From Sunny Spain, we found ourselves in cold, Hanseatic Kiel, where we did a concert with our good friend Torsten De Winkel, a fantastic jazz guitarist. Torsten is a very generous performer and often invites guest musicians to play with him. One of these performers was María Mérida, from the Canary Islands. She is eighty-eight years old, has an amazing voice, and owns the stage like no-one else.

Maria Merida and Torsten De Winkel

The next day, we were invited to join Torsten at the prestigious Elbjazz Festival in Hamburg. We were on our way to the gig when Suba realized that she wasn’t feeling well, and we decided we’d better get home. Suba’s normally a trooper, so we figured this meant trouble. Then we learned about this:

E. Coli Outbreak Grips Hamburg

Fortunately Suba wasn’t too badly hit, so it only took a few days for her to recover.

The next day, off to Berlin for a concert with two fantastic groups, MuSix and Peter and the Wolvettes. MuSix is one of Germany’s best male vocal bands, and Peter and the Wolvettes… well, they have to be seen to be believed. Three women, dressed to the nines, singing nothing but the music of Abba. The guy was a one-man rhythm section, doing bass and drums simultaneously with his voice. We were exhausted just watching him! The following day we gave a workshop to MuSix, and it was very exciting for us to work with a group of their calibre.


MuSix (L-R): Till, Stefan, Andre, Patrick, and Bjorn

After Berlin, our final stop was Istanbul… which ended up starting later than we planned. Why? After years of organizing tours and booking flights, we made a rookie mistake. We were about to leave our hotel, nice and relaxed from a good night’s sleep, for our 1:55 flight. Dylan decided to check on the final details… and froze in place. Suba watched him, and just sighed.

1:55. In Europe, they use a 24-hour clock. 1:55PM would be 13:55. 1:55? Yup, you guessed it.

The flight left last night.

Fortunately, Dylan and Suba know how to take things in stride. After a few minutes of head-smacking, and some delirious giggling, we rebooked our tickets, and enjoyed an unexpected “bonus day” in beautiful Berlin. We visited a few key sites…


Alexanderplatz, and the iconic East German TV Tower

… and when it started to thunderstorm, we did what all good Berliners do: we went to Potsdamer Platz, and watched a movie. And since our flight didn’t leave till 1:55 (AM, thank you very much)… we watched another one.


Movies in Berlin: reserved seating and beer. Civilized!


After crisscrossing the continent, it was time for a little R+R, so we decided to spend a few days in Istanbul. Beautiful and historical, it’s one of the most amazing cities on earth. Most of the stories are in the pictures, so please check out our photo gallery. But here are a few highlights:

–    Getting fleeced by a cabdriver. He charged us a flat rate, which turned out to be about four times what we should have paid. He got his comeuppance, though… he got lost trying to find our apartment, and what should have been a five-minute payday for him turned into a half-hour scenic tour for us.

–    Visiting the famous Spice Bazaar… and bumping into a friend from Toronto. It turns out that Andrew Downing’s partner grew up in Istanbul. We even met his mother.

–    Jumping on a ferry boat, not knowing (or caring) where it was going. We ended up on the Asian side of the city, in a cool neighbourhood called Kadikoy… and stumbled upon a political rally. Naturally.

–    Hunting for live music, and ending up in the middle of a rowdy Turkish Saturday night restaurant-party.

For the rest of the trip, please visit the photo gallery. It’s a visually-stunning city.

Istanbul Photo Gallery

And thus ends the FreePlay Duo 2011 Europe Tour. Many thanks to all those who made it possible: the Ontario Arts Council; Uli, Helga and Britta; Patrick Scharnewski and Take Four; Martin and Kathrin Carbow, Gener and Hanfris Quartet; Inigo Garcia Sanchez, Javier Gallego and Santiago; Torsten de Winkel; Till and Karin Kindchus; Patrick Hirche and MuSix (and Pegasus Air for so promptly rebooking our flight!).
We look forward to working with you and seeing you again next year.


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