Welcome to Britain! There’s one city that definitely should not be missed on any European tour: London. The drive to London is a little more complicated to plan than Paris.
From Germany we travel through the beauty of France to Calais, where we take the train that takes us through the Channel Tunnel to Folkestone. It is also an option to cross the Channel by ferry rather than using the Tunnel. But we have opted for the fastest and safest route. From Folkestone, the journey continues to the M25, London’s orbital motorway. Then it’s a matter of determining the actual destination. There are three major concert halls in London, two of which we visit regularly.
The greatest difficulty in the UK is driving on the left. But it’s all part of the job for our experienced drivers. The circumstances vary depending on which venue we are attending. One offers plenty of manoeuvring space for our vehicles, while another is tight and awkward. Either way, it’s no problem for our guys!
Paris is renowned for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. It is one of the most frequently visited cities on our tours. Owing to its cultural significance, Paris is a popular destination for orchestras from all over the world. So obviously our drivers are familiar with the route in every detail.
In ideal circumstances, it takes a trailer truck 14.5 hours to drive from Berlin to Paris. That’s quite a
journey. Consequently, we operate with two drivers on each trip, so that they can keep to their allotted shifts. They swap over every four and a half hours. Despite our drivers’ years of experience, Paris is always a special challenge because of the extreme traffic congestion, and the city’s narrow streets also should not be underestimated. On arrival at the concert hall, we drive into the tunnel through which the loading bay is accessed. We then start unloading and unpacking the instruments. Our drivers really ‘go the extra mile’, unpacking the instruments so that all the musicians have to do is set them up as required. It’s always a great event – for us too.
Salzburg – the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Music is very much in the air here – just as it was centuries ago. It is a city that, with its museums and cultural sites, embodies both the modern and the classical like few others.
Yet Salzburg presents us with a challenge on every visit. It demands detailed planning, precise time management and extremely good communication between the transport company and orchestra management.
Precision is essential once on-site, because we only have a very short time window for loading and unloading. Loading and unloading takes place in a dead-end street in the middle of a pedestrian zone. That imposes enormous pressures on our drivers, because everything has to run absolutely smoothly. Our schedulers plan the detailed procedure weeks in advance so that the drivers always know exactly what to do and when.
It’s a challenge that we are glad to take on every time – because magic moments are simply worth it.
Lucerne is always a great pleasure to visit. The venue’s situation is ideal, making it easy for us to manoeuvre our large rigs. Nevertheless, care must be taken in the planning process. General permits must be obtained in advance, so as to be able to cross the border without problems at night, and to avoid any customs issues.
It’s always great for us to see familiar faces when we arrive. We have enjoyed a close working relationship, and friendships, with many of them for decades.
Just a relatively short drive away from us is the city of Hamburg, and the magnificent Elbphilharmonie concert hall, the new landmark of the Hanseatic city which astounds us anew on every visit. But manoeuvring our trucks at the venue can be tricky. Overshoot just a little, and you can end up in the Elbe river. That might be a comical thought, but it’s guaranteed not to happen to any of our drivers, who are able to master the challenge easily thanks to their decades of experience.
Once work is done, there’s time for a fish roll maybe, and then it’s off to the next destination. Always a great trip!
もしもし Moshi moshi – the Japanese greeting. Tokyo is becoming increasingly popular among the orchestras which we serve. Our tours to Asia are planned up to one year in advance, and always entail lots of hard work. The satisfaction and enthusiastic appreciation of the orchestras are our reward, and an incentive to do the same – and even better – next time.
Trips to Baden-Baden are always very special. Once a year, we travel with the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra to the annual Easter Festival in the famous spa town on the edge of the Black Forest. The town and the orchestra have more in common than just the Easter Festival. Before the Second World War, the Berlin Philharmonic traditionally played at the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden every year. In the intervening period, they travelled for a number of years to Salzburg instead, before announcing in 2012 that they would be taking part in the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden again in the future. For us it is always a great pleasure to be part of something so special.
Entering Baden-Baden always gives our drivers goose-pimples. Because a giant banner greets them with the words: “Welcome Berlin Philharmonic – back home again.” It is truly a meeting-place of history and culture, and we are proud as a company to be part of it.
Amsterdam – the city of tulips. But no, we associate Amsterdam with more than just tulips and cheese. It’s a city of culture that is becoming increasingly important – culturally as in other ways.
Amsterdam is eternally popular and ‘hip’.
The approach to the concert hall in Amsterdam is rather odd. Driving through a residential area, the route suddenly turns into a small courtyard. Manoeuvring around it takes real skill, and is anything but easy. But what is truly unusual about this concert hall is its loading bay. A member of staff discreetly opens a kind of window that goes up into the ceiling, and an elevator is revealed. It’s no problem for our experienced staff. We open up the hatch on our truck, and a ramp links the truck and the elevator.
The difficulty lies in the fact that it’s a small elevator that can hold an average of eight instruments. For large orchestras we move as many as 148 instruments. That means loading and unloading the lift about 19 times. No easy task, given the time pressure and precision required. But we wouldn’t be KANITZ BERLIN if we didn’t master the challenge supremely.
One city that should be part of any European tour is Madrid. Our trucks cover 2,200 kilometres driving from Berlin to Madrid. The great distance involved also means that we fly additional drivers in by plane. Swapping drivers is a regular and unavoidable procedure on such a trip.
With its wide streets, Madrid is ideal for driving and manoeuvring around. The traffic is very congested, as in any other big city, but our Berlin team are quite used to that. A tour to Madrid is often combined with other Spanish cities, including Barcelona, Seville or Valencia.
We have for several decades been transporting orchestras from South America to Spain, including the Sinfónica de la Juventud Venezolana Simón Bolívar orchestra from Venezuela. Regrettably, the orchestra is currently forbidden from leave the country for political reasons. Nevertheless, we – and especially the orchestra itself – are not giving up hope that they will soon be able to undertake a European tour again. So we’ll be glad to keep you updated on any other news.