.. Jumping off the bus, we quickly retrieved our luggage, then paused for a minute to take in the beautiful sight. To the left of us, the Nürnburgring in all its glory, to the right, the fair city of Nürnburg, above it towered the ancient castle from which the town got its name, and all around us was green grass, trees and a steady stream of people.. We didn’t pause too long to take in the sights and sounds, though. Our main problem the year before had been actually finding a place to pitch our tents, so we knew that we had to get a move on pretty quickly or risk walking around for hours, looking for a place to camp.
Luckily, this year, the Rock Gods had smiled upon us.. Not only were camping spots a hell of a lot more plentiful at Rock Am Ring than they were at Ditto Im Park, the staff of security and helpers were also actually both friendly and helpful, a welcome change from last year. After a nod, a smile, a few questions, a wave of a hand and some pointing, we were well on our way to a suitable, pretty and well-located camp ground situated smack dap in the middle of Nürnburg. Upon showing our tickets to another set of helpful security people there, we were led through a make-shift chain link fence and left to roam the grounds, looking for a suitable place to park ourselves, our luggage and pitch our tents. It was clear that people were only just starting to pile into this particular camp ground (which was one out of a total of like 40), so we had no trouble in locating a nice, open even spot to camp on.. And thus, our epic adventure began for good.
I’ll be the first to realize that Dunkel and I are utter clueless idiots when it comes to camping, so it’s fair to say that the relatively quick and easy raising of our little two tent camp can be attributed mostly to Tina being really good at shouting directions and taking charge and Dunkel and I trying hard not to fuck up too badly, break too many things or do too much bodily harm to ourselves while trying to live up to said directions. In the end, we managed to pitch our tents pretty quickly, damaging only two or three essential pieces of equipment in the process and earning Dunkel and I only a limited amount of bruises.
We celebrated our success with a couple of beers and a couple of sandwiches which I’d been smart enough to bring along in a little travel size cooler bag I’d found somewhere. The combination of the first meal of the day and a beer or two shared in the comfort of our new two tent camp ) really helped brighten our spirits and get us ready for the day. It replenished our energy levels and actually gave us a bit of wanderlust.. Or, well, a lot of wanderlust. We kicked things off by walking up to one of the service centers and picking up our official festival arm bands, we then took a bit of an alternative route back to camp to check out the camping grounds we were on. Safely back, we stocked up on a couple of canned drinks and headed out to explore town which, probably owing to the occasion, consisted of a nice mix of cozy old buildings, little pubs and restaurants, and a wild mix of makeshift stands selling everything from beer and raw meats to, over mixed drinks and fries to full meals cooked to order. What really caught our attention, though, was the ancient fortress or castle or whatever towering over the city at the top of the hill, and without really talking about it, it was unanimously decided that we needed to climb the damn hill and check out the view from up there.. Which we did, panting and wheezing with the best of them – as it really was quite a climb, but also well worth it. As we climbed, the view of the town below only got better and our fun only grew as we reached some of the old fortifications and walls of the castle, where we had a hell of a lot of fun running around, scaling things, climbing steep hills, falling over and crashing into each other. At some point, Tina and I even tried to charge up a steep, narrow dirt path which went well for all of two seconds until Tina lost her balance and came skidding down again. I, being the gentleman that I am, tried my best to catch her before she skidded into a patch of stinging nettles, but succeeded in little more than getting an arm around her, losing my balance and nearly crashing down on top of her.. Picking ourselves up, we dusted ourselves off best as we could and decided on taking a more conventional path for the last couple of feet to the castle entrance where we paid something like 2 euros to enter the castle and climb the main tower for a full view of the area.. Two euro well spent, I might add, as the view was absolutely spectacular. Probs to Dunkel for overcoming his fear of heights and joining us at the top.
Having oohed and aahed for a good while and taken enough pictures to last for a while, we climbed back down, first from the tower, then from the castle (with only minor wrong turns along the way) and then all the way back down the hill to town where we made a stop by our camp to get more to drink, then headed out on another ambitious walk, this time to make our way around the festival grounds (which didn’t open till Friday) and check out the sights and sounds here. This turned out to be a little longer of a walk than we’d bargained for, but it was fun, tiring, full of strange experiences.. And most of all fruitful in that we got Tina’s first real metal-like t-shirt.. In the shape of a bright pink “I ❤ Rock Am Ring!” t-shirt featuring the festival line-up on the back and all.. We also got a cheese burger so bad and so expensive it wasn’t even funny.. We’re talking cold bun, semi-frozen cheese, fatty patty and the works. There isn’t really much to say about it other than I took one bit and started feeling funky, finished it on the way back to camp thinking I’d need the energy to get through the day. Got sick the minute we got back and immediately went on a combined find the toilets/dispose of burger mission.
By the time I’d finished purging the burger and returned to camp, the others had found their tents and had gone lights out. I thought this sounded like a pretty good idea and quickly found my own sleeping bag and settled in for a few hours of sleep.. At least I think that’s what I got. Both Tina and I had our phones (and as such our time keepers) turned off for most of the trip, so I’m not really sure about the whole time issue. All I know is that by the time Dunkel and I stirred awake, it was ridiculously cold, so we huddled up in our sleeping bags with a drink each in an effort to keep warm until Tina, too, rose from the dead and we decided to go search out some dinner.. Having tried the food from the booths near the festival area with not so good results, we decided to get something to eat from one of the small restaurants in town. Prices seemed a little steeper, but the food, on the other hand seemed a hell of a lot better.. And our decision to hit town actually proved a sheer stroke of luck.. As we made a couple of new friends in the process!
See, walking by one of the restaurants in town, we spotted a few familiar faces in the outside biergarten. They turned out to be those of a couple of Danes we’d seen on the train down and in the interest of being friendly towards our fellow countrymen, we decided to say hi, cheers and what have you.. And then things kinda went downhill from there as we ended up first chatting, then joining them for drinks, then eventually dragging them along for dinner and more beers inside one of the restaurants.. And eventually all the way back to our tent with us for even more drinks and shenanigans. Their names turned out to be Lars Bo and Christian, they turned out to be from Copenhagen and never having talked to people from Kolding.. They also turned out never to have tried either absinth or real Russian vodka.. So, upon our return to our tent, this were some of the first things we introduced them to.. I dare say they liked the vodka more!
By now, it was getting pretty late and pretty chilly, so we decided to see if we could fit five grown people into the storage/living area of our tent around a make-shift table made of a case of hard cider and a little camping lantern we’d brought. It turned out to be just possible what with Tina and me not taking up much space and we ended up having a pretty cosy evening drinking, talking, playing cards and acting silly. It was surely good times, but what with everything that happened over the next couple of days, I don’t actually remember many of the details.. Other than Tina being a real sweetie at some point. See, I’d made this random comment about being hungry (no.. me.. hungry.. really?) while everybody was talking about how full they were.. And, well, hadn’t thought any more about it. Either way, at some point later in the evening, Tina is off to use the rest room and returns, bringing me flame grilled sausage.. without a word or any kind of planning, asking or begging on my behalf.. I mean.. How awesome is that? And how lucky am I to have a friend like her? And how jealous of my luck and her awesomeness were everybody else? Hah! Umm, anyways.. Thanks babe 🙂
So yea, good times, happy times, drunk times and free food, too.. What a nice evening. We eventually disbanded at some point but not without exchanging phone numbers and making loose plans about hanging out the next day.. Heck, a group of five is much more fun than a group of three, right? We then brushed our teeth for the first time in God knows how long, and settled in for a long, hard, cold, and noisy night. Our original plan was for Tina to sleep in her little tent of her own and for Dunkel and I to share the big tent.. A plan that lasted for all of two hours before I was stirred awake by a tiny, shivering Tina who asked if we could please initiate plan B now; which was my cue to scoot over a bit and let her crawl into our sleeping compartment. A decision I can’t say I blame her for. I mean, for starters we had plenty of space for one more and I was sleeping fully clothed in my sleeping bag and still freezing, she was wearing probably three more layers of clothing than me and still freezing as well. At least with three people sleeping in relatively close quarters, the cool mountain nights became a little more bearable.
But hey, there’s a first for everything.. Apparently this was the time for me to be too cold to sleep..