How to turn an 8-hour trip on a day off into a 13-hour trip
The bus left at 10 a.m. from Torino, headed back east to Savona on the Mediterranean Sea, then traveled west along the Italian and French Rivieras, ending up two-thirds of the way across France in Toulouse. Our printed itinerary indicated a leisurely eight-hour ride. I don't think so! However, the topography is killing! Incredible vistas exist every few minutes. Mountain villages on the right, seaside villages on the left. Go through a tunnel beneath a mountain, over a bridge over a gorge with the sea on the left. After three hours we stopped for lunch near the town of Ventimiglia just before the French border at what appeared to be be a tiny truck stop. Good! We'll stop for 20 minutes and get a snack. Wrong again, oh trumpet section anchor! A tiny concrete box of a building with a bland facade was in actuality a really good Italian restaurant right off the highway. Home base! Phil said "Let's have lunch!" Five courses and 2½ hours later we were back on the bus, passing Monte Carlo, Nice, and Cannes.
As the band entered its tenth hour of travel and the consensus was reached that we still had a way to go, trombonist and BOTB aristocrat Kevin started a betting pool to guess the arrival time at the hotel. Fun, except he allowed tour director Billy in on it. Bad move! The man does this for a living! He has insider information! Of course, he won the pool. By the thirteenth hour the bus was quite loud as we reached the hotel close to 11 p.m.