woensdag 18 juli 2012

July 14th/15th: Last Minute To London, # 1

Got up at 5.30 and felt like a zombie. One of those moments when I wonder what I’m doing! Around 6 we were on the road back to Amsterdam again, feeling a bit silly :-)
We were very lucky with the traffic, only had to stop for an opened bridge that let through 10 boats (or one very long one with a lot of masts, we don’t know yet) and without problems, and way to early we arrived at the long term parking of Schiphol.
The only thing we were able to arrange in such short time, was the flights, for the rest, we didn’t have a clue what we were doing, so it wasn’t a nice surprise when we saw the amount of money we had to pay at the parking, but at least we’re with 4 to divide it with.

Only questions...

Easy Jet is one of those budget airlines and that shows, for example at the place where you check in (in a corner) and also the gate (in a different corner after long walk) but whatever. First thing the others did was run to Starbucks, but I wanted to sleep in the plane, so no coffee for me. I walked around a bit, found a place where they sold grapefruits (!) and then saw I missed 5 calls from Robert; they were panicking because “we would barely make it to the gate” and we hurried there, running over these moving belts (whatever they are called) and pushing old people and other slow traffic away :-D just kidding. (for some reason we were not allowed to the gate yet and we had to wait where we were)
At the security check I realised I still had all this stuff in my bag that wasn’t going to make it through the scanner and I started to throw them out, but the lady said “just move on, my colleges will see it” so I did, and her coworkers didn’t see anything at all; my plastic knife and fork, my deodorant, handgel, sewingkit; safetypins… hmm!!
Ofcourse when we were through, the others realised we had plenty of time, so we could relax a bit again.

By then, it started raining like crazy, and while we were waiting at the gate we saw other people getting in planes and they all ran, then had to wait in line to get in, and seeking cover helding their handluggage above their heads. Oh dear! That’s another one at Easy Jet: you have to get in the plane with stairs, no nice corridor “slurf” for us! (I think I am making up words here but you know what I mean)
So when it was our turn, I put on my raincoat, we all ran outside, but they only opened one door and we had to wait. When we finally got inside, and the steward asked my boarding pass, I only could hand him a completely soaked piece of paper with ran through ink but I was let in.
By then I started to realize I was about to FLY, and I don’t like flying!!! Everything has gone so insanely quick, that it only struck me when we were inside the plane.
The flight from London to Amsterdam maybe took 45 minutes, and we slept most of it.

When we touched down on the airport of Southend, it wasn’t raining, but when we looked back at the plane, we saw some extreme black clouds coming our way, and we realized we had to look for rainboots and raincoats.

Very quickly we were through immigrations and everything, and when I went to the bathroom, a woman addressed me about Fogerty and she said she was going too.
We got some money out of the machine, but we didn’t know the rates. Last time I looked the pound was about 1,1 euro, Alessio thought it was now 1,4 euro. (it actually was 1,27) We just took some money (thank goodness we still had some) and went to the trainstation. That was the other thing we found out before we left home: there was a trainstation :-D
The woman that sold us the tickets, was the first in a long row of extremely NICE people we met that day, helping the lost souls we were, strangers without a clue! (we didn’t even know where we were, found out later that Southend is east of London.) I had feared that we would pay a crazy amount for the train, but we had a special offer; buy two, get two free! Wow!! So we had a returnticket for only 11 pound! She told us in the detail where to go and what to do, and we waited outside in the rain for the train.
I think the trip took about 50 minutes. First, I was looking out of the window telling myself “you are in the United Kindom” all the time, then I felt asleep, and I woke up again when we already entered greater London. Interesting stuff to see, and all those old brick building DID look very English to me! Then we passed an Olympic site, with a futuristic looking stadium and a very weird “thing” that looked like someone had tied a rollercoaster in a big knot. We still don’t know what it was but it looked interesting.

We had now reached Liverpoolstreet Station, and my heart said “John only has to go on at 5, lets run around London, LONDON until then!” Just like I always had in mind when I thought about going to this concert: come early, do a lot of sightseeing, taking it easy, and go to the concert and watch in the back, as you cant beat Bruce Springsteen fans anyway (man those guys are HARDCORE!!)
But my mind said “we have to go there asap, call the Ticket Fairy asap, sort things out asap, everything asap!”
To leave the trainplatform, you have to insert your ticket in the gate, and both Anne and me got refused all the time, and we got a little worried, (maybe first stadium of panic) until a friendly local behind us told us “that gate is closed, use this one!” Oh thank you, so that is what “NOT AN EXIT” means??? :-D
As it still was pouring, and Alessio and Anne didn’t have raincoats (anymore) we ran into a pharmacy (Boots) and they sold them. They also had sandwiches at reasonable prices, aaaaaand, a lot of ENGLISH CHOCOLATE omnomnomnom, and FLAPJACKS!! (some type of oatmeal bar, very good)
Anne and I looked at the candybars and she said what I was thinking: just EVERYthing looked different then at home. 

Welcome to London!

We didn’t know where to go, apart from “HydePark” but that’s a very big place. Then we wanted to know the cheapest way to get there, and we met this extremely friendly and patient Underground Guy who took at least 15 minutes to explain everything we wanted to know, while the line behind us was growing and growing :-)
We left with one of those electronic cards, you have to scan them when you enter the station, and ofcourse mine didn’t work the first 3 times, aaa!!!
There’s a stop called “Hyde Park Corner” , and there was also “Marble Arch”, and the last one had an Olympics sign saying “Hyde Park” so after some discussing, and changing our minds 10 times, we took the Central Line to Marble Arch.
Going there, we wondered if the Olympics maybe already started. We had been living in a bubble the last two weeks. We didn’t even dare to ask someone, afraid they might think we’re form a different planet.
The London Underground is one of those typical London things, and stopping at some famous stations, I felt a bit more and more where we were, but the real sensation came when we stepped in the daylight across the street from Hyde Park. We were in London! There were red double decker busses all around, black English cabs, typical English policemen, and crazy traffic that was about to ran over you from the wrong side of the road.

I think I was the only one desperately trying to absorb as much London as possible, well we were there for John offcourse. We have had these situations before, visiting special places and don’t have time to see anything, but it felt a bit extreme now, and I had an idea how it must be when you travel around the world in a band, go to all these great places, and only see the venue.

Across the street we saw these big white tents, and we didn’t know if that was the festival entrance or something Olympic, and we didn’t see anyone to ask, so we walked around a bit first. Coming closer, it turned out to be the BIGGEST entrance we’ve ever seen, must have been at least 50 gates!!! We didn’t even know what the name of the festival was, and went to the ticket office to ask if this was “the concert” but then we noticed it said “Hard Rock Calling” so we assumed this was the concert and not the Olympics :-)
We made it!!! We were there!!! Next step: getting inside.
Then we noticed: a paper on the window saying “Tickets 70 pound” first I just thought “that’s not much for such great names” and it took me a while to realise…
It was NOT SOLD OUT!!! So many people didn’t go because it was sold out, and now it wasn’t!!! Oh boy, we knew a lot of people would freak out if they heard that!!!
It was one of the reasons we didn’t plan to go, but we talked about going and trying to get a ticket somewhere. If we had done that, we would have gone in without any problems!
Now we were here, we called the Ticket Fairy, but he didn’t answer his phone, so we asked where backstage entrance was, and we went to see if maybe the tickets would be there.
We were curious about what we would get (if we would get).
Robert went to ask, and stuck up this thumb; we were covered!! Wooo!!!
We were on the guestlist :-D we didn’t just get tickets, we were on the effin guestlist!!! HOLY!!!
We got a nice wristband saying “guest” ha! And we could get in through the VIP/guest entrance. Ha!

They checked our bags, opened Alessio’s coca cola and SNIFFED IT, haha, to check if it wasn’t booze!
Bringing in water wasn’t a problem, inside we found out why: several taps with free drinking water; thank you London!!
We called the Ticket Fairy back to say we were inside, this time he did answer and we all screamed “thank you!!!” in his ear.

We were in, we made it!!

The festival field was enormous,  and not extremely buisy yet. We had another discussion about whether or not trying to stand at the front, and I said I was way to tired to fight my way up through rows of Springsteen fans. (they ARE hardcore!) We did check the stage out first, there were already quite some people standing there, but we wanted to look around abit, relax and have something to eat.
We noticed an entrance for the “guest/VIP lounge” and went in. At the same time, some others wanted to go inside to but they were stopped, and the guy who stopped them said to us “yeah, YOU guys are allright, you’re the blue wristbands, you go in” hahahaha!! Our ego’s kept growing!!
The lounge contained several foodstands, decent toilets, and nice seats (the only ones at the festival!)
We went back outside, wanted to see the merchandise, ran into Martin from the merchandise, and looked around for food and a drinkingwater tap that worked.
What did I see?? A fish and chips stand!!  My decision was made! I ordered one, and it was good, but also it was soaking in grease, so when I was finishing it I had a small vision of how I would experience the concert from a porto potty.
Robert found pizza, ordered “a whole pizza” and came back with something the size of a 7” record. We thought it was the funniest thing ever, especially after that ridiculous BIG pizza in Norway earlier, but he was really pissed off that they charged him 8 pounds for that!! I got a personal escort to the watertap + demonstration by a staffmember.

Slowly we stepped int the crowd in front of the stage, and tried to get as close as possible without problems. It was quite a struggle to get there as everywhere there were people sitting on the floor and we really had to zigzag through the crowd, trying not to lose eachother or step on someone going “sorry! Scuse me for that! Sorry! Oh was that YOUR beer?” all the time, and we stopped around row 15.

3 and a half hour to go, and I got a bit desperate. That’s a long time to stand on your legs if you’re tired. After a while we sat down, but it wasn’t easy, or very clean. Directly on my right were 3 people sitting on a blanket with 3 big bags in the middle, I parked my bag against theirs so we had a bit of space. We watched other people struggle to get through, had others climb over us just like we had to climb over others before, but everyone was very polite. They all said “excuse me!” and then “thanks love” so cute :-) we helped a few getting through by letting them a hand while we were standing, it was al very friendly and polite and relaxed. People just tried not to step on you, and if they accidentally kicked you, you got an immediate excuse and because it was so relaxed it was never a big deal.
The first band started, forgot their name, but the music didn’t make a big impression on us anyway, we cheered politely and thought “oh god, 3 hrs to go, we’re never gonna make it!!!” boredom and exhaustment seemed to beat us!
At some point, I don’t know when, Arnold joined us. I don’t know how we found eachother, probably called him a few times. One of the funny things to watch was when people called friends and tried to make clear where they were standing. The Italians on our direct left were calling their friend and waved at him when they found him, he waved back, so we all started waving at him too :-) Others were holding something in the air, like a book, backpack, pizzabox, stools, anything unusual (so no umbrella’s or caps)
“I’m holding a green polka dot inflatable chair, can you see me??”

Next artist, Tom Morello, never heard of him. On the stage a guy with an acoustic guitar appeared, with a banner in the back saying “the nightwatchman”
I cant really say when he caught my attention, but the next 45 minutes went by just like that, and everyone in the audience was on his feet.
We were the only ones that didn’t know that Tom is the ex Rage Against the Machine guitarist, but that didn’t matter. He turned out to be a great punk/folk or whatever you wanna call it singer/songwriter, and extreme leftwing. He was only singing political songs, and got most of the audience support on most of them. I dreamed away listening to his speeches about a better world and got touched by his lyrics about the wrong stuff that’s going on in the world. Turned out it was Woodie Guthries 100 birthday,  he said WG would be a big supporter of the Occupy movement and sang one of his songs. At the end he brought a firefighters team on stage that was on strike for better wages and sang a protest song together. Everything was brought with a lot of humor and a lot of f-words :-) and so all of a sudden time had flown!

Tom Morello on the screen

Between the shows, tweets were shown on a big ticker, and some of them were funny or cute, but the one that made everyone on the field laugh out loud, was one going
“Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce!” it just kept on going, loved it. Bruce fans have the habbit to yell “Bruuuuuuce!” and it sounds like “Booooooo!” really weird at first.

Third artist of the day was Lady Antebellum, I thought they were a cool soulband I’ve seen on Facebook the other day, but they weren’t. They were probably very good, and professional, but they lost Anne and me halfway the first song, and we sat down again because now we were even more tired and bored. I didn’t feel bad about it cos the band didn’t see us sit down anyway. I sat down cross-legged, held my head in my hands and even managed to FALL ASLEEP!! Anne was getting a new hairstyle from Alessio and Robert was just being bored and tried not to fall down.

Finally, finally they were done and we got up again. Crowd was getting denser and we watched Johns crew getting everything ready.
We already noticed that there were people from all over the world, as flags were shown on the big screens, fans from France, Sweden, Mexico, Peru, Spain, even Friesland :-D
We agreed to meet at one of the big towers holding speakers, “delay 5” if we would get lost. There were lots of them and they went up to 10 at least.

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