Bologna, Italy

The first of Pearl Jam’s Italian concerts was in Bologna on 14 September. To get to Bologna from Bern I had to change trains in Milan. Passing through the beautiful Alps, the weather changed from partially cloudy in Switzerland to overcast and rainy in Italy. There was no passport inspection on the train, a great contrast to any Turkish border crossing.

Swiss Alps

At Bologna train station I met my cousin Graeme. We stayed in a chalet Centro Turistico Citta’ di Bologna. At EUR 65 a night it was good value but in an out of town location. Other Pearl Jam fans staying their included Finn Perttu and 4 Icelandic folks.

As I was in Bologna primarily to see Pearl Jam I only had a short while the following morning to see the city.

Graeme, Perttu and myself in front of a sculpture, Bologna

Back In Mersin

I arrived back to Mersin on Tuesday morning. I enjoyed my trip immensely although I have a few minor gripes:

– It rained for most of Pearl Jam’s outdoor Verona concert and the moisture ruined my digital camera.

– The setlists for the Bern, Bologna, Verona and Milan concerts were not very adventurous (in Pearl Jam terms) and not once did they play my favourite song Rearviewmirror. This is in contrast to the last 2 Italian concerts, Torino and Pistoia, which had more interesting setlists, including Rearviewmirror! In the 6 Pearl Jam concerts (the 4 recent ones plus Adelaide 1998 and Adelaide 2003) I have attended the band has never played Rearviewmirror. It’s a conspiracy…

Overall, the concerts and trip in general were both great. I will write more and upload photos soon.

G’day From Verona!

Verona is a really beautiful city. I have some brilliant photos of the town and also from Bologna’s intense Pearl Jam concert but I probably won’t be able to upload them until I return to Turkey next week.

Tonight it’s Pearl Jam’s concert in the ancient Arena and then tomorrow Graeme and I are off to Milan.

The pizza, pasta, espresso, tiramisu and gelati are all delicious!

Hi From Bologna!

I am writing from the home of spaghetti bolognaise. Unfortunately I won’t get around to eating any. Yesterday I met cousin Graeme at the train station. He is travelling with me (but not attending the concerts) for the rest of the tour.

Last night’s Pearl Jam concert was very intense and hot in the crowd. I again was second row general admission on the right (Stone’s) side. It was so hot and sweaty all my clothes, including my jocks, was saturated. When I tried to take my t-shirt off after the concert it was stuck so hard to me that I ended ripping it in the process!

After the concert a Finnish guy and I couldn’t find the correct bus stop to our accommodation out of town. A bus driver going on the same route but in the opposite direction especially drove us to our destination after his shift had finished (at around 1 am in the morning). What a legend!

That is all for now. I hope to upload some more photos (I have some brilliant Bologna concert shots) when I get to Verona.

Pearl Jam, Bern, 13-09-2006

Tonight’s concert was really good. As we had fan club tickets, Karin and I could get in 15 minutes earlier than those with normal tickets. The set contained many older songs and a few surprises.

Set List: Go, Animal, World Wide Suicide, Severed Hand, Hail Hail, Dissident, Breakerfall, Even Flow, Glorified G, Small Town, Sleight Of Hand, Jeremy, Marker In The Sand, Better Man, Army Reserve, Satan’s Bed, You Are

1st encore: Garden, Low Light, Do The Evolution, Alive
2nd encore: Last Exit, Why Go, Rocking in the Free World (by Neil Young), Yellow Ledbetter/(Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix)

The following photos were taken from the second row on the right side (general admission). On this side the crowd was more unruly than the other so we had to watch ourselves.

Jeff, Matt and Ed

Matt doing a drum solo during ‘Even Flow’

Mike, Stone, Jeff, Ed and Matt

Ed near crowd

Bern, Switzerland

Bern is Swizerland’s capital. Like Basel, the main language of Bern is German. Karin, an AIESEC trainee in Turkey in 2003-2004, met me at the train station. I travelled with Karin to Iran in 2004.

Karin lives in a wonderful roof-level apartment. She has decorated it with various pictures and souvenirs from her travels.

The view from Karin’s flat

For breakfast we ate bacon rashers and nothing else. For lunch we baked and ate a delicious tomato quiche accompanied by more bacon rashers and a bottle of red wine.

Did I say I missed bacon?

Bern’s historic center is world heritage listed. In the late afternoon we went for a walk around the city.

Bern has bridges, historic churches, fountains, arcades and many other interesting buildings. It is a wonderful place to walk around on a sunny day.

On the way back home we stopped to buy doner kebabs, ordering them in Turkish. I hadn’t eaten an European doner since probably 1999. It tasted delicious, although CHF 8 is far more than the 2 lira paid for a Turkish doner in Mersin.

At the train station we met Julia, an AIESEC Adana trainee from back in the old days of 2001.

Julia, myself and Karin

I really enjoyed meeting up again and I thank Julia for travelling 1 hour to Bern and 1&1/2 back to Zug just to say hi. It is a pity he could not have stayed longer.

After Julia left Karin and I drank a beer at a beer garden. By that stage I was falling over asleep. On the way home we visited an area full of character and interesting people under a bridge…

From Mersin To Bern

I am now in Bern, Switzerland. To get here from Mersin I used the following sequence of vehicles: bus, plane, plane, bus, train, bus. The journey began 5 pm on Monday and finished around 9 am Tuesday. Here are a few travel tidbits:

– 2 Swedes and a Turk wre chatting very loudly on the on the free Pegasus service bus between Mersin and Adana. Their topics of conversation included Swedish fish and ice hotels.

– At Adana Airport in under 10 minutes I passed entrance security, checked-in, went to the toilet and got through departure lounge security. I wish preparing to fly was always this easy.

– The aeroplane used by Pegasus Airlines was an plane and did not display the Pegasus name anywhere.

Sabiha Gokcen on the Asian side is the ‘cheap’ airport where many low-cost and charter airlines fly to. What aren’t cheap are the airport cafes. A can of cola and ‘tost’ (a grilled cheese sandwhich) each cost 7 lira. For Turkey this is extortion. Thankfuly, my dried apricots, apricot kernels and water were enough for my 7 hour stop-over.

– At 3:30 am I boarded my first EasyJet flight, complete with first-in first-served seating.

The Easyjet Aeroplane at Sabiha Gokcen Airport with the lights of Istanbul in the background

– When exiting Basel Europort the immigration lady did not stamp my passport, to my disappointment. Dammit, I want stamps!

– The combned bus to Basel Train Station/Inter-City train to Bern cost CHF 39.80 (EUR 25). Ouch! As I had already visited Basel in 1999 I did not look around and went straight to Bern. The dual-level train to Bern was amazingly smooth.

The train I took from Basel to Bern with the Swiss Rail Authorty’s acronym in German, French and Italian, 3 of the 4 official languages of Switzerland. The other official language, Romanisch, is only spoken by a tiny proportion of the population.