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
TUESDAY, JANUARY 31ST – DAY OFF IN ARMAGH, IRELAND:
Went down to have breakfast and was happy to see that Sarah and her husband were there as well. Had a nice “chat” with them before heading to the excellent fitness club in the hotel to work out. It says that it is “L.A. Fitness” and I think it is part of that chain. Regardless, it’s terrific and I worked every muscle group I have to do penance for not being able to get in the gym for several days.
Answered some emails and then showered and walked into town to buy some things on my “list”. Still haven’t found any “boots”. My feet are probably going to freeze in the Faroe Islands. Oh well!
It is a great little town with lots more shops than I expected. Sadly, I can’t buy a lot because of no room in my suitcase and excess baggage charges!
I wandered up to the St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The original church was built in 445 A.D. and a church has stood on that spot since that time. This present building was built in 1268 and it is breathtaking. I was the only person in there except for a man vacuuming. He finished and was surprised to see me there. He came over to chat and we ended up talking for more than an hour! I would like to say that he told me everything about the Cathedral but we actually only talked about country music. He was delightful.
I made my way back down the “hill” without getting lost and stopped in a shop to ask a question. They young man in there started talking to me about the USA and President Trump (he is a supporter!) and country music. Spent another half hour there with him. He commented that he wished he had someone who could look after the shop for him so he could go with me to have a cup of tea. The South does not have a monopoly on friendliness and hospitality. Ireland is famous for it, too.
Had a coffee with our dear friend Kieran McHugh who won’t be able to attend our shows. We worked with him on our last tour of Ireland and he’s the “man” as far as tour managers go. After I left, Kieran stood on his head and drank a Guinness! And he is 63 years old. I can’t even stand on my head!!! Check out the video on my Facebook page.
I had dinner while some of the guys were still down there but had already eaten. I’m not going to the show tonight but will go tomorrow night and watch Sarah perform and play the heck out of her pedal steel. (Stan, wish you were here).
I ran into Howard right before dinner and he had gone up to the Cathedral as well. And got lost! He said it got dark while he was inside and then he couldn’t find his way back. He finally ran into an older man who gave him directions. He’ll never be able to tease me about not having a sense of direction again!
The rain stopped and it wasn’t as bitterly cold in the afternoon as it was last night and this morning.
Tomorrow is sound check and our first show here. Going to be a great evening!
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1ST, 2017 – FIRST PERFORMANCE IN ARMAGH, NORTHERN IRELAND:
I forgot to mention my “ghost” the first night. I was in the bathroom washing my face when I heard the strange noise coming from the bedroom area. I walked back into the bedroom and the electric kettle had turned on and was heating up the water! Then a few minutes later, I went to bed and 5 minutes after I laid down, the TV turned on all by itself. I decided to be brave and turned on my “Ghost Radar” App. Sure wish I hadn’t done that. The first word that blared out was “Accident” then “Breakfast”. There were about 5 different spirits in the room with me according to the App.
So at 2:30 am, I woke up and didn’t feel quite right. I was sick from 2:30 until 10:30 am. Don’t know if it was a 24 hour bug or something I ate for dinner the night before, but it was miserable. I took overdoses of Phenegren but it didn’t seem to help other than making me so sleepy I couldn’t function. It was a really nice day outside but I could only look out my window at it.
I did make it down to sound check to see if everything was okay, then immediately went back to bed. Mark, Sarah Jory’s husband, was so sweet to go shopping and get me the Irish equivalent of Gatorade. Only problem is, it is actually “fizzy” water and gave me severe indigestion. I knew I was dehydrated because I had a roaring headache but just couldn’t stomach anything other than a few sips of diet Sprite.
I made it down to the show and the room was packed. It was a good, very responsive audience and The Bellamys gave another great show. They stayed afterwards and signed autographs for a large group of fans.
I couldn’t get into bed fast enough. Howard gave me a nausea pill that doesn’t make you sleepy like the Phenegren and that worked much better.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2ND – LAST SHOW IN IRELAND – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO HOWARD!!!
Slept much better last night but surprised that I still don’t feel like I can eat anything. It’s been 36 hours without any food at all and my stomach isn’t even growling. Strange. Found out that Galen has the same thing and he is in bed today and later today learned that Wally is sick, too. So it’s either a bad case of food poisoning or a very contagious virus. Either way – it’s not good.
Went downstairs and had a small cup of yogurt and hoping that’s going to stay with me. Interview at noon today is canceled so I can “rest” all day until I have a meeting at 7 pm tonight and then the show at 10 pm.
I managed to get up long enough to walk over to the drug store and get some Tums and the grocery store and actually found Powerade. Still not eating anything. And, sure can’t sleep. There is this loud sound that sounds like someone banging on a piece of metal. I thought it was above my room but the 3rd floor is the top floor of the hotel. I asked David and he said it sounded like the roof of the hotel was going to blow off at any minute. It didn’t seem that windy when I walked into town but evidently the wind is blowing something around on the roof. I am going to make the hotel aware of this.
Hoping I can eat a cup of soup for dinner but not very optimist at this point. I went down and met with all the camera crew from last night’s show and then had a meeting with a friend of my promoter from Norway. It was very enlightening listening to him talk about the music scene in Ireland.
Decided not to risk eating anything. I am really weak from not eating but just can’t look at food right now.
Show started at 10 and the Bellamys did several interviews before going on stage. It was another great audience and maybe a little livelier than last night as more people were up dancing. I had purchased a birthday cake from the hotel and we took it onstage with 71 candles for Howard to blow out!
They signed autographs for over an hour after the show. Our friend, Paul Lau, and his wife came to the show tonight. We worked with Paul when we were here on tour almost 10 years ago. He was great and it was awesome to see him again.
Still can’t eat anything and the only drink has been Powerade. Sure hope no one else wakes up tomorrow with this “bug”!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3RD, 2017 – IRELAND TO FAROE ISLANDS (ALMOST!):
Got up at 6 am and was still nauseous. I can’t even drink coffee and as my friends know, I survive on coffee! I managed a few sips of an old diet Sprite and then went downstairs to see if maybe trying to eat something would help since I still haven’t been able to eat. The waitress told me to eat a piece of dry toast and drink peppermint tea. It was a life-saver.
Said goodbye to everyone – lots of new friends (and old friends) in Ireland – and loaded up for the 1 hour plus drive to Dublin. David, Howard and I rode in the range rover with Kieran and the guys rode in the van. We arrived right on time and check-in was easy. We didn’t even have to pay any excess baggage costs which was a miracle because it was SAS.
We boarded and everyone had seats near the front of the plane. Jim and I had an entire row all to ourselves which was awesome. Landed Copenhagen on time but there was a very low ceiling and lots of wind. We located where we had to pick up luggage. Once we collected everything, we had to go to the check-in counter and re-check in Atlantic Airways. Fortunately their check-in counter was right outside Customs. The lady made us wait while she checked in a group for a “ski trip” and then checked us all in as a group. Our promoter in the Faroes had cleared our luggage so that we didn’t have any excess to pay.
We went to the gate and I started worrying. I had been watching the weather all day for both Copenhagen and Faroe Islands and Faroes were having wind gusts of up to 45 mph! When it came time to board, they delayed our flight for a half hour. I was talking to the promoter in the Faroes and he kept saying everything was going to be just fine and we would just land late. I didn’t think so because none of the bags were being loaded onto the plane and the plane was “dark”. Finally at 7 pm, they canceled the flight and told us we would fly tomorrow. They told us to go to the transfer desk and pick up coupons for a hotel room and dinner and a taxi! I literally ran all the way so I could be first in line but the Atlantic Airlines reps were there yet. We waited about 15 minutes and I was expecting the process to take hours after what I had gone through with United Airlines in Kuwait a couple of years ago.
Amazingly enough, it took only a few minutes. They put a sticker on our boarding pass that allowed us a free hotel room and dinner and gave me coupons for 3 taxis round trip! We picked up our personal bags and the airline said they would keep the equipment and load it on the plane tomorrow morning.
We took a 10 minute taxi ride to the hotel and I stood in line for the hotel rooms while the guys had dinner. It didn’t take nearly as long to secure the rooms as I expected. The food at the hotel was a buffet but excellent. Either that or I was just glad that I finally felt I could eat something!
Everyone got settled in before 10 pm and we have a 4:45 am lobby call tomorrow. I’m going down at 4:30 and arrange the taxis.
Really enjoyed our performances in Ireland and “kudos” to Phil and Kieran for taking such good care of us. The Irish are probably the friendliest people I’ve met on my travels around the world. I hope we don’t have to wait another 10 years to perform for them again!