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:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Frankfurt to Regensburg, Germany (June 19, 2013)

Wednesday morning, good morning after a good night sleep. Woke up earlier than really needed as I had an important phone call to make. That done, grabbed everything, checked out from the hotel and out into the hell that is Frankfurt.

By “hell”, I mean weather‐wise. It was so hot that the heat made me tired again. Went to Kamps, right across the street from the central station’s north entrance, for a tasty sandwich and some fruit. Then off to the train station.

The itinerary: Frankfurt → Würzburg, 10 minutes connection time, then Würzburg → Regensburg.

On the departures board, a scrolling marquee showed that the train leaving Frankfurt is delayed by at least 15 minutes.

Doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that this weren’t good news. A quick check of the trains’ schedule shown that, if we miss our connection in Würzburg, we’re talking about a delay of about a couple of hours arriving to Regensburg.

With the help of Deutsche Bahn’s staff, we made a few adjustments to the itinerary: leave Frankfurt about 30 minutes past original schedule, connect in Nürnberg instead of Würzburg, then proceed to Regensburg.

Train arrived on time, boarded it, sat down, and decided that it’s time to visit the hospital.

About a week and a half ago, while in Delft, I stumbled upon uneven surface (yes, again. What the hell is going on with uneven surfaces in this continent? can you not build things so they’re just straight?) and fell down, hands first. I remember feeling some pain in my right hand afterwards—which wasn’t that unexpected—but it was one of those sensations that you’d assume were going to pass after a while.

Over the last few days, though, the pain seemed to have worsened. As I am rather paranoid when it comes to my health, I decided to not take any risks. Last thing I need in my life is trouble with my wrist. That decision was taken while on the train out of Frankfurt to Nürnberg; meanwhile, I was reading some information online about what could be the reason for my pain, which got me quite depressed so I took my frustration out by writing.

The 30 minutes connection time in Nürnberg were used to locate a public phone and attempt making a collect call to my travel insurance company. Alas, the T‐Mobile phone stand on site still wanted money for an international call. The €2 I put inside the damn thing were barely enough to ask the person on the other end of the line to call me back: one second after providing the last digit of my phone number, the call was terminated.

Sorted it out: got clearance to go to a hospital and take care of things.

Train to Nürnberg left on time. Shortly before 3:00pm, arrived at Regensburg’s central railway station.

Regensburg is a city in the wonderful, eye‐candy state of Bavaria, Germany. I knew absolutely nothing about it before I saw Knopfler’s tour schedule: I didn’t even know its name. Regensburg? what’s that?

I didn’t even get the time to read anything about it. The night before, as Ingrid, Jeroen and myself were sitting for a late night snack after the hideous Frankfurt experience, Ingrid pulled out her phone, looked Regensburg up and mentioned that the city’s medieval center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

That got me listening. While I’m no fan of that corrupt, screwed‐up organization that goes by the name “United Nations”, UNESCO World Heritage Sites are of interest to me.

So, I was looking forward to visit the city and explore some of its medieval area. That was, of course, before I decided to go to the hospital instead.

Arrived in Regensburg and it was bloody hot. Blimey, what the hell is going on in here? according to a few people I already asked, these temperatures aren’t normal for Germany in June. There’s some sort of a heat wave going on. Whatever it is, please make it stop. It’s ridiculous.

From Regensburg’s central railway station to the hotel for the night, you need to cross one road. Still, when I arrived at the (air‐conditioned) hotel, the only way for me to know I wasn’t on fire was the paddle of sweat all over my upper body.

Checked in, and informed the receptionist that we’ll be right down again so she can hail a taxi for us to the hospital. Up to the room, turned the room’s thermostat to the lowest temperature possible and then some, then immediately downstairs.

The clock was ticking—it’s impossible to predict how long the hospital visit was going to take. The receptionist was busy pouring beer into exceptionally large glasses for some fellow. “Hey, you can take your time pouring beer for that gentleman while I’m in pain here and in need to go to the hospital”, I said, but nobody listened to me—partly because nobody listens to me anyway, but mostly because I didn’t say it out loud.

OH! Good. Beer guy got all the beer he wanted—which looked equivalent to the total amount of beer I had in my entire 35 years of living—prompting the receptionist to finally hail a taxi. 10 minutes later we were at the hospital.

Jeroen was joining as he was supposed to go for a check‐up anyway, one week after his hospital visit in Bergen. Two travel ninjas in a hospital. How pathetic.

The hospital, Caritas‐Krankenhaus St. Josef, is located about a kilometer away from the central railway station. It was opened in 1950 and can lay down up to 300 patients.

Oh, wait, it’s not a concert venue.

Told the receptionist (very cute! OK, let’s move on with it) the history of my entire life, focusing specifically on what happened a week and a half ago. Waited about an hour for my turn in the X‐ray room (more urgent cases, obviously, took priority). The entire ordeal took less than two hours. The result: no visible fractures on the X‐ray—it is probably a trauma‐related pain that should go away with time. I was advised to let that wrist rest, got my wrist and palm wrapped with bandage and some cooling gel and instructed to visit a hospital again if the pain doesn’t go away within two weeks, as a CT scan might be required then.

Tour goes on, for now. Let’s all hope that everything gets back to normal over the next couple of weeks.

Jeroen, by the way, didn’t get his check‐up done as the hospital didn’t have an ENT doctor on site; he’ll have to have his check‐up done in Vienna instead. Still, he stayed along with me. Hats off to a good friend.

Walked back to the hotel (not such a long walk after all). Along the way, I saw this:


38℃ in the shade.

Finalized my previous post and spent some time trying to upload it using the hotel’s crappy Wi‐Fi connection, to no avail. Time was up: got some stuff together and off to the nearest bus station, to catch a ride to the venue—not before stopping for some quick dinner in the central railway station.


The venue, Donau Arena, is located north east of the city center. It is named after the river Donau, which is also known by the name Danube. The reason might have something to do with the fact that the Danube is right nearby.

This venue is primarily used for ice hockey and can contain up to 7,600 for concerts. There’s really nothing special about it. Actually, the venue’s surroundings are much more interesting than the venue itself—lots of green, carrying that special “green” scent that (I think) can best be smelled when the weather is hot and humid.

And it was hot, and it was humid.

Crossing the bridge towards the venue, noticed two lanes of traffic below, two lanes were moving slow:


Went to pick up the tickets. Tickets pick‐up is right at the entrance: it was so hot inside that, for a minute, I was sure that this show is going to break the record in sucking set just the night before in Frankfurt. Grabbed the tickets and immediately exited the building to catch some cooler atmosphere outside in the shade.

As show time approached, I felt like I’m going to be executed. Here I am, Isaac Shabtay, 35 years old with some really interesting life history, and I was just about to enter hell on earth. Really, just kill me now and get it over with.


Miraculously, it turned out that, once inside the venue, ventilation did work. It wasn’t cold or nice, but certainly a lot, lot more tolerable than the Festhalle Frankfurt.

Concert started shortly after 8:00pm. Good concert—enjoyed it more than the night before simply because I could actually manage staying in my seat for most of it (bathroom break towards the end; I did drink a lot of water).

At the concluding E chord of What It Is, something went wrong in Mark’s guitar as the low E string apparently went haywire and lost a couple of tones, prompting Mark to correct it on the spot. I’m pretty sure that was the first time I ever witness Mark tuning any guitar. He did manage to bring it back to an almost perfect E.


On the terraces, to the right hand side of the stage, a young couple was standing and dancing during the entire show. Not stopping for a second. Lots of energy in the audience overall: the audience loved the show. No running of the bulls at the end—looked more like a social gathering. The entire encore was spent standing up by the stage, the way it needs to be spent.

The venue’s staff did everything within their powers to prevent people from even touching the stage. Was strange. I mean, there were people videotaping the entire encore all over the place—in contrary to the venue’s (and the band’s) guidelines—but that was OK, as far as the staff was concerned; but touching the stage with your finger? that would immediately prompt angry venue staff to charge at you mercilessly, lest your unholy fingertips touch the sacred stage of gold.

As this tour progresses, I lose my faith in humanity a tad more at a time. Good thing I have these concerts to peg me into the realm of what really matters: it’s not the idiots around. It’s the process of creating, and executing, something beautiful.

We were planning on walking back from the venue to the hotel, a distance of some 3.5km. As we exited the venue, we noticed a bus parking by the venue, showing “Hauptbahnhof” (meaning “Central Station”. It’s one of the very few words I know in German. I also pronounce it really, really well) as its destination. Hopped on it, thank you very much. Twenty minutes later I was happy to be back at the hotel.

Finalizing this post at 1:00am from my hotel room in Regensburg. Tomorrow—Vienna for two days!


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