Yesterday was a day of firsts for me.  First long haul plane journey, first time experiencing jet lag, first trip out of Europe, first trip to the USA, first Visa, first time visiting a place where it’s normal for the temperature to be less than 0 degrees! So as you can imagine I was quite anxious about the trip…!

We’ll we’ve been here 24 hours now, and as the first rehearsal is this evening my first blog entry will focus on the non-musical elements of being on this tour.

The journey itself went actually very smoothly.  North West Airlines were great.  They were very happy to take the double bass in the hold – with no arguments! There was a great array of films to watch on the 8 hour journey (I managed 3 and a half, 2 of which were well worth watching) and as the plane was not very busy there was plenty of room to stretch out.  I can’t say that the food we were served was anything to write home about so I won’t!

On arrival at St Paul, Minneapolis airport we were greeted by some very friendly staff from the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, who took us in their van the short 20 minute journey to the Hotel. I was learning very quickly that the locals liked to talk about the weather a lot!  It is very very very cold here, something that I was finding hard to imagine before the trip.  As it’s so cold for such a long time in the winter, the majority of the buildings in the city centre are joined by a number of heated covered walkways, so you could easily not go outside at all, all day.  It later dawned on me that I had managed to get all the way here to my hotel room without going outside at all!  In fact the last breath of fresh air I’d had was just before I’d gone down the tube at 6am in London yesterday morning!

Anyway, it was now early afternoon, (early evening in London) and time for a nap maybe?  Only I was a bit too awake for that so went for a swim in the hotel pool and had a bit of a wander and got a bit excited about the free chocolate cookies in the hotel foyer (in Europe it’s usually fruit on offer.  Need I say more…..)

I’d arranged to meet OAE players Netty, Helen and Cathy for dinner at 6.30 and we decided to make use of the covered walkways and visited the restaurant near the hotel.  Well…. The food took nearly an hour and a half to arrive (our waitress forgot to put our order in) and we were all a bit delirious and trying not to remember that we were actually having dinner at about 2 in the morning! Fell into bed rather quickly after that – and still only 8.30pm!

Early to bed means early to rise and was very very awake at 5.30am this morning.  Tried very hard to stay in bed but I’m not very good at sitting still (a gene inherited from my Dad I think!) so up I got, checked my e-mail and thought I’d make use of the hotel Gym which you would think should be quiet at that time of day?  Wrong!  I was very impressed to see that at just before 7am it was full of OAE and London Sinfonietta players & staff all making use of the facilities and the jet-lag enduced early wake-up!ceri-and-hannah2

Am just about to head off for our first rehearsal now, but to fill you in on the rest of today…This morning I  went exploring with Hannah (the Concerts and Touring Administrator from the London Sinfonietta).   We even went outside for a bit and took a bus ride over to the other side of town.  I think my toes and fingers have almost recovered from the shock of the cold!  I think its minus 24C or something today (it’s a bit confusing as Americans do Fareneheight and I only understand Celcius!).  We stopped to have lunch in an authentic ‘Mickey’s American Diner’, which apparently has been used in lots of film Sets!  People here are so friendly and offered to take this photo for us! (I’m on the right)

Anyway… Off to the rehearsal now and to find out what the Ordway Center is like.

Think I’m over the jet lag and am very happy to be making full use of my OAE Secret Santa present from Philippa our Orchestra Manager – A very warm purple hat!

Ceri Jones, Projects Manager

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