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2018 Tour Stop #7: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

The Dins are happy to welcome you to Luxembourg, a beautiful little country nestled in the heart of northern Europe! We spent about four days in Luxembourg City just after the summer solstice, and were captivated by the city's picturesque walking streets and medieval fortifications and bridges.

A gorgeous 18th century clocktower, standing high over Luxembourg.

Photo by Eli Troen #250


We came into the city by train in the early afternoon of June 22nd, at which point we split off into our accommodation groups and relaxed for a bit. Kevin, our Music Director, stayed with his family, who had come to the city to meet with him, while the rest of us were in two Airbnbs fairly distant from each other. That first night was our busiest of the stop, with two gigs right in a row. It made sense. This night was one of the most important holidays in Luxembourg: the eve of the country's National Day.

A group of Dins outside the Grand Ducal Palace on National Day.  Photo by Ethan Craigo #237

A group of Dins outside the Grand Ducal Palace on National Day.

Photo by Ethan Craigo #237


A brief aside: National Day is the day on which the birthday of the Grand Duke or Duchess of Luxembourg is ceremonially celebrated, regardless of which particular date it might fall on. The night before is one of the craziest of the whole year, in which thousands upon thousands of people pour into the streets of Luxembourg City to drink and be merry. To be honest, this night is more or less the reason that the Dins travel to Luxembourg!


Our first of the previously mentioned two gigs was at a bar and restaurant called Brasserie Kennedy. It was a small but appreciative crowd in a gorgeous, modern space. We barely had time to catch our breath after it, though, before we had to rush to our next performance at the Cercle Munster. There, we sang multiple short sets of songs in between courses of our own delicious dinner. This gig was notable for an improvised version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" that we performed at the request of one very enthusiastic audience member. It was not the finest the Dins have ever sounded, but it sure was some great, silly fun.

Dining Dins at the Cercle Munster.

Dining Dins at the Cercle Munster.


After all this, we left and hurriedly changed out of our tails and into evening attire. I ran to find a good vantage point to see the spectacular National Day fireworks show, which I remembered as one of my favorite parts of the last Din tour. Some other guys joined me a bit later, and we all met at a bar in the center of town to talk to a member of the Harvard Club of Luxembourg, who bought us a round of drinks from a man he called "the finest bartender in the country". He wasn't kidding - I'm still trying to figure out how to recreate my delicious gin-cilantro cocktail. From there we went out to dance in the dozens of parties in streets and clubs for hours afterward. It was a night to remember.


The next two days were mercifully free of scheduled events. Many of us, including myself, used them as an opportunity to decompress. Others took the rare opportunity to travel to other destinations in Europe for a day trip. Peter went straight back to Paris, and Eli and Austin traveled to Brussels!


Our last responsibility of the stop occurred on our final evening in Luxembourg City. We performed at a private gig for members of the Harvard Club and their friends and family, hosted at the former president's house. His family's beautiful backyard made for another nice and intimate concert. From there we said our goodbyes to each other, as this was the last time we'd see each other before Japan, and split off into homestays for our last night together in Europe. Tune in next time to find out how we spent our few days apart!


Dinnily,
Ethan Craigo #237

2018 Tour Stop #1: Reykjavík, Iceland

Greetings, and welcome to the Din & Tonics’ 2018 tour blog! If you’re reading this, I’m sure you want to know what exactly it is that we’ve been doing since we left the United States. I am here to fill you in on our all-too-brief travels in Reykjavík, Iceland, our first tour stop. Iceland, a nation near the Arctic Circle that houses only about 350,000 people, is a country that belies its name in a few ways. Most obviously, it is not covered in ice, and due to the ocean currents, the temperature near the coast rarely dips too far below freezing in winter. What is perhaps less known, though, is the warmth of the place’s culture: the incredibly generous culture of the locals more than made up for its occasionally chilly weather.

 

We met up and departed Boston Logan International Airport on an Icelandair vessel at about 8pm EST on May 28th. We caught up with each other quickly after a four-week break, ate dinner, and then prepared for a 5 hour flight and a 4 hour time change. Most of us had barely slept a wink when we stepped out into the cold rain that awaited us at Keflavík International at 6 am. We rode the shuttle into Reykjavík, a colorful and vibrant little city, and killed a little time exploring before checking into our spacious but confusingly laid out Airbnb. A group dinner was arranged at a great noodle restaurant near the church Hallgrímskirkja. After, some of us went out to a rooftop bar to take in views of the city. 

A photo of Hallgrímskirkja, the large Lutheran church that dominates the Reykjavik skyline.   Photo by Kevin Kearns '20

A photo of Hallgrímskirkja, the large Lutheran church that dominates the Reykjavik skyline. 

Photo by Kevin Kearns '20

 

The next day was free and full of sightseeing: seven of us woke up early to go on a “Golden Circle” tour around protected geological areas in the southwest of Iceland. Our tour took us to Þingvellir national park, the site of the oldest continuously operational parliament in the world. It is famously located right on the fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates! We also visited Geysir, a hot spring, and Gullfoss, a dramatic and beautiful waterfall. While we were out beyond the borders of the city, others stayed behind and explored downtown Reykjavík. Some of us regrouped and went for a run out to the peninsula of Seltjarnarnes. Following that, we changed into our very special Din tour T-shirts and traveled to our first performance of tour! It was a relatively low-key affair at Kex Hostel, an up-and-coming hostel located on the city’s coastline. Arnar, the event manager for the hostel, was very gracious to us and we had a great time debuting our sound to a European crowd. Some of us bar-hopped after the gig while others returned home to keep catching up on sleep. 

A brief aside: if you ever visit Iceland, make sure to bring a mask or use very good blinds! During the summer months, it always seems like the daytime, as the country is so far north. I kept needing to remind myself to go to sleep when I would return to our Airbnb at 2 am in broad daylight.

A gaggle of Dins visiting Geysir and the hot springs on our "Golden Circle" tour in Iceland.

A gaggle of Dins visiting Geysir and the hot springs on our "Golden Circle" tour in Iceland.

Like all my previous stays in Iceland, the last day seemed to arrive far too soon. I woke up at 1 pm and went immediately for a traditional Icelandic lunch at Café Loki with a few others. We enjoyed the dark, sweet rye bread and sheep’s-head jelly more than we were expecting! That night, we had two back-to-back performances, the first at a miniature concert hall in Hannesarholt, the former home of the first prime minister of Iceland (now a restaurant!).This was an intimate affair in which we got to show our music to a small but very enthusiastic audience. Next, we had a more relaxed evening gig in a converted old cinema called Gamla bíó with the Icelandic all-male choir Bartónar. While we couldn’t understand a whole lot of what the group was saying on-stage, we found them to be an extremely affable group of people behind the scenes, with a killer sense of humor.

The thundering waterfall Gullfoss.  Photo by Eli Troen '20

The thundering waterfall Gullfoss.

Photo by Eli Troen '20

Our last night after the final gig was spent hanging out with Bartónar and friends at Kaffibarinn, a bar that has long been host to Reykjavík’s artistic elites. We chatted with a number of interesting and colorful characters until long past an ideal bedtime, but the conversations were worth it. 

The next day, we woke up, headed back to the bus terminal, and went to the airport. If I had been awake enough to think in complete sentences, I probably would have had something sentimental to say about leaving so soon, but for the time being I could only look toward our next stop in London.

Many thanks are due to all of the wonderful people who made this tour stop possible (Þakka þér fyrir, guys)! Next time you hear back from us, we’ll be talking about our stop in London and Oxford. Until then, please stay tuned!

 

With fire and ice,

Ethan Craigo #237