like it. She was clearly making it up as she went along (geez! I wish I could play *any* instrument by ear!), so her version contained the hilarious lyric: “You can’t tame a bird” rather than the “And this bird you cannot tame.”
She also was tres amused by the spinney flashy light things and asked the light-bearers (which sounds a whole lot more profound than “drunken concert-goers”) to do an “interpretive dance” to the next song. They did, which apparently surprised her — so much so that she started laughing three times at the beginning of “Deathly” (I think that was it, anyway), and had to scold herself: “be a serious artist now” :-D