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The Show Must Go On: From The Isle of Wight to Brussels p. 1

After the Isle Of Wight festival was over, I was still in the clouds! The festival, overall, was an incredible experience that ended with seeing Queen + Adam Lambert on stage that Sunday.

goodbye Seaview!

I kind of felt like we were on tour too, because that same night, we had to quickly rush to our temporary home at Seaview, pack our bags, and get ready for the next morning, as we had to get off the Isle of Wight and take several trains to Belgium. A country that, once again, I’ve never seen before.

The initial goal when planning the trip was going to Brussels to see another Queen + Adam Lambert concert, which was another dream-come-true for me, because it was the first time I could ever follow a band this big on tour.

But my friends came up, at the beginning of the year, with this plan to go see another city in Belgium before heading to Brussels. That city is Brugge (Bruges).

In the past, I’ve only heard about Brugge listening to my mum and sister talking about this beautiful city that seems to come from a fairy tale, and how they would like to see it some day. In Spanish, the name of the city is “Brujas,” which means “Witches”.

leaving on the ferry

So I’d decided I was on it, because who wouldn’t want to see a city called “Witches”?!

So, we had a few days before the next concert in Brussels, and our next step was heading to Brugge.

We got up early that morning in Seaview. With sadness, I took the last pictures and videos to remember the Island forever, and we went in the rental car for the last time across the confusing roads to the East Cowes pier to take the ferry back to Southampton. It was the end of the “Wight” adventure for us, but the beginning of the brand new “Belgium” experience.

Once we got on the ferry and crossed the English Channel for the last time, we returned the rental car at the Southampton pier, and took a taxi to the St. Pancras railway station in London.

The St. Pancras Railway Station  (known as “London St. Pancras”) is a big railway terminal where you can take local English trains or international trains going to France, Belgium and Germany. It has this big Victorian architecture and it holds people in transit from all over Europe. In the waiting areas, there are many stores and eating places.

There are also two public upright pianos, which anyone can play (one of them was donated by Elton John!). So I couldn’t resist, and once I saw one of the pianos free, I had to play a little. For me, it was like “wow, I’m actually in London, in one of the most important train stations in Europe. Playing a piano!

That was one of the things I would never, ever have imagined I would be able to do.

St Pancras Upright Piano

So after that little recess, we were ready to pass through Customs and Immigration, and we boarded the Eurostar train heading to Brussels.

Inside Eurostar train

There wasn’t any direct train from London to Brugge, so we had to take the international train to Brussels first, and then take another one to Brugge.

It was all planned out, and there were so many things that could have gone wrong that day! But as magic happens, everything went well and we didn’t lose any train connections, bags, or people. It all went very smoothly.

Our first train from London St Pancras was the most impressive one: the Eurostar is a train that goes up to 300Km/hr and goes into a tunnel across the sea, to finally arrive at some train stations in the South of France, and then to the Brussels station called Bruxelles-Midi, which, as I recall, is the international Belgium train terminal.  Once we got there, we had little time to get onboard a domestic Belgium train at the same station that would get us to Brugge.

At that time, everything was about French. And it was very difficult for me to understand people speaking in English with French accents. So, I was happy and felt very safe with my friends doing all the talking for me.

I learned that in Europe, (besides the UK), the most common language is French. People politely speak English if you don’t know French, but certainly no one knows Spanish here!, which was a surprise, because I thought Spain was a big deal in Europe.  From my experience, I saw that you get to speak Spanish just in Spain, and nowhere else. So that instantly made my native language useless. (Which was actually good, as I had to force myself to keep practicing my English skills!).

As with with what I saw on the train, that part of Europe is so beautiful, a lot of green that reminds me of the roads from the south of Chile (Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, Frutillar). It looked very familiar. I guess we really live on the same planet after all! On one of the stops on the train, we passed through a French city calle Lille, which is the birthplace of a very successful singer in Chile (Anita Tijoux). It looks like the kind of place that can get very cold and harsh on bad days, but rewards you with one of the most “green” and beautiful sights I’ve ever seen during the whole year. Pretty much like it is for the people living in the south of Chile.

So, after traveling all day, we finally arrived at about 9PM at the Brugge train station. Suprisingly, it wasn’t night yet, and the station seemed to be located outside of the more tourist area. It was all good, and we took a taxi to our hotel, located in the middle of the town.

Then, I started to see what everyone talked about. This was a big doll house! At least, the central tourist area looks like it is locked in the ancient time of witch stories, princesses, and knights. Everything looks and feels like it comes from a fairy tale. Of course, I know that’s the main attraction and they work hard to give the tourists that illusion. But we only had that night, and the next day to enjoy Brugge.

It was night when we arrived,very tired, to the hotel, so we had some drinks and snacks in our room (including a Chilean drink called pisco that I saved from all the way from Santiago!) and we went to sleep.  In our cozy little hotel, we dreamed of castles and fairy tales still to come…

Click HERE for the second part of this journey!

Music Daze: The (Isle of) Wight Album p.2 – Thursday

THE FESTIVAL

This is the follow up article about my experience in the Isle Of Wight. You can read the first part HERE

Now I’m gonna talk about the 2016 version of the Isle Of Wight Festival, as me and my friends lived it. I don’t pretend to be writing a full review of it, because I’m not a journalist, and I didn’t see all of the acts, anyway. So I’m just gonna write here about my experience and how it all felt to me.

IOW festival 2016 poster

Isle Of Wight Festival Official Poster

The festival ran from June 9th to 11th, Thursday to Sunday. Our wristbands were good for the four days, so even if I didn’t know many of the acts, and we were there for Queen + Adam Lambert (who were performing closing the festival on Sunday night) I encouraged my friends to go, at least, for a while to the four days. Because as I said before, this was my first time ever out of Chile, and my first time being at an authentic European festival.

The festival was held in Seaclose, a big park in the city of Newport. As I said before, we were staying in an area of the island called Seaview, which, according to Google Maps, was about a half hour from Newport.

So, on Thursday, it was a beautiful, sunny day, and my friend’s husband dropped us at the entrance after a 45 minutes drive (It took us forever to get there due to the confusing roads and the non helpful signs).

Once we finally got there. I found that the whole place was beautiful. At the entrance, there was this huge space for campers, and after a 10 minute walk inside the park, we got to the festival area, which was filled with clothing stores and souvenirs. It was also like a big carnival featuring

once again: not my entrance....... yet

once again: not my entrance……. yet

some scary games which I didn’t ride cause I’m a chicken. There were countless attractions and many small stages which were starting to fill the air with music. But the principal area was the one where you could go to the 2 main stages: the Big Top, and the Main Stage (what a clever name!). Those were the 2 principal stages where the best known bands were about to perform during the 4 days of festival. The Big Top was like the younger brother of the Main Stage. It looked like a huge circus tent, and some well known bands were scheduled to perform there, like Status Quo. But it wasn’t really made to hold the majority of the festival audience.

The other part the Main Stage was a huge stage, located in a big open area of the park. That was the real deal: the stage where you would see these big acts performing one after another, and it was made to be seen from very far away. Artists like The Who, Iggy Pop and Queen + Adam Lambert were scheduled to perform there.

On Thursday, the first day, there weren’t artists scheduled to perform on the Main Stage, but the Big Top was open and receiving their first bands and audience.

I was interested in checking out a band called The Sex Pissed Dolls, which caught my attention several weeks before arriving at the festival. They are an all-girl punk band, with very young girls performing in it. I checked out some of their youtube videos while I was still in Chile, and decided that I wanted to see them live. Also, I must say, they are all very gorgeous, and I couldn’t help being attracted by that too (shame on me!).

In the festival publicity, they were featured as just “The Dolls”. So, that was a bit confusing.

We got to the Big Top just a couple of minutes before they started to perform. There weren’t many people there, so my friends and I quickly got to the front.

And so, my first experience ever in an European festival was seeing The Sex Pissed Dolls at the Isle Of Wight Festival.

They played a tribute set of punk songs, and they were impressive to me. A very promising start for what would be this experience to me. As I was in the front, I could also see that they were being filmed by professional cameras. Those images were being broadcasted live on two big screens on both sides of the stage. It was so much fun to see the girls giving it all for the audience, but also playing and making sexy moves for the cameras. I really wish I could find this performance on Youtube to see them again, because I enjoyed it so much. Thank you girls for giving me a really great start to the festival experience!

the dolls

After that performance, we had to go out of the Big Top because the volume of the PA was too loud and we were standing just in front of one of them. As a musician myself, I must take care of my hearing; even if I was having so much fun listening to The Dolls at a very high volume, at times it was too darn loud! (spot the two Back To The Future reference I’ve made so far!)

After watching that show, as it was our orientation day, we got ourselves a beer and some food, and wandered around the stores and some of the small stages, and I got some memorabilia. As the park was so big, it was actually a long walk getting from one place to another. So we quickly found out that it was impossible to really see most of the festival acts, unless we could clone ourselves. This was like a big Disneyland to me and the day passed too fast!

Join me next time where I’m gonna keep revisiting my experience in the Isle Of Wight Festival 2016

Music Daze: The (Isle of) Wight Album p.1

Following the few days my friends and I spent in London, our next adventure on this trip was going to the Isle of Wight festival to see Queen + Adam Lambert. Of course,  that was just the main excuse to go there.

It’s always fun to see a new place I’ve never heard of before starting to plan this trip, and I spent a lot of time trying to imagine what it would look like. I wanted to “sightsee” everything and, of course, have the experience of attending a real European festival. So once it was confirmed that we were attending the 4 days of the Festival, I spent several months daydreaming about it.

 The Isle of Wight was also the place where we were going to stay for the most time during this trip.

last ride on “The Tube”

Our adventure in London finished with us taking, for the last time, the tube to the Terminal 5 station, which was one of the many subway stations at the Heathrow Airport. (Wouldn’t it be great to have a subway station to get directly to the Santiago airport in Chile?). On the same day, we were meeting with a couple of friends that were coming from the USA to start their part of the journey with us.

After meeting them, our first adventure in London finished, and we took a van heading to Southampton, a city with one of the biggest boat harbors in England, and where we would be taking a ship to cross the English Channel to the Isle of Wight.

Southampton harbor

It was a wonderful sunny day, and I was pleasently surprised about the good weather coming with us. Back in Chile everyone kept warning me about how awful the weather was in London, and I was waiting to have lots and lots of rain and cold, especially near the sea in Southampton.

adventure island!!

We found that the harbor was huge, and the van driver (who was a local) got lost trying to find the right gate for where we had reserved a rental car to take to the island. We spent like 30 minutes wandering around, trying to find the right spot. It was very funny, since the rental car agency was basically, right across the Street from where we kept looking.

Finally, the driver took us to the right place, and after my friends rented the car to travel through the island, we were set to head to the ferry.

After a pleasant 40 minutes ride on the ferry, we arrived at a town on the Isle of Wight called East Cowes, which is located in the north of the island. After that, we were inside the island and all we had to do was discover it.

England from the ferry

 

 

the Isle of Wight from the ferry

As we were heading to our new “operation base” in an area called Seaview, I looked out the window from the car, and started discovering how everything had these incredibly bright colors.
Everywhere I looked, was like looking a real life postcard, including the houses and construction which had this very antique “English” look.

We also discovered another very remarkable side of the island: the roads! Wow… I must say I’ve never seen such confusing roads. I was so glad I wasn’t driving, or else I would be a nervous wreck the whole time there!

First, most roads are very, very narrow, so you really feel like you are about to fall down a cliff or you are gonna crash against another car driving on the opposite side. And second: the signs on the streets indicating directions were very confusing, and most of the time they led us to a whole different area of the island where we weren’t supposed to be. Even with the gps turned on and the app Waze running on our cell phones, it was very difficult to find the right location. So driving along those roads was an adventure of its own!

To get around the tension that driving on the island caused, we found ourselves constantly joking about the “roundabouts”, which were very weird for us, or taking bets on how many wrong turns we were going to make before finding the right direction. So the roads were kind of annoying at first, but in the end it was all fun.

So finally, after countless wrong turns on the roads, we arrived at a nice house located in Seaview called “Wight Lodge” (some day I must do some research on why in England they keep naming their houses as if they were pets). This was a big, beautiful house that my friends had rented to stay in during the festival, and it was the place we called “home” during the next five days. It had a very nice view to the sea (Duh! it’s Seaview!), and the weather was surprisingly hot (I even got to wear shorts during that evening!). While some of my friends decided to go to the yard and spend the evening in the sun, I decided to take a nap in
a nice little room I had for myself. Life was good!

the seaview from Seaview

 

posing on the English Channel beach
English Channel beach

Later that night, we started to make plans for the first day of the festival, which was starting the next day. There were few bands I had heard before, but I was very excited and curious to see how would
it feel to be inside a real “European festival”.

TO THE FESTIVAL

So the next day, Thursday, we woke up, and went to a lovely place to have breakfast nearby called Lily’s Coffee Shop, which for me, was one of the most memorable places we had meals during our stay on the island. The food was excellent, people were very nice and it had this really antique but comfortable feeling of a real English house. Plus, it had funny and some historical signs on the walls.

desayuno “Di campione” y qui pa?!

 

breakfast with friends

And then we were ready for our first festival day!  Some of my friends decided to skip this day, so I just went with two of them. This was, for us, like a “recognition” day, where we would get to know the place, get to know where all the stages were, and the most important thing: get to know the place where Queen + Adam Lambert were going to perform on Sunday.

So, our very first adventure was actually getting there.

wrong entrance! 🙁

I already talked about how difficult the roads were for us. And getting to the festival was not easy at all!. One of my friends’
husband was driving the car, and the plan was to leave us at the festival entrance. We had to go to a huge park in a town called “Newport“, situated slightly to the north of the centre of the island. Oh boy!, did I say already the roads were confusing? The festival, as the big event it was, had caused  many of streets to be closed, and the direction signs (some made especially for the festival days) were equally confusing. We almost ended up getting on the ferry back to Southampton,
we drove in circles, and the traffic was terrible due to the festival.

So, I think we spent about 40 minutes just driving around trying to find the entrance. At one point, we found a police officer. We asked him for directions, and he didn’t know what to say. Even locals seemed to be a bit lost there.

Finally, due to a miracle of God probably, we came  across the right road and we got out of the car, put on our wristbands and were  ready to see the first festival day!

Isle of Wight Festival 2016. Here we go!

And now for the festival itself…stay tuned!!!!!