Today is Ashley’s 25th birthday! Happy birthday, daughter! I hated that she had to travel back to the States, but due to her commitments to her studies for Med School, there wasn’t much choice in the matter. We had all celebrated together the previous week in Rome, so at least it wasn’t too bad. I had told her that I remembered my 25th birthday as being a landmark for me. More so than birthdays 20 or 21 were. I related it as being a quarter century old. Anyway, she had a good time with all of us and had arrived safely (if a bit worn out) back in Boston. Of course we thought about her all day….
Rose Lane and I settled up our bill for the week (ouch!) and met up with the rest of the gang for the travel to Budva. We love going to new places, and all of us were talking about it. I don’t think that any of our Entourage had ever been there. It was a fairly easy flight, and when we got close we were all looking out the windows of the plane to the grounds below. It looked quite interesting and beautiful…with the sea shore providing a dramatic meeting with the Black Mountains (the translation of Montenegro means Black Mountains). This Country has only declared it’s independence in recent times…less than a year ago. It was part of the former Yugoslavia, and after that had become Serbia-Montenegro for a while until breaking off on it’s own. A bit of research turned up the following (for more on Budva, go to:
The Republic of Montenegro is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south, and borders Croatia on the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina on the northwest, Serbia on the northeast and Albania on the southeast. Its de facto capitol and largest city is Podgorica, while Cetinie is designated as Prijestonica, the old royal capital or seat of the throne.
De facto independent since the late Middle Ages, and an internationally recognized country from 1878 until 1918, Montenegro was later a part of various incarnations of Yugoslavia, and the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. Based on the results of the referendum held on May 21, 2006, Montenegro declared independence on June 3, 2006. On June 28, 2006, it became the 192nd member state of the United Nations, and on May 11, 2007, the 47th member state of the Council of Europe.
In 1918, Montenegro became part of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, later renamed Yugoslavia. In 1946, Yugoslavia was organized as a federal state consisting of six republics, one of which was Montenegro. Between June 1991 and March 1992, four of the republics-Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia-declared their independence. In April 1992, Montenegro joined Serbia in forming a new, smaller Yugoslavia. In 2003, Yugoslavia adopted a new constitution and changed its name to Serbia and Montenegro.
Montenegro covers 5,333 square miles (13,812 square kilometers) and has about 650,000 people. Montenegro’s name in Serbo-Croatian, the republic’s language, is Crna Gora, which means black mountain. The capital and largest city is PODGORICA (formerly Titograd).
A president heads Montenegro’s government. A 125-member assembly, led by a prime minister, makes the republic’s laws. The prime minister is usually the leader of the party that controls the assembly. The voters elect the president and the assembly members to 4-year terms. The Montenegrin Democratic Party of Socialists (formerly the Montenegrin League of Communists) is the republic’s chief political party.
About 68 percent of the people of Montenegro are Montenegrins, a people closely related to the Serbs. Like the Serbs, the Montenegrins speak Serbian, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet, and, traditionally, have belonged to the Serbian Orthodox Church. Minority groups in Montenegro include Albanians, Muslim Slavs, and Serbs.
Children in Montenegro are required to attend school from the ages of 7 to 15. Montenegro has a university in Podgorica.
Montenegro’s urban population began to grow in the 1950’s, as people moved to the cities to seek jobs. Between 1953 and 1981, the percentage of city dwellers rose from 14 to about 50 percent.
Mountains cover most of Montenegro, and thick forests grow over much of the republic. A narrow strip of land lies along the Adriatic Sea.
Most of Montenegro has cold, snowy winters. Summers are warm in the valleys but cool in the mountains. The coast has a mild climate.
Economy. When Montenegro was part of the larger Yugoslavia, it had one of the weakest economies of the six republics. For many years, a poor network of roads and railroads held back economic development. But the opening in 1976 of a railroad line between Bar, Montenegro’s major seaport, and Belgrade, Yugoslavia’s capital, improved the transportation system and helped the economy somewhat.
Montenegro has large deposits of bauxite, coal, and lead. Factories manufacture aluminum, cement, iron and steel, and paper. The most important crops are corn, olives, potatoes, tobacco, and wheat. Farmers also grow cherries, figs, grapes, peaches, pears, and plums, and raise cattle, hogs, and sheep.
Tourism is a major source of income for Montenegro. Many vacationers come to Montenegro’s coast to enjoy the warm climate and scenic beaches. People who fish, hike, hunt, and ski also visit the mountains.
Montenegro has airports in Berane, Podgorica, and Tivat. The leading daily newspaper is Pobjeda.
Present-day Montenegro became part of the Roman Empire in about 11 B.C. Slavs settled in the region in the 600’s. It became part of Serbia in the late 1100’s. The Ottoman Empire, based in modern-day Turkey, defeated the Serbs in the Battle of Kosovo Polje in 1389. Local nobles ruled Montenegro on behalf of the Ottomans until 1516, when Serbian Orthodox bishops of the monastery at Cetinje began to rule part of it. By the late 1700’s, their rule extended to all of Montenegro. In 1852, Montenegro’s ruler took the title of prince, and the position of bishop became a separate office.
In 1878, the Congress of Berlin, a meeting of European leaders, formally recognized Montenegro as independent. The congress granted new lands to Montenegro, about doubling its size (see BERLIN, CONGRESS OF). Prince Nicholas took the throne in 1860 and declared himself king in 1910.
In the early 1900’s, a movement to unite Serbs and other Slavic peoples gathered strength in the region. In 1918, townspeople deposed the king, and Montenegro became part of the new Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. But rural villagers organized militias to resist incorporation into the kingdom. Their resistance continued until the mid-1920’s.
During World War II (1939-1945), Italian and then German troops occupied parts of Montenegro. A resistance movement led by a group of Communists called Partisans fought the Italian and German troops. By 1945, the Communists had gained control of all of Yugoslavia. In 1946, Montenegro became one of the six republics of Yugoslavia.
In 1990, Montenegro held its first multiparty elections. Between June 1991 and March 1992, four Yugoslav republics-Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina-declared their independence. In April 1992, Serbia and Montenegro formed a new Yugoslavia.
In 2000, many people in Montenegro began pressing for independence from Serbia, which held most of the power in Yugoslavia. In response, the leaders of the two republics announced plans in 2002 to create a new constitution and to rename the country Serbia and Montenegro. In 2003, the plans were approved, and Yugoslavia adopted the new name.
We landed and bussed into the city, enjoying the sights of the Adriatic Sea and the mountains on the way. We also passed by our stage, which was being set up on Jaz Beach. We were staying at the Splendid hotel, which was right on the beach. Our room overlooked the big pool that the hotel offered, as well as offering an incredible view of the huge cove of the Sea where we were situated. By the time we got there and settled in it was early evening…and while we could have gone out for dinner, we opted to stay in and eat in the hotel. But before we got that far we went to have a cocktail out on the terrace that overlooked the whole scene. One thing that struck us right away was how reasonably priced the drinks and food were here…a very pleasant change from the norm. We sipped our drinks and soaked up the breathtaking views that surrounded us….all of which helped us unwind from the previous week of activity with family and friends. We enjoyed our “decompression” and finally made our way to the restaurant. At first we tried the restaurant at the top of the hotel, which was supposedly the best one in the place…but quickly decided it wasn’t for us. There was a piano player (…not a very good one…) playing quite loudly in the place, and while we had called to make a reservation for a window table, we were told we couldn’t have one. So we passed on that and went to another restaurant in a lower floor that was a huge buffet. While it wasn’t what I would call fantastic, it fit the bill better than the other one and we enjoyed having lots of choices.
After that we went to our room and chilled further. One nice thing was that we found there was more English speaking TV here than we’ve had in any other city in Europe so far! I don’t know why, but we certainly enjoyed it. There was even an episode of CSI (which had become a favorite of ours back in the States) on…oh yeah! After some channel surfing we turned in.
We woke up to a beautiful and sunny day, and made coffee, sipping it out on our balcony. After a time we decided to go down to the pool to catch some rays. We staked out a couple of lounge chairs and sat there soaking up the sun and the surroundings. Eventually we went to the outside restaurant which was situated right next to the beach. Again we were amazed at how reasonable the prices were…a club sandwich was only 5 Euros…we were used to seeing the same fare for 20, and this was a very pleasant change! After lunch we walked along the boardwalk, just taking in the scene. It was like being on vacation for a minute…really nice…and maybe one day we can come back for a real vacation!
After a few hours of this it was time to get ready to go to the gig. There had been some concern about the ticket sales…at first it looked like it might be a very slow night. But eventually we wound up with 35,000 people there…wow~! The set list was mostly familiar songs as per Mick’s request…and it worked great. Good fun to play in a new and different place and to have it all go so well. We did have one guest…our friend Gary Giller and his fiance, Lauren Fine, were there. They were taking a two week vacation together ….sort of a pre-wedding getaway…and had been close by the general area, and decided to come to Budva for the show. It was great to see them, and they seemed to enjoy the experience. I was able to get them back for a little impromptu rehearsal which made it even more special for them.
After the show we had to pack up….tomorrow we head out to Barcelona. Too bad, as we would love to stay here one more day to explore more of the area…but hey, that’s Rock ‘n Roll for ya!
7/10, 11, 12
Before our departure to Barcelona I had time to go for a nice run along the long boardwalk that parallels the beach. It was a little hot, but I didn’t really mind. I also managed just a bit more pool time before having lunch with Rosie and then meeting everyone to fly to Spain. This would be our second trip to Barcelona on this tour. This time we will be playing a unique situation…a private party for Deutchebank in a place called the Museo Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. We don’t do many of these private things, but I was very happy to go back to Barcelona…love the place, and of course Amy, Steve and Miles would be waiting on us there. Again we stayed at the Hotel Arts, right on the beach.
We arrived around 7pm and our hotel advance person, Karen had arranged for the Bransfords to have a room right next to ours, which was convenient for all of us. They were in their room as we entered ours, and so we all hung out together straight away. They had enjoyed their previous two days in the city….seeing some sights and such. After a time I made arrangements for us to go to dinner at the Cangrejo Loco, where I had dined the last time we were here with my friends John Malloy and Mike Massey. I had enjoyed that, and as it was close to the hotel it was an easy place to get to. After some drinks in the bar we walked over to the Marina where the restaurant is and had a nice meal together. Miles was a bit active and Steve had to walk him around a couple of times, but we all had fun together and the food and wine was as good as it was before.
We retired to our quarters after the meal, and all went down for some rest.
The next day was off for us, so we had it all to ourselves. Amy and Steve wanted to go out and explore some more, so Rose Lane and I kept Miles while they did. I went for a run along the beach as I’d done several times before here. The kids got back after a while and kept Miles for his nap, and I went down to the pool to get my dose of sun. Keith, Ronnie and some of the Wood family were hanging out at the pool bar, and I spoke to them for a while. This gig was in part arranged by Jaimie Wood, one of Ronnie’s sons. Not only was Jaimie there, but also Tyrone and Jessie, their other two boys. They all work for Ronnie in one capacity or another…Jaimie taking on the management position.
The rest of the day went by quickly….and it was dinner time before we knew it. We had received a couple of recommendations for a place called Botafumeiro, which is known for it’s excellent seafood. We got a baby sitter for Miles so we could have an adult night and headed over there about 9. It proved to be a great place…and we all grooved on the meal, the service, the atmosphere and the company. On the way there and back we passed by the famous Sagrada Familia, the incredible Gaudi church that is still under construction after 100 years. Rose Lane and I have been there twice before…and while we didn’t go to it this time, just driving by and seeing it from the outside gave us a great appreciation of this amazing structure.
The 12th was show day for us. Mick had told me that the band was contracted to do just 75 minutes, so I started working on a set list for that length. I knew he’d want to do mostly known songs, so it was an easy one to draw up. There would be no “B” stage, and there would be only about 750 people attending. Quite an unusual gig, but it would be nice to have a change. Before leaving for the show I got in my dose of outdoors….doing a walk-run along the beach again. Rose Lane wanted to pass on the show, and Amy and Steve wanted to come to the sound check with Miles, but would also pass on the performance. The three of them rode with me down to the venue, which was a beautiful old historic building. Tents had been set up for a “backstage” area….so we went first to my dressing room and then to the Rattlesnake to have a bite to eat. The food was especially good this evening…but as I’m trying desperately to keep my promise to myself to drop a few pounds, I only indulged in some fish and vegetables. We played with Miles a bit, letting him explore some but having to keep a close eye on him so he wouldn’t hurt himself or get in the way. Soon we all went to the stage to do the sound check. This is the first sound check of the tour….even though I’ve pushed to get some in before now, it just hasn’t happened. But we didn’t use it to go over any different songs…only to adjust to the small room for the sound. I figured that it would be loud for the room, and it was. For the life of me I can’t understand why this band has such a dependence on volume…but there is no fighting it. I guess it could have been worse, and while in my opinion we were over-amping the place, it perhaps wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.
We only went through maybe 3 tunes, then sent back to the tents. Amy, Steve and Miles stayed a little longer, but we soon arranged for a van to take them back. Showtime came, and we went to see if we could rock all these bankers….and rock them we did. I halfway expected a somewhat “stayed” audience, but was pleasantly surprised that they were all very enthusiastic throughout the gig, dancing, singing along and really enjoying themselves. It was fun to be in a different setting, and we all enjoyed ourselves as much as the audience enjoyed the experience.
We didn’t start until close to 11pm, so we didn’t get back to the hotel until quite late. Rose Lane was asleep and I had to wake her up to get in the room as I didn’t have a key. The Bransfords had all gone to bed, so I was up on my own for a while. I had to pack up my bags, then sat and watched the tube a bit with a glass of wine before slipping into the bed where Rosie was already in dreamland.
The kids had a very reasonable flight time for their journey back home…1pm. That meant they didn’t have to leave the hotel until about 10:30. But we were still asleep when they rang the doorbell at 10. We wanted to see them one more time before we all left. So we had a short but fun morning together. Soon we gave them goodbye hugs…knowing that it would be a good two months at least before we’d see them again. They headed out and Rose Lane and I made the bags ready for pickup for our trip to Belgrade.
We had some time to kill after that, so we went to lunch at a place on the Marina. We had some light fare and went get our carry on items and meet the group to head to the airport.
The flight was a little over two hours, and we arrived about 7pm. Our friends Lynn Lavery and Carol Davidsen were coming to be with us for a few days, and we saw them as we got off the elevator on the 7th floor of the Hyatt Regency where we were staying. There was a club lounge for us on the floor, which would make it convenient for everyone. We stashed our bags in the room and went to see Lynn and Carol in the lounge…hanging out there for an hour or so before going downstairs for dinner. They had made friends with one of the fellows that was working in the lounge…a nice young man named Markos. Markos spoke excellent English which he had learned going to University in Missouri. We talked for a while with a couple of cocktails before going to dinner. Tim Ries joined us at our table and we had a nice time together talking and dining. Poor Tim had thrown his back out a few days before…and Rose Lane and I had been helping him carry his horns and hand luggage to and from busses, airports and hotels. He was getting a little better, but still obviously suffering.
Afterwards we went to our room and listened to some music and talked some more, making good use of some wine that I’d brought with us….finally separating a little after midnight, all going off to bed.