Aix-Les-Bains – A Travellers View – Day One – One For “The Bucket List”.

That would imply that it had been “on” a bucket list. But not really. Never had even heard of the place until it was announced that Simple Minds was going to be on the bill at the Musilac Festival being held there. Also on the bill, though…Depeche Mode and The Stranglers. That was one SERIOUS triple bill!

I looked into the logistics tentatively. There is an airport nearby in Chambery, but that is really only open during the ski season. So, then it was looking at the major airports nearest by and working out from there what would, logistically, be easiest and cheapest to go with. There were two choices of airport: Lyon or Geneva.

Flghts seemed cheap enough. And I could use Booking.com to book a place to stay, and not worry about outlaying money until the time of the festival. But, did I *really* want to travel that far for one day at a festival? It was a long way to see SM. But at that point in time, I’d have happily taken a one way trip to Mars to see them.

But it was probably something I really couldn’t afford, so I initially decided against it.

But it played on my mind. It would be the trip of a lifetime! And…to see such amazing acts. And the scenery would be wonderful too.

I went for it. At that point, I had knocked going to Paris with Gillian on the head because…as anazing as her offer was…how could I have someone pay my way for Paris?

The only things I had to make sure I secured for Aix was A) The ticket for the festival. B) Deciding which airport to go and buy the return fare before it got too expensive. C) Use Booking.com to secure a place to stay, whilst deferring payment until the time of the stay.

Once those things were taken care of, I could take my time to prepare the rest in the ensuing months.

When the day came for travel…it was with a heavy heart that I had reluctantly decided I must go. On the days leading up to it, I had a falling out with Jim. I won’t play the innocent party here. I am NOT that kind of person. I will not shift blame. I know I said hurtful things, but I was hurting. A lame excuse…but it is the truth. My emotions were running high, and I suffered the consequences for sealing my fate.

So, from this point on, I pray for one of two things to happen. Jim forgives me and I am allowed to return to Simple Minds Official…or I find a way to enjoy it now for what is left of it.

My interactivity with Jim was a HUGE part of what made being a Simple Minds fan so wonderful. To be able to talk to him, tell him about the things I love about the music. Sharing what the songs meant. The excitement of “gig day”. Expressing the joy of travelling, meeting up with friends and know that I was going to have the most amazing time. To express that to the man who is at the head of it all was priceless.

Should I even go at all? I had committed so much, financially. The flights were paid for. The coaches from Geneva Airport to Chambery to Aix (and back again) were paid for. The hotel was now paid for (the day before the falling out!). The festival ticket was obviously paid for. So, had I decided NOT to go, I’d have squandered at least £300. Money I really could NOT afford to squander.

Do not misconstrue my words. I do not expect recompemce for what I had spent out following Simple Minds and going to gigs. I did it happily and willingly.. I’m just highlighting what an outlay it can be. But the biggest investment is still the emotional one.

Day One: Travelling to Aix.

The flight Geneva was departing mid afternoon, so I had the chance to try and rest well the night before. I was ssooo apprehensive about things. Normally I’d be bubbling with excitement.  I might be a little concerned about things…but always at the end was that Glittering Prize of seeing that amazing band, and most beautiful man. I would never be scared, really. I would always be happy, knowing I was going to see them and him again.

The flight to Geneva was slightly delayed, but we still landed on time. I was through the airport in no time at all. Swiss efficiency, see?! I got through border security in minutes. Hell, did I need that time on my side! Could I find where the coach to Chambery was leaving from? Could I heck! I was out of the airport at 4.45pm. The coach was leaving at 6pm. By 5.15pm, I had still not found the coach stop. I called Ouibus to try and get directions. The woman I spoke to was of no help AT ALL. Finally I had spotted an airport attendant organising the taxi rank. I asked for his help, and he knew exactly where I needed to be. He pointed me in the right direction (there was an underpass below the airport, and that’s where the coaches left from. I could not see this underpass area from outside the airport building, as it was directly underneath it.

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5.30pm and this coach pulls in. I’ve never been so happy to see a coach! At 6pm we’re on our way to Chambery. We need to be there by 7.30pm for my connecting coach to Aix. I hope I timed it to perfection. I sit back and marvel at the scenery outside.

I hadn’t listened to any Simple Minds for a week. I certainly couldn’t bring myself to listen to Walk Between Worlds. But every time I travelled anywhere, Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call was my soundtrack. So obligatory in fact, I found myself digging for the iPod Touch, opening up Spotify and starting up Boys From Brazil. I could feel just about detached enough to listen to a young Jim. Because…that was him then. What had happened between us was today’s Jim…WBW Jim. I’m sure this makes sense to nobody but me.

And, as I said, Sons and Sister had always been the “travelogue” album(s) for me…Empires And Dance also.

I listened to Boys From Brazil, Love Song, This Earth That You Walk Upon – which took me back to February and Barras and that amazing night and how wonderful it was, Sons And Fascination, Seeing Out The Angel and the remix of Sweat In Bullet.

Now I was starting to watch the time and panic. We had only just arrived in Chambery and it was 7.20pm, we had to be dropped off at the city post office to get the connecting coach. We were still minutes away and there was traffic about.

I alighted the bus at 7.35pm and all I could do was pray that, like this coach, the coach to Aix had hit traffic and been delayed. A few miniutes ticked by and I was starting to convince myself I had missed it and my anxiety levels started to go through the roof. I had to be at the hotel in Aix by 8.30pm to avoid paying a late arrival subsidy. If I was not at the hotel by 11pm, I would be refused entry! If I missed the coach, it was another hour for the next…and I would most likely have to buy a new seat at lord knows what expense.

Even more so than earlier…I have NEVER been so happy to see a coach in all my life! The coach to Aix pulled in to the bay just three minutes after the Chambery coach left. Now I could FINALLY relax some. The journey from Chambery to Aix was a short one. Only around 20-25 minutes. I knew I’d make it to the hotel as it was just a short walk from the coach stop.

Once off the coach, it was time to take a few quick snaps of the view in front of me.

As I rounded the corner to make my way up to the hotel, that beautiful golden hued mountain shone in front of me. What a breathtaking sight! A little further down the road, I saw the poster for the festival. As it transpired, they were plastered all over town…just in case you forget there was going to be a music festival on this weekend.

I got…a little sidetracked getting to the hotel. As I approached a park near the hotel, I could hear live music. I went and took a quick look.

After finding the hotel, I shared the hotel view and how the room looked. Said hello to everyone on FB.

And one final little clip of me making my way into the town to find something to eat…and talking of “crowded swallow skies”, even though the birds are swifts…

I did find a nice place in the end. Affordable and tasty. Very filling, and the waitress spoke some English, so it was all good!

The place was called L’Aixpress Pizza on the Rue des Bains. Cheap and cheerful. Even watched the football in there.

And that was day one done and dusted. I felt happy to have made it there safely and with nothing going wrong. And I was feeling quietly hopeful for the next day.

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