THURSDAY, JANUARY 26TH 2017 – SINGAPORE TO ZURICH:
Everyone met in the lobby at 9:00 pm and we left for the airport at 9:15 pm. Check in was “relatively” easy but we did have to pay some excess charges on Finnair. But wasn’t as much as we had to pay the last time we flew them years ago though! We had a few minutes to go to the Lounge before boarding. Really nice Lounge, too.
This aircraft is configured more like I’m accustomed to flying internationally. Since it’s a 12 hour flight, I was looking forward to having a light meal while watching one movie (the new Jack Reacher movie – I’ve read every one of his books!) and getting some sleep. Then waking up about 4 hours before landing and working the rest of the flight.
Everything worked out just fine until it came time to sleep. The guy across from me started snoring so loud, I know they heard him in Coach! I put in the earplugs provided in the amenity kit and the headset for the TV monitor and nothing worked. David said there were actually several snorers but I only heard him. There needs to be some kind of “protocol” on how to handle a snorer that loud. Can I throw my pillow at him? Can I shake him every time he snores. Can I yell loudly at him? Sure hate that I forgot to bring my noise cancelling earphones and really don’t want to invest in another set since I have a pair at home.
The food was good on Finnair as was the service. We landed on time in Helsinki and got a good “shock” walking down the jetway…..90 degrees in Singapore and about 12 degrees in Helsinki! We had about an hour to spend in the Lounge and then boarded the 2 ½ hour flight to Zurich. Again, it was a nice plane and very nice flight attendants.
We landed on time and all our luggage and equipment arrived as well. That’s always a concern! Albi was waiting for us with his car and a van and trailer. It was a short ride to the hotel but because we arrived so early, only 4 rooms were available. I got those 4 guys checked in but didn’t want to switch two of their rooms with Howard and David so they could check in because Albi gave Howard and David suites (thank you, Albi). It took about 30 minutes before I got everyone checked in except me. But mine was ready a few minutes later.
I love staying at this hotel – right next to a shopping mall, great WiFi, and great gym (although it’s under “new management” and they are charging 30 CHF per visit. That’s expensive!).
I got unpacked, showered (boy did I WANT a shower!), worked for about 2 hours and then slept for 2 hours. Was starving when I woke up. Walked over to the mall and stopped by one of my two favorite restaurants to grab something “to go”. Unfortunately, they did not have gluten free pasta so I headed to my other favorite restaurant and had butter chicken (without rice).
Have been in my room working non-stop since 6 pm. Tomorrow is sound check and our first show in Zurich. Everyone loves performing at the Albisguetli Schutzenhaus – thanks to Albi and George for bringing us back again. Looking forward to seeing all or Swiss friends again!!!
FRIDAY, JANUARY 27TH – FIRST PERFORMANCE IN ZURICH:
Got up and dressed for the “gym” but had breakfast with the “guys” first. We were discussed the 30 CHF charge to use the hotel gym and just not thinking we could justify it. I decided to just go “check it out” and see if it was worthwhile. It’s on the 5th floor and there is a turnstile that you have to go through to get in. I managed to get someone from the staff to come down a long hallway to tell me how I was supposed to get through the turnstile. Evidently, everyone needs a special “bracelet” from the front desk to open the turnstile! Just too much work. I went back to my room and worked out with my “rubber bands” instead.
After showering, I walked over to the mall to look for snow boots and check out the fitness center there. Got quite a shock when the guy at that fitness center told me theirs costs 47 CHF per visit. Good grief! I’ll just buy some warmer clothes and go jogging every day!
Didn’t find any snow boots and had to meet the musicians and Tim to go to the venue for sound check. I only stayed there a few minutes to check out the dressing room, etc. We’ve played there so many times, doesn’t take me long to see what I need too. I “hiked” down the hill to the hotel and it was a pleasant enough walk except for the freezing cold temperature! I had a couple of hours of “free time”, so I took the tram into town and looked for boots there. I found exactly what I was looking for and they were on sale. Marked down from $583.00 US to $438.00 US. Wow! I could never justify paying that much for a pair of shoes/boots. I’ll look again tomorrow. I guess it was a blessing that my personal credit card was compromised right before I left Nashville and the bank couldn’t get me a new one before I left. So, I can only make “business” purchases and “cash” purchased with money I brought from my checking account. I didn’t bring enough cash to spend that much on boots. But, they sure were pretty! J
Ordered room service and got dressed for the show. Some of the guys went to the venue at 7 pm to have dinner there and some waited and rode up with us at 8:45 pm. The venue – Albisguetli – was packed with fans and friends. We brought our good friend Heidi backstage prior to the performance and also got to chat with Bill, Susann, and Jessica Loop. Bill “bought” the Bellamy Brothers for his wife Susann’s birthday years ago and we have been friends since then! So nice to see everyone.
Bellamys have to perform two 45 minute sets at this venue with a 20 minute break between sets. Tonight is also the Grand Opening of the new 5,000 seat Samsung Center and our friend and “duet partner” Gola is performing there both nights. We’re having lunch with him and his manager Lukas tomorrow. Wish I could go see his show!
Bellamys had a great show – as usual – and performed a couple of encores for the fans. There’s a curfew, so they had to limit how many they could sing. I brought our friends Markus and Bridgette back to see them after the show as well as Sandro and his wife and child.
We were back at the hotel by around 12:30 am and I’ve been working ever since. It’s almost 3 am and time to go to bed and finish up everything tomorrow!
SUNDAY, JANUARY 29TH – DAY OFF IN SWITZERLAND.
Seems we always have a Sunday off in Switzerland when absolutely nothing is open! I had breakfast with most of the guys then worked out in the room again. Answered emails for a couple of hours and then took the tram downtown and hopped on a train at the main train station and took it to the airport. The shops in both the downtown train station and train station at the airport are the only shops open on Sunday as far as we can tell! I was still on a quest for boots but struck out. Definitely did not go back by and look at the $400+ pair I really wanted!
Was back in the room within an hour. I got boarding passes printed out and walked next door to grab something for dinner. All packed (well, as much as I can) and ready for the 6:30 am departure time tomorrow.
Not going to post this road report until I do the one for Monday as well.
MONDAY, JANUARY 30TH, 2017 – SWITZERLAND TO NORTHERN IRELAND:
Today was quite the travel day – nothing like the flight from Singapore but long just the same.
We met in the lobby at 6:15 pm and started loading the van. I turned in my room keys and then took my bags down to the garage…and couldn’t get back in. You need a hotel room key to open the door from the garage to the lobby! Finally was able to get someone to come down and let me back in.
The airport wasn’t crowded at all when we arrived at 7 am. I had “fought” with the KLM website all day yesterday. Our frequent flyer numbers were wrong. The right number was entered in some of the records but it was showing as United Airlines, American Airlines, or FinnAir FF#! I changed all the records but when I printed boarding passes, it kept printing the incorrect information on them. I finally just gave up.
I had a really great representative checking us in but then a couple of her business associates decided they wanted to help. It went downhill from there. One lady kept insisting that if the passenger didn’t have his Frequent Flyer Card with him, he could only check one piece of luggage because she didn’t know if he was Gold or not and did not have his frequent flyer number. Twice I pointed out the frequent flyer numbers and the word “GOLD” printed on their boarding passes. She still argued with me and was very rude. Typical KLM. And they used to be such a great airline. L
Security was pretty intense and there were lots of armed security standing around…more than I’ve ever seen before at Zurich airport. We went to the Lounge after clearing security but it was pitiful. No hot food at all. Had some hard croissants, cereal and yogurt and fruit. At least they had a coffee maker! I asked the staff and they said, “KLM won’t give us money to prepare hot food”! WOW. There wasn’t even any butter or jelly for the hard croissants….just cream cheese. When I asked the staff if it was possible to at least get butter, you would have thought I was asking for a 7 course meal. They reluctantly gave me 2 little containers of margarine –which I shared with the guys.
Flight was on time and was a KLM City Hopper which has really small seats. At least it was only a little over an hour flight. We landed on time in Amsterdam and had less than a one hour layover by the time we found the gate. Then had a 1 ½ hour flight to Dublin. We cleared Immigration with no problem, collected our gear and baggage and met Phil and Kieran outside of baggage claim. Howard, David and I rode with Kieran in his SUV and the guys rode with Phil in the van. Took a little over an hour to get to the Armagh City Hotel.
The Hotel had our rooms ready and we are all on the 3rd floor. It’s a very nice hotel and some of the rooms are “suites” which is nice. I walked down to see the show room with Phil and then tried to find the Spa operator and pick up a gift certificate that I had purchased for Howard’s birthday. Bought him a one hour hot stone deep tissue massage for 12 noon tomorrow. Unfortunately, the Spa was closed and the hotel couldn’t reach the owner. I gave Howard his card and told him I’d get the voucher for him tomorrow.
Had dinner with the guys in the restaurant and then walked over to the EuroSpar market to buy water. It’s only about a block away but you have to cross a major intersection….and everyone drives on the left over here. Very easy to get run over when crossing the street.
Our dear friend Sarah Jory (and her husband) arrived tonight. She is one of the opening acts on the shows on Wednesday and Thursday and also performs Tuesday night. She is a “monster” pedal steel player!!!
Almost 1 am and I still have to unpack. It is cold and raining here and sounds like it will be that way our entire visit. Welcome to Ireland. J