355. Gray skies fallen, but not much rain. The tent was more or less dry as I packed up, but I'm hanging it up in Berlin, if I can, all the same.
356. The metal Rapture: coffee in cups and tea cartons on the tables, but the people are just....gone. Well, until next year.
On the train to Berlin now; partying and crashing last night created a backlog in the notes, which I straightened out over this train leg; the notes in question are now transcribed above and in the prior post, with pictures in the right places.
It's not just that I happened to get 'adopted' by a bunch of Spaniards for three days; the untold story of this year's festival is going to be the emergence of the Spanish-speaking population, likely mostly at the expense of English. Wherever I went, there seemed to be Spanish spoken in numbers, and to such a degree that I had to start checking to be sure it wasn't just the same people all the time. In contrast, most of the English I heard was in an Irish accent, with American and Australian about tied for a very distant second. Time will tell if this is an aberration, but while English is still the official second language of the festival, those who already have some English and German nay want to pick up Spanish for utility purposes. I know I will -- should I come back, which is more likely now than it was a week ago.
With big bands (well, big new bands, what with Maiden, Slayer, Fear Factory, Immortal, Cannibal Corpse, and UDO all having played here before) and big anniversaries off the table, what remained was a normal Wacken. Normalcy, for someone like me who cut their teeth on the go-go ascendancy of the past few years, feels like a letdown, but if you look at the billing, as it is, for what it is, you've got to respect the bands, and the setup that brought them in, for laying out what has to be acknowledged as a musically excellent festival. If this feels average, it's just an indication of how high that average is in absolute terms. Wacken is more commercial than it was, but still allows and even creates space for DIY bands, Wacken has a lot of shit mainstream bands, but gave Voivod and Kampfar good long sets on a big stage to be mega true. Seriously, all things considered, this festival is fucking awesome, and anyone who tells you differently is probably trying to offload their timeshare for the first weekend in August. It's just the Stammgäste that occasionally get old and jaded.
I plan not to be back unless I get at least two from the set (Hypocrisy, Tankard, [Sodom, Kreator], some band with dudes I know personally), but I also reserve the right to change that plan at any time. If you haven't been yet, though, you still need to go.
Next up: Berlin; shower; shave; hang tent/bag; maybe laundry, deffo dinner. After that, I can figure out what tourism points remain for Monday and Tuesday.
357. Tower at Ostkreutz. The real is everywhere here in the old east sector.
358. Penthouse yo.
359. And a view into the distance.
360. Same shot, wider to show the altitude a little better.
Despite the views and being large enough to set up a tent in (more on that in a sec), I'm not sure that I'd recommend the Grand City on the Landsbergallee to other travelers. All the main lights were out of commission, the battery in the TV remote was dead, no soap or shampoo in the dispenser, and the AC was minimally on the fritz if not completely unavailable. However, even with this, the room was so cheap (about $108 for 3 nights) that I personally would do it again. After all, this was only a matter of finding a Spätverkauf or a gas station -- and I had to get something to eat anyway. Back on the road!
361. Old out-of-use building by the hotel.
362. Olympic training center at the Berlin Sportforum.
363. Jewish cemetery by the road.
364. Graffiti on the Kindl brewery.
365. Brewery front entrance.
366. A look into the cemetery coming back; history everywhere.
367. Kleingartenanlage front wall, Eastberlin style.
368. Dinner with improvised utensils. Normal people go to the hotel restaurant. I buy a brick of pea soup while getting batteries and eat it with a bottle opener because I forgot I didn't bring any utensils.
369. Tent up to air out.
370. Yes, in the hotel. Couple days like this, and it'll be field-ready again.