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2003-01-08 Germany On A Sleeper Bus

I drew the curtains, peered bleary-eyed out the window, sat up in my bed, and thud....... Id banged my head on the bunk above me - Argh! I had forgotten that six hours previously I had gone to bed in Hannover on my first ever sleeper-bus.

 

We had miraculously been teleported to the magnificent city of Dresden which, after a summer of severe flooding, is managing to return to its former splendour. I would remember from now that I only had about two feet above my head in my bunk and I would quickly learn to master the unglamorous roll-out in the mornings, looking rather fetching on the carpet in my shorts and T-shirt!

 

For some, it might be claustrophobia hell, but for me, it was a wee cosy cocoon which Id call my own for the next three weeks. The motion of the bus lulled us to sleep, and the German autobahns were smooth and straight, so sleep was not a problem. Sometimes our driver Uwe stopped at services in the small hours, but the engine was always left running so as not to disturb the sleepers.

 

When the engine stopped, or the bus began to manoeuvre city streets, we woke up. Our German promoters - Funke Media - had not had the luxury of time to plan a sensible tour, and so, our journeys were often overnight drives of around 500 miles - Hannover to Dresden, north-west to Hamburg, and east again to Leipzig was our marathon first four days. Next year, we are assured our journeys will be planned better and thus, shorter.

 

At the front of the bus were two tables which could seat eight, then six pairs of bunks, a wee loo, and at the back a small lounge with fridge, table, TV, videos, DVDs etc. I made a beeline for a bottom bunk near the back, and thanks to my trusty ear-plugs could only hear the distant gunfire and bombing as they were Saving Private Ryan.

 

I tried to convince the night-owls in our little travelling family of 11 guys and Deirdre (!!) that Driving Miss Daisy and On Golden Pond were much more suited to night-time viewing, but lets face it, violent bloody movies with endless gunfire, gore and car-chases are simply irresistible, arent they? As the weeks rolled on, the movies began to acquire a more bluish colour and the testosterone levels from homesick band-members became almost palpable!

 

When we checked into our hotels early each morning straight off the tourbus, I noticed the reception staff not looking me direct in the eye but rather slightly above. I had been growing my hair a little and so, most mornings it was not me, but rather a particularly startled Father Jack look-a-like who was checking in. German hotel breakfasts are second to none, so we wanted for nothing, apart from possibly a good workout.

 

Then Do not disturb for a few hours and off to the venue for our daily sound check, more great food from the laid on Celtic Catering, and finally the show. After the performances we spent a while out front meeting the audience and signing, as well as getting a chance to thank the wonderful members of our German Fan-Club for their invaluable and inestimable support.

 

Too many people smoke in Germany, and non-smoking areas are few and far between. German television is totally different to anything we would be used to in Ireland. It is run with incredible efficiency, but sometimes varying quality. I had been to Germany before but this time I got to know and love the country even more - the splendour of Stuttgart, the mindblowing musical history and grandeur of Leipzig and Dresden, the buzz and excitement of beautiful Hamburg, Kölns magnificent cathedral, the majesty of the Rhine, the shopping Utopias of Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and elsewhere, the unique magic of München, the faultless organisation of the tour, the 21st century transport and road systems (every town has a Luas!), the varied selection of top-class purpose-built venues everywhere, the festive Christmas markets which seem to send out a nice Christmas message, the enthusiasm of the German audiences, the ongoing challenge of mastering the basics of the German language, and the puzzled reaction to our Irish sense of humour. Germany on a sleeper-bus, giggin every night and meetin the fans - very rock n roll!