Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 3, Villadossola, Italy

October 24th

- I woke up to the sound of the phone ringing.  Chris reached over and answered.  It was John.  He was calling because he read the flight information wrong and realized that our plane was leaving sooner than he thought.  That meant that we had to get to the airport as fast as we possible or we would miss the flight.  Fucknuts!  You gotta be fuckin' kidding me!!
- We all sprang out of bed and frantically packed our shit and ran downstairs to the lobby.  As soon as everyone was there, we hailed some cabs and peeled away to the airport.  We asked the drivers to get there as fast as possible: "Vamanos!!"
- Once there, we ran for the check-in counter, plowing through crowds and skipping the winding line-up lanes.  When we got there, they had closed  check-in 5 minutes ago. The airline staff gave us stern looks and gave us a bit of a hard time, but, with enough pleading, they let us check our luggage and got us signed in.  Thankfully John was able to fire off in Spanish and helped things tremendously.  We still had to pay the extra baggage fee at another counter and check our guitars and basses at the bulky baggage department.  We ran from one counter to the next, with one of the airline staff tagging along, jabbering commands rapidly into her walkie-talkie to warn the people ahead that we were coming through in a rush.  We passed through security quickly and thankfully no one was held back.  We ran to our gate to find a gigantic line-up snaking out, unmoving, so we knew we had made it on time.   Phew!   What a way to wake up.
-  We were all pretty frazzled, so we went to a nearby coffee kiosk and grabbed a quick breakfast.  Espressos, water, juices, pastries were consumed in a zombie like state.  From one crazy night to an even crazier morning.  John apologized for the misinformation.  Well, it didn't matter because we made it. 
- Once on the plane, we were able to settle down a bit.  By now we were all feeling the jet lag and fatigue of travelling and having to perform until late at night.   Our sense of time and space were completely disoriented. 
- We landed in Milan, the skies overcast and a bit of rain.  Once through the corridor-thing that connects that plane to the terminal,  we went through sliding doors which opened up to... a gift shop.  What the fuck?  We took a turn through the corridor of the gift shop and ended up with more shops.  We back tracked and went the other way, which led us through another corridor.  We aimlessly followed the little picture of a suitcase and the little arrow that pointed in endless directions.   This lead the entire crew of passengers through a meandering path that lead one direction, and then doubled back through staircases, moving sidewalks, hallways, corridors, more gift shops, cafe seating area (complete with napkins and wine glasses), sections of the Departures zone, and then finally, baggage retrieval.  We lost about half of the herd along the way.  At some new turn or section of the airport, people would get confused and the crowd would thin out.  It was totally like a Spinal Tap "Hello Cleveland!!" episode.
- While we were navigating through the airport, at one point we were on a hall way that had windows looking out onto the landing tarmac.  We could see a luggage truck with a long train of luggage being pulled behind it.  It was the luggage from our plane because we could see our guitar cases.  We saw a suitcase fall off the pile and it was left behind, all by itself, in the middle of the landing tarmac, vulnerable to some airplane or random vehicle to run it over.  Abandoned and the owner of the bag now screwed.   We were chuckling because we saw that happen and John said out loud: "Suckerrrr!!"   Of course, it could've just as easily happen to one of our own bags.  But it didn't. 
- At the baggage carousel, we claimed our bags and gear quickly and made it out of the Arrival zone.  We met with our contact, Salvitorre and his friend, Luka, almost immediately.  Salvitorre was our driver and tour manager for the next 7 days in Italy. 
- We threw our bags in cars and had a quick espresso while standing up (Italian style).  We headed off for a 2.5 hour drive to North (or was it South?) to Torino.  I passed out willingly.
- I woke up to see that it was getting dark and raining.   We were somewhere in the country and I could see hilly mountainsides on both sides of the highway.  We were right at the foot of the Alps and  you could see fog and the snowy tips of the mountains if you looked up. 
- We stopped in some clustered area of houses which was kind of like a small town.   The venue itself was on the second floor of a large building.   The surrounding space around the building was large and it looked like a community space of some sort, but was long in disuse or abandoned.  Perhaps in the summer it was filled with people, but in late October on a rainy sunday evening, there was no one.  It was chilly outside and the temperature was dropping.  The mountain atmosphere was fresh and refreshing from being in busy cities and airports. 
- Once inside the venue, called The Titty Twister (after the Robert Rodriguez movie "From dusk till dawn"),  we saw there were a few people hanging out and having drinks.  This gig was definitely one that was off the map, so there was little pressure to care too much about it.  We still had to play though.
- There were long tables in the bar, and we munched on chestnuts and drank wine when we sat down and relaxed for a bit.  Then we got our luggage and gear inside and did our soundcheck.  The band bedrooms upstairs were minimal.  I noticed how the floors and staircases and interior finishing were some kind of marble or stone.  Not a lot of wood like in Canada.  This was a common thing for Italy, and I guessed that at this point in their industrial development more stone than wood was available to build their houses with.  Or maybe it's just an Italian thing....
- Right after sound check we sat down and had supper.  Polenta and gorgonzola cheese with sausage.  You passed around this gigantic wedge of Gorgonzola cheese and cut yourself hunks of it into your polenta.  Then you stirred the polenta around and you had this giant blob of polenta and cheese.  Rich and delicious.  The sausage was great, not fatty.  All meat.  Fatigue was thick in the band at this point, and it was a bit of a challenge to be drinking so constantly since we landed in Europe.  We were enjoying the quality of wine, but water was becoming a necessity.
- After a bit of rest, we came down and played.  It was nice to hold back a bit and  not give out as much energy compared to the other shows, but play we did.  Thankfully we played a shorter set and got a round of applause from the few spectators in the bar.  Nothing crazy.
- We packed up and headed up stairs for some needed rest.
The Alps

Inside The Titty Twister

You know, I'm not sure I really trust this menu...

... how about choosing from this one?

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