Upon arrival at our hotel after an overnight flight from LAX, everyone's concern is the same: clean up, eat, and stay up as late as possible. The first night of sleep is never a problem. It is the first full day and second night that will dictate how quickly we can adapt to the new time zone. So, on the first morning in London, the first order of business is finding coffee. Starbuck's has invaded every street corner here. But preferring to sample local fare, a couple of colleagues and I opt for Valentino's, a small café which promises a full English breakfast for 3.90 pounds ($8.00). The coffee is excellent and we end up lingering for over an hour deep in conversation.
While on tour, the orchestra tends to split itself socially along instrument lines. There are the bass boys, the brass guys, and the freshman class, to name a few. While some cross pollination takes place, we tend to find our "people" and stick with them.
Fresh off the bus from Heathrow, and after a quick splash of water on our faces at the hotel (our suitcases hadn't been delivered yet!), a small group of us met back in the lobby to start our adventure. The brave ones: violinists Martin Chalifour, Mitch Newman, Ingrid Chun, and Lawrence Gamma, cellist Danny Rothmuller, and myself. Never mind that we were all starving; the first objective was to get ourselves to North London as quickly and economically as possible. (This is London, after all, where a single ride on the Tube is four POUNDS!) Once we were in the vicinity of the jazz club, then we could quickly grab something to eat, we hoped.
Fast forward to a group of jet-lagged musicians in the Tube station, trying to figure out the best way to do this — eventually, we all bought our "Oyster" cards — a nifty card you can top off at any time, which gets you multiple Tube and bus rides for a fraction of the "single ride" costs.