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:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Gothenburg to Malmö, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark (June 15–16, 2013)

On Saturdays, there are direct trains from Gothenburg to Malmö every two hours in forty minutes past the hour (7:40am, 9:40am and so forth). Slightly more than a three hours ride, I wasn’t exactly in the mood to catch the 7:40am one (I have been waking up early every morning for the past week, thank you), and the 11:40am one would mean not enough time to rest in Malmö before the show, so 9:40am it is.

All of these things—resting time; distance from train station to the hotel; distance from the hotel to the venue; dining time; dining location (hotel? train station? anywhere else—where?) and so many more—are the things that make planning such a journey so challenging. When you use public transport, you give up a lot of independence; unlike following a tour in North America, when you can simply take the next highway exit in order to feed yourself, here everything needs to be planned out carefully otherwise you get into obnoxious situations (hunger, thirst, tiredness).

It’s hard to do, all of that planning.

Anyway, sunny beautiful morning in Gothenburg, and I wished I could have stayed. Alas, Knopfler et al had different plans, so shortly after 9:00am I was already walking towards Gothenburg’s central railway station, accompanied by a slowly recovering Dutchman and our friend James who flew from the UK to catch a few concerts in Scandinavia.

Took the time to take a few photographs, now that the sun was dominating the sky:


Into the train station and boarded the 9:40am train which left right on time.

Tired, I did my best to fall asleep in the train—to no avail. I am one of those people who can’t possibly sleep unless lying down: the occasional five minutes nap is possible, but not much more than that. Flying to my home country involves being airborne for about 18 hours each direction; I have done that route many times in the past and still can’t bring myself to get a good sleep.

(No. Never tried sleeping pills, and never will.)

Arrived at Malmö a few minutes before 1:00pm.

I was a bit anxious.

The city of Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden, located at the country’s south western tip. It dates back to the 13th century, as it was founded… in Denmark. The city was under Danish possession until the 17th century, when a treaty was signed to end the Second Northern War.

As its economy was based mostly on manufacturing and shipbuilding, the Swedish economy’s recession in the mid‐1970’s—severely hitting such industries—started a chain reaction that eventually led many residents (about 14% of the population) to leave the city for its suburbs. Another country‐wide financial crisis—now in the 1990s—hit Malmö very hard resulting in massive job losses in the city.

Towards the end of the 1990s, Malmö started regaining some of its past glory, much thanks to the construction of the Øresund Bridge, connecting Malmö with Copenhagen, Denmark.

NOTE: This is my own personal blog, and does not aim to please anyone in particular. Whatever is written in the following paragraphs represents my own opinion which may well differ from yours. At any rate, I’ll be happy to stand corrected and learn more, if you have some interesting information to share.

The first time I heard of Malmö, though, was some time in the year 2009. Even though I was (and still am) living in Canada, the vast majority of the people I love and care for—including my entire family—live in Israel which is why I am very aware of whatever is happening there.

Anti‐Semitism is still alive and kicking in many countries, Sweden included—which is surprising, as Sweden has traditionally been considered a peaceful, tolerant country. Why and how did Sweden bring itself to the situation when Anti‐Semitism flourishes there—that I’ll leave to the Swedes themselves to answer and reflect upon (I suppose, though, that when Swedish Parliament members attend rallies where the Israeli flag is spat on, torn and set on fire, then acts of hatred aren’t very unlikely to follow); the bottom line is that it exists, and the city of Malmö “shines” in that regards.

The Jewish community of Malmö (about 700 people. No, this is not a typo. 700 people, as of 2010; and shrinking) has long been subject to repeated harassments by certain groups (read the linked Wikipedia article above). All and all, the idea that Malmö is not a safe place for Jewish people to hang around in has travelled well: Israelis prefer to stay away from Malmö in particular (and Sweden in general) as they fear being targeted based solely on their country of origin and/or religion. That’s 1939 again. Great.

In the 2009 Davis Cup (tennis), a match between Israel and Sweden had to be played without any audience due to “security concerns”, with certain Swedish Parliament members calling to cancel the match—an idea that was then turned down for the sole reason that such an act would result in Sweden’s automatic drop from the tournament. I suppose that boycotting a tennis match to support an agenda is acceptable—as long as your team still has a chance to win the tournament. Hypocrisy, anyone?

Arriving at Malmö, weather was great and I was looking forward to see the city. The hotel for the night, Elite Hotel Savoy, was conveniently located right across a small bridge from the central railway station. Beautiful hotel, inexpensive, convenient. I wish all hotels for this tour were like this one. By chance, James was booked for the same hotel. Checked in, unloaded everything and off we went to explore the city center.

Steps away south of the hotel is the first tourist trap of the day—the Malmö Stortorget: a nice looking square surrounded by all sorts of high‐cost, low‐quality dining establishments. My traveling history taught me that, while such places might be visually lucrative, dining options there usually range between terrible and mediocre.


Having said that, hunger struck and, with the advice of TripAdvisor, we were going to the following restaurant—


—which turned out to be closed.

Looking for a place to eat when you’re hungry is never pleasant so I informed the group that, while they’re more than welcome to continue scouring the place for a proper restaurant, I’m off to a coffee place to grab a short sandwich just to keep me going. In central Malmö, it seems like you can find an Espresso House shop every other block. Great bagels, good coffee (if you know what to order. What you’d call a “latte” in Canada is called “cortado” here).


From there, went on for a stroll in the city center area. Malmö is a pretty city—not drop‐dead gorgeous but there are pleasant places to hang around in.


Malmö’s city center includes a few parks as well, which make for pleasant walks, especially when the weather is cooperating:


The extended walking—as pleasant as it was—took its toll and I started becoming rather tired. Off to the hotel for an afternoon nap.

Only an hour or so later, waking up and looking outside the window, I noticed that the weather has turned to the worse. As pleasant as it was in the afternoon, things went haywire and, around 6:00pm, it was cloudy, windy and, of course, rainy.

Off to the central station and hopped on a train to the venue. The venue was located a couple of train stops away from the central railway station; trains going that way were absolutely jam packed with people. Alas, I had to put my personal space issues aside (in a nutshell: I need my personal space, and I need much of it. All the time) and feel like a sardine for about 8 minutes until the train’s doors opened and millions of people flooded the platform on their way to the venue, located about 50 meters away from the train station’s entrance.


The venue, Malmö Arena, is a general indoor arena. Opened in 2007, this arena is used for all sorts of sports, as well as concerts. Only a month ago, this arena hosted the Eurovision Song Contest (Denmark won). It can seat up to 15,000 in a concert.


Back to an indoor, seated arena after an outdoor, standing experience just the night before, I was very happy to not have to watch this concert outside. Couldn’t appreciate two standing concerts in a row, thank you very much. I’m good with the seats.

Concert started a few minutes past schedule. Similar set to the one usually played in seated venues, with Back to Tupelo popping by for a most welcome visit and a Hill Farmer’s Blues outro that seemed to be longer than usual by a few bars.

A group of 3–4 noisy blokes were seated right behind me. I never thought people would actually chew on popcorn during a concert (can you imagine listening to the Marbletown instrumental part while someone is digesting popcorn right behind you? oh, you can’t? good. Lucky you), but apparently some do. One of these dudes was also in the habit of emitting incredibly loud whistles, making me feel sorry for not bringing some ear plugs with me.

Before the encore, no bulls were running to the stage. In the typical Scandinavian manner, people simply got up and walked towards the stage (or, to be more precise, towards the red ribbon that was placed about one meter away from the stage). Even the popcorn aficionados that were seated behind me were walking patiently, not pushing / pulling anyone.


Great performance, ended two hours after it started and it was time to head back to the train station, then the hotel. As expected, the train platform was jam packed with people: as the destination was the city central railway station, many people had to take the train there in order to connect to other parts of the city. So yes, it was crowded, but still civil.

Back in the city center, took a short walk around to look for a place for some evening tea, to no avail.


Back to the hotel for a good night sleep.


Finally, after almost a week of intense travel, there was absolutely no rush in the morning: no train to hurry to (Copenhagen, the next destination, is about 25–30 minutes by train), no airports, no buses… nothing. “All you can sleep”.

Much needed.

Much done.

Sunday morning. Woke up I‐don’t‐know‐when, got up around 10:00am or so. Great day to do as little as possible. Off to breakfast in the hotel—wonderful breakfast!—and another piece of good news: the hotel allows Sunday check‐outs at 6:00pm (!) during off‐peak season (which ends next week). Could I ask for better than that? no.

The plan was, then, to do the minimum needed for mere survival until around 2:00pm, then head to Copenhagen as the concert was to start early—6:30pm (the earliest start time for a concert during this tour. The latest, by the way, is in Malaga, Spain: 10:30pm. Add a few exclamation marks here).

Weather was a bit cold but sunny as we left the hotel towards Espresso House again. Good coffee and chat in the patio, biding the time doing nothing special and nothing worth telling the world about.

And then it started pouring intensely.


Crazy weather. Back to the hotel to do some writing; by 2:00pm, we were all checked out and heading to the central railway station. James had a flight to catch back to the UK, and we decided to hop on the same train. Was good to have James along for a few days—stay strong mate and see you soon.

(Please, however, stop setting me up with women.)

Arrived at Copenhagen at around 3:15pm.

Copenhagen is Denmark’s capital as well as its biggest city. I have to plead complete ignorance concerning Denmark: the only two cities I have ever heard of in Denmark are Copenhagen (trivial knowledge; give me some credit) and Middelfart—and the only reason I am even aware of the latter is because Knopfler performed there three years ago (and, of course, I was there).

I have never been to Copenhagen before in my life, although I do seem to recall passing through its train station (or changing trains in its train station) back in 2010. I did hear, however, that it is a pretty city, and as a fan of pretty cities, I was curious to see it.

Alas, arriving to Copenhagen’s central railway station, it was cloudy, cold and raining. Quick walk to the hotel—Saga Hotel—and I became utterly depressed as the hotel rooms here are… how to say it… not very scenic. There’s apparently a good reason why this hotel is (currently) ranked #63 out of 110 hotels in Copenhagen, by TripAdvisor.

(I will have a word with Jeroen about this, as he was the one booking it.)

Weather being so mean, I did nothing but writing until 4:30pm when it was time to go eat. A few locations were attempted and ended up being closed, either because it’s a Sunday, or because they have weird dining hours here, or whatever. Ended up landing in a Chinese restaurant right by the hotel; too bad I can’t find its name so I can warn you, lest you make a grave mistake and dine there. Slow service, poor quality food. I feel bad just writing about it, so how about I don’t.

Now, I don’t know where Copenhagen’s beauty is, but if it is indeed there, it certainly isn’t at the central railway station area. If at all, the area looks run down, uninteresting, as if asking you to go away already.

After a terrible meal, it was about 1.5 kilometers walk to the venue.


The venue, Forum Copenhagen, is yet another big box of everything and nothing: indoor arena used for any sort of activity that involves… well… people gathering in one place together. It was built in 1926 and renovated in 1996–97, and, in my humble opinion, is due for another renovation.

What struck me about this place is that it is located so close to a residential area. During the walk from the central railway station area towards the venue, I started speculating whether Google Maps is leading us astray again: a concert venue? here? it’s all houses and apartments around.

But it was there.

Tickets picked up, and as there was some time left, I decided to walk around the venue and search for some coffee. As I was walking, I realized a line forming for about 100 meters outside the venue. I wasn’t entirely sure what people were waiting for: as we were picking up the tickets, three or four venue staff were standing there scanning tickets for people and there was no line‐up whatsoever. I’m guessing, then, that people chose to line up simply because they saw a line‐up and decided that joining that line‐up is probably the best course of action.

Here’s a tip: before you choose to waste your life in a line‐up, at least check what you are lining up for.

Didn’t want to take any risks, though: went immediately back to the venue and to my seat.


The concert was scheduled to start at 6:30pm. At 6:29pm, the three immortal pre‐concert songs started rolling—nice, for a change, to start a concert on time—and I noticed a couple of differences:

  • Usually, there is a gap of a few seconds before The Louvin Brothers’ Broadminded to Howlin’ Wolf’s 44. That gap was skipped this time.
  • Howlin’ Wolf’s 44 faded out after one verse.

You need to be attending many concerts to notice these differences.

Anyway, seems like someone was in a hurry.

Good concert—a bit “slower” than the previous evening’s but, for me, a performance of Kingdom of Gold can cover for any fault. What a beautiful piece of music. Perform this song at every concert and I’m a happy camper, really. Though I’m not a huge fan of that otherwise beautiful blue Pensa guitar (sorry. I know I’m stepping on a few toes here but no, its sound isn’t much to my liking. It is, however, externally gorgeous), this song builds up to an outro that is no less powerful than that of Telegraph Road.

If you were to purchase any of those official guitar‐shaped USB sticks (forget about bootlegs. Go for the real thing), pick one that has Kingdom of Gold in it. Or pick all of those with Kingdom of Gold in them. Of all songs played so far in this tour, this one is the most mesmerizing one to listen to.


Concert ended at 8:30pm (I can’t believe I’m writing this. 8:30pm. So early). On the way out of the venue, an individual who answers to the name Magnus, who happens to be following this blog, approached and introduced himself. It’s good to meet nice people along the way. As Magnus is from Malmö, he had to go back to the central railway station, which happened to be on our way, so we walked there together having a good chat.

Now, I’m a curious person. I’m also upfront, and at times, even too upfront. As Magnus seemed to be a reasonable interesting fellow, I asked him what his opinion is about the Anti‐Semitism situation in his city.

Not a lightweight topic to bring up when talking to a person you had never met before, but as I said, I am curious. Fortunately, though, Magnus took it well and provided an interesting point of view on the subject, which helped me form a more balanced and slightly less emotional opinion on the subject. I will not quote Magnus’ opinion here as I am not in the habit of quoting (named) people about political and other similar subjects without their permission; Magnus is of course more than welcome to add a comment to this post.

Regardless: thank you, Magnus, for sharing your opinion. See you soon.

Originally intending to head to the hotel, Jeroen remembered that it is immoral for him to go to sleep prior to consuming some sugar. Attempts to locate a suitable place for desserts went unsuccessful. A 7/11 shop provided some yogurts and it’s back to the hotel for an attempted good night sleep.

Haven’t seen anything pretty in Copenhagen today. Hopefully tomorrow.

Signing off this post from my hotel room in Copenhagen.

Tomorrow: a free day in Copenhagen until 6:46pm when I’m going to face the worst.

My enemy. My nemesis. My kryptonite.

The worst form of punishment known to mankind.

The invention that made Satan himself say “are you serious? well… OK, I guess”.

An experience so vile, so mean, so cruel, that the world would have been a much better place had it not been invented.

The first thing the world needs to get rid of, even before reducing greenhouse emissions.

A night train.



  1. Night trains, allows interrail backpackers to save a hostel day. Is not that bad, as you can choose a bed.

    1. Well, it's good for some people and not good for others. I have a problem that I can't fall asleep in a noisy environment, let alone in a cabin that rattles all the time. I tried it before and I got sick the day after because I just couldn't fall asleep. Some people can sleep in any condition... I suppose I'm just spoiled.

  2. Those popcorn eating annoyances in Malmo. Were they the same lot that thought I worked at the venue?

    As for setting you up? Is that what you call it? There was me thought you just made a habit of flirting with my friends!! lol

    1. Yes, same folks.

      I wasn't flirting with your friends, mate. If at all, she did, with me. Better check your sources.

  3. What by saying you were funny?!! Im afraid that wasnt her flirting! Unless of course you have been carrying it on behind my back?!

  4. Looks like I shall have to have words! lol

    1. Sweden made a mint of money out of WW2. The SKF ball bearing company. I just don't know why the nothern EUR places have the prejudice agin people of Hebrew religion. Of course many believe that the Nazi still is in an organised underground sect with enormous financial power. Sweden officially played no part in WW2. They happily make weapons though including some fearsome fighter aeroplanes. As far as women goes I always find that they come and get you if they want a relationship.