If you read yesterday’s disaster post, you’ll be happy to know that today turns out to be glorious.
It’s Tali’s turn to drive today, she’s a little nervous as she’s never driven on the right hand side of the road before, and also isn’t especially experienced driving a manual. It’s a bit like we’re asking her to ride a bicycle whilst balancing a cake in one hand.
She is however cool and confident and she gets us out of central Munich like a pro.
We stop at a service station to fill up with petrol and grab a bite to eat. A scruffy looking guy with a backpack, no shoes and a big bright smile comes up to the car and asks me in German where we’re going. ‘Wir gehen nach der Schweiz’. (We’re going to Switzerland) I reply, incorrectly. ‘Die Schweiz’, he replies. ‘Wir gehen in die Schweiz’. He didn’t correct me patronisingly, he just gently reminded me how impossible German grammar is and how I’ll definitely never be able to master it.
Just for reference, here’s Mark Twain’s take on this ‘slippery and elusive’ beast.
The hitchhiker’s name is Ruven, which Tali and I are trying really really hard to pronounce. He’s preparing to live in a sustainable off grid community, which we find super interesting. Turns out he needs to get to Zurich, which is on our way to Luzern. We have a quick team meeting and decide we like the dude, we have plenty of room so we take him with us.
We go slightly out of our way to drop Ruven off where he needs to go. He leaves us with a huge smile and for the first time I see him wear shoes as he wanders off into the steaming heat.
We get to Luzern and get kinda lost but we don’t mind, this place is off the chain pretty, even driving around it lost is spectacular. Our GPS doesn’t work at all so we call Marcel, the promoter and ask for directions. They sound straight forward enough but we quickly get confused and are lost again. After about half an hour of this, someone manages to get their maps working and we find the place.
He tells us that today is the first really hot sunny day of the year, which is fantastic for the people of Luzern, but it may mean a swift death for our show.
Any musician who has toured Europe in the summer knows that if you’re playing indoors, the long nights and the lingering sun can mean that you end up playing for the bartenders whilst the rest of Europe is outside by a lake somewhere.
Marcel is worried this will become our unfortunate fate, so, like a legend, he’s organised us an outdoor evening show by the lake to compensate. We will do two sets that day, one at the lake, and another much later show at Madeleine, our original venue.
We love Marcel, he is cool and friendly, he’s got a huge smile and makes sure we are happy and looked after. He shows us a beautiful place to go swimming, and we realise that’s where all the city’s inhabitants have gone for the day.
By now we are sticky and sweaty again in the humid heat, we can’t wait for a dip. We go swimming in the freezing cold lake, I only manage to stay in for a couple of minutes but afterwards I feel so refreshed and relaxed, the car dramas of yesterday are a million miles away.
After our swim we chill on the grass for a bit. We decide Luzern is pretty much the best place in the world. Everyone here is hot, fit, and rich. The lake is insanely beautiful, and we lose track of the amount of casual castles perched on top of mountains overlooking the city. This place is a fairy tale, and for one magical afternoon, we are its characters.
There is one thing I find a little difficult, and that’s the language. I have to admit that for a while I entertained the ludicrous idea that with my intermediate German skills I might have been able to understand a bit of Swiss German. It’s difficult to express how embarrassingly wrong I found myself to be on this, my first day in Switzerland.
I quickly realise however, that the Swiss also speak Hochdeutsch, or High German, the standardised version of the language accepted as the common tongue among people from all dialect backgrounds, and the German that is taught to foreigners, therefore the only form of German I speak and understand.
After my initial linguistic dismay, I realise that the Swiss prefer speaking High German to English, so I’m able to use my Hochdeutsch skills to get around and it’s welcomed by the Swiss. It is a stark contrast to Berliners who almost always prefer speaking my language to theirs, making practicing German on a daily basis a little difficult.
We play in a little bar perched on the shore of the lake with outdoor tables scattered around it. We perform our set for the beautiful Swiss people lounging around on the grass by the water, as the sun sets behind us.
There we meet a Canadian European named Danny whose Swiss-German is flawless after 8 years living in Luzern. He’s a blues singer, Canadian born, raised in the Netherlands. Later that night I realise he looks alarmingly like Hugh Laurie. I wonder if they also sound alike. Danny does regular sets at Madeleine, where we are playing later. He comes along to the show and we have some nice chats throughout the day and into the evening. Hopefully next time we’ll get to see Danny perform with his band.
Meanwhile, Marcel was right, there aren’t many guests at our second show of the day. But as we’ve had such a beautiful day we aren’t fussed. Furthermore, the small audience we have is attentive and warm. Two of them are Australian, visitors to Luzern who just stumbled across our gig. They love the music and they say thanks for the spontaneous evening.
The owner of the Bar, Uri, is a real showman, he knows his flairing and he’s throwing bottles around like a boss. He is one of those bartenders who whisks away your empty glass and replaces it with a full one before you’ve had the chance to order.
After the show everyone is in a good mood, we are happy, a little sunburnt, and getting a bit weary now. We thank everyone for the beautiful day we’ve had and we fall into bed knowing we have an early start in the morning.