The River Elbe and Metallica..


There’s been no need to “turn” Namibian, as it happens. In fact, he’s up and about, eager for exercise, like an asthmatic gazelle.

The weather remains unfavourable, the mercury up to about 1 degree by late morning. Midday on the Tina Turner Tour passes as miserably as the earlier hours.

‘I can hear my blood pressure,’ says Captain Birds Eye, over a bowl of cereal. Short of consulting a doctor, I can’t argue, but that sounds unlikely. Does he mean tinnitus?

The dastardly duo – that’s Namibian and yours truly, if you were wondering – board a train into the historic port city of Hamburg, heading immediately for the nearest shopping mall to escape the biting wind.

Namibian begins to sweat; he’s wearing tracksuit bottoms underneath his jeans, and umpteen cardigans. I deliberately browse in a leisurely fashion, choosing a non-specific brand of blank DVD, partly enjoying his discomfort but mainly because, only singly layered, I’m still frozen.

Now, I like to include the occasional travel tip in my blogs – a useful guide included in what is otherwise, give or take, by and large, inane rambling. So: Ferry 62 along the Elbe is included in a day’s city travel ticket in Hamburg, which saves booking a €12 cruise.

The passenger boat plies its way past dry docks and one of the biggest container ports in the world, more or less following the route of the expensive tourist option. You don’t get any commentary, though.

What you do get, however – to continue the lavatorial theme – is a free toilet onboard. Another fifty cent saving! In fact, if you were really hard up, you could actually board the vessel solely to use the loo. But please bear in mind the considerable danger of emerging farther down river.

Returning from this nautical jaunt, I find two German girls (whom Namibian and I had met at a Metallica show in Prague last year) have driven 470kms to say hello.

Their names: “Crazy Sandra” and Pat, who we might just as well dub “Crazy Pat” on the grounds that…well, on the grounds that she’s crazy. Sandra has heavy metal tattoos – the majority of which are incomprehensible to normal people – and Pat is a member of a clique called “The Metallica Club”.

They find it inconceivable that Namibian and I can talk about watching a feature film – or, even worse, having a short nap – backstage while Metallica thrash away to an adoring public. The feeling is mutual; we find it odd that anybody would stand in the rain, subjecting his or her eardrums to such volumes. Mind you, it pays our wages, so long may it continue.

Anyway, one feels awful about retiring to bed wearing earplugs – with a cursory kiss on the cheek and a hug – if ladies have driven a long way to visit. Upshot: another ridiculously late night. Anyone would think this is a rock ‘n’ roll tour..