Why I love music festivals (and Rock im Park in particular)

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Hey there, I’m sorry it’s been a little quiet on here lately, but summer has finally arrived, so I’ve been trying to spend as much time out in the sun as possible. When I’m not working that is. I’ve also just returned from a week-long holiday that took us to Nuremberg for a music festival and to Lake Constance for a few days of much needed relaxation after rocking out for 4 days. The weather was just amazing every single day, even though it was almost a little too hot for my taste, but hey, I’m not complaining about that. Of course I want to tell you all about our recent adventures and I’ll start with the music-side of our trip which took us back to Rock im Park, one of Germany’s biggest and personally my favourite music festival. We’d already been there last year and since we had a great time it was clear we needed to be back.

It seems there are basically 2 different types of music lovers – the ones who love festivals and the ones who hate them. I’d always wanted to visit one, but I have to say that a lot of things I’d heard and seen about festivals made me doubt if it would actually be enjoyable for me. First of all, I don’t really like camping. It’s not the hygiene or lack thereof that I’m worried about. But I need a decent night’s sleep. I don’t function well without it and something that’s supposed to be fun can easily turn into a nightmare if I’m sleep-deprived. So the prospect of sleeping in a tent on uncomfy ground being kept awake by drunken party people didn’t seem very appealing to me. Then I’m not the biggest fan of huge crowds. I love going to concerts, but being stuck in the middle of thousands of people makes me feel utterly uncomfortable. So the thought of 70.000 people piling up in front or constantly moving between stages kinda scared me. And while I like drinking and having fun, I’m definitely not a person who enjoys being pissed 3 or 4 days straight or to the extent of not being able to walk, talk or stand properly. Neither do I like being  harassed by people who act this way while trying to enjoy the music. These were the thoughts I had before I went to Rock im Park for the first time. And you know what? None of them were actually true in the way I had imagined them. Except for the camping part of which I had my fair share at Southside festival where I basically didn’t sleep for 3 days because it was a) freezing cold and b) the only place we could find for our tent was on a hillside. But: there’s a solution to this which you’ll find, among others, in my reasons for loving music festivals.

1. Music, music, music – all day long

Of course, for me the main reason to visit a music festival is the music itself. I always have a few bands I definitely want to see. This year for example these were Portugal. The Man (who I’d seen as a support band in March), Maximo Park (who always make for a great show), Metallica (because I’d never seen them before and well, it’s Metallica) and Linkin Park. But I also love to explore new bands who I have or haven’t heard about before. We often just wandered from stage to stage and stopped when we liked the sound of the band playing. This year I really enjoyed Kasabian, Fall Out Boy and New Politics and I’ll definitely buy a few albums of theirs. I know a lot of oldschool festival-goers have been complaining that the lineups, especially of Rock im Park and Rock am Ring, have become very mainstream over the past years and the “Rock” in the title has been neglected more and more. I do agree with that at least to some extent, but I’ve always been able to find plenty of bands I like.

2. It’s not like they show you on TV

As I said before, my opinion of festivals was highly influenced by the way it was depicted by media. Drunk, half-naked, screaming people, garbage, dirt, pee, puke everywhere. Of course you get that, too, at least to some extent. But it’s not like you won’t enjoy yourself if you’re not the 24/7 party animal. I actually found the festival crowd to be a very pleasant bunch of people. The atmosphere was always very relaxed and everybody was just trying to have the greatest time they could have, whatever that means for the individual person. Of course, you will get hit on by a drunk person from time to time if you’re a girl. But as long as it doesn’t get annoying, that’s ok. And the boyfriend always made sure they left quickly. Of course, several 10.000 people will leave their traces, so garbage definitely is an issue. But it’s not like you can’t sit down on the ground anymore or something like that. Just make sure you don’t wear your newest clothes and especially shoes (you most likely won’t want to wear them anymore judging by all the undefinable things you’ll find on their soles). Using portable toilets definitely isn’t for the squeamish, but it’s bearable if you know how to breathe through your mouth and make sure not to look around too closely. And be cautious if a toilet is free despite there being a huge queue. You don’t wanna have a look into that one. As always there’s also a luxury option if you really can’t bring yourself to use a portable toilet. The normal version usually costs you a little fee (at RiP it was 0,50€) and you’ll probably have to bear with quite some waiting time.

3. Moshpit or chilling in the back? You can have it all!

One reason I like Rock im Park so much is how the festival area is laid out. There’s lots of space in front of the stages, so if you don’t like being in the middle of the crowd you can just sit down on the grass in the back and still see something thanks to the huge screens on the side of the stages. There are also a few trees around, so we were even able to stay in the shade when the heat was too unbearable during the day. This actually saved me because I don’t really cope well with heat. We had temperatures of around 35 degrees for almost all 4 days, so it was really, really hot. On the last day, I dared to step into the sun in front of the stage to see Maximo Park at 2 pm. I jumped and danced around, but after their set was over I was in desperate need of some shade and water. The barriers in the crowd are also set out pretty nicely, so it never gets overcrowded (at least from what I’ve seen) in the area in front of the stage. We went to the front of the main stage to see Linkin Park playing and there was still plenty of space in the back. The only time when it can get a little tight and pushy is when entering the front area, especially right after a band has finished playing. But it’s never been too bad when I went.

4. You don’t have to sleep in a tent

The great thing about Rock im Park, especially for me as a camping-hater, is its close proximity to the city center of Nuremberg. The train will take you from the main station to a stop nearby the festival area in a few minutes and then it’s only a short walk and you’re in the middle of it all. It’s so convenient! We stayed in a hotel near the main station, had a nice lie-in, then went for breakfast and showed up at the festival well rested and showered. I know a lot of people think that camping is part of the real festival experience. But for me it’s just the perfect way.

I’m currently looking into other festivals to attend this summer. Probably only for a day trip since I’ve already planned most of my holiday. I really, really recommend to visit a music festival if you’re into music. It’s so much fun! I’m really dying to go to one again soon.

A piece of art

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Last week something important and, in a way, life-changing happened. I’d been planning on this for quite a while. I’d always wanted to do it, but I never really had the guts. Or maybe I was just lacking inspiration to deal with it any further. Until Christmas, when the boyfriend surprised me with the most amazing and, for me, totally unexpected present of – a tattoo voucher. He knew how much I wanted to have one because I kept talking about it whenever I saw someone with permanent ink on their skin walking by. I was SO excited! I went to the website of the studio he’d picked to take a look at the works of their artists – and I immediately knew who I wanted to make my tattoo. There was a girl which had done really amazing work, not just the average tattoo you can find on so many other people, but something that looked unique and had a style that was exactly my taste. Check!

Next up I needed to find my design. I wanted to have a design that meand something to me. That reflects a piece of myself. I wanted a piece of art to stay with me forever, not just something I picked on a whim. For the longest time, I was thinking of getting a tiny tattoo on my wrist. Something along the lines of “Believe” or something. Because that’s what I am. A believer. But I could instantly name at least 3 people I know who have something like that. And I didn’t want to be one of them. Then, one day in March, I came across what I’d been looking for. A picture by Jason Byron Nelson that had always spoken to me whenever I saw it. A girl that’s holding a gun to her head and the blood that drips from her wound is morphing into butterflies flying away. I just wanted to have the blood (or something similar) and the butterflies. So badly. I found it reflected so many times I’ve gone through in my life. Which were tough. And painful. But in the end lead to something beautiful. In fact, I think it’s a great metaphor for life in general. There’s good times and there’s bad times. The latter leave their traces on us, but they can’t stop us from letting the former dominate.

So I found my piece of art and went to the studio to make an appointment. May 7th was the day I was supposed to get inked. And that day came quicker than I thought. Suddenly it was time to head to the studio. I was pretty nervous. Not so much about the pain, but about the way it was gonna turn out. Something that was going to stick with me forever. I think that’s definitely something to be a little nervous about. I was glad the boyfriend came with me. And even more glad that the tattoo artist turned out to be as amazing as I thought she would be. She really took the time to work out the design with me. After a while I had a tattoo drawn on my arm and was ready to get it inked. My dream of getting a small tattoo on my wrist turned out to be a colourful painting stretching from my lower arm to my upper arm in the end. It is also pretty different from the original. We just took it as an example and developed it into something really unique. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I always knew I wanted to have a tattoo to show a piece of myself. My view on life. I also wanted something to be noticed by people. But also something I could hide from those who shouldn’t see this side of me. And that’s exactly what I got. Just like the message of said painting, I had to go through 4,5 hours of pain which was sometimes more, sometimes less bearable. And in the end, something beautiful was born.

It took me quite a few days to realize that I’ve really done it. That this picture is now going to stick with me forever. I have to giggle everytime I look at it. I know some people think I’m crazy (either in a good or a bad way) because I picked a fairly big tattoo for a first-timer. But it’s perfect to me. It’s a dream come true and I couldn’t be happier about it. Just look at it!!!

Is it ok to be proud?

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I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately. Especially when I was in London for work a few weeks ago. Almost exactly one year after I’d been there for a little holiday over Easter. It had just been a week or 2 after I’d been at home for a week because of all the stress at work and the pressure I’d put on myself. I was having a hard time enjoying my time in London back then. What had happened was still affecting me. I couldn’t believe something like that had happened to me, I didn’t understand it all in its enirety yet. And I still had to fight with the aftereffects. Months and months after that.

One year later I was back in London and the work situation was pretty similar to the one of the previous year. Lots of work, lots of responsibility and so little time. There were and are times where I feel under pressure. And it’s not the easiest thing to calm myself down when this happens. There’s always the fear that the panic attacks might come back. They have been flaring up here and there in extremely stressfuls situations. But I’ve learned how to breathe them away and it usually works. The difference this year is that I’m aware of all this. I know the triggers and I know how to handle them. And I do talk about it with the boyfriend and even my boss when I need to. After I came back from London, having worked almost 70 hours that week and only half a day off before the new work week started, I asked to work from home for a day. I knew I needed that rest. The old me would’ve dragged herself to work. So yeah, even though it might just be little things I’m very proud of the way I’m dealing with it.

I know this is a phase and less stressful times will come sooner or later. This situation at work right now is a challenge and one I want to take on. I know this will move me a lot further in my career, it’s a chance to learn and show what I’m capable of. I’m not a real career person, but when a challenge like this comes along I take it. And that’s another difference I’ve noticed compared to last year. Back then I didn’t want to be in that job anymore. Much later I realized this was basically just due to a superior and the way she was treating me. Ever since I stopped working with her, things have changed for the better. So attitude towards your jobs plays a huge role. I wasn’t really aware of that back then. At least not that much. But things have suddenly become so much easier since I’ve decided I wanted to be there. I wanted to identify myself with that job again. I don’t see myself doing this job for the rest of my life. And of course I wish it would leave me a little more time for my real dreams and passions right now. I’ve been neglecting music big time over the past few months and we’re just starting to get back into it. But in a way this job makes it possible for me to pursue these things. It gives me financial freedom. We’ve recently moved into our dream apartment which wouldn’t have been possible if we both didn’t have well paying jobs. We’re going on holiday in Japan this fall. And we’re able to finance a rehearsing room and music equipment (and every musician knows that you can spend a fortune on stuff like that). And we’re making plans for a future together.

A year ago I only saw my job as a burden and a hindrance to pursueing my dreams. When it actually does help me to get closer to them in a way. And it feels good to be aware of that. Especially during tough times like these.

Luminale in Frankfurt

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As I promised a while ago, I wanted to make a special post for the final day of March’s photo challenge. I do realize it’s May already and to be honest I have no idea how we got there. But since I still wanted to share the pictures I (and to be precise, the boyfriend as well) took on that day, here you go!

The task of the day was to take 9 pictures throughout the day. I actually intended to document my day, but since it was a working day, there actually wouldn’t have been many interesting things to show. And to be honest, while working I just forgot about it. BUT! I had planned something special for that evening, so I decided to document that instead. And thanks to the boyfriend’s new DSLR we took some amazing pictures. We went to Luminale which is a “light festival” in Frankfurt meaning there are light installations all around the city. It’s a lot of fun to wander around and explore all the different sites, but there are far too many to see them all. This year, we went to Palmengarten, a botanical garden, and went for a stroll. It was a beautiful spring day which made it the perfect evening activity. I hope you enjoy the pictures. And make sure to visit Luminale if you’re ever in town when it’s on!

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An evening at Dippemess

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Yay, the Easter weekend is finally here! I have been looking forward to having 4 days off so much after the busy weeks before. Last weekend I basically had only half a day off on Sunday because I came back from London around noon. I was absolutely knackered when I finally arrived back in Frankfurt. On Monday, I felt like having a jetlag, just from having to get up around 6 in the morning and working until late at night while I was in London. It was crazy! And this week wasn’t any less busy. I don’t really know how I made it through, I literally had to drag myself to work yesterday. But I made it and while we’re busy in a different way this weekend (with the apartment and family things), there’ll also be time to relax. I definitely deserve it!

To start off the long weekend, we had one of our surprise dates yesterday. Being the bad girlfriend I am I guessed what the boyfriend had planned before he had a chance to surprise me. To be fair, I only did because I’d planned the exact same thing for the next week. But it wasn’t any less fun! We went to Dippemess, a fair which is held every spring in Frankfurt. We’d already been there last year and liked it so much we wanted to come back. To be honest, I don’t really know why I like it that much. There isn’t any difference to other fairs in Germany, really. There’s a ferris wheel, a rollercoaster, a ghost train, a water ride and many more rides. Of course, there’s a wide choice of food and drinks as well.

After walking through the whole place, we decided we didn’t really feel like going on any rides. I was too tired for a thrill. Instead, we got some fries, Currywurst and a beer and sat down watching the people passing by. And then we discovered something: UFO catchers (you know those claw machines you can win stuffed animals and other toys with). Playing UFO catcher was a real hobby for me when I lived in Japan. It could’ve  easily turned into an addiction. Maybe it already was. I have no idea how much money I spent and how many stupid toys I won. It wasn’t about the prizes, it was about winning, about perfecting that skill to get the thing you want into that damn hole. Unfortunately, German UFO catchers are a real pain in the ass. Their claws work a lot different from Japanese ones, so I never really bothered to play. But yesterday we did. I’d spotted a little minion which looked like it was possible to capture. And I was right. It took us 3 tries to get it. Yay! To celebrate our win, we bought some cocktails and sat down in a deck chair. Aaaaah, almost like holidays! It started to get pretty cold, so we went for one last look around and then headed home. I think I haven’t slept this well in a long time.

Happy Easter everyone!

 

 

March Photo Challenge: Week 4

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I did it! I finished my first photo challenge! I’m aware that I’m awfully late with this since we’re already way into April. I’ve just returned from a business trip to London which was exciting, but also very exhausting since it required loads of work beforehand and I worked from early in the morning until late in the evening and only had half a day of the weekend. I have lots of ideas for posts I want to share and I really hope I’ll get the time to write them down soon when things have hopefully calmed down a bit. But before that, I finally wanted to share my pics of the final March week with you.

I have to admit that I had some trouble with the theme of that week which was “night”. I don’t stay up very late during the week, so I probably went to bed when it was still “evening” for most of people. And of course, I didn’t do very exciting things before I went to bed. Nevertheless, I tried to cover the topic as best as I could.

Day 22

DSC_0720As I mentioned before, Saturday is usually the only day of the week we cook proper dinner. And what would dinner be without a nice glass of red wine? I’m not the greatest fan of wine to be honest. As a German, I prefer beer of course. But from time to time it’s quite nice. And since I’m not used to drinking that much wine it goes straight to my head. We had a very fun night with that bottle of red! ;)

Day 23

IMG_0061 Here’s a pic I took of a little fellow that lives with us. His name is Emil, he’s a broccoli and he accompanies us on all of our travels. (Yes, we are a little crazy, but who cares really.) At least he did until last weekend. When I forgot him in the hotel in London. That’s what happens when you have to get up at 5:30 in the morning. I’m currently trying to get the hotel to send him to me. I know it’s only a toy, but I’d still be very sad if he didn’t return. Poor littly guy!

Day 24

IMG-20140216-WA0003I didn’t do much on Monday night except lying on the couch. I realize the photo is not taken during the night, but still I thought I’d share a picture of our beautiful living room because that’s where I spent that night. Nice, isn’t it?

Day 25

IMG_0064Here’s a pic the boyfriend took from our balcony. He recently bought a DSLR and likes to take photos all around the house. This is the skyline of Frankfurt. I’m not sure until how long we’re gonna be able to enjoy this view since there are currently buildings being built around us. I really hope they won’t block our view because I really love it!

Day 26

DSC_0725Wednesday marked the day we finally went back to the rehearsal room. After a break of almost 3 months. Horrible, I know! But the move and our jobs didn’t leave much time for anything else. The result was pretty horrible as well. I’d originally planned to take a pic while we were still “at work” and didn’t remember until I found that guitar pick in my pocket. Oh well.

Day 27

DSC_0727On Thursday, we started something new together. As part of our resolution to go out more often again, we’ve decided to take each other on surprise dates. Every week one of us gets to choose what we do that evening. On our first date, the boyfriend took me to this awesome bar which is located in an old slaughterhouse. It was a pretty interesting location and I really loved to spend time with the boyfriend outside of our home.

Day 28

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We stayed in on Friday because we were pretty tired from the busy week. So here’s yet another picture of our new neighbourhood. Are you bored yet?

Day 29

DSC_0730That day’s challenge was to take a picture of our favourite time of day. On the weekends I basically like all times of the day. But since the boyfriend had to work that day, my favourite time was when he came home in the evening. It had been a warm, sunny day, so we grabbed a beer and sat down by the basin looking on the river. Simply perfect!

Day 30

DSC_0731That day’s topic: Favourite moment of the day. Since the weather was absolutely amazing again, we decided to go on a little trip with my sister and her boyfriend. We drove to this nice beergarden in the countryside and decided to go on a little hike. It was supposed to take about an hour, but because we suck at reading maps and followed the wrong sign, we ended up walking around for 2+ hours (and I was already hungry before we left). I was never looking forward to a cold beer and some nice food as much as when we finally got back to the beergarden.

For the last day of March I have a special post coming up. So stay tuned!

March Photo Challenge: Week 3

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Last week has been a fun, but busy one. I went to not one, but two concerts (which makes 3 shows in just 6 days if I count in the one I went to the week before). While I was absolutely knackered by the middle of the week, I enjoyed going out during the week a lot. So much so that we’ve decided to finally break our couch and TV routine of the last weeks and do more fun stuff again. I really like spending time in our beautiful new apartment, but lately we’ve been acting more like retirees than people in their late 20s/early 30s. I hope I’ll be able to present you some of the fun things we’re going to do this week in my next edition of the March Photo Challenge. In the meanwhile, here are my pictures I took during last week’s evenings.

Day 15

DSC_0705Saturday is usually the only day of the week that we cook something. We both have lunch at work and stick to the good old “Abendbrot” (which basically consists of sandwiches, literally it means “evening bread”) during the week. I’d wanted to try a recipe called Mapo Tofu ever since I read about it on Chronicles of Yoyo (thanks, Yolande, for introducing me to this delicious dish). I’m not the best cook and I had to improvise a little because I couldn’t find all the ingredients, but this was one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten. My stomach really hurt because I couldn’t stop eating. Yum!

Day 16

DSC_0724One thing I really, really want to do this year is go back to Japan for a holiday in autumn. I have no idea if we’ll actually go (mainly because of financial reasons), but since I love nothing more than travel planning, I bought a Lonely Planet and have started to read through it. I’m trying to not get too excited about all the things I’d love to see and do, but there’s nothing wrong about dreaming a little, right?

Day 17

DSC_0707On Monday evening I was taking the train back home as usual. I always have my iPod plugged in because I like to shut myself off from my fellow passengers and sometimes, like that day, I’m also reading at the same time. As I was sitting there absorbed in my book I noticed that the train had reached the only point on the journey where it travels overground. It’s only for a few seconds, but it’s always the sign for me that I’m only 1 stop from where I have to get off. I was still reading in my book when suddenly I noticed that the train had stopped. At a train station. Overground. I turned around and noticed that I was the only person still on the train. Hastily, I picked up my stuff and jumped out of the train. So I had taken the wrong one even though this line never stops at the track my trains depart from. I can take any train from that track, so I usually don’t pay attention to where exactly it’s going (I definitely will from now on). So there I was, stuck in the wrong station and the next train back wouldn’t leave until 25 minutes later. It was already after 7, so I wouldn’t be home until 8. Bummer! I called the boyfriend and kindly asked him if he could pick me up knowing that it would only take him 15 minutes max to get there. He wasn’t amused, but he jumped right into the car. While I was waiting outside, I took a picture. There’s not much to see, but after all that hassle I couldn’t really be bothered to come up with something more interesting.

Day 18

DSC_0710 On Tuesday, I went to see Casper, a German rapper, with my sister. The ticket was a birthday gift from her. It was really nice to do something with my sister. Even though we live close the each other, we only meet up every couple of weeks because we’re both busy people. The concert was awesome! I usually don’t listen to hip hop anymore. I used to back in the 90s when good German hip hop was actually a thing. Casper really is an exception these days and he put on a great show. I was really exhausted from all the jumping around.

Day 19

On Wednesday evening I went to a concert again. This time it was You Me At Six. I’d already seen them play in support of 30 Seconds to Mars last autumn and was really looking forward to seeing them do a headline show. The venue was probably the tiniest I’ve ever been to. I didn’t even see the stage at first, that’s how tiny it was. The vibe there was great and both the band and the crowd were in a great mood. My favourite moment was probably when lead singer Josh decided to jump on the bar and suddenly stood right in front of me. He then jumped into the crowd and let us carry him back to the stage. It was a bit risky considering there were only a few hundred people there and it wasn’t exactly crowded. But luckily, he got out of there safely.

Day 20

DSC_0718After all the action I had the days before, I was absolutely exhausted on Thursday. I didn’t do much else than lying around on the couch that evening. But when I went home from work I took a picture of the sky which had a nice pattern from the airplanes that had crossed it moments before.

Day 21

DSC_0719Friday is grocery shopping day for us. We used to do it on Saturdays, but since it always takes up so much time and we want to do greater things on our weekends, we decided to change that routine. Here’s a look at our not so healthy purchase. We still had plenty of vegetables and fruit at home which is why we didn’t buy any. Usually, it’s really not that bad.