Rock Am Ring 2009, Day One: Getting there is the hardest part

If there’s but one thing I’ve come to hate about summer festivals, it’s the whole packing of thing, dragging of things and getting there.. Well, at least part of the getting there part.. But we’ll get to that later, let’s start with the packing of things which for me pretty much happened on the day of our departure, Wednesday June 3. I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t pack as much as I did last year and thusly end up fully destroying my back and arms before arrival.. So, of course I ended up packing more than I did last year, mainly because I was in charge of bringing much of the booze this year. Luckily, the others had packed lighter and Tina was in charge of bringing one of our tents.. So all in all, as a unit, we traveled a little lighter  than we did to last year’s Rock Im Park festival.

That, of course, didn’t really help me all that much when I was stuck on my own, hauling all my crap festival necessities down to the railroad station. Our travel arrangements, too, were a little more complicated than last year when we could catch a direct train from Kolding to, well, pretty much smack dap next to the festival grounds in downtown Nürnberg. The reason being that – and stick with me now, this is where it gets complicated – Rock Am Ring, unlike its sister festival, Rock Im Park takes place at the Nürnburgring race track in the sleepy village of Nürnburg, Germany which, despite boasting a world famous race track, houses only a couple of hundred inhabitants and seems to be located just south of Middle of Fucking Nowhere. This, as you may well imagine, dear reader, poses somewhat of a predicament for people arriving by public transport, e.g. Tina, Dunkel and I. As such, our only option was to catch an overnight train from Kolding, Denmark to Köln (or Cologne if you will), Germany, switch to a regional train bound for Koblenz and then jumping onto a one-hour shuttle bus from Koblenz to the camping grounds in downtown Nürnburg.. Nice and simple, right? No? Well, it all really wasn’t as bad or hard as it sounded, but we’ll get to that.

Let’s, for now, start our tale where it all began, on a dusty railroad platform in Kolding, one sunny summer evening in early June when three young friends upon having said their goodbyes to friends, family, boyfriends (in Tina’s case that is) and what have you, jumped onto the old, beaten up south-bound night train.. Well, maybe jumped is a big word as all of us carried probably at least half our body weight in luggage and booze, but on the train we got without major complications, and we managed to find our compartment too pretty easily.. Finding a spot for our ridiculous amount of luggage would prove harder, though, as we fought hard and long to amidst curses and random acts of violence to wrestle it into the overhead luggage shelves and between seats.. We even scared off the original inhabitants of the compartment in the process as they fled, one of them never to be seen again, the other returning once or twice before disappearing as well. It was all rather strange, but we didn’t complain too much, as it left us the six seat compartment to ourselves, our beers and our weird behavior. We whiled away some time scheming, talking of things to come, drinking beer, discussing penguins and cracking some of the worst and weirdest jokes known to man. Before we knew it, we were across the border and well on our way into Germany.. And before we knew it, we had company.. In the shape of a strapping, young, German lad, carrying the name Marcel. Marcel turned out to be a pretty friendly and funny guy on his way to Trier, Luxembourg. He didn’t have much understanding for the great concept that is rock music, and Rock Am Ring in particular, but was a rather huge fan of electronic music. Which should’ve spelled trouble, but somehow we hit it off anyways and got to talking about music, movies and what have you.. Before you knew it, we even had him pull out his laptop and act as the resident DJ of our compartment for a good little while, a favor we repaid him for with beers.. By the end of the night we had quite the party going and quite a few laughs were had. It all lasted till around Hamburg where a Dutch couple entered the compartment and we figured we’d probably better tone it down a bit, so the music died down and we took to chatting casually (and tiredly as the clock was now approaching 1 AM) and flipping through various magazines, slightly buzzed and overly tired. We even killed time at one ridiculously long layover by going on a “sightseeing tour of the train” which served no other purpose than to kill time and greatly confuse a train stewardess we ran into somewhere on first class who, after enquiring about that the fuck we were doing, took to giving us a long explanation about the train and which carts were heading in what direction.. A useful bit of knowledge that caused us pretty quickly scurry back to our own cart and compartment, thinking that move to be a lot wiser than accidentally stepping into one of the Moscow-bound carts.

Safely back in our own seats, tiredness soon took over and people eventually started nodding off, first Tina, then Dunkel and finally our new friend, Marcel, I on the other hand (surprise, surprise) couldn’t sleep, so I wound away the time watching train stations go by and the sun slowly rising. There was no real point in sleeping anyways, the time had long passed 2:30 AM, and we were scheduled to arrive in Köln at 6:14 AM, so I stayed up and saw to it that all went according to plan.. Which, surprisingly, it did, so at 6:10, I could poke the others and let them know to get ready which we then did, rather sleepily. Marcel, apparently, was changing trains here as well and heading straight on to Koblenz, too, it would seem. He, however, was heading there on another train than we were, so as we jumped onto the platform on a cold Thursday morning in Köln, we made our goodbyes and headed off in our separate directions.

Our first change of train went without too much confusion, not counting the small bit of panic that ensued from us not being able to find the train we were supposed to travel on by on any of the departure schedules we looked at.. Until we realized we were looking at schedules for local trains only and, upon examining the right schedule, found our train and platform, sprinted on and made it onto the train on time.

The train that we ended up on was some kind of regional express train meaning that we three sleepy eyed Danes with tons of luggage along with some other hopeful festival goers wound up on a commuter train amongst various suits, teachers, big wigs and what have you who were heading off to work and shooting us disapproving glances as we tried to make room for ourselves and our luggage.. It was a short ride, though, so we didn’t really pay much attention to anything.. Other than us being ridiculously tired. While the others slept some or gazed at the scenery, I tried to kill some time going to the restroom which proved impossible as someone had apparently locked themselves in there and stayed there for most of the trip, so I waited until we arrived in Koblenz and then got to have fun spending money on going to a train station restroom.. Good times!

Koblenz spelled the end of the line for our train journey and the beginning of our bus trip. And, luckily, things again went much smoother than expected. We arrived at around 7:45 AM with the first bus departing for the Ring at 8:30. Within minutes, we’d located the shuttle bus station and after waiting for the ticket office to open, we’d also purchased tickets and now only had to wait for the bus to arrive which it did not long after 8.. When it did, we threw most of our luggage in the luggage compartments and boarded the bus, cussing and complaining about a bunch of fucking annoying drunk, loud mouth German teenagers who seemed to have nothing better to do than talk about how many beers they were gonna have and how much most of the performing bands sucked.. Which I found ironic seeing as they themselves were wearing Children of Bodom t-shirts which is a decidedly crappy band in itself.. But I digress..

After a lot of waiting around and lot of complications, mainly consisting of the organizers not wanting the bus to leave before it was completely full and some arguing between the organizers and above mentioned German teenagers about whether or not two shopping carts worth of booze and beers fell under the “only limited amounts of baggage per person accepted” rule (they apparently did), we eventually headed off at around 9:15 AM.

The bus ride itself was extremely pretty and extremely uneventful. My fellow travelers grabbed the chance to catch a little more sleep while I, again, was denied this luxury and instead took in the scenery. It went smoothly, too, until we spotted a sign saying “Welcome to Rock Am Ring, please have festival tickets ready!” and everything went haywire as we ran into heavy traffic as hundreds of cars, vans, busses and what have you tried to make their way to the Ring at the same time. This was the first time I really realized the sheer scale of the festival because not only was there a fuckload of cars, there were also road signs pointing them in various directions and, furthermore, we were apparently still miles away from the main festival area even though both camping areas and hordes of people had started popping up. In the end, our skilled (and uber cool) driver found a break in traffic, went for it and got through. She floored it and off we scooted for the last part of our journey which eventually landed us at the make-shift Rock Am Ring shuttle bus station right outside the Nürnburg town limits.. Not being the kind of people to sit around and waste time, we decided to try and beat the rush, jumped up, pressed past people and jumped off the bus to retrieve our luggage.

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