It seems like foreign tours for the RSNO are like buses - you wait ages for one to come along and then two arrive at once! We've only been back from our January tour of Spain for a few weeks and the suitcases and passports were out again, this time packed with clothes for a much sunnier climate, Florida.
It has been 35 years since the orchestra toured to the US, with Sir Alexander Gibson, and we have 8 musicians who were on that tour with us today.
We arrived at Glasgow Airport, early on Saturday morning having only come off the stage at the Usher Hall 8 hours before, full of excitement and a fair amount of trepidation for the very long travel day that lay ahead. We were flying to Miami via Newark where we had over six hours to wait for our connection.
This trip has not been without its challenges, with the level of beauracracy and advance paperwork required being one of the most significant. Two days after our return from Spain the entire orchestra were flown to Belfast for the day to be issued with our US work visas at the consulate there and our instruments have had to be issued with their own passports too to allow them through customs on a freight flight. We were expecting massive delays at customs in Newark with people waiting up to three hours to be processed but thankfully this was not the case and most of us sailed through in less than half an hour.
Suddenly, it seemed more than possible to squeeze in a visit to Manhattan and before we knew it, several musicians were in a cab, heading 'downtown', to the corner of 42nd and 6th to be precise!
We were all dressed for our arrival in Florida, not at all prepared for the -4 chill of Manhattan so it was a case of keep moving or you'll freeze!
We had time to take in Central Park, Times Square, Grand Central Station, Broadway and an absolutely amazing coffee to boot before heading back to Newark on the train.
What a great way to spend the afternoon, stretch our legs and blow away the cobwebs.
Times Square and the Statue of Liberty (ahem!).
Mmmm, I can still smell and taste that coffee.
Some famous NYC landmarks.
New York cheesecake and bagels.
Grand Central Station - surely the prettiest station in the world?
We even met Captain Jack Sparrow!
And these crazies!
Birthdays are a recurring theme on this tour - there are a huge number of Pisceans in the Orchestra - must be something to do with our artistic temperament! Adrian, our Principal Oboe was the first of tour and what better way to spend it than having a New York hotdog in Central Park!
After 24 hours of travel, three very weary coaches arrived at our first stop of the tour, West Palm Beach.
Thankfully, tomorrow is a free day, so time to recover and get our bearings - more on that in another post!