March 21-22, 2012
Atlanta, GA, USA
After our last episode, Eric and I decided to find a sidewalk cafe’ and have some more espresso. The cafe culture in Paris is so cool – everywhere you look there’s chairs on the sidewalk, and the people-watching is the best anywhere. We just chilled, preparing mentally for the rest of the day.
When it got close to go time, we all had said our official goodbyes, and multiple hugs and promises to stay in touch. Dirk (Bruinenberg, from Patrick Rondat’s band) agreed to take a final photo of us onstage after our last number. The show went pretty well – we were all so pumped we nearly jumped the rails on the first number, but the crowd loved it. We played the hurry-up offense so we only had to cut our last number (everybody had shorter sets due to Patrick Rondat being on the bill). Then we did the Cookville breakdown and loaded our gear into the alley next to the club to wait for the bus that would take us to London.
We didn’t wait long: 20 minutes later we were loaded and headed for the Chunnel. We’d hoped to make the early ferry, but we missed it. We took the 1:15 instead. If you’ve never done the Chunnel, it’s crazy: the bus pulled into this open train car and parked, and we stayed in the bus watching movies. The entire crossing only took 30 minutes once we were moving because the train travels at 150 mph! It was a smoother ride than any subway train or tram I’d ever been on. We finally arrived in London at a hotel after over 6 hours of travel (we’d watched all of three movies en route). We checked in and finally got showers. I was the dirtiest I’d ever been (I hadn’t showered since Vigo, Spain, 3 days prior). We re-packed the suitcase for the flight home and tried to get a few hours’ sleep.
Lobby call was 9:15, and we took 3 cabs to Heathrow, as the free shuttle from the hotel didn’t offer service to Terminal 4 (of course). Checking in was fairly straightforward, but a word of advice: make sure you read and understand the baggage policies on Delta’s website thoroughly, so you can direct the Delta employees to the part of the site that shows the rules they claim to not know about. They again tried to hose us on baggage allowances, but we weren’t having it. We won.
Security check in London was quick and efficient. Even our border crossing passport check (in Calais) was staffed by friendly, well-educated professionals. After our 8-hour flight we were treated to the bad-tempered farce that is the US’ Border Control. Staffed by surly, bored workers, they herded us through a completely irritating and mostly useless four-part hassle. We spent two hours at Hartsfield just getting to Baggage Claim.
There we were greeted by all our wives in a joint sneak-attack. It was a wonderful surprise, I’d missed my Sodashi very much. We collected our bags and said our goodbyes, making plans for our next songwriting session, tentatively planned for mid-May. The next tour is also in the planning stages.
Next stop: Candler Park. We’ll do the tour wrap-up and lessons learned in the next episode.