Well folks, I haven’t blogged much because well..There hasn’t been much to blog about on this 2nd ship. It’s really boring for me and it’s a Ferry, NOT a Cruiseship. By that i mean people get on here, mostly truckers coming from Finland, Russia and the Baltics, who want a fast easy way to get their cargo down to Central Europe. There are some travelers who take their vehicles on this ferry who are coming and going from various vacations as well but no one is on here just to have a cruise, get drunk, party etc. As a result and as you can imagine it’s kinda mellow and boring but oh well, i’m making cash, right?
The food is a bit better on this boat for sure, so that is a plus. No one really bothers me either and i just do my thing and chill in my cabin on the web basically in my off time.
One thing I will touch on is how funny Finnish people get when they drink! They are a jovial folk who like to laugh and have a good time in a vibe that is a bit different then when we party back up. It always makes me laugh when i see them drunk and carrying on! Another thing is that I’m never really sure how many people are understanding what I say on this boat so I keep my in between song banter REALLY light! It’s hard to understand someone’s sense of humor if you don’t speak the language well, right?
In any event I have 5 more days on this boat!! Hurray!!!!!
Today I left the M/S Victoria and it was a bittersweet goodbye. My stay there was made bearable because of the English Show cast of dancers and singers. We were all isolated as the only native English speakers on the boat and although the Estonians are nice enough it was still difficult to really connect because of cultural and language barriers. I’m really going to miss the The cast and I fear it’s going to be a bit lonely for me on this new boat.I embarked on the M/S Superfast IX in Tallinn and we head to Helsinki which is a hop skip and jump across the Gulf of Finnland and we dock here for a couple hours. Then, we take off for Rostock Germany as this is a 3 day cruise. Either way, I have a weird split up playing schedule and it’s going to be tough because this time I’m flat out THE ONLY NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKING PERSON on this ship. Plus, there is no stage per se. Basically i’m set up on the floor in this big lounge area in the front of the ship that has tables, chairs, a bar etc etc..you can see out the front through these big windows but the boat is a bit smaller then the last one.. The bitch about that is that it rocks back and forth and up and down a bit and I had to sit down and play for fear of losing my balance, and it wasn’t even rough per se. It’s going to be an interesting 12 days for certain.
Ok, to be fair, the food may very well be good on this boat to Estonian Standards but to my standards it’s totally bazaar. This is typical potatoes and I thought it was a small meatloaf but to my suprise when I cut it open this is what I found!!!
Alright here’s the Deal…I’m losing weight and it’s not by Choice. It’s because the ship i’m on is Estonian and is as such, run by Estonians. That stands to make certain that the Chef is as well, Estonian. This brings me to the point that all the Estonian Food I have tried is balls out SHIT…Now..You may be Estonian..You may THINK your food is good stuff but to an American that is used to an Italian-based Mediterranean Diet of almost UNIVERSAL renoun this food is the most horrendous drivel I have ever tasted. I’ll give you an example…After I’m done playing I come up and they open the mess hall at 11pm. They serve meatballs in some kind of light colored sauce like an estonian cream-benaise sauce of unknown origin filled with unnamed oils and fats that are totally foreign to my system. Then, you have some kind of mystery meat…Dry to the bone, save for the fact that it’s IMMERSED in this White Cream sauce of unknown make up…It pretty much goes on like this..Some things you think will be good like mashed potatoes and the occasional veggies that they have but again, they are floating in oils and butter…Even the elbow noodles they serve sometimes at lunch are SMOTHERED in Butter. These are crude and limited examples of the food on this boat. Some things are edible like salmon they serve and they do have coffee (which is bad) Teas, Juices, desserts (which usually suck) and sonmetimes they have Ice Cream (Vanilla) which isn’t my fav but it’s alright. Anyway, It’s probably that i basically just don’t like the food but I don’t know for a fact that all Estonian food is bad. The general consensus is that it is! I would have to eat it somewhere else to judge.
What else is going on? Well the gig is going fine but the next ship I get on has a very weird schedule..It’s a 3 day cruise with a different gig schedule every day of the cruise and it’s cut up too..A couple early sets, maybe an instrumental set or 2 as well (which is weird because I don’t play solo instrumental music)..It seems like it’s going to be difficult to say the least.
Anyway, the people from the cruiseline are very nice but Cruises are just not for me. Back and Forth Back and forth….The money is good though so I’m going to take any boats offered to me.
Other then that, nothing else is going on. Tomorrow we will be in Tallinn, Estonia again so we’ll see if anything interesting unfolds!
Again, it’s the Trains stupid….Simply put this mode of transportation in Europe is elegant, near silent, smooth as silk and just plain pleasant. I embarked on a Fast train from Copenhagen to Stockholm, Sweden this morning and this having been my 3rd experience on longer distance rail travel in Europe I think I have a good bead on it now. I will state for the record that rail travel in Europe is my favorite mode of transporation in the world!!! It totally beats roadtripping around in a car. Everything you need is available on board; food, drink, lavatory facilities, comfortable seating, good conversation or silence with your iPod and earbuds in. You choose, but it’s all there for ya..And the View! What I saw of Sweden reminded me a bit of British Columbia, Canada, some of the Mat-Su Valley in Alaska where I live and some of other places. The topography varied from rocky tilled farmland and spruce trees to Sub-Acrtic marshlands that we have around my house and I could envision moose meandering about although I did not see any. I know they have many up here as we do at home. I also encountered a lot of hardwooded areas and saw ample evidence of a logging industry about. I like Sweden a lot because it just reminds me more of home and obviously since I live in a place Sweden reminds me more of, that would stand to reason it’s my vibe. As for what I have seen of Stockholm from the Central Train Station to the docks where the ship is, I can say that it’s a VERY beautiful place. Quaint, full of artistic vibe yet modern in many ways that are lightyears ahead of the United States. That has been the case throughout Europe on the whole as well.
Anyway, I’m due to meet someone from the cruiseline here in a 1/2 hour but i’m told I may not be able to get on the ship for several hours and this is very bad when you are on 3 hours sleep like I seem to be on travel days. Oh well. Such is the life of a Troubadour. I’ll keep rolling and hopefully find some internet on the ship to keep ya updated. I’m off and running for a month on the seas. Next stop, Tallinn, Estonia!!
Well, I got through what was described to me by my agent as the “toughest gig in Europe”, and frankly I think I kicked serious ass! I did enough of the sing a long tunes to satisfy the crowd yet was able to throw in enough of my own style of songs so satisfy me. The entire staff of the Stubli were GREAT Guys and very supportive. Lovely fellows..Also, the other staff I met from the Waiters, to the bartenders in the Muli bar, to the big wigs I delt with at the hotel were all the utmost professional in their dealings with me. All in all a very challenging but satisfying gig. At this point all signs are positive that they want me back and if the timing is right, I would certainly consider it. The whole thing is the smoke. It’s very very difficult to perform at a satisfactory level with 30 cigarettes and a few Cigars going in a room that is maybe 20 by 30 feet. But you do get used to it and you learn to adapt while playing. The money was good but there were a bunch of things taken out of my check like Taxes and certain other charges against my pay by the hotel that i’m not entirely sure what they are. I have to investigate. I do know that 37% of my pay was gone to these taxes, agent fee, etc. Because I didn’t do it right with travel expenses this year I ended up not making as much money on the gig that I could have. If I do it again next year I know how to get there for much less money. Anyway, St. Mortiz is a very high brow Ski Resort town and the scenery is what you would imagine for the Swiss Alps. For me, as someone who lives in Alaska and who is used to breathtaking mountain scenery it wasn’t such shock but I can see people coming from most any other place, being blown away by St. Mortiz…Save your money and get there!!!!!
Here are some pics: