And we’re off.

This morning we faced a familiar scrimmage through rush-hour traffic to get to Northolt aerodrome where we were to be re-united with the beloved Embraer Legacy luxury transportation-teleportation device. Time stands still once on board the jet and we were soon on our way to Romania for the first time, but if truth be known, the reverse was true as we lost two hours due to the time difference. I believe the Straits played Bucharest back in the day but it may have been before my time, I’m not entirely sure. After a delicious anti-pasta plate and a little pasta served up by the lovely Daniella, we were soon arriving in this sunny, warm capital city.

Once on the road, I noticed a lot of smiling faces in the warmth of the afternoon sunshine, Bucharest has clearly come a long, long way since tougher times in the days prior to the Romanian revolution in 1989. As Mannfred and his team drove us through this ancient city on the way to the venue in our fleet of beautiful new Range Rovers (much more on this later!), as we passed various landmarks including Piata Revolutiei, the place where Nicolae Ceaușescu was executed, I was inclined to find out more about his grim regime and its subsequent demise at the hands of his protestors. Since this is recent history, it is well known that it all started to unravel when he ordered his troops to fire on demonstrators. In the end of course he fled and was captured by police and handed over to the army who hastily tried and shot he and his wife. Such was the emotion at the time, bullets rained even before the film crew had a chance to set up and document the event.

Some more history – Initially built of wood in 1922 to honor the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in World War I, Bucharest’s very own Arc de Triomphe was finished in Deva granite in 1936. An interior staircase allows visitors to climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city. The sculptures decorating the structure were created by leading Romanian artists, including Ion Jalea, Constantin Medrea and Constantin Baraschi. The Renaissance Memorial is a monument located in the Palace Square in Bucharest, built in memory of the victims of the Romanian Revolution of 1989. It was interesting to discover the many nicknames used by the inhabitants of Bucharest or the media, in discussions about the memorial.  “spike” in Revolution Square, “potato on a stick”, “thorn with potato”, “Vector with tiara”, “potato impaled”, “Ghildus pyramid”, “circumcision missed” “monument penetration”, “a brain on a stick”, “olive-n toothpick”, “nuts-n sliver”, “sirloin skewers”, “potato revolution”, “pipe and testicle”, “spike of 56 billion”, “kitsch with patalama” to name but a few.

No safety net…

The crew load in was ‘unique’ to say the least. Through a 2nd floor window. Jules pointed out that the gap was slightly smaller than the piano. They managed to get everything in safely though and by the time we rolled up for sound-check, it was all up and running.

Early days in the laundry dept.

This being our first show ‘sans-Bob’ for three years, we luxuriated in the fact that we had the time to relax, warm up, eat etc. before taking to the stage. Whilst we very much enjoyed the opportunity, touring with Mr. B. could often be frustrating as his often wearisome sound-checks left us little time to prepare our shortened set. No such curtailed show tonight though.

We took to the stage just after 8pm and noticed immediately that this audience seemed to hang on every note. Our set has been known for it’s attention to dynamics and during even the quietest moments, there wasn’t a sound from the auditorium. The applause at the end of the show was euphoric and during our post-encore bows we had our first real look at what seemed like a lot of genuinely happy faces. Then, our customary ‘runner’ to the plane, back in the Range Rovers, a quick splosh of wine in the back seat (not on the back seat..water for me) and back to the GA terminal building where we boarded the ‘blunder bus’ to take us ‘in reverse’ to the plane. Let me explain, there was some construction work going on at the airport and the route for the bus to get to the collection point was single-lane. Instead of reversing back before picking us up, the driver decided it would be much more fun to reverse with us on board. Oh how we laughed.

Once aboard the time-carpet, Daniella served us our after show drinks together with a delicious curry. I always say I shalln’t have any as eating late is a sure fire way to enhance the waistline…never once have I managed to resist. I’ve decided it’s futile to try.

Within an hour we were landing in Istanbul and back in another fleet of Range Rovers, this time headed by our great friend and driver extraordinaire, Dr. Bernie Klein. A few laughs later and an incredible, luxurious drive through this amazing, huge city, we pulled in to the Four Seasons on the Bosporus. Can’t wait to tell you about that tomorrow.