A rather strange set of circumstances led me to visit Cologne, Helsinki and Tallinn.

I blame it all on a friend of mine, Robin.  He asked me some time ago if I would like to see two of his favourite bands playing in London - Sparks and Kraftwerk.

I'm an old-time fan of Sparks, from when they left their native California and came to England to make music that earned them a place in the hearts of British pop lovers.  Songs like "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" (in 1974 -was it really 30 years ago?), "Amateur Hour", "Looks Looks Looks" and "Get In The Swing" were both cleverly written and fun pop music.  But they fell from grace for a few years until bouncing back with "The No.1 Song In Heaven", "Beat The Clock" and "Music That You Can Dance To".  I took some photos of Sparks when they did a show in London in the Summer of 2004.  You can see them here.

Kraftwerk wasn't such a big interest of mine, but I knew tracks such as "The Model" and liked electronic music of later artists such as Gary Numan and the Human League that borrowed from Kraftwerk in one way or another.

So, we saw Sparks and Kraftwerk - and I swear that the volume in the Brixton Academy was so high that my ears were bleeding.  Robin loved it though and wanted to see them again!

All the German gigs were sold out, so the most accessible  time to see Kraftwerk again was in Tallinn on May 30th. So the bear hunted for a cheap flight to Tallinn - and failed.

Some discussion later, we arrived at a plan.  A cheap flight to Cologne, followed by a flight to Helsinki (!) followed by a ferry to Tallinn.  Cheap flights, expensive countries, even more expensive hotels. Are we mad?  Yes we are!

In fact, we flew to Cologne on Thursday evening, and stayed at the fantastic Hotel Im Wasserturm.  It's an astonishing building, an international luxury hotel situated in Europe's formerly largest water tower; and it is ranked amongst the best designer hotels in the world. The 130-year old building, which is classified as a historical monument, manages to combine the classical hotel tradition with modern interior architecture in an extraordinary manner.

If you ever want to stay in the
best hotel in Cologne
(in my opinion that is) visit to book a room!

Friday morning arrived and we packed our bags and set off for the airport to Helsinki!  Click on the links to find out more!


The Hotel Im Wasserturm

The Hotel by night

A view of the evening sky from the balcony