I planned a short trip to Germany as a reward for working really long hours from July 2017 to August 2018 because my office was understaffed. Planning began during the summer after I learned that one of my favorite German singer-songwriters, JORIS, was going to be on tour this fall. I bought tickets to back-to-back concerts that would allow me to visit two new German cities – Dortmund and Bremen. After that, I lined up flights for a solo long weekend in Germany (72 hours on the ground!).
The trip started with a 3-hour delay in Atlanta for one of the odder reasons I’ve heard for a delay -- the catering staff had inadvertently knocked a part/knob off a wall of the plane that controlled cabin light dimming. For me, no big deal. I had no connecting flights once in Düsseldorf, and I had not bought a train ticket to Dortmund yet.
Arrival in Düsseldorf was easy. I liked the super cool suspended “Sky Train” that went from the airport terminal to the train station!
On arrival in Dortmund, I stored my carryon and headed out the back entrance of the train station to see the Resistance and Persecution Museum that is located in a former city police station/prison built in 1928 and later used by the Nazis to interrogate and torture political prisoners in the western part of Germany before the prisoners’ sham trials. The exhibition at the museum is excellent. Instead of rehashing Nazi history, it tells the story of how National Socialism played out at the local level, specifically in Dortmund. Nearly all of the exhibition is in German, but there is a very good English guide available at the front desk.
After the museum, I caught the U to my brand spanking new hotel – Hampton by Hilton (no “Inn” in the name!). It was really nice and perfect for a one-night stay. The first night’s music venue was about a 15-minute walk from the hotel, passing the U station between the two. I figured I would encounter some fellow concert goers on the sidewalks once I reached the U station.
As I walked, though, I noticed a funny thing… there were no walkers other than me after passing the U station. That seemed weird. I kept going but when I got to the venue the lights were off and no one was there. I wondered if I was there on the wrong night.
Then I remembered an e-mail that informed me of a time change. I opened up the e-mail and re-read it. I had missed the part about the venue changing, too! It was moved to a place called FZW. When I read the e-mail originally, I kind of glossed over that. I thought FZW was just another one of those German 3-letter abbreviations that perhaps in this case explained why the time was changed. Whoops!
The former venue was in an old manufacturing district, so it was a little creepy to be there alone. I walked around the corner and found a restaurant with people in it. That made me feel a little more secure (hard to shake my American nervousness in dark, peopleless places). Happily, I had downloaded the MyTaxi app on my phone earlier that day at the hotel. I used it to hail a taxi, and it worked beautifully.
I got to the correct venue in time to see the main act. Well, “see” is a strong word. The only room left was on a flat platform at the back of the balcony. I’m 5’7”. Germans are tall! So, I heard Joris more than I saw him. He did make a trip into the balcony to sing a song. As he neared the balcony steps to head back to the stage, I was standing by the stair railing. Yes, there were German kids who came running toward me, but I stepped out of their way (they didn’t push me!) because they seemed a lot more excited about what was happening than I was. It was indeed a GREAT show – even with the limitations!