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,

Note: The contents of this blog are also available in hardcover and paperback formats. For more information, click here:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bremen, Germany to Antwerp, Belgium to Delft, The Netherlands (May 12, 2013)

The original plan for the day was to take the 7:44am train from Bremen to Köln; change in Köln, ride to Brussels; change in Brussels and eventually arrive to Antwerp at around 2:30pm. That’s close to 7 hours in total. However, as Ingrid was going to drive from Bremen to Antwerp to catch the concert, and as I’d highly prefer Ingrid’s company over train staff, we decided to hitch a ride with her.

Right after breakfast, I rushed upstairs to the hotel room to finish my previous blog post, which took another hour and by 10:00am we were on our way to Antwerp.


I was under the impression that I had a good night sleep the night before, looking forward for an extremely long day. Turned out I was a little off in my appreciation to last night’s sleep: 30 minutes into the ride I was already passing out on the passenger’s seat, consistently trying to fall asleep and even more consistently failing to do so.

Ingrid is a wonderful person, and knows her way around handling cars, especially fast ones. Also, Ingrid is not a huge fan of speed limits, which worked very well in Germany as some parts of the highways we took had no posted speed limit. At times, we were cruising at 170–180 km/h, which is about 60 km/h faster than the maximum speed I allow myself to drive back home in Canada. At such speeds, I often felt as if I was travelling through a time warp. Time stretched, space shrunk—and still, Ingrid somehow made it feel like a non‐issue at all.

As it was the end of a long weekend in Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands, there roads were busy at times so we did spend some time in traffic; but altogether, we made it to Antwerp in about five hours and a half including two breaks.

Rumours had it that I actually fell asleep. I’m not entirely in agreement.

Arrived to Antwerp at around 3:30pm, five hours before show time. Left all of our belongings in Ingrid’s car and went to see what’s there to do nearby the venue.

I have been to Antwerp a few of times before. It is the capital of Flanders, a province in Belgium, and it is a very pretty city with a rich history that dates back to the 16th century. The last time was in 2010, during the Get Lucky tour, and I remember walking through the city’s beautiful streets, featuring stunning buildings that make you feel as if you are walking into the past.

The venue—Sportpaleis—is located at a remote part of the city’s north, in an area that looks shady at best and, quite frankly, ugly. Therefore, if you are to attend a concert in this venue and it’s your first time ever in Antwerp, beware not to form an opinion about the city just by the sight of the ugly surroundings of this venue because you’ll be doing a great disservice to yourself.

Nearby the venue, there is nothing interesting to see, do and/or eat. There are a few restaurants, none of which I would feel extremely happy dining in. The livelihood of these establishments highly depends on the events taking place in the Sportpaleis and its neighbour, the Lotto Arena: the restaurants aim at punishing those who weren’t fortunate enough to eat somewhere else (say, at home), and the bars are there to sell beer that, apparently, it is impossible to do without these days. Take the two venues out of the picture and this entire neighbourhood dies.

Across the street from the venue, a place called Pizza Lounge sells a dough‐based substance that some cultures would call “pizza”. I don’t belong in such culture. Still, I was informed that other dining options in the area aren’t that much better.

Not far from there, there’s a pub/bar/restaurant called Time Out; it is usually jam‐packed before events and as I joined a few concertgoers there, I couldn’t help but noticing a strong smell of sewage in the entire place—if Ninja Turtles are ever to be found in real life, they must be here somewhere. How could anyone drink, let alone eat, in a place that stinks of sewage? that’s beyond me. I stuck to my guns and kept my stomach empty.

Moral of the story: if you are ever to visit the Sportpaleis or Lotto Arena for an event, then either eat somewhere else beforehand, or bring your own food.

An hour before the concert, it was time to leave the sewer and head to the venue, a march of a staggering 50 meters. The sewage smell still lingered and I’m pretty sure was the reason for me feeling a bit ill for the next few hours.

“Sportpaleis” in Dutch means “Sports Palace”. It is an indoor arena mostly hosting sporting events but also fairs, festivals and other events. Now here’s an interesting piece of Trivia: during 2007–2008, the Sportpaleis was the second most visited event hall in the entire world after the Madison Square Garden in New York. That came as a total shock to me: after all, the Madison Square Garden is located in Midtown Manhattan. Out of all places in the world, how come this deserted neighbourhood in Antwerp is home to the second most visited event hall? Puzzling.

The venue’s facilities are in line with the facilities of other sport arenas I had visited before: nothing fancy, sticking to basics, with the alcohol selection far exceeding the selection of, say, food. Costs €0.40 to use the toilets here, which means that you have to add €0.40 to the price of every drink you buy in this venue. Clever!

The show started a few minutes after the posted start time of 8:30pm.


A 16 songs set, identical to the one played the night before with the exception of Speedway to Nazareth being skipped this time. I am guessing that it was skipped either because the band had to catch a flight to Amsterdam, or because someone up there finally listened to my ongoing prayers, or both.

Most likely, though, it was because of travel constraints. In 2010, the Antwerp concert was the only concert in the tour in which Piper to the End wasn’t played at the encore, as the band had to fly to Amsterdam and thus was subject to the Antwerp airport’s schedules. This time, however, the debt has been paid in full and Piper to the End was played.


Rather apparent during this show was the fact that Mark himself was in quite the good mood: either that, or he tends to emit cowboy‐like vocal gestures for other purposes. The sight of the frontman often smiling, dancing and altogether having a lot of fun worked well with the audience.

The audience, as usually is the case in Knopfler’s concerts in Antwerp, was very receptive. It should be noted that concerts in Antwerp typically involve audiences of mixed sources, as Antwerp is within a reasonable driving distance from The Netherlands, the west part of Germany and the northern part of France. A United Nations of concertgoers.

Concert ended at around 10:15pm, which was perfect: the plan was for Ingrid to drop us off in Breda (a city in the south of The Netherlands, from where we can catch the 11:39pm train directly to Delft, where Jeroen happens to own an apartment. The distance between Antwerp to Breda is about 52km, taking about 40 minutes for mortals to drive and about 4 minutes for Ingrid.

That didn’t work.

As we were parked in the venue’s parking lot, we were told that it’s going to take about 15 minutes to leave the parking lot out into the open. That was taken into account; what wasn’t taken into account, though, is that some people have a different interpretation to the concept of “minute”. It took us close to an hour (!) to leave the parking lot. As we left the parking lot, the reason for the delay became apparent: there were two humans directing traffic instead of machines (that is, traffic lights), and they went about the worst way of doing so, allowing very little time in each cycle for parking lot traffic to clear out.

Once we were out of the parking lot, another challenge emerged. One of the major roads that was supposed to take us to the highway was blocked, so we ended up navigating for about 20 minutes through dark streets and alleys while Ingrid’s GPS kept insisting on directing us back to the closed route.

Eventually we found our way out of that mess and were on the way to The Netherlands; however, we have already missed the last train to Delft, so Ingrid was kind enough to invite us over to her house in Goirle, near Tilburg, conveniently located right next to this:


Very kind of Ingrid to save the day. A short snack and off to bed.

I was so tired as I lay my head to sleep, that I don’t even remember trying to fall asleep at all.

Signing off this post while seated at Jeroen’s desk at his workplace. It’s going to be a relaxing day in Delft today; concert in Amsterdam tomorrow, and two days from now—off to Luxembourg and then, finally, to the UK.



  1. You fell asleep twice dear, but you removed the picture to prove it from my iphone ;-) But Jeroen and I are both witnesses ;-p

    1. You can't prove it, which means that it didn't happen.

      (Those pictures were truly gruesome. I don't understand how your phone didn't shut itself off as a response)

  2. Dear Isaac,
    I am the guy from Germany who talked to you shortly after the Berlin show.
    Again I wanted to thank you for writing down your experiences and thus sharing them with us and letting us participate in what is for sure a dream of many a MK fan.
    I also asked you about your opinion about the two new musicians aboard the MK ship.
    Is your email address somewhere written on your blog site?
    Anyway you can reach me here:
    Thanks again and till soon at another MK show!

    1. Hi Günter,
      Thanks for the reminder. Will write my thoughts in the next post.