A day off on tour is almost unheard of in my experience. The organisers have decided that we all need a day off before the performance of Parsifal. This is a real luxury for the RLPO. There is plenty to do in this town. Santiago is a short journey away, also. For myself, I have decided to have a relatively easy day. I went to bed very late but made a fairly early breakfast. I spent the morning doing business chores and other paperwork to be ready on my return; did a little practice, but not too much. I went for a run around the hotel area and then back to bed this afternoon, unusually. Of course, this resting in the afternoon is nothing unusual over here, in Spain. Most of the shops seem to close in the afternoon and reopen again from about 7 – 10pm. The same goes for the museums and art galleries. I had made plans to visit an art gallery and Picasso’s house today but they are all closed on Mondays. It has been a rainy day, so I didn’t fancy Santiago or a coastal walk around La Coruna so I have just lazed to be honest.
This evening, I thought I would take in some night life and get some cracking photos for the blog, but my camera batteries died. One thing did go right for me though. Galician Pulpo, or Octopuss, is famous throughout the world. I was determined to find a little backstreet place, full of locals tucking into this delicacy. I set off in the evening to find such a place. I was meandering through the winding streets towards the ‘Old Town’ when I bumped into those ‘bon viveurs’ that make up the french horn section. They were having a drink prior to going for a Michelin two star meal somewhere. I was asked if I’d like to go , but explained that I had my plan and they recommended the direction for me to go, so I traipsed off where I was directed.
I found what looked like the place, just close to the brand new Opera House, as I entered the Old Town. It was called, ‘Octopus Restaurant’. It appeared to be full of ‘wizened’ old Spanish people. There was hardly anything else on the menu so I went in. The manager spoke good English. He seemed amused that I was going to eat his octopus , then go back to write about it. The restaurant entrance was lined with several cooked octopi, steaming away. I asked if people came for takeaway octopus, but he said no. They put them there to attract attention and for people to take photographs.
I settled for a starter of local octopus stew. It contained largely octopus, fish stock, onions, garlic salt, white beans, potato and a small assortment of other seafood. Very nice! I chose a main course of ‘Pulpo Comerea’. This consisted of steamed octopus, potatoes, paprika and salt; presented on a wooden chopping board. I have to say, it was the most tender octopus I have ever tasted and has to go down as one the gastronomic highlights of the tour.
I have been waiting years to get something off my chest! For a long time now, when on tour I have been photographing signs which say Trumpet Street on them. I look at the street map and if there is a Trunpet Street handy, I go and photograph it. Peculiar, I know, but there it is! The least said, the better, about the whereabouts of the one in Amsterdam. Almost adjacent to ‘Octopus Restaurant’ was Trumpet Street in the Old Town, La Coruna. I had just taken a picture when my camera batteries died on me. I was just about to take a photo of ‘Plaza de Humor’, a square next to Trumpet Street containing grotesque statues of people with oversized noses and strange cats etc when the camera closed down.
I traipsed back to the hotel and decided it was too late to head into town again so I thought I’d try one or two of the local bars. I’d just sat outside the nearest bar when my boss and his wife, Rhys and ‘cellist Ruth, came and joined me. We were soon joined by the lower brass [trombones and tuba] who had been travelling around town. I had to make and take a couple of phonecalls so I excused myself and went for a stroll meanwhile.
I bumped into the RLPO leader, Jim Clark and some of the first violins enjoying a glass of wine and some dinner outside another nearby bar, so I joined them for a drink, but they were just going. Inside the same restaurant was a second violin party. It had been mainly intended for Gerry Adamson’s retirement tribute. As stated elsewhere, Gerry is retiring after Parsifal. Sadly Gerry has been confined to his room for the last few days due to a mystery illness. What a shame during his last week! However, it was also violinist Sheila Gascoyne’s birthday so the seconds still had something to celebrate, and of course, Kate Marsden’s forthcoming nuptials. I wandered back to the first bar to rejoin Rhys and Ruth. Trumpeter Paul Marsden, his wife Jenny and the percussion section had also arrived. After a short time I headed off to bed. Parsifal the next day, and I need to concentrate hard for five hours in one go. It’s no good feeling drowsy in the hot conditions. More tomorrow…