In 1987 the Beastie Boys released the song "No Sleep till Brooklyn" on their Licensed to Ill album. Whenever I travel, I think about that phrase. Overseas traveling to a show like High End isn't as hard as it used to be in the old days, but it still isn't easy, particularly when you live in a place where there are hardly any international flights, so everywhere you go requires a connection, and no matter what you do, you can't sleep on a plane.
It takes 11 hours, airport to airport, to get from Ottawa, Canada, which is where I live, to Munich, Germany, where High End takes place. Tack on two hours beforehand to get to the airport and check in, plus two hours after to get from the airport to the hotel, and you're up to 15 hours of travel time -- just nine hours shy of a full day.
My trip started with me leaving my house at 3:00 p.m. on May 5 to get to Ottawa's MacDonald-Cartier airport for my flight to Toronto's Pearson International airport at 5:00 p.m. The flight from Ottawa to Toronto was just one hour, but I had a two-hour layover in Toronto before boarding the flight to Munich at 8:10 p.m. Luckily, Toronto's airport is fairly interesting to hang out in and has a number of decent restaurants, so the wait allowed me time to grab a snack, although I picked a cheeseburger and sweet potato fries, which would hardly be classified as healthy eating.
The flight to Munich's Franz Josef Strauss airport was about eight hours, meaning that I landed at about 4 a.m. Ottawa/Toronto time the next day, which was about 10:00 a.m. in Munich. As usual, I didn't sleep for the entire time if for no other reason than the fact that I've now thoroughly convinced myself I'll never sleep on a plane again in my life. So I obviously felt like hell when I got here, and I looked like it, too. On the other hand, that long flight time allowed me time to watch a movie I refused to pay for in the theater: Tom Cruise's Jack Reacher, which was crap (what I expected and why I wouldn't pay). But there were some decent documentaries and TV programs that passed the rest of the time. In-flight entertainment these days, at least on Air Canada, is surprisingly diverse.
Finally, there was still that trip to the hotel that I mentioned. Believe me when I say that taking a bus ride after two flights with no sleep doesn't make you a pleasant person to be around. Could anyone feel good? Could anyone look fresh and alert?
The gallery below chronicles my trip and helps to explain why, if a place is far away, I like to arrive a few days early in order to recover by the time the show begins. As I write this second-to-last sentence, I'm exhausted, but I'm glad to be here and happy that High End is still three days away. Now that I'm in Munich, mind you, I can finally sleep.
Publisher, The SoundStage! Network