Monday, 12 November 2012

Tour overview

Warning: Long blog.

I really don't know where to start with this. The original idea was to do little daily blogs and even vlogs from the road whilst traveling but schedule and the immense tiredness that came with doing the tour just took all the spare time and energy from me. So instead of that I thought I would write this big overview blog and try to remember everything important or interesting that may of happened whilst being on the wander.

The start: November 2nd - Start point: Durham  End point: Glasgow

What I expected to be a straight forward day turned into a nightmare. I woke to messages that people cannot connect to the websites. I had about a maximum of 30 minutes to look into this whilst getting ready and making sure I had everything. I spent about 10 minutes checking the account and all seemed to be working and payments were up to date, so I was puzzled. Realising I really had no time to spend chasing this, I had to pass everything onto mojo and pretty much just leave it to him.
After dashing around, I was on my way to the train station in Durham. With a suitcase and huge canvass prints in tow, I attempted to get to the platform without dropping anything. The train had a slight delay of only 10 minutes so I just stood waiting for it. Once on the train it took me an age to find somewhere to put my luggage as they all seemed to be full in the carriage I was booked in. After walking 3 carriages down I had success then headed back to Coach F to take my seat. When I arrived there was a child in my seat, the mother who was sitting on the other side said she is sorry and someone had taken their seats. I let it go just because it was a child, but the mother was too shy to ask the people in her sons seat to move. A seat cleared up after the next station, though it was a backwards traveling seat in a red hot carriage with no air.
I tend to suffer from motion sickness, so whenever possible I get forward facing to reduce the risk that I would suffer any symptoms.
For 3 hours I sat in this chair practically sweating but lucky for me as I was starting to feel unwell, we stopped at Edinburgh and about 3/4 of the carriage emptied. I used this opportunity to jump to a cooler forward facing seat for the last hour or so of the journey.
Alex and his sister met me at the station and I unloaded the canvas prints onto Alex to carry. At his we made dinner then drew the winners of the British fan club's meet and greet competition. Alex had said winners would of been announced at around 5pm, since I didn't get to Alex's till around 4:40, this obviously didn't happen on time. After we drew the winners we thought it would be a good idea to call them and record some of the reactions to a pre-tour vlog we had planned to film that night.
Calling everyone was great,  but it took a lot longer than I expected. I think our last calls were around 8:20..nearly 3 and a half hours after Alex's announcement deadline. Oh well.
After the winners were all called and dinner was ate, we set to work on filming the rest of the club vlog. It ended up quite random due to the Jack Daniels that was flowing, but all in all it turned out nice and was well received.

Day 2: November 3nd - Start point: Glasgow  End point: Manchester

This was the day of the Nightwish fan party to be held at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manchester. We travelled about 5 hours on bus from Glasgow to Manchester. Horrible journey. No leg room, really hot and stuffy. We were met by a friend Nikki, someone I've been speaking to online since roughly 2008 but this would be the first time meeting her, which of course was nice. We arrived at our hotel about 45 minutes before the event was due to start so we just thought we would get food when we were there. Fat chance! It was packed solid. Lucky we spotted Jeanette and her friend and we managed to claim a large table to the site of the bar. Others started to arrive and it became obvious that we were in for a nice evening. We did eventually get some food but decided not to touch the alcohol that night due to the lateness of when we ate.
I think around 20-25 people came and even some internationals which was real nice to have.

Day 3: November 4th -Manchester

I woke not feeling 100%. I put it down to eating too late the night before, being tired and the stress of not yet having our meet and greet schedule and being unable to contact anyone about it. I finally heard from Ewo with times so I could go ahead and tell everyone.
We headed to the venue around 4, it was freezing cold and we were all pretty much huddled together trying to keep warm. Lucky for me I got a sms from Ewo inviting me inside for a coffee and chat. I did feel bad leaving the guys in the cold but since I had stuff to sort out I jumped at the chance to get warm. I had Tuomas and Floor both say hi as I went in. Tuomas was shocked that I had my hair cut short and of course this was my first time meeting Floor. In the brief 30 seconds first impressions were good.
I had my coffee and sorted out a few things, then  I stole a 2nd cup to take upstairs to Alex along with his pass for the tour.
I then got the call to bring the meet and greeters to the meeting point, then annoyingly security decided they were going to be right arses and not let the guys in. There was even an outside courtyard and still no. Tuomas said he didn't care and walked past security into the street to meet them and soon the rest followed. The guys managed to get things signed and photos took but then the queue noticed the band and also came down to join in. The band stayed 5 extra minutes and me and Alex went around apologising for security, of course it was out of our hands and even the managements.
So meet and greet was not perfect but not a failure, so we picked our heads up and headed off inside. We went to the dressing room to have a drink and warm up. I asked if we could stay 5 minutes to warm up, it ended up being most the night till they were due to get ready to go on stage. Floor introduced herself more, quickly followed by "there is a female here now, wait", she went out of the dressing room and into her own returning with a new pair of boots to show me and show her matching nail polish. Must admit the shoes were fantastic and I'm not one of these girls who goes crazy other clothes and shoes.
She brought in a Finnish book as well and had Tuomas going through it with her. He started reading some vowel examples out and kept saying, we don't say it like this, this is crazy, saying the sentences outloud causing the others in the room to laugh with the content of the book. Then we noticed her notes looked a bit chewed, she admitted 'her dog did actually eat her homework'.
Ice broken and shattered, we headed off to find somewhere to stand for the show. It was warm inside, too warm. The amount of people + the heating was left on was too much. I kept having to leave the venue to try and cool down. I managed to catch the last two songs, Ghost Love 'Floor' and Last Ride Of The Day before heading upstairs to grab my bag and get back to the hotel to rest.
As I got to the top of the stairs near the dressing room, it felt like someone had stabbed me in the stomach. The pain went through my whole body and it was horrible. Tuomas, Marco and Troy all made sure I was okay and said to keep them informed. Being tired etc just aided the illness hit me so hard. We ended up back at the hotel around 3am and had about 3 hours sleep max before we had to get up to catch the train.

Day 4: November 5th - Start point: Manchester  End point: London

The train to London wasn't too bad even though I still was not 100%. We were not in a hotel in London, but accepted the warm invitation of Sam to stay at her place. To make it easier we just took our bags to the venue and put them in the dressing room to get when we left to save a trip to Sam's and back into the city.
We met up with the other 2 British club admins and went to Nando's for lunch. I ate as much as I could stomach, Chris being a gentleman and not leaving any waste, finished my second wrap half.  This time when we got the call for the meet and greet to start it was so much better. Security led the guys into the hall and I went to fetch the band. It went down a lot better then Manchester because they were inside and it was easier to chat and get photos etc.
I went to meet up with Pip and Sam Williams, leaving Alex with the club who wanted to be on the barrier. I didn't think it'd be a wise move for me and my stomach to risk getting squashed. We joined on the side with a good view after Pain finished their set. I must say the London show was phenomenal. At this point it was the best Nightwish show I had ever seen. The crowd went nuts on Ghost Love 'Floor', much to the surprise of the band, who actually took some steps back in disbelief.
After the show, we headed upstairs only to open the door and see Adrian Edmondson. Of course Troy plays in a band with him, but was just a shock to see him backstage laughing with Troy and Marko. I didn't talk to him really, he just made a witty remark when I tried to dodge him while carrying my case out of a crowded room.

We left the band all really happy and went to get our taxi to Sam's place. I had a great nights sleep there and started to feel healthy again. It was a relief as I had fears that I wouldn't of been able to continue the tour.

Day 5: November 6th - Start point: London  End point: Birmingham

Sam dropped us off at the train station after we fought with her sat nav and wondering where it was trying to take us.When we arrived in Birmingham, we were greeted by team member Liz who helped us find our hotel. Unfortunately the map printed off had marked the incorrect place, so we walked for ages trying to find it. In the end we got a taxi and it was in a run down area of the city and looked like a dump. When we checked in we saw the prices of the rooms and thought that we had a bargain as we paid about a third of the price. Walking out the lift towards our room proved different. The corridor stunk and looked like it was from a prison block. Our room was just big enough for the 2 single beds and the shower....well I dared not use it. It was black with mold and the whole room stunk of smoke. Frantically I got changed and was glad to get out the room and go for some food and down to the venue.
Of course we ended up in the most important place, a bar, with Roz and Sean from the UK fan club. Roz gets the nickname "Stella" online, and because of this we just had to get a picture:

The Birmingham security were good, we managed to get all the meet and greeters inside next to the dressing room and all the guys (except Troy), came out to sign and take pictures with everyone. Roz made each member their own cake, something the band adored (more on this later)

When the meet and greeters were took inside the venue, I went into the dressing room to see Jukka eating the cake with a bottle top as if a spoon. He said he loved it and would eat the rest later.
Floor then caught us and asked if we were prepared to do the interview with her now. Well we were kind of prepared but not fully so I had to borrow Floor's camera to record the interview as I had not brought mine thinking we would not have time to do it tonight. The whole thing went great and she was so lovely, we would have to bring the laptop the next night to get the footage off her camera.
Floor the joined us in going out to watch some of Pain. When she left to get ready,  we went to join the fanclub near the stage. We were not in the best place for sound but we got a good view and I got some okay pictures. Samples:

 After the show we went backstage for a few drinks. They had some guests and the tiny dressing room once again ended up packed solid. I had a drink poured by Ewo which was practically 3/4 vodka and 1/4 orange :) That one drink got my drunk, and I'm not embarrassed to say. I had some laughs with Emppu who claimed a gift from the UK club (a JD box) and said 'if it fits in my case it's mine' then proceeded to grin when his case closed without issue. Tero of course was a hoot, making rude gestures behind me, but it was just all fun.
After we left we met up again with Roz and Sean and decided that a late night snack was in order. We wondered around about 20 minutes before finding a kebab shop and thought it would do. After some good laughs and actually some okay food which sobered me up, we called it a night.

Day 6: November 7th - Start point: Birmingham  End point: Glasgow

We left early morning, thank god! Was great to get out of that hotel. We arrived at the train station and promptly boarded our train North. Settling down to try and sleep as much of the journey as possible nearly worked. I got a few hours sleep waking with about an hour to go. In  Glasgow we went back to Alex's flat and just relaxed. We had a couple of hours to get things ready to take to the show for signing, including the large canvas prints. Typically it had started to rain when we left and I was worried that the canvas prints would get wet.

When we arrived at the venue, the band were doing soundcheck so we used that opportunity to dump our stuff inside and then go back out to talk to people in the queue. We stood with them around 30 minutes but whilst outside in the rain, a puddle had gathered on the road behind me, meaning when a bus went passed I got soaked. My hair was dripping and it went down my boots wetting my socks. I decided enough was enough and went inside. Floor had sympathy for my new wet look and I dried myself off the best I could. The product in my hair went horrible when wet so I decided to wash it. The band mentioned once more about Roz's cakes and wanted to thank her again. So we decided to give her a call. I put her on speaker phone and the band spoke to her giving her thanks once more.
I sat and watched Floor and the guys playing poker dice, a fun looking game which small amounts of money is gambled and the tune of Raiders Of The Lost Ark was sung by them all when a specific combination was rolled. The first time I had witnessed this was in London, where I was sat next to Tuomas recovering from being ill the night before and all a sudden they burst into song, slapping their legs in time. I nearly jumped out my seat!
I happened to mention that I was planning to go in the photographer pit to take some pictures as I was not aware till the night before that the pass I had granted that ability. Floor then said I can use her camera as the quality is so much better than my crappy little compact digital. Paranoid about using a dslr for the first time, and it not being mine. I agreed but I never let go of it throughout the songs we could photograph. In the end, I still managed to lose the lens cap. I have no idea how I did it as I remember putting it back on the camera after the final song. I guess I did not clip it in place properly and it must of dropped back off as I walked back to the dressing room to put her camera back. I felt so bad about this, sure accidents happen but when someone who barely knows you trusts you, you just feel like you let them down. Floor was lovely about it though, and I planned to buy a replacement the next day.
The meet and greet for here ended up being the end of the show due to scheduling. Ewo was due to lead us all down but he had to leave and said the security girl would help. So when I approached security they would not let them down. They said they needed passes. She would not even let me down to grab someone with an escorting pass, so all we could do is stand and get in the way of the load out while we waiting for Ewo to return.
In the end it all worked out and the guys were ushered down the tiny stairs into the tiny, hot dressing room. I grabbed the band one by one as we had a meet and greeter in a wheel chair waiting outside. Annoyingly enough, the location didn't have good wheelchair access and this was all we could arrange. At least she got to meet them. However earlier in the day I 'paid' Tuomas my outstanding bet loss of some very nice whisky and by the end of the night he was swaying. I took him down the stairs to meet this girl outside and typically he nearly fell, causing me to catch him and pulling my arm. Rather that than him fall completely over, however funny it may have been.
End of the tour done we headed back to Alex's place and waited about an hour for a taxi in the cold wet night. When we got in, we both pretty much crashed out as we were both so tired.

Day 7: November 8th - Glasgow - Day off

I woke early as I had to go into town and get Floor a new lens cap and get it to her before they left. I knocked on Alex's door to no response, so I decided I would venture out into Glasgow on my own. I got a taxi to the camera store who's shop keepers were helpful and I managed to get a new cover. Next I had to find the hotel. It looked far on the map so I got a taxi after about 10 minutes of searching for one. Time was pressing on when we arrived at the Hilton. I asked the taxi driver to wait as I only planned to leave the cap at reception for her to collect on check-out. This is when I found out there are more than one Hilton hotels in Glasgow. Frantically I made a phone call and found out which Hilton she meant. I got back in the taxi and we left to the next location. This time I had a queue at reception to wait in and with a taxi on the meter outside, I was anxious to get going. Lucky this time it was the correct hotel. Lens cap left and taxi back to Alex's, it was time to sit and do nothing. Pizza and movies and sleep were on the cards, with a little bit of laundry to do before we needed to pack before our flight in the morning.

Day 8/9: November 9th/10th - Start place: Glasgow - End Place: Helsinki

We left around 06:30 to the airport to catch our flight to Amsterdam and then onto Helsinki. We were in good spirits and got plenty rest the day before and our plane was on time so things were looking positive. We landed in Helsinki at 17:20 local time and that's when things went pear shaped. Alex (who last trip to Finland lost his wallet- and yes he will kill me for mentioning this) was now faced with no luggage. KLM apologised and said they would get it to him on the night or the next morning at the latest.  Not the end of the world we thought.
We arrived at our hotel and then met with our friends for dinner at a restaurant called The Seahorse. It was really nice food and we ended the night at a bar till around 2am. We didn't have to be up early the next day so we just enjoyed ourselves and laughed how a round of drinks cost 25e each (4 drinks). So after we spent 100e in total between us, we called it a night and walked to the hotel passing the beautiful cathedral and I had to get a picture.
The next day we missed breakfast but stayed in the hotel for lunch. It was the same restaurant Tuomas took me when I met him last year and I ate the same thing as it was gorgeous, Salmon Soup. 2 huge filets of Salmon with potatoes and loads of buttery creamy soup. I believe the restaurant is Michellin accredited so perhaps that's why it's so good.
When it was time to head to the arena, we got a few of us to share a taxi. Once there of course we made our way to the bar and again  we were shocked with the prices. A vodka and orange came to just over 9euro! And the Nightwish wine was 7euro a glass of 48 euro a bottle. So a few drinks later and it was show time!
I loved seeing Nightwish in the UK with the small venues and intimate feeling, but this night with the screen and the pyro was just amazing. Floor was on form again and all the guys looked so happy and content. Floor's specially made outfit looked really nice and very fitting for the evening.
Arabesque featured some kind of fire dancers, I presume were booked when the night was originally going to be the full album but of course singer change caused this idea to be cancelled. Although they were okay, I would of preffered another song by Nightwish in the set than these. Pekka being onstage with his violin was really fun. It added something to the songs and stage and was something unexpected.
This night was my 10th time seeing Nightwish live and I think it was the best, closely followed by London.

Then we had to leave so they could put down the seats. Of course we went to the bar and had a shot of Salmiakkikoitso. Love this stuff. We had good seats for the movie although the temperature dropped pretty fast. My neck was aching a bit from looking up at the screen but it was enjoyable. It's something I will have to watch again as I kept finding myself concentrating on the music more than the movie itself at times. All in all, it was a great night.
In typical Ewo fashion he had forgot the wristband needed to get into the after show. Lucky Sam helped out by grabbing Tuomas who was able to help. The Backstage Bar was packed of familiar faces. It was great saying hi to people I had not seen in ages, or ones I spoke to online but never met in person. Marianne spoke with us for quite some time and was a real angel. Everyone was so accommodation and nice to each other. I didn't want to stay too long as had some stuff to do in the morning. I went to say goodbye to people and then left with Tuomas and Johanna who were also leaving.
I set some of my videos to upload over night and went straight to sleep. It's amazing how much energy I was using up by all this travelling.

Day 10: November 11th - Start place: Helsinki - End Place: Kitee

I caught my train to Kitee at 4pm. Whilst on the train I heard them say the stops and I nearly panicked as I thought I was on the wrong one. Little did I know that the train splits in two later down the route and half goes to Joensuu and the other half somewhere else. Panic over I sat to start this blog, but after an hour I could feel my eyes getting tired so I set an alarm and tried to sleep.
Plamen met me at the station and brought me to this apartment I would be spending the couple of nights. It's really nice and even has a personal sauna (not used yet).
I decided to have an early night as I had cold symptoms and wanted to be healthy for the net day of meeting with Tuomas, Kiti, Penna and Katharina.
But I'll write a whole blog on this event on it's own :) Photo teasers below.

Thank you for reading this monster...more to come!

Carol 'Joulu' Walker