We woke up in Hamburg and made our trek from the hotel about halfway to the car before I realized that I’d left my hat in the hotel room, so I hauled ass back to grab it while Dan stood on the corner Googling himself for about fifteen minutes. As I walked back along the vomit soaked, dead-hooker-lined Reeperbahn morning avenues I couldn’t help but notice the large percentage of absolute weirdos that were out. Usually, 7am is a time for kids and moms, joggers and go-getters, but Reeperbahn dawn is really nothing more than cyberpunk junkies, excruciatingly hammered trolls and aggressive looking Mad Max types walking around with what I’m guessing are hookers just getting off work. Quite a scene.
We loaded up the Audi and headed to the Hamburg train station where we could, in theory, drop off the car. We saw a Europcar sign in the large, general parking lot and pulled in. A guy waved us over towards a spot and we parked, took a look at the guy, realized he was a parking lot-dwelling hobo, drinking a beer at 730am, and took off. We found another Europcar drop point about half a block away in a subterranean parking garage located behind a gas station. We drove down to the Europcar section where we parked in a spot. We found a folding table in the middle of the garage where a Turkish guy (completely ununiformed) was sitting. He said “yes, give me the keys.” We asked if he needed to know where the car was parked or, indeed, what kind of car it was. He insisted everything was fine. We hesitated a moment and then decided that we really had no other move at this point, so we gave the guy the key and asked if he needed us to sign anything. He insisted that everything was all taken care of, so we left, not completely sure that we hadn’t just delivered a state of the art luxury car to a random dude who had just had the wherewithal to bring a card table into an empty parking garage.
We headed to the train station and went to everyone’s favorite local German breakfast place, McDonalds, where we both got croissant sandwiches (it’s a croissant cut in half, longways, with a slice of McDonalds cheese melted in there with some cubes of ham…actually pretty good). Dan got some kind of McMuffin or Biscuit as an auxiliary sandwich as well and went to sit down while I waited for my food. Well, unbeknownst to Dan, he had sat at a table that belonged to the neighboring “Irish Pub” and by the time I came out, he was in a colorful discussion with the waiter at the Irish Pub about whether or not sitting there was okay. We ended up moving and sharing a long table with a guy that looked a lot like George RR Martin and his wife over on the McDonalds side.
We went down stairs and caught the train to Berlin. The train was made by a company called ICE and while the ICE trains look really fancy, they’re actually a bit janky and uncomfortable, truth be told. We got off the train in Berlin and checked into a hotel right across the street from the train station. The hotel was baby blue and slate grey and staffed by dapper homosexuals and aerodynamically Teutonic young ladies in uniforms that recalled those of flight attendants. I was supposed to play a short set at the Ramones Museum around 5 pm and we were both exhausted, so we went up to our room and got into our bed and napped.
I woke up starving and ready for a beer around 4. I told Dan my plans and he decided that while I went down to the bar to eat and generally get my shit in order, he’d stay in the room and beat his dick as though it had just backsassed him in front of the community elders…Well, he didn’t actually put it in those words, but it was implied. I went down and had a Becks and a ‘toast’ which is a German way of saying grilled cheese. It was easily one of the greatest grilled cheeses I’ve ever had in my life. Dan came down about fifteen minutes later (ahem) and also ordered a grilled cheese and agreed that it was excellent. Right around this time, I got a call from the promoter who was concerned that I had not yet shown up at the Ramones Museum. I assured him I was on my way and we jumped in a cab and shot over there through the light Berlin rain.
The Ramones Museum is, to put it mildly, fucking awesome. It’s about the size of a large pub, and it’s packed with cool shit celebrating the history of the band. One of the best things we saw was a poster for a show that featured the Ramones headlining, a band called the Dogs playing main support with a little known band called Van Halen opening. The curator of the museum is a guy named Flo who is one of the singularly nicest, most hospitable dudes on the planet. AND, the museum sold beer! It was pretty much the coolest museum experience I’ve ever had. I played about six songs, most of them requests to a super attentive audience, including a toddler or two.
When I was done, Flo took Dan and I to the gift shop where he loaded us up with stuff for our wives and kids and generally stoked us out beyond our wildest dreams. He put us in a taxi and sent us to the Roter Salon. On our way, our cabbie was going through an intersection and some dude coming down the perpendicular road screeched to a halt about a foot from our cab. Our cabbie did the thing where he points at both of his eyes with his two first fingers and then points at the guy with those fingers, implying “I’m watching you.” This so incensed the dude in the other car, that he jumped out of his car all puffed up and galumphed over to our car to presumably kick our cabbie’s ass. This bravado would be short lived however, as he’d forgotten to put his car in park and, as such, it idled forward into the side of the cab, completely deflating the guy’s rage. He hurredly jumped back in his car and reversed, threw the car in park and when he walked back towards us, it was with the handshake of pudlike surrender stretched out before him. We decided we’d walk the rest of the way and just got our stuff and made our way to Roter Salon on foot.
Roter means red, and apparently this room, which was gorgeous, was an old jazz club in the 30’s. The whole place was painted red and extremely classy. We were told that there’s a place called, I believe, Grun Salon (green) which is across town, all green, but otherwise identical. Pretty cool. We set up, soundchecked and then went across the street for some food and beer.
The place we ended up was entirely Australian. Everyone working there, every patron, everyone was Australian. It was apparently the bar in the lobby of some kind of backpacker hostel, but the only thing that was truly clear to me was that everyone in this place was fucking the shit out of one another. It seemed like it was ready to erupt into a full on Eyes Wide Shut scenario at any moment, which is cool. We sat there and drank Guinness and ate burgers (Chicken for me, beef for Dan) and talked to a dude (Australian) who was gonna see the show and was, to put it mildly, pretty excited. We walked back over to the club and got ready to make party.
People showed up and the show was looking great. I played and then Dan played. Both of us had great shows. Our friend Dave, who books the Lawrence Arms, along with a bunch of other Fat bands in Europe showed up at the show and we had some cocktails and hung out and then he took us back to his Italian restaurant where we ate amazing pizza and drank all sorts of grappa and weird pink frosty stuff until we were completely immobile. We took a cab back to our hotel, made a brief attempt to hang out at the bar, but decided rather quickly that we were gonna be better off sleeping, as tomorrow was gonna be a LONG day. We were headed to Vienna, which was a ten hour train ride. It would also go on record as the single greatest pigfuck of the entire tour, but we didn’t know that yet. We settled into our bed in Berlin, blissfully unaware that we were about to experience the trains on a whole new, deeply immersive level.