FRIDAY, JULY 6TH – DENMARK TO NORWAY:
Where to even start?
Let’s see, I got up at 3 am for a 4:30 am departure. I like to be one of the first ones down to “trouble shoot”. As I was dragging my two 50 pound bags down the first flight of stairs, I ran into David and Susan doing the same with theirs. We still had another flight to go before reaching the first floor. Howard was the only person on the first floor and he was standing by the elevator (which only goes from the lobby to the first floor). He said he had been standing there for 10 minutes and the elevator wasn’t working. Not good. I went back up to my room and yelled out my window to Wally who was outside with the bus. He told me the lobby level was completely locked off and we would have to come down the back stairs – 3 double sets of very steep stairs! I was pretty upset but there didn’t seem to be any other way out. Yesterday, we had moved all the equipment to a ground floor room because the front desk told us they would close at 11:30 am and we would only be able to come inside through the night entrance. That was fine but I did not know that they had locked the elevator and all the stairways except one. Basically, everyone in a guest room was trapped on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th floor with no outside access except the one stairway. What if there was a fire, or an emergency medical situation or even a handicapped person staying there? Had I known this when we checked in, I would have called the local Fire Department and reported the management. The hotel is shaped in a “half U” so it winds around several times and is very confusing. I did email our promoter and he said he had spent hours yesterday trying to get the management to have someone stay in the hotel and check us out this morning. They refused. We are coming back here again next year and it’s such a great hotel otherwise, that we want to stay there but ONLY if they promise not to lock us in our rooms! And, we are all going to be on the 1st floor where there is elevator service (unless they turn it off!!!).
By the time I got all my bags down, I needed another shower I was perspiring so much. The bus driver was a real jerk. He had the radio turned up full volume and I politely asked him to turn it off. He turned it down just a little and mumbled something under his breath. I asked if he could turn the air conditioner to colder and he said “NO”! Then I asked where the water was and he said he would sell us some! There were only 4 bottles of water for 10 people. I took all of them and told him to take payment up with the promoter. He had told the promoter it would be a 2 hour ride to the airport and then changed that to 1 ½ hours. It was only a 1 hour ride! Plus, he fell asleep once and ran the bus off on the shoulder of the road. I started watching him after that and he has a white tube that he kept putting in his mouth and also smelling of it. We all assumed it was one of those electric cigars but not sure.
We found the British Airways counter to check in for a Sun Air flight…never flown that airline before. The lady at the counter did not want to check us in (yes, there was only ONE lady working). She wanted us to go pay for the excess before she checked in the bags! I told her that was impossible. I had printed out the boarding passes for everyone so all she had to do was weigh and tag the bags! She finally agreed and check in went pretty quickly. She said all our “duffle” bags were “oversized” and we had to take those, along with the guitar cases, to the oversize check-in counter. Then I went with Wally to pay for the excess. We headed to the gate and of course I got behind a couple going through security who had never flown before! Took forever to get through to the gate area. They have “renovated” the gate area and now how a Food Court. In my continuing effort to eat healthy, I chose the omelet and some yogurt. It took almost a half hour to cook the omelet and then it wasn’t what I expected. It looked like a little round pancake covered with cherry tomatoes and parma ham! And it was cold….even after taking that long to cook.
We headed downstairs to the gate are and learned we were flying on a SMALL turbo prop. At least I was able to get a seat for everyone on the side where there is only one seat. It was only a 1 hour 10 minute flight to Oslo. Once in Oslo, we had to pick up all our bags and take them upstairs to the baggage drop counter. That went fairly smoothly except for a little girl about 4 years old screaming “I want my ?” (not sure what she wanted) at the top of her lungs. Her mom was just ignoring her. I asked the ticket counter agent what she “wanted” and he said, her “papa”. I told Howard to go over tell her he’s a Papa and see if she would quit crying. J
After taking the equipment (no duffle bags as they are NOT oversize!) to the oversize counter, we headed through security. Wideroe Airlines is a Star Alliance Partner and I’m “Global” on United. I went through the “Fast Track” lane for Star Alliance Elite members and they turned me back. I even showed them my card and they said “no”! Not sure what was up with that!
Another prop plane flight for 1 hour 40 minutes. And this one was about 50% small children. I sat in the Exit Row and twice ladies came up and asked me to change seats with them so they could sit with their children. I had to point out that children were not allowed to sit in the exit row.
After take off, the lady behind Howard and diagonal from me, started reading a book to her young son. She was speaking Norwegian VERY LOUDLY and would change her voice to fit each character in the book. Neither Howard nor I had kept out our ear plugs. L
We landed on time and I met Bjorn (or promoter) for the first time. Really nice guy. Evidently, someone didn’t read the rider very well because they arrived with one small 12 passenger van…no trailer. He was going to send the van to pick up a trailer but that was a half hour process. We finally agreed to take the passengers to the hotel, attach the trailer and return to the airport to pick up the equipment.
The hotel was ready for us and Bjorn had placed fans in the rooms as requested. It was raining and MUCH cooler here. The hotel is nice and the elevator goes all the way to the top floor. Internet is wireless and free of charge. We arrived at the hotel at around 2:30 pm and the restaurant doesn’t open until 5 pm. I walked down to the local “market” and purchased some water, fruit and cheese and that was “lunch”. Worked on emails until 5 pm when everyone (except Howard) met for dinner. The restaurant told us we only had 2 choices – fried salmon or grilled pork. I asked if they could “grill” my salmon and he agreed. He would not let us have a salad but said dessert was included (which I don’t eat). He also said we had to pay for our drinks. I told him we only pay for alcoholic drinks. After a long argument about that, I told him just to turn in the charges to the front desk and I would have Bjorn deal with it later. The salmon was excellent and that’s what everyone ordered….except Susan who doesn’t eat fish. She ordered the grilled pork and it was inedible. It turned out to be some kind of pork fat that was fried. YUCK!!!
Wally and I went down to a little bar where there was a “reception” for the sponsors. Bjorn had asked that someone from the Bellamys attend because the Mayor would be there. Well, the Mayor wasn’t there but the sponsors were. Wally and I met several of them and thanked them. Mike Chapman (session bass player from Nashville and long-time friend) is here. He is the one who hooked me up with Bjorn in the first place to book this event. And, another big surprise, Gary Smith (keyboard player) is here. Gary was married to one of the Forester Sisters years ago when I first started managing them. Very Small World!
Wally and I didn’t stay but about a half hour and then walked back to the hotel. My room overlooks the water and it’s beautiful. And, it never gets dark here we are so far north. Did I mention the name of the town – Sandnessjoen. The rain stopped at around 4 pm and tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful. Sure hope so because the festival is outdoors. Lindsey is at Vinstra tonight with Terri Clark. She said the promoter said the crowds are very small this year because they don’t have the campers they usually have. He had John Fogerty on Wednesday night and even his show didn’t sell out The economy is just horrible everywhere and looks like it has finally hit Norway, too.
Going to call the “Z’s” and try to get in bed by midnight. 3 am came early this morning!
SATURDAY, JULY 7TH – PERFORMANCE AT THE BOTN FESTIVAL IN SANDNESSJOEN, NORWAY:
Another “eventful” day. I slept late and didn’t have breakfast until 9 am. Saw several of the musicians from Nashville at breakfast but only a couple of my guys. Decided to go for a long run since the weather was beautiful, if a little cool. I didn’t have any warm running gear. But I warmed up very quickly. Ran along the water for maybe a half mile, making one turn back past the hotel. Then I got on the street above the hotel and was able to run a long way outside town. Passed a beautiful little church with a cemetery out front. I had gotten about 1 ½ miles from the hotel when I heard that high-pitched squawking like the bird in my neighborhood makes when he is about to dive bomb me. (I have a problem with a bird attaching me when I go jogging in Nashville. Evidently the bird has a ‘nest’ on my normal route. Fixed that problem by changing my route). I looked up and a seagull was flying right for my head. I ducked but he flew back around for another pass…screeching loudly the entire time. By that time, two more had joined him and were also dive-bombing my head. I could see several more approaching from nearby. Thankfully there was a culvert on my right and I ran under it. The birds would squawk and fly as close to the opening as they could without coming in. I stood under there until it was “quiet” outside — about 5 minutes—and then walked out slowly. I was immediately “hit” again and this time a big flock of gulls descended. I swear it was like the old movie “The Birds”. I took cover again and when I looked out the ends of the culvert, there was a seagull sitting on a lamppost at each end – standing guard! I stood under there for at least 15 minutes hoping a car would go by. I didn’t have my pepper spray with me or my cell phone. Finally a local walked by and I walked out and told him what was happening. He said, “Oh they have nests and babies in them”. I asked if they would bite me and he said “no”. So I walked slowing out of the area with them screeching overhead and dive bombing me every step of the way! Not a good way to spend my otherwise awesome run. I was still able to get in 5 miles but it took me much longer than normal.
Showered and walked down the street to the Coop. Ran into Howard, David and Susan on the walk down and Howard and David walked back to the Coop with me. I was only able to find a couple of bottles of water that didn’t have gas so I’ll have to make another trip to the other grocery store today. The amazing thing is, the store stays open until 10 or 11 pm each night. It’s great. The bad thing is, no one in Scandinavia is willing to accept our credit cards unless we have a “PIN” number. Of course, U.S. credit cards don’t have PIN numbers so we are just out of luck unless we have cash. This has been a problem in Denmark for years, but now seems to be the case all over Scandinavia. I have talked to American Express and Visa and neither are willing to issue PIN numbers. I saw an article that said America has invested too much money in the “swipe” card machines to change to the ones that accept the computer chip cards!
Stopped and got a Greek salad with no olives (not Greek, huh? I hate olives!) and walked back to the hotel to eat it. The restaurant didn’t give me a fork so I had to borrow one from the hotel. The shops in this little village were only open for a couple of hours today.
We left for the venue at 4 pm and it was about a 10 minute drive. The venue is in a beautiful setting. It is surrounded on 3 sides by water and mountains. There’s still a small amount of snow on the top of the mountains. The lady on the plane said the water here is blue and the beaches are white like the Caribbean. I wouldn’t compare it to those beaches but it is beautiful. I checked out the stage access and backstage situation and then left the guys to do their thing. The Bellamys don’t perform until 11:30-1:00 am. Hey, it never gets dark!!!
By the way, I measured my bathroom here. It is 4 feet by 4 feet and that includes the shower. You can’t move without bumping into something. And it has the “wand” for a shower head. I turned it on this morning before I got undressed and 30 seconds later I was soaked as was the entire bathroom as I chased it around the floor of the shower when it shot off the wall.
Worked all afternoon except for a quick walk back up to the market to buy some more water – without gas! Dinner was “memorable”. I had planned to order off their normal menu and pay the cost difference in hopes of getting edible food. Guess what? They had a huge group of people in the restaurant and the only food available was a buffet that was truly horrible. I ended up eating a little soup (no fish in it, thank God) and salad, stuffed eggs with little shrimp on top and potato salad. The nice waiter that we had last night was serving us and he came by at the end of the meal and asked if we liked our food. Howard was still sitting there with me and he lied and said “yes”. I, of course, said No, maybe I just don’t like the food in Norway. The waiter said NEITHER DO I. LOL. He’s from Egypt. J
We were supposed to leave for the show at 11:00 and go on stage at 11:30 pm. But the promoter changed our show time to 11:15 pm. Then when we got out there, he said it was going to be about 20 minutes late. It was actually midnight before they took the stage. We were in a local taxi and had just pulled back near the backstage area and sat there waiting to go on. Unfortunately, we parked “in the toilet”. All the drunk men were walking out to where we were parked and peeing in the woods. Now, Norwegians can drink more alcohol than anyone I’ve ever encountered. I thought some of them were going to fall over before they finished!
The promoter kept apologizing for the delay and I told him, he’s working with the Bellamys. They understand. And they did. The show was great but I was freezing the entire time. I brought clothes for cold water but not for freezing weather. Just as the Bellamys were starting their encore, a very large, very drunk woman jumped in the lake and began swimming. I’m surprised she didn’t freeze!
As we were driving back, we passed a couple of guys who had turned their backs on the crowd to pee…only they were facing the road. Very “scenic”! And, yes, there were plenty of portapotties available.
We just got back to the hotel – 3 am. At least we don’t leave for the airport until 2 pm tomorrow. We spend the night in Olso and then Bellamys fly home and I fly to Southern Norway to meet up with Vince Gill on Tuesday.
SUNDAY, JULY 8 – SANDNESSJOEN TO OSLO:
Got in bed by 5:00 am and slept until 10 am. I think I could have slept a lot longer, too. But, I was worried that if I didn’t eat breakfast, there wouldn’t be anything open in this town for lunch. I had purchased yogurt from the market yesterday and took it to breakfast with me. The only yogurt they had on the “buffet” was the kind that poured out of a carton and was Cherry flavored. Yuck. The one I bought was great. Had breakfast with Wally and some of the Nashville musicians. The girlfriend of one of the UK entertainers came in and was standing at the buffet getting her food. She was in front of the fruit and there were 3 choices – pineapple, melon, and oranges. I was waiting for her to finish so I could get some but she was only taking 2 pieces of each at a time and putting them on her plate. Then she would start over and do 2 more pieces of each. This went on for a good five minutes until her plate was piled high. I guess she is has OCD – 2, 2, 2!
Went to my room for a quick “in room workout” that my trainer gave me and a shower. It is an absolutely beautiful morning – perfect for jogging. If the seagulls hadn’t traumatized me or if I could find a really big stick, I would definitely go jogging instead. L I have been jogging for 35 years, so WHY is this the first year I have ever been attached by birds. And not just once but many times?
I measured the size of my bathroom. It is 4 feet by 4 feet and that includes the shower stall. No matter which way you turn, you’re going to hit some part of your body on something. I think I have bruises from head to toe.
I was finishing my packing and had my balcony door open. The cruise ship was parked right outside my window. It blew it’s horn and I almost jumped through my ceiling. Now I remember that when my girlfriend and I took that horrible “Hartigrueten” cruise down the coast of Norway, this was one of the ports where we stopped. The ship stopped at 2, 3, and 4 am in the morning and expected people to get off. There are NO shops open at that time of day and nothing to see.
David needed to borrow some Norwegian Kroner, so I met him in the lobby. I asked the front desk if any restaurants were open on Sunday in the town and she said that absolutely nothing was open, not even a grocery store. She sent them to a little convenience store a few blocks from the hotel. I think Susan has eaten cheese doodles for every meal lately. L
The promoter had ordered taxi vans to take us to the airport and they didn’t show up. Fortunately, “Morty” who had driven us yesterday was there to take the Nashville musicians to the airport. He came back and got us and our luggage and called a taxi for the other passengers. Check in was easy at the airport but once again, they refused to accept a credit card for payment of the excess unless we had a PIN number. We tried 3 different cards and finally they accepted one of them. America is going to HAVE to step up and issue credit cards with chips and PIN numbers or we won’t be able to travel! I saw an article that said the reason we haven’t done so is because there has been too much money invested in the “slide” credit cards machines!
Our flight was on time and we all rushed on board to claim seats and overhead space. There are no assigned seats on this flight. Fortunately the weather report for Oslo changed from severe thunderstorms to rain so it wasn’t too terribly turbulent in the little prop plane. We landed on time with all our luggage and equipment and walked next door to the Radisson Hotel. The buyer had pre-paid the rooms, but as it the case EVERY TIME we stay here, the hotel had no record of it. I called him and whatever he said to the front desk galvanized them into action very quickly and they gave us our room keys. But we had booked double rooms for the guys to share and they gave them rooms with one king bed. Had to change all those.
Wally and I ate at the hotel restaurant. There were 2 restaurants…one where you could order off the menu and one with a buffet. The buffet was equivalent to $60 U.S. No way I could eat that much food! I looked at it and it wasn’t even a good buffet, either.
Afterwards we walked over to the hotel to figure out which check in counter they would use tomorrow and to buy a Starbucks. KLM told us we could go ahead and print the boarding passes at the kiosk but I realized I didn’t have the confirmation numbers for the Delta flights with me. Walked back to the hotel and realized I had forgotten to buy water while at the airport. So I grabbed my book with all the flight info and went back to the airport. When I entered the confirmation number, the passenger wasn’t recognized. I realized I only had the flight into for all the “internal” flights we had been taking. So, back to my room to set up my printer and try to find the email with the flight into in it. Finally located it and was able to print boarding passes for the flight from Oslo to Amsterdam but not Amsterdam to Minneapolis! Tried every way I could think of, but just wouldn’t work. So they will have to try and get these tomorrow when they check in. If they can’t get them in Oslo, they will have to get them in Amsterdam – which is always a PITA!
I wasn’t able to check in or print my boarding pass because the lady at the check in counter in Sandnessjoen checked my bag to Kristiansand tomorrow when I checked in for the Oslo flight today. Very, very strange!
I just heard that Ernie Borgnine passed away. In May, my mentor and Lindsey’s Godfather George Lindsey passed away. Ernie was one of George’s dearest friends. Last week Andy Griffin passed away. Both Ernie and Andy had sent letters and video messages to be read at George’s funeral. So very sad!
MONDAY, JULY 9 – TRAVEL DAY – OSLO AIRPORT TO KRISTIANSAND AIRPORT:
Got up at 6 am so I could work out before going to the airport with the Bellamys to get checked in. Great gym at this hotel. It is by far the nicest hotel we have stayed in on the tour. I’ve stayed there many times because of the convenience of being able to “walk a block” to the airport!
Had breakfast and Wally and Randy were already down there. It is a great breakfast buffet, too, but wasted on me since I don’t each much for breakfast. Took a quick shower and then walked over to the airport with the Bellamys. Check in when much quicker because I had already printed the boarding passes. Frank is Elite on Delta and the lady checking him in told him she couldn’t print his boarding pass for the Amsterdam/Minneapolis flight. That means they would all have to go to a KLM Transfer desk in the Amsterdam airport. It’s a real PITA, and I didn’t want them to have to do it. Another guy checked in one of the other passengers and he printed all his boarding passes. I made Frank go back up to the lady who told him it wasn’t possible and tell her to print them! She did. Love that Customer Service.
Bellamys went through and I assume departed on time since I didn’t hear from them otherwise. I had a couple of hours to work before heading to the airport for my check in. I stored one of my bags at the Radisson since I’ll be back there again early Thursday morning for one night!
Flight was on an airplane similar to Southwest except that I was able to get an exit row aisle seat assignment. Short flight – only 45 minutes. I took the Radisson shuttle bus to the hotel and checked in. It’s another Radisson. I like staying at Radissons around the world because they cater to the business traveler. I remember staying here years ago with the Bellamy Brothers.
Worked for quite a while before going out to find dinner. I asked the front desk if there was a good Indian restaurant where the “locals” (not tourists) ate. He gave me the name of the one that he says is the “best in all of Norway”. After eating there, I agree that he could be right. Only thing was there was way too much food for just one person. L
It’s so strange to walk around at midnight and it’s still perfectly light outside. I really like it!
Vince Gill and his group arrive tomorrow and they perform on Wednesday night in Arendal. A tour bus is picking me up tomorrow morning and I’ll go to the airport to meet him. That’s all for tonight. J