Well, where do I begin? The excitement of going on tour with a major rock artist. Wow!
I have a mixture of absolute joy and absolute panic as this will be my first tour, and I know it’s not going to be easy judging by the tour dates. I begin my trip, at Stansted, where I await my colleague who will be with me for a few days to give me a heads up, so to speak and introduce me to the ways of the tour.
We fly in one of our Embraer Legacy 600s to Valetta in Malta
We then stay for three days as a base. We fly again after a day or so to pick up the band in Sicily to bring them back to Malta. All in all there were 11 guests that would be on the tour so I knew that it would not be that easy, especially after reading in the newspapers about Rock star demands: would I have to pick out the blue M&Ms for one of the band and try to find some sort of rare flowers for another on a daily basis? As it turned out this was not the case as the band were just down to earth and great guys.
After a few flights with my colleague flying from country to country we said our farewells and I was then on my own. There was hardly time to think before I was out shopping for the guys and ordering in-flight catering from various hotels scattered around Europe. The band had requested that their food be sourced from local restaurants and not from catering companies and that I try the food before ordering, which of course the various restaurants were happy to do as the orders were quite large and they were always happy to oblige.
One of the band members had an upcoming birthday
that he wanted to hide from the rest of the band, but I had been told in advance that his birthday was approaching, so I took it upon myself to order a small birthday cake from a recommended caterer which was then presented to him with a backing 'Happy Birthday' chorus coming from in the cockpit, then closely followed by the rest of the band. Very surreal I have to say, but an absolute joy. Needless to say that he was very happy.
Over the coming days we went from city to city across France, Switzerland and Italy, seeing some lovely places and cultures. The days went very quickly as no sooner had we landed, the task of that evenings catering began. Whilst looking for the various restaurants, some chosen and recommended by colleagues and some chosen by myself by asking the locals as to which restaurants they would eat at and highly recommend.
On the last part of the tour we were in Spain and luckily for me first officer Roberto was with me and came out with me on a daily basis to not only have a look around the various cities but to also provide me with my very own translator, which turned out to be invaluable!
The highlight of the tour was when one of the band members asked the whole crew if we wanted to go and see them in concert in Barcelona. Wow! I felt like a Rock-Chick and we had tickets to the concert. We went to see the band before the concert began where they called us aside to give us back stage passes, VIP no less. We wondered around the whole place and saw things that only a privileged few would normally get to see. We left before the concert ended as I had to get back to organise catering for the next day.
And so the tour came to a close
with the last concert in a small village near San Sebastian in Northern Spain. Such a beautiful place and my favourite place on the entire tour, and also the most challenging! The guys requested to have cottage pie as their final meal on their European Tour. Not such a tall order I thought, although not exactly 'Rock Star' food! It turned out to be the most challenging part of the tour by far. Not easy, in the land of Tapas and Paella to order from a small town a cottage pie. No one had any idea what it was and even less idea of how to make it. Added to that, it was a Spanish Bank Holiday! I eventually found a good recipe on Google and to cut a long story short, the hotel chef where we were staying said he would 'give it a go'. Fingers crossed. Well, when I saw the results I was speechless. It wasn't exactly what I had envisioned but the Chef had made a more than brave attempt. Once on board I advised the band that the meal was indeed a cottage pie, but made by a chef that had never done this before, although a very good chef. It turned out that I need not have worried as the guys loved it and said it was fantastic.
The final day ... sadness. I had come to love the band and become to know their likes and dislikes, how they liked their tea, how many sugars etc. I may never get to see them again, but hope that I will. Being on a tour is fantastic and highly rewarding. When the guys come on board after a hard day of being on stage for hours, they get to sit down, have a beer and some good food followed by a well-earned sleep, I feel that it has all been well worth it. Bring on the next tour!