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 6, 2013

Ljubljana, Slovenia to Zagreb, Croatia (May 5, 2013)

Woke up at 7:00am to the sound of nothing interesting. After a moderately annoying travel day in the day before—involving the most vile, ferocious, deprecated, unwanted and unwarranted type of vehicle referred to as “bus” in earth and as “who the hell rides this thing?” in other planets—it was good to once again be subject to train rides.

The train from Ljubljana to Zagreb left at 8:30am. The day before (Saturday), the city center of Ljubljana appeared as if taken from a futuristic movie where most humans are extinct and the handful that were left were seeking something to do with their lives. On Sunday morning, it was the same, except that not even a handful of people were on the streets.

Two hours train ride, could barely keep my eyes open, which was a shame because that train ride was quite a scenic one, especially while still in Slovenia. It rained, and the sight of rolling mountains, rivers and grey, wet skies took me back once again to some familiar scenes in British Columbia.

Finally arrived to Zagreb at around 10:30am, not knowing at all what to expect. As Croatia was a part of former Yugoslavia, I expected a similar experience to that of Serbia, which didn’t really make me look forward for the day to unfold. It wasn’t before long, though, when I realized how wrong I was.


Hotel rooms are rarely ready for check‐in early in the morning, and the Best Western Premier Astoria hotel, located a few minutes away from the main railway station, was no exception in that regards. Had a couple of hours to kill before checking in, so we set off to explore some of the city center area.

Zagreb’s city center is pretty, green, and has a small town feel. The city’s square is the most popular starting point for touristic walks, as many of the old city’s attractions are within short walking distance.


As it was a Sunday, we happened to just be arriving nearby a massive church, just as the bells were ringing, signifying that we were late for Sunday’s prayer, which didn’t matter much to either of us.


As I wasn’t fully awake yet, coffee was in order and we set on a journey to find a Wi‐Fi‐enabled coffee place. That proved to be harder said than done, as it was a Sunday, in Zagreb’s city center, many businesses are closed for a part of the day.


Eventually, found a nice cafe‐bar called Kvazar, sat outside in the patio, gazing at the locals walking about.


The waiter comes up and starts talking in perfect English. Turns out that he was born and raised… in Toronto, Canada, which is not very far from where I currently live (about 4,300km away, in the same country). Nearby, a woman was seated with a couple of friends. She noticed the presence of tourists, and started talking to us, providing valuable and useful information about Croatia in general, Zagreb in particular, and many other topics… and, for a bet, was able to recognize, within two (!) attempts, the country where I was born and raised. She won free coffee.

On the way back to the hotel, stepping down a flight of stairs…


… A public market, with fresh fruit, vegetables and condiments for sale. Beautiful.

Off to the hotel, checked in and caught up with work. Looking online for a place to eat proved to be useless as virtually all restaurants worthy of a visit were closed on Sundays. The hotel’s restaurant was open, though; delicious food and off for a nap, scheduled to wake up at 7:00pm, to make it in time for the concert beginning at 9:00pm.

Except that it didn’t begin at 9:00pm.

6:45pm, as I lay down with one eye open, still more than a half awake, Jeroen informed me that he had read somewhere that the concert begins at 8:00pm, not 9:00pm. We double‐ and triple‐checked all emails received from; all stated a start time of 9:00pm.

Then I decided to be smart.

– “Check the ticket agency’s link, there might be a start time there”, I barked.

It showed 8:00pm.

Wonderful. It’s almost 7:00pm, the venue is about 45 minutes away by tram, and I’m still more than half awake. Jumped out of bed like a monkey having been bit by a cobra; minutes later we were ready to go, yet acknowledging that taking a tram is not the best way to go about it.

OK, taxi, then.

Turns out that, in Zagreb, there are three big taxi companies, and a few small ones. Something went wrong with the hotel’s line to the taxi companies, which resulted in about 15 minutes wait time until finally a taxi came by to pick us up to the venue. The cab driver arguably deserves the title “cab driver of the tour”, as he was extremely helpful and agreed to meet us after the concert in an agreed‐upon location, so we can quickly get back to the hotel not having to mess around with a huge taxi line‐up after the concert.

The venue, Zagreb Arena, is a(nother) sports arena located in Novi Zagreb (“new Zagreb”), just south of the Sava river. For concerts, it can contain up to 24,000 people. It looks intriguing from the outside (unfortunately, due to being in a rush, no pictures were taken outside the venue), resembling a rib cage.

The concert didn’t start at 8:00pm, as stated in the ticketing company’s website, and it didn’t start at 9:00pm, as stated in the ticket confirmation email.

It started at 8:30pm.


After a couple of concerts being seated in the worst seat in the venue, it was good to finally be seated in a place that offered a decent view of the stage. It was also good not having to block my left ear to avoid sharp pain resulting from high frequencies.

Concert started off as usual, and I was able to figure out Ian’s daily puzzle.

The last statement requires an explanation.

Corned Beef City, performed live, begins with Ian drumming 8 bars before Guy breaks in with the dirty Gibson samples. That would be very easy for Guy to do if those 8 bars were played in a consistent pattern; however, Ian has been in the habit of drumming an inconsistent beat for the 8th bar, challenging Guy to break in with the Gibson sample in just the right moment. So far, Guy has been successful in all attempts. I have been successful in guessing it in all cases but one—I believe that the one I failed was in Belgrade, when Ian drummed something that threw me completely off balance.

This has “disaster” written all over it, but hey, it’s fun!


A new song added to the set: Prairie Wedding, having been played dozens of time during the Get Lucky tour, was resurrected from the abyss and played for the first time this tour—with a slightly different arrangement, having Richard playing the pedal steel guitar instead of an acoustic. I am not sure if it was planned, but the pedal steel guitar was barely heard; however, when it was, it certainly added something positive to the performance.

Del McCoury, a famous bluegrass band from the United States, covered Prairie Wedding back in 2010. They chose to sing it one octave higher, which is most definitely the wrong approach.


Second night in a row that Sultans of Swing is in absentia. Good. Now, one can only hope that Romeo & Juliet is dropped in favour of a song out of Knopfler’s solo repertoire and faith in humanity can be partly restored.

Kingdom of Gold was played again. While this is a beautiful song all throughout, its power to move lies mainly (at least in my opinion) at the outro. The outro this time around was more involved than before—a good sign. There is much left to explore and experiment with here.


No Running of the Bulls in Zagreb; however, that is not to say that people kept seated. Finally, a non‐violent gathering by the stage, without running and smashing people and objects along the way. That’s how it should be done, folks! Yet, something tells me that things are going to be slightly different in Italy.

So Far Away concluded the show, the usual rocking version. May I suggest a different approach, though? About a year ago, Rivka Stein, Leora Israel and myself gathered in a friend’s apartment. Rivka videotaped, Leora sang, I played & “sang”—the only instrument being my much‐beloved Taylor 414CE. One continuous audio take—no overdubs—mixed by my friend Oren Steinitz from Calgary, Alberta.

It was my first time playing in front of any sort of an audience involving more than one person, and I can’t foresee a second time in the near future. It is also very unlikely that I will cover any Knopfler songs ever again; this one just begged for it.

How I wish “So Far Away” would be played live.

(Due to a problem during the video/audio editing—wrong codec being used—there are a few “clicks” in the audio. If you’re interested in the click‐free version, please contact me.)

Quickly left the venue after the show, with the intention to make it to the hotel as soon as humanly possible due to the upcoming horrendous travel schedule. A quick bite in a pizzeria called Lira in the city center—delicious pizza, shared both ways for about €10 including drinks.

Signing off this post while on board the EuroCity 158. Long travel day—12 hours (!) train ride from Zagreb to Prague, with a brief 30 minutes stop in Vienna. That’s the longest travel day in the tour, but not the hardest one: the hardest one is going to be the 9+ hours bus ride from Prague to Lodz, two days from now. If anyone has any better idea how to get from Prague to Lodz on Wednesday (flights are too expensive—already checked), please share.



  1. wow !Great duet. I really enjoyed it. Leora has such beautiful voice. You both should do more covers from All the road running album, such as I dug up the diamond, rolling on and so on.

    From Wannee

  2. Beautiful rendition, Isaac and Leora!

  3. Now to Prague...a city ruined by weekend German sex tourists. These are not exclusively male.

    1. Interesting that you mentioned it. I was just finishing up the Prague post and one of the things I mentioned there was what you just commented (although I neither knew, nor inquired, about the origin of those sex tourists).

    2. The ruination involves organised crime, drugs and traffic in young girls and boys. The Czechs built a motorway heading for the border the on the Austrian side is a 5 meter wide country road. Austrians knew what would happen. So Prague turned to Berlin and this mess is the result.