But What Do I Know? My Favorite Posts Of 2012

I listed the top viewed posts of 2012, but thought I would post a list of my favorite posts of 2012 too.

  1. Duomo’s Rooftop, A Sculpture Garden In The Sky – I just like the pictures.
  2. Dubai’s River, It’s Other Waterfront – I liked how different Dubai was from Geneva and loved its mix of cultures.  While you can see cool skyscrapers lots of places, there aren’t many where you can see the old wood dhows and the people from all over the world who trade on Dubai’s waterfront.
  3. Millennium Trilogy Walking Tour Of Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm – Part Two – I loved The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Men Who Hate Women in Swedish).  When we went to Stockholm, I toured the sites mentioned in the books.  Most of them were in the super-cool Sodermalm neighborhood.
  4. Mohawks Welcome But Not Required At The Groezrock Festival– We love live music and a European Music Festival is something to experience.  This one had a great lineup and was well worth the resulting fatigue (better described as exhaustion).
  5. The Toblerone Line, One Sweet Barrier– We looked all over Switzerland for this puppy.  Once we found it, we couldn’t stop seeing it places (Reichenbach Falls, near Thun, etc.).
  6. Why I Love Running– One of my favorite things.
  7. Weingut Otto Laubsenstein – Fantastic people + fantastic wine = unforgettable time.
  8. It Wasn’t Premeditated, Our Hike Up Rochers-de-Naye – A reader suggestion and one of the best views in Switzerland.  If you’re not up for hours of hiking straight uphill, you can always take the train there.
  9. The Shock Of Your Life – Culture Shock – I tried to keep it real.
  10. Les Contamines – Although we’ve done a lot of skiing, this was one of our favorite days because we spent it with wonderful fr
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Kickin’ It With The Dropkick Murphys At The Caribana Festival

In Charlotte, North Carolina we bemoaned Tuesday night concerts.  In Geneva, we just want someone, anyone to come play nearby.  When we saw that the Dropkick Murphys on the bill at the Caribana Festival in nearby Crans-Sur-Nyon, we immediately bought tickets. We see them every chance we get and they always put on a great show.  It was nice not to have to hop a plane to see some good ol’ punk rock-n-roll like we did for Groezrock.

We weren’t the only ones who were pumped. This guy was really cool. So were his friends.

He left work (gasp) at five and we got there early.  It took awhile for the punks to arrive and we were able to get in the first row.   Although a lot of people came specifically to see the Dropkick Murphys, the Caribana Festival has a diverse selection of artists (Lou Reed, Kasabian, Pony Pony Run Run, The Specials, Beth Ditto, Marina & the Diamonds, Gossip, Haight Ashbury, Stephen Marley).

Our view was amazing and I was cursing that I didn’t bring my real camera.  We did so much jumping and fist pumping that it wouldn’t have been a good idea anyway.  It wasn’t too crowded up front.  He even felt good enough to leave me up there and mix it up in the mosh pit.  He reported that it was a little tamer than in the US.

Al Barr had tons of energy.  We couldn’t believe James Lynch was right in front of us!

Stephanie Dougherty did a great job.  We saw her walking around before the show.  I got a picture of the back of her head in front of the tour busses.  I should have asked her to pose for a photo.  She was watching from backstage and looked toward us.  I mouthed “you rock” and she smiled.  It’s nice to know that I can make someone besides the Queen of Sweden smile.

Ken Casey was amazing.  We’d seen this guy in a wheelchair crowd surfing earlier in the concert.  Ken got out into the crowd and passed him the mike to sing “Kiss Me, I’m S***faced.”  When he was back on solid land, Ken went out into the middle of the circle pit where he was mixing it up to sing next to him.  That guy was impressive.  Heck, they both were.

Our new friend holding a setlist.  We got one too.  Score.

A Two-Minute Tour Of Antwerp

He worked the morning after the Groezrock Festival.  With afternoon flights, we didn’t have much time to enjoy Belgium.  Regardless, he wanted to see a little something on the way to the airport and we had to transfer trains in Antwerp.  He’d never been before and wanted to check it out.  We got off the train, headed to the tourist information office for a map and headed on a whirlwind walking tour of Antwerp.

Antwerp’s famous zoo is immediately outside the grand train station.  The diamond district and the Antwerp Diamond Museum are also there (Antwerp is the world’s main center for cutting and polishing diamonds).  It was an easy walk through the main shopping district to the old town.  It was a nice walk although I would have preferred a stroll and window shopping to hoofing it.  Antwerp is trendy and has tons of shops from all over.  You could spend a lot of time and money shopping there.

It was a gorgeous day and everyone was trying to take advantage of the wonderful weather.  It is in Belgium after all.   They looked like they were having a delightful time.  Passing tons of cafes, fry places, praline shops, we soooooo wanted to stop.

Unfortunately, this was the closest we got.  We had to keep moving, see the city and catch a train to get to the airport.   There was no time.  Curses!

If you look hard at the top of this picture, you can tell that only one of the two planned towers was completed. You can see it in some of the photos below.

Instead of having a wonderful Belgian beer, we went to church.  The Cathedral of Our Lady was old and pretty with a lot of paintings that we didn’t have time to properly appreciate.  They have a fair number of works by Peter Paul Rubens (whose house/studio in Antwerp is now a museum), as well as paintings by artists such as Otto van VeenJacob de Backer and Marten de Vos.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Next on the list, the Grote Markt.  It’s a jewel of a main square.  It has the Brabo fountain which has a statue of a guy throwing a hand.  I’m not kidding.  Check it out.

According to legend, a mean, nasty giant controlled the nearby river traffic.  He extorted ridiculous tolls and cut a hand off hose who refused to pay.  Silvius Brabo, a Roman soldier, managed to kill the giant by cutting off his hand and throwing it in the river.  Wonderfully ornate guild houses in the Flemish Renaissance style surround the square.

Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe.  I would have loved to sit and watch the river traffic.  We could see workers readying boats for river cruises.   I think you could spend a nice afternoon strolling the river walk or taking a cruise.  Instead, we headed back to the train station.

Heading back to the train station, we passed The Steen.  Unfortunately, this is all we got to see of t’Steen, what remains of Antwerp’s old castle.  All in all, it was a wonderful little detour.  Although there were a lot of things we didn’t get to see and do in Antwerp, we are lucky to have been able to see the things we did, especially on such a nice day.

Oh yeah, we saw a Spartan too.  Rock on.

A Little Worse For The Wear, But Back For Day Two Of Groezrock Festival

We had a great time on the first day of Groezrock Festival.  I don’t think we were the only ones.  When we got off the bus for the second day, some people were looking a bit rough.  We missed the first band we really wanted to see… again.  We caught a bit of Zebrahead (great) and The Dangerous Summer before hitting the acoustic stage.

At the acoustic stage we saw Anti-Flag.  They said they were a were a bit nervous, because this was first time they were playing acoustically and their songs were not written to be played like that. They shouldn’t have worried.  Talent and hard work usually wins out.   They were fantastic and had the crowd eating out of their hands.

We know The Hard Lessons, who opened for and sang with Motion City Soundtrack.  The Hard Lessons are fantastic, fun-loving, musicians who put on a great show.  We wanted to see and support people they have toured with and so we went to see Motion City Soundtrack.  Doing so, we missed The Old Firm Casuals.   Curses.

After that we chilled in the sun listening to Hot Water Music.  There were lots of people outside soaking up the sun, enjoying the atmosphere and pulling shenanigans.

We ran into some Aussies that we’d met the day before at the Alkaline Trio show.  They had the tattoos and were pretty psyched for the show.  They weren’t the only ones.  We caught a glimpse of the guys from Anti-Flag checking out the show.  Love the Detroit Red Wings shirt too.  Way to represent.

We caught the tail end of The Bronx.   People were digging them, especially the kid in the viking helmet.

As expected, Anti-Flag put on a phenomenal show.  It was definitely one of the highlights of the festival.

 They weren’t afraid to mix it up and got out in the crowd.  The circle pit and crowd surfing were enthusiastic to say the least.  Groezrock seemed pretty prepared for it.  They must have had 20 big guys up there and were getting people over the barrier like they were working an assembly line.

We caught some of Against Me!’s Tommy Gabel on the acoustic stage.  It was pretty full and he sounded great.

We were also able to get a good spot for Simple Plan.  They were polished and had a lot of energy.

We tried to go see Chuck Ragan, but couldn’t get in the tent.  Disappointed, we consoled ourselves with some fries and called it a night.  Thanks for the great shows Groezrock.  We hope to be back next year.

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Mohawks Welcome But Not Required At The Groezrock Festival

We love to see live music and summer music festivals are big in Europe.  In January, we started looking at lineups and chose Groezrock Festival in Meerhout, Belgium as our first festival.  It had a fantastic lineup.  I am sure that many people don’t know these bands, but believe me when I tell you fans of punk rock are astounded by the sheer volume of great bands playing this festival.

Essentially, Groezrock is a giant music festival with four stages in the middle of fields in Flanders.  You bounce around between four stages (one of them acoustic) catching great music.  There were so many good bands that it was difficult to choose between several bands that were playing at the same time.

Arriving at the Main Stage where we saw the Menzingers. When you see the crowd surfing, you will understand why I didn’t bring my camera and only had my iPhone.

Unfortunately we arrived too late to catch Authority Zero.  The Menzingers had already taken the stage and were a great surprise.  We’d heard of them, but hadn’t seen them before.  Their music was strong and they sounded great.  We’ll definitely be buying their album now.

The Bouncing Souls on the acoustic stage

He is a huge Bouncing Souls fan.  We caught their acoustic set.  I think everyone tried to fit into the smaller acoustic tent to see them.  For good reason, they were great.

Reel Big Fish

The Bouncing Souls followed Reel Big Fish on the Main Stage.  I would have paid just to see them back to back!  They both put on great shows and had such a positive vibe. The crowd ate it up.  It was still relatively early and most people had tons of energy.

We didn’t have the best view of Reel Big Fish because we’d stopped to fortify ourselves.  Since we were in Belgium, that meant French Fries with special sauce.  So tasty.  We needed energy to keep from looking like this guy.

Set Your Goals

I’d heard some Set Your Goals on the Radio One Punk Show with Mike Davies.  After seeing them live, we became huge fans.  They were strong.  It was so crowded that I could only catch a glimpse of the stage by climbing the fence surrounding the sound booth.  It looked like joyful mayhem.  He saw guys in banana suits stage diving.

Yellowcard on the acoustic stage

We also caught Yellowcard‘s acoustic set.  He thought they did a good job wanted to see their live set.  It was even better.  Yellowcard was clearly motivated to put on a great show and excited to be there.  They had tons of energy and the crowd got the crowd really into it.

Bouncing Souls

We had such a great spot for Yellowcard that we decided to stay there to catch Face to Face, Lagwagon and Rancid.  It’s easy to forget how many great songs Face to Face has.  Seeing them live reminded me.  We hadn’t bought the album they released last year and will definitely be doing so.  They delivered a solid performance.  I love punk concerts for the energy.  It’s great to be someplace where you are encouraged to feel and move with the music to such an extent.  Face to Face was about our 10th consecutive hour of rocking out and we’d started flagging a bit.  By that point, I was too tired to jump around.

Face To Face

Crowd surfing during Face to Face

Even though it was their second show of the day, Lagwagon had tons of energy.  People were downing energy drinks like water and it showed.  The circle pit was huge and people were definitely rocking out.

Lagwagon

We lost our key.  Oops  We went off in search of it and missed seeing Rancid…again.  Hopefully the third time will be the charm.  Given all the great music we saw, it is hard to be too bummed.

Here are some other acts we missed, but that got great reviews: