Hello. My name is Isaac, 35 years old from Vancouver, Canada. I have set this blog up to document my journey following Mark Knopfler’s 2013 “Privateering” tour, from April 25 (Bucharest, Romania) to July 31 (Calella de Palafrugell, Spain).

Due to Despite the tour’s obnoxious schedule (thanks, Mark), I cannot be entirely sure that I will attend all concerts. That being said, I will try. You are more than welcome to sit back, relax, read, and comment. You can also subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed (see the “Subscribe for Updates” box at the right hand side of the page. For standard RSS readers, select the “Atom” option).

Have fun,

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tel Aviv, Israel to Larnaca, Cyprus to Frankfurt, Germany to Bucharest, Romania (April 21–24, 2013)

I vividly recall the last couple of weeks of the Get Lucky tour being rather obnoxious with respect to travel. I was tired, hungry most of the time, very nervous. It’s not that the rest of the tour was much easier; but something happened in Spain that tipped the scale, making the last couple of weeks very problematic.

This tour, I can definitely say that the few days preceding the tour were so obnoxious, that I can hardly imagine anything more stressful later on down the road. It truly is a story of misfortune and agony.

Originally, I was supposed to fly from Tel Aviv (where I had spent a couple of weeks visiting my family) to Frankfurt on Tuesday, meet Jeroen there and head to Bucharest the next morning. Everything was planned out down to the atomic level; and when I say “everything”, I mean everything. Train travel; hotels; flights; ferries; buses; even maps.

And that’s when the immense clusterfuck took place.

All Israeli airlines decided to go on strike on Sunday, two days before the flight. Due to how workers’ unions in Israel are organized (one superior union governing a bunch of lower level unions, with the superior union being managed in a manner not very different from the Sicilian mafia), it was clear that a strike within Israeli airlines is very likely to spread out to include other sectors, including the aviation sector in its entirety.

As soon as I had learned that a one day strike is coming, I started working on changing my schedule. I thought it may be worth the while to leave Tel Aviv earlier, as who the hell knows what’s going to happen once the strike begins.

Then it turned out that not only Israeli airlines are going on strike, but also Lufthansa—which happened to be the very same airline I was supposed to fly to Frankfurt with. Lufthansa declared a strike for Monday, April 22.

On Sunday, April 21, the superior workers’ union in Israel decided that they’re striking and shutting down the entire Israeli airport (Israel only has one international airport) on… that’s right: Tuesday, April 23, which is when I was supposed to take my flight.

Put yourself in my shoes on Sunday morning. You know you must be in Frankfurt by Tuesday (otherwise an entire travel schedule is at risk), there are no flights arriving to Germany on Sunday (I checked at the airport), there are no Lufthansa flights on Monday (due to Lufthansa’s strike), and there are no flights leaving Tel Aviv at all starting Tuesday indefinitely (the strike wasn’t bound in time).

What a fantastic kick‐off for a tour, huh? dealing with two strikes in two countries.

To minimize the risk to the entire travel schedule, I had to fly out of Tel Aviv on Sunday. Luckily, I found the last ticket available, flying to Frankfurt through Larnaca, Cyprus. Packed quickly, bid my family goodbye and headed to the airport.

The same night, I landed in Larnaca. 2:00am, not a single soul on the street. A taxi cab driving around 120 km/h on roads that I would drive 80 km/h. Entering the city of Larnaca, the taxi cab took wild corners through narrow streets—I could swear that it’s not Larnaca I’m in, but in Jaffa instead. For a moment, I was scared. Here I am in a place I have never been to before, by myself, 2:00am, trapped in a taxi cab that drives insanely through extremely narrow streets.

That 10 minutes taxi ride felt more like an hour. Eventually I made it to the hotel—a rather fine hotel though: Hotel Achilleos. Five hours of sleep, woke up, took my time and, in the meantime, checked my Frankfurt flight’s status online.

It did not show up.

The morning routine is not quite the same when you realize that your intended flight’s does not appear in the airline’s website, I’ll give you that.

Cyprus Airways’ flight status website is rather unusual. Instead of entering your flight number or your route details (like with pretty much all other airlines I had flown with), you have to select an airport first, and then select whether you want to see departures from that airport or arrivals to that airport. Selecting “Larnaca Departures” showed me all Cyprus Airways’ flights leaving Larnaca airport—mine wasn’t there.

It often strikes me odd to find that people overestimate information technologists, as it is considered a respectable profession. Well, here’s news for you: we have idiots in this industry as well. The way their website was structured, it was evident that it wasn’t developed by the most capable minds in the industry. Therefore, instead of checking for all flights departing from Larnaca, I decided to check all flights arriving to Frankfurt.

Lo and behold, there it was. Scheduled to leave on time.

I muttered a few unpleasant verbal gestures, checked out from the hotel (I will definitely visit that hotel again next time I’m in Larnaca), hailed a cab and went on my way.

The airport was so empty, that upon entrance, it was evident that there were more staff people there than actual travellers. Within three minutes of arriving at the airport, I was already past security. Off I went to Cyprus Airways’ VIP lounge (not recommended. If you can, try the Star Alliance lounge instead—however, you can only enter if you’re taking a Star Alliance flight) to pass the time before the flight. Dull food and terrible coffee, but hey, free Wi‐Fi and comfortable seats.

Flight left on time. A few hours later, I finally arrived at Frankfurt.

One of the best things in the city of Frankfurt is that it is extremely easy to get around in. Public transport in Frankfurt will take you from anywhere to anywhere—and, based on my past experience, this is not uncommon in Germany. Renting a car on a city trip to a major city in Germany is a pure exercise in wasting money, time and resources.

S‐Bahn #8 to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, and then a few steps to my hotel for the night, Hotel Excelsior, conveniently located across the road from the station.

I had stayed in that hotel before and swore to never stay in it again. Unfortunately, with the rush of finding an impromptu hotel for the unplanned night in Frankfurt, I forgot everything even remotely concerned with vows and booked it.

The next couple of days were rather uneventful. A few pleasant things worth mentioning are a walk along River Main—it is pretty—as well as Urban Kitchen serving delicious food without having to take on a mortgage. Coffee Fellows on Kaiserstrasse is your place to go for coffee, tea, snacks—great location to chill out and let time pass by harmlessly.

On Tuesday evening, I went to the Ibis Airport hotel, which we had booked for the night before the flight.

Here’s a tip for you if you’re ever going to visit Frankfurt: avoid staying in “airport hotels”. North Americans are very likely to fall into this trap, especially those who live in the less populated areas, as an “airport hotel” is typically associated with “easy access to the airport from the hotel”. While this may be of some advantage in many North American cities, it is completely useless in Frankfurt. It is easier and quicker to get from Frankfurt’s airport to the city center, than it is to get from the airport to any of these “airport hotels”. Simply board the S‐Bahn #8 or #9 from the airport: the city center is within four stops—and there are quite a few hotels there, most of which are significantly better than the one I ended up staying in.

Was good to see Jeroen again, partly due to him being a great companion, but mostly due to the mere fact that he has, in his possession, more than half of our train tickets and concert tickets.

Did some more work, and off to bed.

Signing off this post while on board Tarom’s flight 302 to Bucharest. Today is a day off, which I’m going to be using primarily for work. The tour officially kicks off tomorrow, and my message to the band is simple: getting to Europe was hell, and this tour better be worth it.

(All in good spirit, of course.)




  1. Good start, I guess you can´t wait to reach the Spaniard Hell :-P

  2. On the contrary: I am looking forward to make peace with Spain. Eagerly looking forward to a good Spanish experience this time!

  3. Isaac, gret to follow your blog again! Have you already booked accomodation for whole tour? If not what are places where you still need place to sleep and if you need tips could you give an email address for tips?

    Have a great one!

    1. Hi Anonymous,
      Thank you for the kind words.

      We do indeed have hotels booked for the entire tour, but if someone's willing to offer some space, it's going to be hard to say no.

      You can email me at


  4. Hey Isaac,

    It is great to see that you keep us informed again about your travelling and things that happen during this Tour. I hope there won't be problems the next months with planes, trains or other transport and that you will be on time for the concerts!

    I wish you and Jeroen a wonderful time and hope to meet you both!

    Regards Fieneke

  5. Try Turkish airlines next time.