TUESDAY, JULY 8:
Today I leave for Riga, Latvia and will meet up with Asleep at the Wheel for the 10th annual Country Music Festival in Bauska. I was originally supposed to leave Nashville at 12:35 via Newark, but that flight is ALWAYS late, so I changed to the 7:25 AM flight. When I checked in, I found out that the Air Baltic, does not have a luggage agreement with Continental. Great!!! This means I will have to pick up my bag in Copenhagen, take it back up stair and check in; in less than an hour. I am already planning on many more hours in Copenhagen. Leaving Nashville early, gave me plenty of time to check into the President’s Lounge and check email. Left on time, great flight – watched 2 movies and a sitcom. Slept for maybe 1 ½ hours.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 9:
Landed exactly on time, was really hoping to land early. The airport is under major construction which really sucks. It took 30 minutes to get down the hallway to the baggage area. There were so many people crowding in there, I can’t believe it is set up this way. Good thing it’s temporary. Found my bag, went up stairs to check in and my flight was “leaving”. When I finally made it to the Air Baltic counter, the lady told me I had to go to another counter and get a new ticket for the later flight. I had the hardest time pulling my bags across the airport and 25,000 other people standing in line to check in and they were not willing to move. Got to that counter and this lady tells me I have to go back to Term. 1 in order to get my new ticket. Then she realizes my ticket was on Continental stock and takes me to the Continental counter, just 2 windows away. J The wonderful lady rebooks me and even walks back over to the Air Baltic counter so that I don’t have to wait in line again. Got checked in and had about 6 hours to “hang”.
Went upstairs and tried to get on-line. They have wireless available, but you have to use a credit card and they don’t accept Amex. L I spent the next several hours waiting…….finally came time for my flight. Arrived in Latvia and Laura was waiting for me. She took into town, had dinner and walked around for about an hour then we headed back to the airport to pick up AATW. They were supposed to arrive at 9:30 PM and finally came at 10:45 PM. Everyone made and so did their luggage. They are doing several shows in Europe, another for us in Switzerland and Germany, plus some others. Got to the hotel about 12:30 AM, checked in, checked emails and got in bed about 2:30 AM. My room here is really cool, each room is designed after a bird, I am in the Stork room. There is a mural on the wall of 3 huge storks and the bathroom is HUGE, decorated in black and white checkered tile with a shower and a huge garden tub. We have a day off tomorrow and are going back to Riga for sightseeing.
THURSDAY, JULY 10:
Had breakfast, then Laura, Jim Finney and myself went to the PO to pick the merchandise that they shipped over. Had to pay duty on it…exactly why we tell people NOT to ship anything, if you want to sell merch, bring it with you in your luggage. Cost them about $95.
Only a few of us opted for sightseeing, most of the others decided to sleep. Went to Riga, about an hours drive, walked around the city again, did some shopping and had dinner at a traditional Latvian restaurant. It is a huge restaurant, but outside is a huge playland for kids. It has different amusement rides, those trampoline bungy things, putt-putt, Power Wheels trucks and tons of other things. Riga is celebrating 700 years and there all kinds of city concerts downtown. This is really a beautiful place, hard to believe that just 20 years ago they still had ration cards in order to get milk and other dairy products. Laura said she can remember when the shelves in the grocery stores were bare. They have came along way in a short 20 years.
Back to the hotel, newspaper interview for Ray and emails for me. It’s after 11 PM and it’s still quiet light out. Going to bed shortly, show day tomorrow.
FRIDAY, JULY 11:
Slept in today because it’s going to be a loooong day. Several of us went over to see the local castle, the most beautiful in Latvia – the Rundal Palace. This was the home of Duke Biron of Kurzeme, built under Russian direction in the mid 1700’s. Headed back to the hotel, picked up the others and the gear, went to the venue. Just in front of the venue is another castle, the Dobele Castle Ruins, it is in the process of being restored. It was originally built in the 12th Century and was one of the main Semigallian settlements. In the 14th Century the Livonian Order replaced the wooden castle with stone. AATW finished their sound check in about an hour, this gave us a little extra time to take a tour of the castle. We walked up to the top of the castle which overlooks the venue. The venue is located between 2 rivers and just out front from the castle, very beautiful.
Had dinner with everyone in the hotel restaurant. They are all such a great good. Elizabeth is pregnant with her first child, she is due in January, just days after Lindsey.
Went over for the show, as the other band was performing, I walked around the venue site. There are all kinds of vendor booths with “country” attire and different foods. There was a huge play area for kids with those inflatables and HUGE bonfire. Everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. The guys had a great show and the audience went wild. There was a steps that went up behind the stage where you could look out at the crowd, it was so wild to see the audience down in front of the stage waving their hands and singing. AATW did an encore and they wanted more. Uldis, the promoter, brought me up on stage afterwards to thank me and gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Wish I could have brought them home. L The guys went and signed autographs and headed back to the hotel.
SATURDAY, JULY 12:
It’s Saturday morning and I am still up……some of the guys went over to the “JAM Session” to party, but I am leaving in a couple of hours so I had to get showered and packed. As I was heading downstairs to catch my taxi, the guys are just coming back from partying. It’s 3:30 AM!!
Got to the airport, checked in and this time they checked my bags all the way to Nashville. J Yeah!!! Did a little shopping at the airport in Riga and I SLEPT on the flight to Stockholm. I don’t even remember taking off! LOL Short layover in Stockholm and off to Newark. Slept again about ½ way to Newark and then watched a movie. Landed early and I was able to catch an earlier flight home to Nashville. I love it when it works out like that.
Andrew met me at the airport with my parents. He had been visiting with them all week while I was gone.
I really enjoyed this trip, getting to see AATW again; hadn’t seen them since Japan in 1998. Laura, Uldis and Martin were all wonderful and the event was very organized. They made us all feel very welcomed and took great care of all of us.