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    Sunday, May 17, 2009


    Brugge Belgium

    Last monday Tyler and I travelled to Bert's home town of Affligem Belgium. Bert was planning to join us but needed to make a detour trip to Berlin to visit his daughter. Tyler and I stayed at the house of one of Bert's best friends Benny. Bert and Benny played in a band together for many years called "Tube Screamer". Benny played some vinyl recordings from the band in the late 70's and early 80's and they were actually really good! Benny told us that the band changed format and changed the name (I don't remember the new name...) and then one day Bert announced "I am going to play jazz now" and the band broke up. I enjoyed hearing Benny tell stories about young Bertie, including one where Bert was using his mother's pants as a scarf while riding his small motor bike and the scarf (his mothers pants) getting caught in the chain of the bike, and luckily avoided any serious accident. 

    Tyler and I did a 3 day tour of Belgium which included Affligem, Antwerp, Brugge, Westvleteren and Brussels. I had been to Belgium twice before on tour, but never really got to have a look around. Belgium is really, really wonderful. I enjoyed driving through the beautiful country side, which reminded me a little bit of England with the small country roads, fields and quaint little villages. And I enjoyed walking though the cities. Tyler and I made stops in several Trappist Monasteries and Belgian Breweries to learn more about the Belgian fine art of brewing beers...Wow! What an amazing tradition. The Saint Sixtus Monastery in Westvleteren was absolutely amazing. And we visited the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels that has been owned by the same family for hundreds of years brewing very unique and special beers called Gueze and Lambic. 
    In Antwerp we visited a cafe called Kulminator, it began raining, so we staying at the cafe for much of the afternoon!

    Tyler at de Bier Temple in Brugge




    Saint Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren

    Westvleteren Cafe
    Westvleteren 8, brewed in very small batches by the Monks at the Abbey, and available only here in Westvleteren, and a few cafe's in Brugge.

    Lunch at Westvleteren

    Westvleteren Cafe

    Affligem Abbey


    Vienna Austria

    Schloss Belvedere in Vienna

    On Friday, we took the train from Innsbruck to Vienna. Friday morning, we didn't quite allow enough time to get to the station on time, and were literally running to catch the train. Thanks to Markus and Bert, we barely made it on time and we piled our luggage, gear and guitars onto the train with just seconds to spare before the train departed the station. This was really the only mishap on the entire tour! After talking with Tony and Pat, it sounds like the CGT tour was almost more of a vacation schedule wise in comparison to the Stickmen tour, which is still going. We met a very nice guy on the train named George, who told us to go to cafe called Alt Wien, which means "old Vienna". After we settled in the apartment, we found Alt Wien on the map and walked through the beautiful streets of central Vienna to find the cafe, which turned out to be a very old, very local cafe. I think we were the only foreigners in the place. The walls were covered with posters of upcoming theater and music events, and it seemed to be the place where the musicians and actors gathered, so we knew we were in the right place. And as recommended by George, we all ordered the Goulash, and it was delicious!

    We spent 3 days in Vienna, staying at an apartment in central Vienna. On Saturday morning we worked with the Vienna Guitar Circle. We performed for them, and then they played for us. Then we divided into 3 groups, with Bert, Hideyo and I each showing one of the groups our parts in Blockhead, and then after about an hour (they learned really fast!) we all got back together and played Blockhead all together. I really enjoyed working with the guitar circle and hope to have another opportunity to work with them again.

    The Vienna Guitar Circle opened the concert for us on Saturday Night, giving an excellent performance and created a good energy in the venue before the CGT began. The concert was held in a nice small community theater. It was our first time playing in Vienna and I enjoyed the concert very much. I could feel the audience really listening and getting into the music. A great day in Vienna!

    On Sunday we did some sight seeing in Vienna. What a beautiful city filled with amazing palaces, churches, theaters, museums and incredible architecture everywhere. We went to both Beethoven's house and Mozart's house... wow! We walked most places, but also wanted to go see the Schloss Belvedere  and the Gustav Klimt exhibition there, which was a few kilometers away from the center, so we got in a Taxi to take us there. I heard Bert say "Schloss Belvedere" and also spoke a few other words in German to the taxi driver, and after about 15 minutes drive, the taxi driver pulled up in front of a large palace and the driver announced "Schloss Shune Brune, here you are". Somehow the taxi driver did not listen to Bert saying Belvedere, and we ended up at  another palace (which was also amazing) 5 kilometers out of town. We began arguing with the driver, and Bert wanted to run away from him without paying, and after much arguing and I was threatening to call the police, and the taxi driver chasing bert, we finally reached an agreement and he took us to Belvedere. And we saw the palace and the Klimt Exhibition including "The Kiss", and I tried quickly to forgot all about the mishap with the taxi driver. This was the only other small mishap of the tour.


    Tyler looking out the window of the apartment.

    Gutenberg! He invented the printing press.

    Taking a break from walking...

    Another break from walking...

    More Belvedere

    And more Belvedere
    Bert doing yoga at Schloss Belvedere

    View of Vienna from Belvedere

    Mozart's Death Mask

    Mozart's Piano

    Original Score by Beethoven

    View from Beethoven's house

    Beethoven's Piano

    Hideyo walking on the steps of Beethoven's house.

    View out of our apartment.

    Church where Mozart was married and had his funeral.

    Bert conducting an imaginary orchestra

    Mozart's house

    Streets of Vienna

    Beethoven's house is on the 3rd floor.

    Walking the Streets of Vienna

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    CGT in Vienna

    CGT in Vienna

    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    Milan and Innsbruck

    Innsbruck Austria

    11:20am. It’s a really beautiful sunny and warm morning here in Innsbruck. I spend the morning walking around the old part of the city. We have been to Innsbruck before but I never had time to walk around the city. It’s an amazing place with beautiful views of the Alp Mountains surrounding the city.

    Yesterday we rode the train from Milan to Innsbruck via Verona. Traveling by train is so much more relaxing that by van or plane. The train ride from Verona to Innsbruck goes straight through the Alps, passing lots of small mountain towns with vineyards and castles. We arrived in Innsbruck last evening around 6:30pm and checked into the hotel. We met up with our good friend Markus Reuter who took us to a local restaurant for the best Schnitzel I have ever had. Markus is a touch guitarist and record producer that has done a lot of work with Pat Mastelotto and has lived here in Innsbruck for 3 years.

    On Tuesday evening, we played a show at the Blue Note Club in Milan. What a great venue. The production manager at Blue Note is Fabio Mittino, who we know through the Robert Fripp Guitar Craft courses. Fabio did an excellent job of taking care of us at the venue. And I enjoyed hearing about his recent guitar lessons with jazz guitar legend Pat Martino. The show at Blue Note was very good with the Moonlight Sonata being one of the highlights in the set.

    Tyler at the Milan Train Station

    Milan Train Station

    Castles and Vineyards on the way from Verona to Innsbruck

    Arrival in Innsbruck

    Hideyo looking for the route to walk from the Train Station to the hotel.

    View from my hotel room looking south

    View from my hotel room looking southwest

    Here are some photos from my walk this morning:

    Mozart stayed at this hotel in 1773

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