Note: The contents of this blog are also available in hardcover and paperback formats. For more information, click here:


Hello. My name is Isaac Shabtay, 32 years old from Ontario, Canada. I have set this blog up to document my journey following Mark Knopfler’s “Get Lucky” tour during the spring‐summer of 2010. This is in much the same way I did for Knopfler’s 2008 “Kill to Get Crimson” tour (see the “Links” section), except that this time, I will be following the entire tour—starting April 8 in Seattle, Washington, and ending July 31 in Gredos, Spain. Similarly to before, though, you are more than welcome to sit back, relax, read and comment. All comments, positive and negative, are welcome. You can also subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed (see links at the right‐hand side of the screen), so new posts become available through your favorite RSS reader. Have fun, Isaac

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Concert Day: Rock Under Broen, Middelfart, Denmark (June 11, 2010)

The last few words about the fantastic 30 hours I had spent in Paris were written about 20 minutes before the CityNightLine train picked me up on my way to Denmark. I was sweating like an obnoxious pig, tired, warm… and, by the description of the sleeper cars over the Internet, I was looking forward to lay my weary head on a comfy pillow and fade into a series of particularly irrational dreams.

The train arrived late. Upon boarding, I realized what it’s all about. Small rooms, each has between four and six bunk beds (I tried to reserve a private or a semi‐private room about a month ago… no vacancy). Very narrow, but still there was space to store my stuff.

Air conditioning? you must be kidding me. In other words—no, there wasn’t. Lucky me, we’re still not in full summer mode so the temperature was bearable—the only unbearable thing was my body being sticky and sweaty; contrary to what I was told before (and checked, too), there were no shower facilities on board.

In other words, I was expecting an on‐board hotel‐room (even if shared with 3 other people); what it turned out to be was a tiny dorm room with the absolute minimum you need in order to sleep.

Night trains like the one I boarded make multiple stops during the night; reservation is compulsory. Other than the decreased privacy when you take a bed in a 4‐ or 6‐bunks room, there is also the annoying problem of people boarding the train in 2:00am—half way during your own trip—and getting set‐up in a bunk bed right beside you or above you. You are very likely to wake up.

So considering all of that—and especially my physical condition with all the sweat etc—you should understand why I slept a total of about 30 minutes between 10:30pm and 6:45am.

At some point, I believe it was around 12:30am, I was just on the verge of falling asleep when the room’s door opened and an old lady got set‐up on the bunk bed beside me. Five minutes later, she started snoring.

So there I am… in a small room, having 6 beds altogether (4 populated), sweaty, warm, dead tired and neighbouring an old lady who was snoring so passionately as if her snores produce electricity.

Mental note #1 for future sleeper trains (I have two of those left): Buy them f’n ear‐plugs and get a shower before boarding!

(The Bose QuietComfort would be useless here as I sleep on the side. Just a fact I thought you may want to know)

Time passed slowly as I was flipping back and forth in my “bed” trying to catch some sleep. The attendants on board carry the duty of waking you up 30 minutes before you arrive at your destination; 30 minutes before the wake‐up, I suddenly fell asleep and I remember waking up just before the attendant entered the room to wake me up.

I was so tired, folks… but also very happy as it meant that the nightmare is over.

Exiting the room towards the toilets, I took a look through the window. Wait a minute, where am I? Is this really Denmark, or am I travelling through south‐western Ontario? The resemblance was uncanny: foggy air; mist over rolling hills with hardly a square inch not being green; farms with horses, cows; small houses with red or dark brown roofs.

… We’re obviously not in Paris anymore, but hey, I do like this kind of landscape. The city of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada—where I live—is not entirely unlike this, and its neighbouring towns (say, for example, Hillsburgh) have exactly the same atmosphere and structure as what was reflected through the train’s windows.

The train’s destination was Copenhagen, so I had to get off it in a town named Kolding; most train inhabitants were set to leave the train in that station, so I assumed this is some sort of a central transportation hub. However, as the train approached the station—perhaps even 2–3 kilometres away from it—the view started to change gradually; by the time we arrived at the station, the view was rather depressing; I think it would be best described as “Belgium, only greener”. Unpleasant at best.

Arriving at Kolding, having about 13 minutes to kill, I decided to tackle an important hurdle: cash. Denmark is not a part of the EMU (European Monetary Union), despite being a member of the EU (good for them, I guess… I wonder how longer would the Euro hold). The same, by the way, holds for Sweden and Norway—my next two stops; each of these countries has its own currency. Switzerland is also going to be a bit of a problem as it has its own currency (Switzerland is neither a member of the EMU nor the EU. That’s good, otherwise things would be too simple).

Nobody in that Kiosk at the Kolding station could tell me where I can find an ATM (interesting fact: all Danish people I spoke to during the day, understood and spoke English very well; in Germany it was a disaster) so I decided to put an end to the chapter of Kolding in my life and just get the hell out of there.

Wait time was over and the InterCity came to pick me up to Middelfart—the very next station, about 15 minutes ride. An ATM was much easier to find over there, and I had my first meal in Denmark—a sandwich, and got some chocolate milk drink for the way.

The first thing I think you need to know before you travel to Denmark is that things are expensive here, especially food. Sandwich and chocolate drink in a Kiosk cost me about 45 DKK which is about $7 CDN; quality of life in Denmark is considered to be of the world’s best despite very high taxes which, I believe, are the reason for things being so expensive in here.

My hotel, Severin Hotel & Conference Centre, was located 2.6km away from the train station. Rather than taking a taxi cab, I decided to use the fact that I’m already sweaty and tired to make myself even sweatier and more tired—and walk it. Good for fitness, and the weather was perfect for it: misty, grey, very light drizzle.

Middelfart (Wikipedia: is a tiny town, located at the north‐west of the Funen island (a part of Denmark, of course). Less than 14,000 people live in this town (as of January this year) and, while strolling up and down the streets, you’re never too far away from the sea—I suppose that is the reason for the high humidity in the area.

Green everywhere, and lots of space. Not even one apartment building have I seen on my way to the hotel—only houses. Once I took the turn to the main road, the road became closer and closer to the sea (see pictures below).

Very pleasant walk; hardly a soul around and the air feels fresh and revitalizing.

Still, I was sweaty and tired like a dog; finally, I arrived at my hotel—located on the top of a hill overlooking the sea. Brilliant.


Upon arrival, I realized that I had booked a room with no en‐suite facilities—I was so longing for my own privacy that I changed the booking without even asking for the price (well, I asked for it after the fact; it was not cheap). Very early in the morning, but they had the room ready for me within 30 minutes.

Taking a shower always feels great after nights like the one I had. Any trace of that old snoring lady has been washed away along with the soapy super‐hot water. You know, after the rush to Paris’ train station and the awful night at the sleeper train, moments like these (the shower) feel like victory. I made it, and I’m happy despite the hours of crap I had to put up with.

Laid my head on the pillow and had a fantastic, terrific 3.5 hours sleep—waking up fresh and upbeat as if I didn’t spend the previous night tucked in a smelly bed with the delicate sound of chainsaw in my ear.

Writing: on board the 9:45am InterCity service from Middelfart to Copenhagen, where I will change trains en route to Helsingborg, Sweden for the concert tonight. I often find it foolish to divert my gaze from the beautiful view reflecting through the train’s window.

Once one elementary need—sleep—has been satisfied, there came the time to satisfy another one: hunger.It was around 2:00pm if I recall right; the concert was slated to start at 8:00pm, with doors opening at 7:00pm (general admission, standing concert). I decided to not spend my day waiting at the gates, so there’s plenty of time for everything.

Quickly packed my laptop and I was set out to walk to Middelfart’s town centre—a short walk from the train station, which means another 2.5km walk… back towards the train station.


With time on my side, I savoured any minute of that pleasant walk. The main path is very close to the sea, yet there is an alternate path that goes in parallel to it, a few meters west of the main path—closer to the sea.


A few meters further, and a short sign pointed me to a public, free path to the sea. I found it hard to stop taking pictures.


It was such a pleasant sight. I am a total sucker for the sea, can’t get my eyes off it, regardless of the weather.

As I am writing these lines, the train is crossing a sea. My Lord, is this a beautiful country or what! I took some photos… for June 12’s blog entry. Don’t worry, I got you covered.

30 minutes later, I arrived at Middelfart’s town centre. Now, remember this town is inhabited by about 14,000 people so one shouldn’t expect high‐rises and sky‐scrapers here. The entire town centre consists of one street, offering very few restaurants, cafe’s and pubs. In fact, I have seen more women lingerie stories here than cafe’s. Bizarre, isn’t it.


I chose to go to a place called Cafe Edsberg right by the water. Very spacious place (the Danes appreciate their personal space, so I have learned. That is good. Way to go Danes), contemporary decor and a very inviting atmosphere. Very expensive, but nothing out of the ordinary for Denmark.

As I was waiting for my order, I browsed the Internet for a bit (free Wi‐Fi there) and learned a few things about the Danish people. According to what I have read, the Danish people are generally extremely polite and reserved; they will smile at you on the street but will rarely strike up a conversation—not due to snobbism, but rather due to respect to your own privacy and your own need in some peace of mind. Politeness is key here—cutting in line is considered to be an extremely rude action here and is very, very frowned upon. They enjoy life by its little moments, usually gathering with friends for pleasant chats over a drink. They see it undesirable to be “special”; nobody here wants to have the spotlight directed at him / her for any reason, which explains how come people here are so reserved to themselves.

A good sandwich and great cappuccino cost about $15 CDN in here—certainly not cheap, but quality is quite good. I spent a few more minutes there and decided to head back to the hotel, not before I took some pictures of the harbour.


The last picture shows the tents (later, I found out that those were the tents where food and merchandise were sold) of the Rock Under Broen venue. As you can see, it’s not entirely under the bridge…

A pleasant walk back at the hotel…


When I was doing my research for hotels last month, I took into consideration the location of train stations and the concerts’ venues. For Middelfart, I was a bit bummed because the map showed quite the distance (about 2–2.5km) between the station, hotel and venue; imagine my surprise when the hotel’s attendant told me that the Rock Under Broen venue is actually 200m away from the hotel. So here is a tip: for outdoor venues, do not trust mapping software such as Google Maps. Turns out that, when searching for “Under Broen” in Middelfart using Google Maps, what you get back as a result is the address of the offices of the company running this thing, rather than the venue itself.

In one of the pictures above, you might have noticed a bridge visible from the hotel I was staying at. “Under Broen” in Danish means “Under the Bridge”… and guess what bridge… that’s right! the one conveniently located a couple of minutes away from my hotel.

As I was approaching the hotel, it started to rain. I figured that I’m not going to make this day too complex and too aggravating so screw it, I’m not going to wait in line for the gates to open. I took the time to rest in my bed while it was pouring down rain outside. At around 6:00pm, I got a bit bored so I decided to not take much chance—who knows when they’re going to close the ticket pickup booth—so I headed to the venue.

Luckily enough, the hotel had umbrellas for guests’ use… without that, I’d probably become very sick by now. Also, I would like to thank my common sense for not giving up to stupidity, and guiding me to actually take a coat with me.

The march towards the venue took about five minutes. It was still raining; when I got there, not more than 50 people were gathered by the gates. More interesting was the fact that I was of the only ones holding an umbrella; most people showed up with rainwear—oh, that would have been useful, wouldn’t it—essentially a full‐body nylon‐made cloth that is water‐resistant and basically covers your entire body.

Ticket pickup was a snap and I joined the line. Within minutes, the line‐up grew significantly. Perhaps that was the reason why the gates to the venue were opened at 6:10pm instead of the advertised time of 7:00pm.

In sharp contrast to the standing / general‐admission concerts so far, there was absolutely no running of any bulls here. Even the younger members of the audience were walking easily towards the stage—heck, most people decided to hit the beer / food stands first.

This venue is huge and is not at all located under the bridge; nearby—yes… certainly not under. Who’s up for a law suit? :-)


As it was still raining (although not as bad as before), the equipment on the stage was covered and was only unveiled a few minutes before the show started.


I walked slowly and still was able to get the second best spot (visibility‐wise) at this venue. To understand what’s the second best spot, I should first explain how things were laid out as it was somewhat strange.

Facing the centre of the stage, about 20–30m away, there was a high “shack” where some lights came from. The path between that “shack” and the stage—20–30m long and about 2m wide—was blocked for public access as it had all of the wires going through it. In other words, you could not stand at the centre of the stage, regardless of how bullish you are.

Here are some pictures to demonstrate…


See the first picture showing the curve of the fence? the best visibility‐wise spot in the venue (on the left‐hand side of it; I was at the right‐hand side but things are symmetrical there) is where that black umbrella is—perfect angle‐to‐distance ratio. I was standing behind a guy that stood at exactly the opposite side.

Not bad for a pleasant walk… no need to rush anywhere to get a good spot in this venue.

At the right‐hand side of the stage (from the audience’s point of view) there stood a large screen.


During the show, lots of video cameras (I can’t seem to recall any Knopfler concert featuring so many video cameras running around all the time. I apologize to Guy Fletcher in advance as this may trigger quite a few of those obnoxious “what about a DVD” questions in his forum… yet I’m just reporting what I saw. Sorry mate) were filming the entire thing so people at the far back could see something.

While waiting for the concert, my eyes met with those of one of the stage workers whom I suspect was precisely the same individual who handed me the pack of crew T‐shirts just before the show in Albany, NY (can’t believe it’s been more than a month now). Pretty sure it was him, as he waved his hands at me as an expression of disbelief that I made it all the way to Denmark. He was later joined by Paul, who also spotted the Danish‐unlike bearded face of mine and waved a warm hello.

Yeah… I guess Denmark is indeed out there.

Meanwhile, the rain magically stopped. The venue started to fill up pretty quickly.


Due to the wind, the banners at both sides of the stage went loose. Not even two minutes passed and it was fixed.


It was cold and windy; didn’t rain (it did, though, towards the end of the show, but still the audience clearly deserved for the show to start right on time, which it did (8:00pm).

Eh guys, it’s cold, isn’t it?


All band members except for Danny (wearing a short‐sleeve shirt; unbelievable) and Mike were evidently cold as they were dressed‐up warm. Hats off for the hat, Mark.

I was expecting the cold weather to affect the performance; I am not, by any mean, a professional guitar player but I do know what the feeling is when your fingers are cold and you ought to play guitar. It’s annoying at best, and I usually just give up and go warm my hands somewhere (no, not in the oven). Frankly I don’t know how the guitar players in the band managed to play a relatively good show under these conditions; they were, for the most part, isolated from the wind (see pictures of the stage above) but the temperature was way below what would make a guitar player happy.

The show was short—14 songs, with Sailing to Philadelphia being dropped this time (to my recollection, that happened only once before… I’ll have to check).


That last picture obviously has nothing to do with the concert itself, still I thought it would be a good idea to add it because I’m a big fan of white gloves with grey stripes.

… OK, what else… lets see (sorry, I lost my train of thoughts). Why Aye Man appears to always be played in standing shows and yesterday’s concert was no exception.

The audience?… well, how should I put it… very talkative. I was surprised as the Danes are supposedly very polite; they weren’t yelling much, but chatter was all over the place, often distracting. Also in sharp contrast to previous standing shows, personal space was obviously much more respected here as nobody appeared to step too violently into a fellow concertgoer’s soul.


Not much communication with the audience this time around; I suspect the cold weather was really an annoyance to the band.

Arriving at the venue and seeing how large it was, I was convinced that the sound is going to be too loud for me to handle and prepared for the worst. I was surprised, though, to find out that the sound wasn’t loud at all—in fact, perhaps a bit too soft? No wonder people kept on chatting—why block your mouth or freeze your tongue when you can talk softly to the people next to you and still be heard clearly?

I think that soft sound is better than loud; no question about it, as over‐loudness makes the “little details” of the music sound distorted or even be superseded altogether. But for this tongue‐busy audience, I wish the sound was louder just so they would shut the f**k up. Too bad for them, I think—lots of chatter during the Marbletown jam‐session made it very hard to enjoy every bit of this wonderful mini‐composition this band has been developing over the tour.

It also appears that the audience here is forward‐thinking in nature: rather than having to leave their post towards the beer stands, people here came with 3–4 litre jugs of Tuborg. Was hilarious to see them pouring beer from those jugs into plastic cups during the show. Bladder‐control? I don’t even want to know, thank you very much.

Typically, Mark inserts the city / town’s name into So Far Away’s lyrics (“here I am again in…”); he didn’t do it this time, but he also didn’t follow the original lyrics (“mean old town”). Instead, he said something else that I couldn’t understand—I’m not sure it was in English but it did make him and the rest of the band laugh. I suspect “Middelfart” was just too funny to say… “Here I am again in Middelfart town”? probably not the most romantic line in existence.

The audience appeared to have loved the show. As I mentioned, definitely not the loudest audience out there but you could see joy on people’s faces, especially when the old Dire Straits tunes were performed, Sultans of Swing being the one extracting the greatest deal of excitement (very good outro solo, by the way).

During Telegraph Road, it started raining again. Not too much though, I actually didn’t need my umbrella at all but you could definitely see people starting to get annoyed by it. The lights, generated by the shack behind me and aimed at the stage, highlighted the constant drizzle which, with the kind help of the stage equipment (all bunch of fans used to spread that smoke‐like substance) was spread all over the place. Hopefully the equipment remained dry; and even under these conditions, the band played flawlessly.

Cheers, you dear band.

The show ended at 10:00pm.


The Rock Under Broen venue is essentially a huge grass area. That’s pleasant, unless rain is involved. Lord, was that messy: puddles of mud were formed everywhere, which is the reason why it took so long—about 30 minutes!—to walk out of the venue. The locals, apparently, were prepared for that… I wasn’t. My simple running shoes were very quickly soiled beyond belief. Here is an example of how to not grass a venue:


Back at the hotel (finally!), I was hungry and asked what my dining possibilities were. The hotel I was at offers free drinks 24 hours a day as well as pretty interestingly‐looking desserts at the evening (for free as well) but I was looking for something else. Unfortunately, my only option at that time was the nearby McDonald’s. I had to, then, commit the ultimate sin. A Big Mac together with Camembert Nuggets solved my hunger problem.

On my way there, I saw police checking people for DUI. Clever. The amount of beer that found its way to people’s stomachs during that concert was immense.


Leaving the hotel towards McDonald’s I forgot to re‐grab the umbrella I had previously taken to the concert. That was stupid and I was punished by returning to my hotel, post‐meal, rather wet. But it was fun… walking in the rain can sometimes be pleasant, especially when you know when you’re going to be back in a dry warm place (only 100m away).

Fantastic shower to wash the cold and mud off and I was anew, ready to charge at my laptop for blogging. I decided to go down to the dining room so I can blog while sipping some tea. Was good for the soul but I didn’t manage to write much.

BlackBerry’s alarm clock set to 7:30am, as the train to Helsingborg was going to depart 9:40am. Some re‐packing had to be done, plus allowing time for breakfast and the 2.6km walk to the station…

Signing this post off as the train from Copenhagen Central is just about to arrive at Helsingborg Central. The concert tonight is also in an open‐air venue, general admission, standing. I think I’ll prefer enjoying it from the back, over waiting for hours at the line‐up. I need some rest, and also to book some flights in Spain.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Concert Day: Palais Omnisport de Paris‐Bercy & Day Off in Paris, France (June 9–10, 2010)

Writing: at Elian Poupard’s flat in Ivry, just outside Paris. Just finished a heavenly meal consisting of home‐made (!) bread, five different types of cheese, berries confiture and red wine.

Oh, what a day. What a superb day. I was prepared to fun days, but not to one like this!

The first good thing that happened to me today was the ability to get the f**k out of Luxembourg as soon as theoretically possible according to Einstein’s theory of relativity. I woke up at 9:00am, one hour prior to the TGV’s scheduled departure time, got everything packed within 10 minutes and just fled the scene.

At morning time, Luxembourg wasn’t any prettier than it was last evening. You know, they say Luxembourg’s outskirts are much nicer; I certainly hope so. My advice: if you’re planning on staying in Luxembourg, then at least do it just outside of the city. The Luxembourg‐Gare (central station) area is not the place for you.

A quick sandwich from the same place I had the bad sandwich the day earlier; ate it on my way to the train station. I left early, just to be on the safe side. Boarded the TGV train—very comfortable first‐class seat in a car almost empty of humanoids.

An intense‐looking old man boards right after me and starts talking on the phone in a voice that made me want to learn French just so I could tell him to shut up. You know, of those voices that just penetrate your brain, bypassing all mental filters and at the end stab your brain cells.

The TGV is a French fast train, often reaching speeds of 220 km/h or even more. The ride to Paris took two hours and five minutes, during which I had the chance to finish yesterday’s blog entry.

I have never been to Paris before. Never been to France at all. Actually, lets make it simple: my entire Europe experience prior to this tour included Prague (10 years ago), London, Amsterdam, Delft, two nights in Frankfurt and one day in Brussels. So much to look forward to in Europe in so little time; and Paris was certainly something I was looking forward to experience.

Prior to arriving here, I heard all sorts of stories about the English‐speaking tourist’s life here—all of which sum up to one word: hell. The French people apparently can’t speak English very well, and even those who do—aren’t necessarily happy to speak it anyway. Also, this is a big city and the possibility of getting lost—if you don’t know your way or the French language—are not small.

What else?… oh. Yeah, I heard that people are rude.

What I also heard, though, about Paris—and in fact, about France in general—that these chaps here know their way around food. That alone is enough reason for me to want to be here. While I am a big fan of Italian cuisine (simple and tasty), I was looking forward to attempt something with a French aroma to it.

A few weeks ago, a Knopfler fan who answers the name Elian Poupard contacted me and suggested that I spend the night at his flat in Ivry, just outside Paris. I happily agreed; ever since, we met a few times before & after a few Knopfler concerts so we were no strangers anymore.

We agreed to meet in Paris Est—in English, Paris’ eastern train station—at 12:05pm, the train’s arrival time. The train made it on time and I met Elian on the platform.


From Paris Est, it’s a long 35 minutes subway ride to Ivry, where Elian lives. The subway system in Paris is surprisingly simple comparing to London’s Tube and NYC’s subway; using a simple subway map, it’s hard to get lost in here even if you can’t speak French to save your life.

Arriving at Mairie d’Ivry station, I took the steps to exit the train station and looked around.

Welcome to France!

I was happy to be in France at last; the weather, however, seemed to not be as happy as I was as it was raining—not violently, but adequately annoying—all the time. A parapluie (pluie = rain; parapluie = for the rain = umbrella. Even the word “umbrella” sounds like love‐making) was very much in need, and so Elian and I found ourselves struggling for parapluie space during the 5 minute walk towards his apartment building.

Quickly unloaded everything at Elian’s place and he showed me around. Everything seemed normal until we entered Elian’s temple: a small room, with a desk in it, computer, some shelf space, a sofa… oh, yes, I almost forgot: and fifteen guitars. Two of those guitars are Mark Knopfler’s Signature Stratocasters, one of them personally signed by Mark himself.

Hundreds (I’m not kidding) of CD’s, DVD’s and other sorts of media, including all sorts of music—quite a bit of Knopfler material but lots of other stuff.

Writing: on board the 6:01pm Thalys train from Paris Nord to Köln.

As I was hungry, we started talking about lunch and dinner plans. Elian mentioned that he makes his own bread using a bread maker that he has at home, and asked whether I would like to have some fresh home‐made bread once we’re back from the concert. I looked at him, not quite understanding what’s the purpose of this question. Are you kidding me? Is that even supposed to be a question?!

He then opened up the fridge and started showing me what we’re going to have for a post‐concert meal; all sorts of cheese, some confiture… then pulled a bottle of red wine. Holy smoke, we’re going to have a wine & cheese dinner!

As he started putting whatever the ingredients are into the bread machine, I was sensing something different in the air. I mean, literally. There was this sort of stench… I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. The smell was so offensive, for a minute it felt as if my face is coincidentally located right behind the asses of 14 angus bulls after they had a bad Taco‐Bell chilly meal. And you know the situation… it’s quite impolite to ask.

Elian: “Do you smell the cheese?”

Oh, yes. Another thing I heard about France. The stinkier—the better, that’s what they say. Well, we’ll see about that.

Was still raining outside as we made our way to the metro station. Upon arriving, Elian realized that he forgot his metro pass at home; another 20 minutes delay as he went running back home to fetch it. Down to the metro line and we went towards Trocadero, which is a famous circle in Paris, located across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.


Elian had done some research prior to that, and decided that we should go to a place called Carette, a patisserie (a place specializing in dessert‐type pastries) located right at the very‐touristic area of Trocadero.


So, this patisserie, as you can see, has a roofed terrace in North America, we call these “patio’s”). Parisians appear to like the concept of terraces very much as, of the dozens of restaurants / patisseries / boulangeries I came across—most had terraces. The atmosphere is brilliant and very inviting; not too quiet, not too loud.

You look at people around you and you get a sense of warmth. I can’t understand why some people claim that Paris gives you the sense of estrangement—it certainly doesn’t, at least for me.

Another thing I felt while being in there (as well as the restaurant the day later, which is today) was that the French have a different approach towards eating in a restaurant than North Americans. Of course that there are exception to the rule, but the general difference appears to be this: North Americans go to restaurants in order to eat; the French (and this is true for other parts in Europe) go to restaurants for an experience. The entire process of going out, being seated, being served, talking, sharing laughs, paying and going out—an entire process that the French simply enjoy. In other words, being hungry is not always the sole reason for going out to a restaurant; it’s the experience that counts, and it means a lot.

And you see it not just on clients’ faces; you see it in the staff, too. Being a waiter in such places is a respectable job that is taken seriously, much unlike students working in Boston Pizza who are there for performing (usually; again, exceptions to the rule exist everywhere) the minimum they have to do in order to maintain employment.

[Turning Bitching mode OFF]

Carette are well‐known around the city for their Macaroons; being a restaurant mostly oriented towards desserts, they still had an interesting menu. We both opted for a chicken‐breast sandwich that was served cut into 4 parts, with the most delicious salad I can remember myself laying my tongue around (I believe the raisins made all the difference). To start—of course, some red wine.

Here are some pictures showing Elian’s approach towards good meals.


Don’t judge me by the expression on my face—I was very tired…


Folks, I savoured every minute of this delicious meal. Typically, restaurants in touristic places serve sub‐quality food; if that was sub‐quality, then I’m really interested to see what good quality is. It was a delicious meal. That salad, with the sandwich, washed down by good red wine—all together happening while having a conversation with an extremely interesting & funny Frenchman—absolute bliss.


During lunch, I was determined to learn some French from my knowledgeable companion. One sentence we came across was “Miss, you are very beautiful” which, in French, looks like this:

“Mademoiselle, vous êtes vraiment très belle!”

Simple sentence, yet it took me a few hours (!) of practice in order to get it just right. I feel bad for Elian, as I had to practice this on him. Sorry mate, I had to.

So, as we were having lunch, I was practicing this sentence over and over again. During one of my attempts, just at the instant I said “Mademoiselle”, a gorgeous mademoiselle approached the table right next to us, accompanied by her young daughter. She thought I was talking to her and looked at me—needless to say I did not complete that sentence, however Elian had a good laugh. Instead, I mumbled “excuse moi” or something.

Foot… put into mouth… yes, it fits.

Anyway, a few minutes later the young daughter decided to show us her ukulele:


Sandwich is done… then came the desserts.


Five macaroons, each of a different taste, delicious, with a perfect cappuccino to end. Now that’s what I call a great lunch. Thanks Elian for a great introduction to Paris!

(And sorry, mademoiselle, for that awkward situation)

On a full stomach and with joyful hearts, we decided to make our way back to Elian’s apartment and spend some time there before heading out to the Bercy. Weather was rainy, and I was seeking some peace and quiet rather than going on a tourist walk. 40 minutes or so later, we were back at Elian’s apartment.

Was great to pick an MK Signature Stratocaster again and play. Oh, do I miss playing my guitars & piano… and recording… I envision being locked down in my basement for a few weeks upon returning home.

At around 6:00pm, we made our way towards the Bercy.


The Palais Omnisport de Paris‐Bercy (Wikipedia: is located in an area in Paris called Bercy. It is a sports arena, and can seat between 7,000 to 17,000 people, depending on the event.

Was still raining when we arrived there. Nelly, an avid Knopfler fan whose fan‐hood towards Knopfler far, far exceeds mine, was already there. We took a joint photo under one parapluie.


A short chat with Nelly, and a few Knopfler ultra‐fans who are members of AFMK (Association Francophone Mark Knopfler; link here)—a French organization wholly dedicated to Mark Knopfler—who had heard about this little journey I’m doing and decided to introduce themselves—nice to meet you all! Nelly and I then went on to seek the location of Porte 35 where fan‐club ticket pickup was taking place.

Trusting Nelly for navigation has quickly and painfully proved to be disastrous as we literally circled around the Bercy—in the rain!—only to realize later that we were walking one level above the one where the gates are located. At the end, we found it.

The only problem with the ticket pickup at the Bercy was that it was very, very slow. Normally, ticket pick‐up takes a few seconds per guest; there were four people at the desk, only one serving the audience. A line‐up started forming outside the gate, people waiting in the rain… very messy. I waited for about 20 minutes for the pickup… don’t know what went wrong.

Floor Y, row 1, seat 1—dead centre, so I was told (in reality, it wasn’t; the seat immediately to my left was; and no, I’m not complaining—just mentioning a fact).

This is a big venue. Also, very nicely laid out—a good change comparing to Luxembourg’s boring Rockhal. Some pictures:


Kate Walsh was the opening act for the concert; after a 30 minutes intermission—just around 9:00pm—the lights went down to the sounds of Feelin’ Good and the concert has started as a band of eight super‐musicians captured the stage.

News break: I have just received a very important email. Apparently, Boston Pizza in Canada is now launching a new menu. That presents a particularly interesting challenge to my ass, as it probably is the only body part of mine that cares. How ironic, to get such an email just a couple of hours after leaving the city offering the best food in the world.

Writing: still on board the Thalys train. One hour to go till we get to Köln, then an hour wait before boarding CityNightLine’s night‐train to Kolding, then Middelfart, Denmark. Talk about a long ride.

Approximately 12,000 (!) people in the audience gave remarkably loud cheers to the band—upon entering the stage, between songs, after songs… you name it. Folks, it was loud. Knopfler appears to have a very strong fan‐base in France; his concerts in Paris are usually sold out, and yesterday’s concert was the only Knopfler concert to take place in Paris this tour. People came excited; and take my word for it, they were.

This concert for me was more about the audience than anything else. By far the loudest audience in a seated venue so far this tour (the fact that there were 12,000 people there might have helped). An awful lot of love was thrown into the air by the audience, which made last night’s concert a mesmerizing experience. Hats off to a great audience.

Mark appears to have at least some basic French skills as he was speaking some French to the audience during the concert.

The sound at the Bercy isn’t known to be perfect but, from the centre of the front row, I couldn’t see what the heck was it that people were talking about. The sound was great and I could have heard almost each and every instrument, in each and every song. Perhaps the sound wasn’t as good at the back… again, the Bercy is a huge venue.

About the music: technically‐speaking, no concert is perfect but some are “better” than others when you only look at precision (or, to be more exact: dissonances. “Precision” isn’t a right word in this context because this entire band tends to improvise so it’s impossible to really predict what it is that they were intending to play). My ear picked a few “mistakes”, but certainly nothing that would ruin any song.

Paris’ concert featured a song that was only played twice (!) before during this tour. After Done with Bonaparte, I realized that the band members were keeping their instruments so I knew what’s coming; turned to Nelly (who was seated next to me) and told her “oh, I know what’s coming, I think you’re going to like it” and as soon as I finished talking, “A Night in Summer Long Ago”—one of my all‐time favourite Knopfler creations—had its introduction notes played by Mike McGoldrick; played before in Vancouver and the second Los Angeles concert, it was a pleasure listening to this masterpiece again.

I believe it was right after Romeo and Juliet when the audience stood up and started cheering a theme that I only heard before in soccer games. I don’t think it has a name—if it does, someone please comment on this post and let me know—but it’s a very common cheering song. Mark and the band appeared to have prepared for this moment, as Mark, Richard, Glenn and Danny accompanied the cheer. Hilarious.

The audience in Paris took the concept of Running of the Bulls to a whole different level as, right before Speedway to Nazareth, people came flocking the front (there was a barrier between the front row and the stage) using significant aggression. As always, Nelly was the first one to charge the stage; she made it to the front, but had to retrace her steps as she lost her camera (I later found it for her; don’t mention it, Nelly, the pleasure is all mine. Oh, that would cost you $100). I had to block my ears once Speedway at Nazareth ended as I wasn’t able to bear such loud cheers.

Other than a perfect Marbletown (as this band appears to produce on a nightly basis), yesterday’s concert included one of the most electrifying performances of Telegraph Road’s outro solo. Try getting your hands on that one, perhaps through the Simfy recordings available for purchase (no, I am not receiving anything for this “promotion”). It was truly remarkable and made me throw limbs at random directions all throughout; luckily nobody got hurt.

Once Telegraph Road has ended and people started giving each other some breathing space during the intermission before the encore, I decided to switch places with Nelly who were two “rows” behind me (don’t mention it either, Nelly. No problem. That’s another $100). I watched the encore behind four or five layers of humans, which didn’t really make the experience any less exciting.

Concert ended at around 11:00pm to the sound of an extremely happy audience. What a blast of a concert!


Left the venue; Arnaud and David—Elian’s friends—both went home and so did Elian and I. Two subway rides instead of one (faster, considering the huge queues that formed at the station) and we were home within an hour.

Loan, Elian’s girlfriend, was already asleep which was a shame as I was looking forward to see her. And… yes, you can imagine… the smell of fresh bread welcomed us oh so joyfully! I took a quick shower while Elian prepared dinner. This is what it looked like:


Elian had a great idea for a meal theme: Wine, cheese and Stratocasters—exactly the three things that make men happy.


Wine, cheese, bread and more cheese were consumed very happily. Along with the berry confiture, that was a delicious, fantastic dinner.


One cannot possibly write a blog entry after consuming such dinner; sleep was very much in order, and so at around 1:30am we bid each other good night and I was off to a wonderful night sleep after a kick‐ass day in Paris, courtesy of this brilliant Frenchman.

Thanks, Elian, for a wonderful day!

Waking up this morning, I found a note from Elian telling me that some breakfast is ready at the dining room. What a great host. I took everything easily—no need to rush—shower, slow & relaxed breakfast… then packed my stuff and went to meet Elian at Le Figaro’s building, right in a particularly exciting area of Paris.

The plan was to have lunch together (so I can have the real experience of an authentic French brasserie; I was definitely looking forward to that), then leave my backpack at Elian’s office and go do some sight‐seeing. The plan was to meet again around 5:00pm so I can take my backpack and make my way to Paris Nord station.

Was great meeting with Elian again. We went to a restaurant called Au Petit Riche, a few minutes walk from Le Figaro’s building.

Right as we entered the place I realized that this place knows its food. It looked, and felt, respectable. Suits were worn by almost all employees in the restaurant; service was simply outstanding… and the food?

Elian ordered escargot as an appetizer. Yes, that’s snails for you. He worked very hard to convince me to try one…

I did. Yes, I ate a snail. It was great. And trust me, I had to overcome so many mental blocks in order to eat that.

I ordered, as an appetizer, something off the menu that, if I recall right, consisted of a cow’s cheek and a calf’s tongue, mixed together with crispy vegetables in between. Sounds awful? maybe it does; it was my first time trying this thing out and it was delightful. That’s what it looked like:


And here’s Elian with the escargot:


Delicious starters—and off to the main meal: sea‐bass fillet for me, and some chicken breast with vegetables somehow inserted into it for Elian.


Here’s another issue with French restaurants: appearance counts, and so are the tiny little details of each and every dish. The sea‐bass you see on the right came with two small sides—olives and something else I couldn’t quite figure out what it was—in a brilliant oily sauce that made every bite feel like heaven.

Desserts followed shortly after (great Tiramisu!). Wine all throughout… and cappuccino at the end. What a lovely meal. Not too filling, not too fat—yet absolutely brilliant.


Took some shots on our way back to Elian’s office:


Elian’s back in his office and I decided to go see what the Champs‐Élysées is all about. Ten minutes on the subway and I arrived at the beginning of the Champs‐Élysées. It makes a beautiful walk, but it’s very busy with cars, tour buses and millions of tourists roaming the streets. Terraces of restaurants, brasseries, boulangeries, (whatever)eries—weather was perfect and everything was so alive.


Returned back to Elian’s building and took my things. Bid this great Frenchman goodbye, and we vowed to get together again before too long.

Hats off to Mr. Elian Poupard for being a great host—thank you Elian for making these 30 hours in Paris so fantastic, and see you again soon!

It started raining as I made my way towards Gare‐du‐Nord. I decided to walk fast rather than taking transit, merely for sports sake. Took me 20 minutes to arrive, sweating but happy, to the train station.

Leaving Paris after just one day is very, very stupid. I really hope to come back to this great city soon; Elian—start doing restaurant research!

Signing off this post on 10:05pm, June 10. I’m at Köln’s Hauptbahnhof; the CityNightLine train service to Kolding departs in 20 minutes; I should arrive to Kolding on 7:28am tomorrow morning, then a short train ride to Middelfart. And if that’s not enough, how about another 1.5km walk to my hotel there.

… And I know, very deep inside, that I am doing this for something worthwhile for myself as well as for others.

See you all in Denmark,