Berlin, Germany 28, 29 October, 2011

Friday was a day off in Berlin.  Straight down to the gym for the usual 90 minutes.  A couple of our guys were down there doing pilates with tour manager Tim Hook leading the exercise session. Very impressive.  Back to the room and put out an e-mail to see if anyone might be interested in joining me for lunch at the Augustiner restaurant just down the street from our hotel.  I'd had a great meal there last year and they have Augustiner beer on draft.  This is one of several the Augustiner brewery restaurants around the country, specialising in traditional German cuisine; roast pork, various wursts, wienerschnitzel, goulash, roast chicken, pig knuckles, dumplings... etc. Jim Cox rang to say he was in, so off we went for a mid afternoon lunch of sausages, wienerschnitzel, warm potato salad and sauerkraut washed down with massively delicious Augustiner bier.

After lunch we both thought walking some of it off might be a very good idea so we headed east to Checkpoint Charlie, the old crossing between west and east.  On the way we bumped in to John McCusker and the three of us arrived at our destination which is now an empty lot that has been filled with sand, deck chairs, tapas bar and general beachy stuff.  Very strange.  It is called Charlie's Beach.

Made our way back to the hotel around 5 in the afternoon and got an e-mail from Glenn wondering if anyone was interested in dinner, if so, 7 in the lobby.  We met down there and ended up going back to the Augustiner Restaurant for another serious meal just on the heels of lunch.  Jim and I ended up sharing a meat platter, a heart attack waiting to happen.  Slabs of roast pork, ham, an assortment of wurst, veal meatballs, dumplings the size of a baseball, all on a bed of warm sauerkraut.  Steins of beer arrived that were so large and heavy you could scarcely hoist them when full.  An unbelievable amount of food and beer was consumed, all of it delicious.  By 10 o'clock we had nothing left to do but go back to the hotel and crash.

I woke this morning feeling like I'd just walked away from the table, absolutely stuffed.  Got some coffee and spent the rest of the day playing guitar and taking care of some e-mail.  We left for the gig at 3:30 and arrived at O2 World Arena having passed several blocks of what was "the wall" which now sports artwork of every kind painted on it.

Guy's wonderful wife Laurie is here visiting him in Berlin and very kindly brought Guy's banjo along so he and I could get our first lesson from Donny Herron.  Donny was very patient with us and showed us the basics of the clawhammer style.  Ass backwards to playing guitar.  This will be an ongoing tuition for the rest of the tour much to the chagrin of the rest of the band.  Problem is we have nowhere to practice as we daren't do so in the dressing room!  I suppose we'll be found wandering the hallways of European venues from here out.

By the time dinner was served I was ready to eat again after yesterday's gluttony.  A halibut steak, some peas and a slice of hazelnut torte.  Great.  Change clothes and spin through another fine gig with a wonderful audience that hung on every note.  Love this tour.

Back to the hotel early after the gig and several of us went back to the Augustiner Restaurant for some beer and a light after show snack.  Right.  More wienerschnitzels, bratwursts, veal meatballs, french fries, kraut, warm potato salad and gallons of bier.  I don't think any of us would stand up to a blood cholesterol check right now, but it was an absolute miracle of tastes.

We decamp Berlin and our fabulous Hotel de Rome early tomorrow for a four hour bus ride to Hamburg where we have.... wait for it.... another day off.  The pace is killing us.

So long,

Richard