REVIEW: Eurovision in Concert 2012

This year, for the fourth time, Amsterdam was the host city for the biggest pre-Eurovision concert. It has become quite an extraordinary event  with more than half of the contestants coming to showcase their entries. There are only a few weeks before the contest goes to Baku in Azerbaijan. The countdown is on…

This year the event was held on Saturday 21st April 2012 in the Melkweg, a popular venue for bands when playing in Amsterdam. The organisation was much better than last year, which had a series of sound problems which created endless issues for the evening. The Melkweg was fantastic and the evening went without a hitch! Perfect!

The hosts for the evening were Cornald Maas and Ruth Jacott, the Dutch performer in the 1993 Eurovision. She strutted her stuff in Millstreet and belted out Vrede coming a very respectable 6th for The Netherlands.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Spain. Pastora blew away the crowd with her live performance of Quédate Conmigo. What a pair of lungs she has on her! I expect (and hope) Spain to do very well this year in Baku.

MOST ENTERTAINING: Ireland. Jedward really know how to entertain a crowd. I really didn’t like them last year in Düsseldorf, but with Waterline as their comeback I love them.

MOST EMBARASSING WARDROBE MALFUNCTION: France. Poor, poor Anggun wore a lovely red dress, which for those on the first 6 rows of audience (me included), got a perfect view up… I rather feel that someone should have advised her against white pants with a red dress… oh la la…

HOTTEST PERFORMER: Moldova. Hello, Pasha! That’s all I have to say on the matter.

MOST CRINGEWORTHY: San Marino. Deranged doesn’t even begin to describe this. San Marino decided to ‘test’ the rules of Eurovision. A song all about ‘Facebook’ although it’s not allowed to be called that now. I think Facebook should sue!

MY FAVOURITE: Slovenia. Eva’s song is my far my favourite for Baku, although on the night it didn’t come across well. Unfortunately, her backing singers weren’t there and they play a vital role in the performance as one sings the gentle aaaah bits.

THE ONES I MISSED: Sweden and Russia. Oh how I would have loved them to be there. Sweden has the song of the year and a great performance (but will it win?) and Russia have the grannies who I adore.

I predict a close one between Sweden and Russia.

Enjoy my photos from the night.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Great Guidebooks: Don’t travel without one.

 
The start of my collection…

I’m not a fan of bulky travel guides. They may be suitable for travelling by car, but when there are flights involved then it’s far better to have something light and easy that pops in your pocket.

I’m also not a big fan of large fold-out maps – who thought that they would be a great idea. Once unfolded they become a wind trap, they rip easily and are practically impossible to fold back together. I’m no origami expert!

That said, I was chuffed pleased thilled to discover the Everyman May Guides. A guidebook and a map all rolled into one perfect, pocket-sized friend. I love them! I’ve used them on a couple of trips and they pass the tourist test of mine.

Happy traveller here! (Recent trips to Amsterdam, Prague, Berlin, Barcelona and Munich).

One of the fold out district maps (Amsterdam).

Each city is divided into districts. Each double page inside looks at one district and lists restaurants, pubs, bars, music venues and shops that are worth a visit. The page then folds out to reveal a small map with that section of the city. Perfect! It folds out – It folds away. The next double page had more of the same. Handy information for the part of the city that you’re actually in.

The guide also contains an overview map (showing the districts – all colour coded) and transport information. It’s all in the book! Everything you need it one little book.

Surely travel is meant to be simple. Sometimes it is better to spend time on trips and holidays enjoying the sights rather than reading through a bulky 700 page guide.

Happy travels everyone!

 You may also like to read some of my travel posts:

My travel map so far (as of Nov ’10)

Booking disaster!

A flight to remember.

Preparation and organisation tips.

Prague: Czech it out and check the John Lennon Wall out too.

Have you ever been stuck in a lift (elevator)?

If you have ever been stuck in a lift or elevator (or whatever you call it) then you will understand exactly how I felt. Last weekend, in Spain, I got stuck in a lift with five friends. The door suddenly smashed shut behind me and nothing happened. It was comical to begin with…. After a while (and after no response to the alarm button being repeatedly pressed) it started to be a little less funny. We escaped – finally. This is how it all happened. I kept a little log on my iPhone notes…. I had a little time to kill.

Stuck in the lift. It’s 21:32 and we’ve just got stuck in the lift.

6 people in a small lift, it’s 1 metre squared!!

Next came the best quote from my friend – “The door shut like a nun’s knickers”.

It’s funny, we’ve taken a few pictures and have giggled.

Our experience has now been posted onto Facebook (over 40 responses to Mel’s update….and counting).

It’s now 22:19 and we’re still stuck!!!!

Yes, I’m thinking about my blog as we’re stuck.

Our apartment block in Barcelona is quite new. There are not many guests and the security people have clearly gone home. Nobody an hear the alarm and thank god two of us have our mobiles with us.

22:25 – Time to sit down… Sitting down was a real squash and squeeze. It was a good job we were good friends. There was a lot of contact!

Sue (to Bas) “Don’t ask where your foot is”

Bas (replied) “My foot knows where it is”.

Will we ever get out??????????

Freed at 22:28. 1 hour in a lift on a Saturday night! We haven’t eaten yet…… (starving!)

We named ourselves The Barcelona Six. It seemed quite appropriate.

Spanish adverts (commercials) are seriously damaging my health.

Spanish TV is unreal. During our weekend break in Barcelona I sat with my group of friends relaxing in front of the TV. We watched a film (dubbed in Spanish but we didn’t mind). We were exhausted from our first touristy day out. The adverts came on (the commercial break to American readers). At first we laughed at the general ‘theme’ of the ads, but then we realised that the Spanish have ‘a thing’ for two themes……. Sex and illnness (in no particular order).

Almost every advert was related to sex or illness. It was unbelievable. I made a list for you all. Here goes:

  • Ear spray (the ad was way too graphic),
  • Cough medicine,
  • ‘Female’ cream (that’s about as much as I want to say…. Well that and the fact that this ad included a girl saying “Mummy, I don’t itch anymore!”),
  • Cold remedy,
  • Condoms advertised with ‘playing’ in the fields,
  • ‘Strepsils’ for your throat (“All major holes seem to be catered for in this break” said one of my friends),
  • Dandruff shampoo.

Are the Spanish on some illness scare….? And more….now it’s:

  • Rectal cream for piles… (delightful viewing),
  • Now risotto, but they’re advertising it with a couple getting ‘at it’ on the kitchen floor,
  • Breast milk? I don’t know what it was advertising,
  • More cold stuff…. A hot drink to soothe your throat,
  • Now cleaning product for your kitchen.

 I’m worried about stepping outside!!!! Spain must be under quarantine by now.

  •  More cold tablets….

Oh, it never stops.

Cartoon taken from http://www.savagechickens.com. (A great site, take a look).

www.savagechickens.com

A flight to remember.

Boarding an EasyJet Airbus A319

Image via Wikipedia

Just got back from a great weekend in Barcelona (Spain). It was eventful and enjoyable. The flight to Barcelona itself was not without drama (That’s always a sign that the weekend will be one to talk about for months to come).

There was an announcement early on for a passenger named ‘whatever’ (I can’t remember what exactly, but it’s an unimportant detail) to make himself known. The guy sitting front of me was that very man. He made himself known and was clearly embarrassed….He’d lost his passport while boarding. With all the swapping of bags and coats (the overhead lockers were “too full”) he discovered that someone had moved his coat and bag and was now rather unimpressed! Next began his complaining. I watched in mild amusement as he tried to make his point. The cabin crew could not have looked more disinterested if they tried.

Just after take-off we (my friends and I) were politely requested ‘banned’ from drinking our wine, which we’d purchased in the terminal. We hadn’t planned on breaking any rules and we hadn’t even started drinking yet (ok, perhaps a few sips). That’s not good when there’s a two-hour flight to enjoy. Apparently easyJet do NOT allow you to drink your pre-purchased drink on board even though in the terminal it showed that you could ‘Grab and Go’ (they clearly expect you just to look at your purchase) grrrrrrr.

The flight was great fun, however it must be said that the cabin crew were rather too orange (clothes and make-up) and one looks suspiciously male (although she was called Becky). What was that short for? Brian?

The passengers sitting next to me (yes, I knew them) were frantically flicking through gossip magazines and discussing circumcision of all subjects….. Oh help me! How was I meant to focus on reading my book or writing notes for this blog with that ‘talk’ going on in my ear.

The next joyful moment was when the 4-person-strong queue of people standing waiting for the toilet next to me appeared. Oh joy! Why did I end up picking seats on the last row on this easyJet flight? Glamour this was NOT!

Ten-minutes of turbulence followed! It was quite severe but we luckily stayed airborne. That was a relief. The air stewardesses…(how politically incorrect I know)….had just started eating the left over, un-purchased in-flight meals. Perhaps I should refer to this as the ‘perks of the job’. One came back, after going to tell everyone to get their seat-belts fastened, and told her colleagues that she had “had to use her stern face”. Classic! She said it with such pride.  

Next……More turbulence! What fun!