Well, as you may have noticed I was unable to get to a computer while I was away, though there was WiFi in the hotel (I hadn't got my laptop with me), so I'm going to keep you updated a week late. Well, I'll cover the first couple of days in this post, the second couple in the next ... you know how it is, right?
Day One of Tour. According to the itinerary, a word I really can't say, this wasn't Day One. But for the purposes of this post it was.
After a bit of a lie-in and a trip to the library to equip myself with The Dirk Gently Omnibus for the journey, we loaded up the coach and trailer and were ready to leave by around 2:45pm. The trailer seemed to be a genuine TARDIS, since there was no way it was big enough to contain the three timps and two double basses that we managed to fit inside, not to mention the music stands and music folders.
However, after leaving a little late, we arrived at Dover too late to check in for our ferry, and so missed it. What's more, we then had to wait an hour and a half until we could board the next one. It wasn't too bad - we were able to go to the loo, walk around, hang out in a ridiculously overpriced WHSmith's (they're always like that at service stations etc) - but it would have been nicer to get there more quickly.
From there, the journey rather went downhill. We did get some sleep, but not much. I fell asleep around midnight and woke up feeling as though I'd been asleep for hours, until I discovered it was only half past one. Great; that was when everyone else started talking and it was hours before I dozed off again.
Instead of going through France, Switzerland and part of Italy to get to where we wanted to be, like the last time I went away, we went through France, Germany, Austria and then Italy. Apparently, there were tolls in Switzerland that they didn't want to have to pay.
Well, that was all very well, but you have to pay lots for German toilets (although it was in Switzerland that a crazy woman threatened to call the police, but more on that later) and the trip took far longer than it should have done. We didn't reach Italy until 5:30pm local time the following day (Day Two of Tour), and by the time we were unloaded we were all absolutely shattered.
Thankfully, the rooms weren't too bad. Trust me, I've been in worse. The showers didn't contain ants and I was sharing with two flautists that I actually knew (always a benefit). What's more, though I resented being made to take part in a quiz before I was allowed to sink into my surprisingly comfortable bed, I was pleasantly surprised when our team won.
(There was a moment of silence when they announced that we'd won, because none of us could believe it.)
The food was a little dodgy for me. We worked on the following system: the waiters would bring us a starter, usually pasta although later in the week we had pizza, and then we would help ourselves to a main course from a buffet containing lots of unrecognisable food. I didn't realise that by telling the waiters I was vegetarian I could have an entirely different starter, so I spent the first evening picking the bacon out of my pasta. I should add that I'm not a real veggie, I just don't like meat, especially when I'm abroad.
It was tiring enough, and none of us were pleased when we were told that we had a rehearsal at half past nine the next morning. It was even worse after what happened with our alarms ... but that's a story for another post ...