Have you ever wondered what it’s like to travel to another country for a music festival, Kat tells us all about her adventure to Belgium to see Slipknot headline at Graspop Metal Meeting.
I had a brilliant time at Graspop – here is my travel diary!
My best friend Kayleigh and I stayed overnight at London City Airport Travelodge because we had to be at the airport at 8am Saturday morning. There was an awful storm the night we arrived and although we got there late in the evening, there wasn’t much to do. We watched Paul on DVD and got a relatively early night, ready to be up and away early the next morning…
25th June 2011
We got to the airport within a five minute ride in a taxi. We were too early to check in but it didn’t take long before we could see our plane. It worried me at first because it has propellers. I much prefer big, safe looking engines.
Our flight was on time and we left London at 10:20am; we arrived in Antwerp, Belgium about midday (the flight itself was barely an hour and Belgium are an hour ahead of GMT). It took no time at all to get our luggage because the plane maybe held fifty people.
Graspop Metal Meeting offered free train travel to everybody with a festival ticket, so before we had left, I figured out how to get our free train ticket to get us from Antwerp to our hotel. We were staying in a place called Mol, about 70km from the airport, and about 10km from the festival in Dessel.
We got off the train and asked at information where our hotel was and it was literally a three minute walk from the station – perfect! Although the weather wasn’t great; very grey and wet, our hotel looked really nice.
We dumped our stuff in the room and went to investigate the town of Mol. It took maybe five minutes…
Our room was nice, but the divide between the en suite bathroom and the bedroom was a painted glass screen – so we could see whoever was in the shower. Not very nice! Apparently this is quite common in Belgium… I wouldn’t want to share that room with a parent or someone I didn’t know so well…
Sunday 26th June – The Big Day!
We got up around 11am and got ready to go to Graspop festival. We walked back up to the train station and caught a free shuttle bus to the grounds. I was impressed at how well organized the whole thing was and it definitely made our trip cheaper than we had expected as well as smoother.
We arrived and handed over our e-tickets and got wristbands. Then we had to queue to get plastic tokens because Graspop didn’t take money for food. Everything was 2 or 3 tokens, drinks were 1…merchandise was cash.
The weather was hot, but it was still pretty grey and cloudy. Toward the afternoon it did brighten up and I managed to get sunburned. We had to go for shade in one of the tents and watched a band called Amorphis whom I really like, but they didn’t play anything off the one album I own. Good job they have a very distinctive sound!
By about 5pm, the weather was beautiful, but very hot and sunny. We made our way forward to watch Avenged Sevenfold.
The stages were staggered as such that there were no clashes between the main stage and the two smaller tent-stages.
Whilst we were waiting for Rob Zombie to start, a bottle war broke out between the two front sections of the crowd. My side, the left, won the battle. People on the right were calling for a time-out after an hour. We got a few bumps on the head, arms and hands but nothing more serious. Yay, festival madness! Good to know it’s universal!
After the hour’s gap, Rob Zombie played, and then Slipknot with roughly an hour’s space between the sets. We made our way to the front for Rob Zombie. We managed to get to the side barrier, so that was great as we had a very clear view of the whole stage.
Rob Zombie started, and it was a much less dramatic stage-show than it was when we saw him in London back in February. It was a shame because I was expecting more from him considering he was second headliner and after Graspop, he has cancelled all the other tour dates. Zombie invited girls in the audience to get up on stage with him – there was one girl who thought she was incredibly attractive and she kept taking her bikini top off…at least she was enjoying herself!
It was a really short set, and he only had one costume change and the background didn’t change at all. Even Avenged Sevenfold had their whole stage show set up.
After another hour’s break, Slipknot set up and came on.
It was my 19th time seeing Slipknot and although there was an air of sadness that Paul Gray wasn’t on stage with them, the crowd and band definitely kept his spirit alive. It was an emotional show but there were no tears as it was purely a celebration and wonderful to see Slipknot back on stage.
They dedicated Duality to Paul, and they had his mask, coveralls and bass on the stage (Donnie, who is standing in, was playing offstage). Paul was missed, but the show itself wasn’t sombre or depressing.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, as it was their first headline show on the European Festival Tour without Paul, but they filled the stage, and the crowd was brilliant.
They played Purity, Wait & Bleed, Left Behind and dozens of others. Sid stage-dived off the sound-desk, he ran right past me to get to it!
After the show, Kayleigh and I shared a taxi with some Spanish guy who was also trying to get back to Mol so it turned a 30 Euro cab into a 10 Euro cab. It took us ages to explain the cost and the way we were dividing it to the Spanish guy though – I felt bad for him, everybody spoke perfect English but apparently not so great at Spanish!!
We got back to our hotel around 2am and I had a shower – it felt good to get rid of all the dirt. I discovered the muddy knee I had was actually a bruised knee. Awesome.
Monday 27th June
Monday we had to fly home, so we had the hotel for a bit longer (check out should have been 10am – no way were we getting up that early!!) we got packed up and left our bags at the hotel whilst we went back to the supermarket to get some Belgian chocolate for our friends and family and then we went to check out and go back to the train station. Where there were hundreds of metal heads trying to get home too!
We got a taxi to the airport again about 3pm and since our flight was at 6pm, we had a lot of time to kill in an airport where it took two minutes to walk around! The flight home was even quicker than it had been to get out there, about 45 minutes and soon, we were home. It was a fantastic break and everybody was so friendly and helpful. We’d definitely go back to Belgium and would recommend it to anybody thinking of going!
Hope you enjoyed my photos and my diary!!
Useful Links we used:
Hotel bookings: www.booking.com
Thanks for sharing Kat!
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