- March 2012
The Ghastly Yellow Plastic Thingy!
No matter what I may say about travelling, there is never any shortage of new material, so I always have stuff for my diaries!
The airlines are falling over themselves trying to find ways to squeeze ever more money out of us, the "budget enemies" are hiring people who, for the most part at least, wouldn´t qualify to wash cars, all of which is a great stimulus to creativity ... beating them at their own game.
But I am getting ahead of myself ... again!
Mission: Go to Italy on thursday, rehearse with band, play shows on Friday and Saturday, fly home on Sunday.
The Cast: Me (of course), Paolo, The Band, various kind helping-type people, an audience (maybe), some hotels and restaurants, and a vineyard or two.
This plan of course was subject to variation, I am used to that, but not the total chaos that was to follow! Spain is in total economic meltdown at the moment. You can read the details elsewhere. Spain is not in an economic crisis ... it IS a crisis!!!
And it will remain that way until they learn how to actually work and stop hopping gaily from fiesta to fiesta as if all was well in the surrounding circle! But no .... they apply some of the most stunningly assinine logic and call a general strike. I am not kidding ... you couldn´t make this stuff up!
On advice from various people I changed my flight to Milan to Wednesday which meant taking a train to Valencia and a ... wait for it ... Ryanair flight. But we were ready. Checked baggage weight limit 15 kilos ... mine was 14! That really pissed the check-in girl off.
AND ... here´s another little Ryanair trick you might want to be aware of. It´s normal to go to a check-in place and weigh your bag so you can avoid the exorbitant charges for overweight bags but Ryanair prevents that by turning off all the scales except for the ones at the active check-in desks, by which time it´s too late! This is a crime by any other name!
But my flight was only 90 minutes and I was able to endure that, amused as I was by the 4 guy crew´s pathetic attempts to sell me lottery tickets along the way.
I arrived, slept the 60 minutes in the car to San Giovanni and checked into my hotel. Didn´t sleep well but enjoyed rehearsals the following day with the guys and girls from "Forever Heep" (it was Forever Deep last week), had dinner and went back to bed so I could struggle to sleep again.
Fact is, I have simply not had time to recover from all the travel and from my cold, but everyone was nice and I was determined to do my best.
Enjoyed a short sight-seeing tour to Verona, saw the Arena (Verona´s equivalent of the Coliseum in Rome) and even took a picture of the balcony from which Juliet is supposed to have yelled at Romeo in Shakespeare´s book! Sometimes I despair of people!
There was a statue of Juliet in this little square and everyone, everyone was taking their picture next to it and they all had to put a hand on one of her breasts! Boring! I even saw a man holding his small child up and placing her hand there. Lovely!
Escape from this nightmare was delayed by some shopping (not by me!) but we did eventually make it back to San Giovanni in time for sound check which was long and complicated, but okay. Siesta came easily and for 2 hours (something is wrong with that) and I was not at my best for the show but it did go well.
I have to say that the band did their homework well and I appreciated that.
Next day I found out that my flight home was cancelled so, fearing that I might be once again faced with the "ghastly yellow plastic thingy" (just take a Ryanair flight and you will know what this means!) Paolo and I sat down to re-book everything so I could go home on Sunday.
Turns out Vueling (a small, inconsequential Spanish company, until they screw your flights up) simply cancelled one leg of my ride home which automatically cancelled the other one.
Did they bother to tell us? Did we receive an explanation? Of course not! Why should they care?
Once this was fixed we headed to Castelmassa where the second gig was to take place. A nice town, kind of reminded me of Agost. Not exactly the nerve-centre of Italian rock & roll but what did I know?
But I did see a wall with some writing on it ...
What I did know was that things were not ready when we got there so we went for lunch and, when we got back, things were still not ready. This resulted in a long and rather frustrating sound check but I told the band of an old maxim ... "bad sound check, great gig".
A quick dash to my no-star hotel, a shower and ... to the GREAT gig!
It just worked and there were long hugs and good vibes afterwards.
On the way to the elaborate dinner the promoter had organised I looked again for "the wall" but I didn´t see it, though I did remember what the writing said.
Up early and on the way to Milan to see if any of the Spanish airlines were working or not.
Iberia got me to Barcelona and then I took a train to Alicante.
I got home late ... looking forward to some time off and time to consider what the wall had told me.