Wednesday 3.8.2011 615km Total:1657km
So the time has come for us to ride to the Mecca of heavy metal, Wacken!
We don't get far outside Hamburg until the pileups start which isn't really surprising as this is moving day for most of the festivals hundred thousand visitors.
Obviously we take advantage of our vehicles and lane split where we can which despite us being pretty wide-assed with the panniers was fairly easy as the German cue discipline is excellent.
And instead of the usual sour faces we're met by cheering metal heads (we had Wacken-stickers on the panniers) and "the horns".
Arriving at Hotel Julianka we're met by our hosts Doris and Thorsten who shows us around and thoughtfully enough Thorsten had cleared some space in a garage where the bikes will be securely parked during the festival.
We also get the information that Thorsten works as a chauffeur for all the guests (the place was fully booked and everyone was there for the festival) back and forth to the festival for the bargain price of €10 per person one way.
A pleasant surprise as we had thought we'd needed to go back and forth by taxi the whole week.
We get a ride with Thorsten to the festival and we haven't more than rolled past the villages outer limits when traffic almost completely stops.
The next thing that happens is that a guy walking with a group of friends on the sidewalk bends down and puts his tongue down and licks the car from the front fender to the backdoor whereafter he shows "the horns" and yells a loud "Wackeeeeeeenn!".
As that in itself wasn't completely hilarious the experience didn't get any worse by Thorsten deeply sighing and concluding "Welcome to Wacken" like a metal head cleaning his car with his tongue was the most natural thing in the world.
Here we who are otherwise used to be the black sheep would not stand out in the least.
The festival grounds are unbelievably large and we spend most of the day just orientating ourselves in the area.
The chaos inside is almost chocking but pretty soon you're completely blasé about "clothing" that would probably be deemed indecent exposure anywhere else.
A guy walking around with deer antlers wrapped in Christmas lights on his head takes the prize for the wierdest encounter of the day.
Thursday 4.8.2011 0km
First "real" day of the festival.
The first thing we see today is without a doubt the hardest working band of the festival, Blaas of glory.
The play marching band covers of famous metal songs and they do it every day, some days more than once.
After that we see a band called Skyline a band that's seem to have made Wacken their spiritual home.
Not very entertaining by my standards but with Udo Dirkschneider as guest it's obviously a magnet for the audience.
We check out the various foods available and conclude that there is everything from traditional German wieners to noodles and kebab.
I have a weak spot for noodles so that was a given but the Bear wants to try out some chilli.
How hot you wanted it was according to preference and since he likes spicy food he went all in.
What he failed to notice was that spices where added on top of the dish just before it got served and that the customer was supposed to swirl it around in the chilli himself.
So the first thing he does is get a whole spoon full of pretty much just chilli-spices.
He took it like a man but it definitely didn't look very enjoyable as the sweat beads protruded in his forehead.
I'm sure the Maiden purists (and I'm certain they are plentiful here) got a coronary but I thought the cover band Maiden United did a nice enough job of it.
By now the alcohol level was bit elevated though so perhaps that could have contributed towards the enjoyment but they weren't bad.
That was followed by gigs with Helloween and Blind Guardian which aren't band I've been very into but hit the spot well enough to do an enjoyable show.
When we sat and drew the plans for our say and selected the gigs we wanted to watch (there are so many band playing you really need to work out a schedule) we were both of the persuasion that Ozzy probably has passed his sell by date some time ago but still it's The Prince of darkness after all so we'd have to see him anyway.
Boy were we so, so wrong.
I don't care that he used I can't here you with his hand cupped behind his ear in between every song and that I think he had the lyrics on a teleprompter.
He still absolutely nailed all the songs to the point it sent shivers down my spine, it was pure magic.
Hearing Paranoid, Iron Man and War Pigs live was an unforgettable experience.
Friday 5.8.2011 0km
We arrive at the festival early and pass the time in the merch area and Wackinger village before the first gig of the day.
In the village there's some sort of tourney with vikings at certain times during the day and what the lacked in talent they made up for with enthusiasm.
The first gig of the day is a Finnish viking/folk-metal band called Ensiferum. Amazing show.
You get to see some fairly weird things at this festival and the second gig of the day definitely was weird.
Van Canto is something as odd as a German a capela group that sings metal covers.
The only musical accompaniment is a drummer.
Worth watching just for the oddity.
Next was a real sleeping pill... at least literally for me.
It was one of Bears choices and an Italian power metal band called Rhapsody of fire.
In my view as bland and as close to elevator music you can get in the metal genre, I put a garbage bag on the ground to lie on and I must have fallen right asleep because after the first couple of songs I don't remember a thing.
The Bear was far from impressed with the gig as well but at least he'd managed to stay awake.
Now we have some more time to pass so we go back up to the village and there we stumble upon a rather rotund and somewhat intoxicated gentleman in some kind of space helmet decorated with a broom wildly swinging a hammer on an old-time carnival strength meter.
The problem (and very much the entertainment value) was that the helmet was several sizes too large so it swivelled on his head with every move which included the motion of swinging the hammer.
Watching this man swinging a hammer pretty much completely blind surrounded by a large audience of drunks way too close for comfort was one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen and yet I almost didn't dare to watch.
Just as we've left that spectacle we walk right into another completely surreal scenario.
I still don't know why this took place or why anyone would want to put themselves in this situation voluntarily bit a man had been strapped to a medieval stock while his (presumably before the fact) friend very enthusiastically where whipping him while dedicating the punishment to fallen rock legends.
Für Dio... whip crack... howling cries (think stuck pig).
I have no idea what the hell that was about but I can only assume that the whipper and not the whippee bought the beers the rest of the day assuming they were still talking to each other at that point.
Trivium on the True metal stage was an awesome gig, the intro to Down from the sky was almost sexually gratifying.
After that we walked across all of the grounds to one of the smaller stages to watch the Swedish rock heroes Bullet who did a great gig.
Bullet is quintessential rock.
If you don't like Bullet you don't like rock and that's all there is to say about that.
That Bullet played the W.E.T. Stage and the poodle-rockers in Crash Diet got to play on the True Metal stage is one of life's greatest travesties.
That Sirenia didn't get a bigger audience was a surprise but that only meant that we got to be farther up the front.
I'll admit I've never been a big priest fan but seeing Rob Halford riding on stage on a Harley was so big it almost gave me weak knees.
The intro to Blood red skies was magical and seeing Breaking the law live on Wacken almost deserves a spot in my CV.
Then followed in more than one way a completely unforgettable experience.
The stoner-rock band Kyuss Lives.
After hearing a lot of bland and almost numbing music throughout the day I thought it was amazing to hear some real back to basic dirtied down guitar-rock.
I'd found a nice spot on a fence which I almost was grooving myself down from several times and I was enjoying every second of it.
That was probably why I completely missed that Bear didn't find this to his liking at all.
For me this was one of the absolute highlights of the day but afterwards the Bear didn't hold back: He. Hated. Every. Second.
He was so passionate about his burning hatred for this band that his description of the horrendous suffering they'd put him through almost had more entertainment value than the gig itself.
This is an illustration of our respective impressions of the gig.
But wieder and alles ist vergessen. Airbourne!
We'd both listened to some to Airbourne before we went and concluded that it'll probably be worth watching but it was never really on our must-watch list.
Holy shit I'm glad we didn't miss that gig because if I was an unbeliever before I'm bourne again now!
It was so much energy in that gig that it must have sprayed pure adrenaline on the first few row and the crowd-pleasing knew no limits.
The guitarist did a death-defying climb to the top of the rig and played a solo was just the finishing spot to a gig so adrenalizing it was like being bitch-slapped with a side of beef.
Even if we almost felt exhausted after Airbourne we really couldn't miss Apocalyptica that went on at 2AM.
Three Finns playing metal on cellos, how could we possibly miss out on that?
Strange, mystical and highly entertaining.