THURSDAY, MAY 14TH – SWITZERLAND TO THE FAROE ISLANDS: Where in the world are the Faroe Islands, right?  Well, they are a group of islands (pin-dots really) between Greenland and Norway.  They are owned by Denmark.  This is my 2nd visit here in 2 years with the Bellamys. Up at 5 am and loaded the bus at 6:15 am.  It took 2 hrs. and 45 minutes to drive to the Geneva airport and I slept most of that way since I only had 2 hours of sleep last night.  At least this was a great bus driver who didn’t attempt to take us through a snow-covered pass that was closed for the Winter!  Check in was pretty painless and we were able to check our luggage/gear all the way through to the Faroes.  We have a 5 hour layover in Copenhagen.  Got hit pretty hard with excess luggage charges by SAS once again.  Wally and I went to the SAS counter to pay for the costs and the agent said it was going to cost 3,600 Swiss Francs  — that’s over $3,000 U.S.  Wally about had a heart attack and I think the agent thought he was going too.  She said she’d waive 76 kilos of the weight and only charge for 100 kilos at a fee of a little over $1,000 U.S.  Still much too high but better than the original quote. Flight to Copenhagen was painless and we had lunch once we landed.  Ate at a Tapas bar which was really great.  Then a lot of the group found recliners to nap in while I answered hundreds of emails.  Flight to the Faroes departed on time and was full.  Our sweet promoter – Allan – was waiting for us with our bus driver – Butt Bear.  Okay.  That’s not his real name.  But his real name is too hard to pronounce and the English translation really is Butt Bear (or is it Bare?).  The drive from the airport to the hotel was breath-taking.  Last time we were here in September and everything was much “greener”.  But, the trade-off is that the weather is MUCH better this time of the year.  There’s also only a couple hours of darkness here at this time.  We are on a different island this time from the “main” island where we performed last time.  When we were here before, internet was definitely a “challenge” and Allan PROMISED we wouldn’t have any problems this time.  He was a nervous wreck because he knows how anal I am about internet connections.  For some reason, my email isn’t working on my blackberry even though no one else in the group is having a problem! We arrived at the hotel which is located in Klaksvik – much smaller town than Thorshavn (the capitol).  There is a Burger King in Thorshavn – yes ONE Burger King and no other fastfood restaurants – and I was teasing Allan that there isn’t one in Klaksvik.  Our hotel is located one street above the water which is going to be a beautiful run for me tomorrow if the weather remains this pretty. We were checking in and getting all the information about the internet, phone system, etc.  Only, we learned that there are NO telephones.  Poor Allan.  It was something he didn’t even think to check since he assumed that every hotel had phones in their rooms.  He came to my room with me to make sure the internet was working and as my luck usually is, it didn’t work.  I had to go to the lobby to log on and there was no electrical outlet in the lobby.  The wireless router was on the wall right outside my room so it didn’t make sense that I couldn’t log on.  I gave up trying and went to dinner.  Then, after dinner, I learned that the internet worked in everyone’s rooms!  A nice young man named Ryan had worked on mine for me and told me to “just call him anytime” I needed help.  Which I would do, only we don’t have a telephone!  We finally changed a bunch of settings and got mine up and running.  Then I realized my overhead light didn’t work in my room or in the bathroom!  Enter Ryan again.  Light bulbs were blown in both fixtures.  By the way, the food at dinner was great.  The Bellamys ate “Puffin” (a local bird) when they were here the first time and still talk about how horrible it was.   Fortunately, we didn’t have Puffin for dinner.  We have been on 3 different time zones this trip.  Today, we are only 6 hours ahead of Nashville time.  But it’s 2 am and I’m going to bed now! Jude

FRIDAY, MAY 15TH – DAY OFF IN THE FAROES: Slept “late” for me…didn’t get up until 9 am!  Of course, I didn’t go to bed until almost 3:30 am.  Internet stayed on all night and was working great….until everyone else in our group got up and started using it.  Then it died again. I had coffee and yogurt and fought with the internet for another hour while waiting for it to warm up.  Got dressed to go jogging but realized I should have gone earlier instead of later.  The clouds had rolled in and it looked like it might rain.  But, I ran anyway and am so glad I did.  I went down the hill from the hotel to the waterfront and ran along the water, all the way around to the other side.  Eventually, I ran out of sideway and went farther down by the water only to run out of pavement and hit a “barrier” there.  Back-tracked but this time I went “up” towards the venue and ran a long way around the other side of the island.   I passed a group of school children and their “play activity” seemed to be running across the street in front of cars!  I was afraid no one was watching them, but a lady was standing there with them, basically ignoring them. I ran way up the mountain and it was just me and lots of sheep.  I can’t describe how incredibly beautiful it is here – tall craggy mountains covered with sheep overlooking beautiful little colored houses along the waterfront with lots of fishing boats.  I can’t get lost because there’s no trees, so you can see the entire island from just about anywhere.  J Came back down the mountain and ran the other direction from the hotel.  There are lots of shops here but really for the “locals”.  No touristy shops so I can by my Z-Pack something.  L  I ran for an hour and then went to the hotel and grabbed my purse so I could change money before the bank closed.  Really nice people at the bank, too.  When I came out David, Susan, and Wally were standing in front of the bank.  They had walked to a kiosk and while they were in there, asked a woman about where they might find a restaurant.  She told them about a “bakery” and then offered to drive them there.  When they got in her car, she had a baby in a car seat in the back seat.  She had gone into the store and left the baby in the car…something we would never do in America!  Went back to the bank with Susan to change some money and stopped by the kiosk to get some fruit and cheese for my lunch.  Then back to the hotel. The shower is one of those typical small town Scandinavian challenges.  There is no shower stall.  Just a curtain around the shower wand.  There is a drain in the floor but it doesn’t work very well and the floor floods with water.  Usually they put a squeegee with a long handle on it in the bathrooms so the water can be cleaned up after showering.  Not so this time.  But, at least the water pressure (or water temperature!) wasn’t very good, so the wand didn’t blow off the wall and chase me around the shower this time. I’m sitting in the lobby now which is the ONLY place the internet works.  One thing I noticed today (besides the lack of trees) is the fact that I didn’t see one dog or cat.  I asked the front desk clerk about this.  He said that they have such strict laws here and if a cat or dog is found wandering outside, it is immediately picked up by animal control.   I didn’t even see any dogs in fenced yards and none barked at me as I jogged around neighborhoods.  Dinner is in 5 minutes and it’s supposed to be fish and lamb.  Instead it’s fish and OX.  Great.  Oops.  Make that fried (breaded) fish, ox and very dry lamb.  But the coffee was great.    Had to sit in the lobby and work on the internet the rest of the evening.  The weather turned very windy and cold.  It stayed light outside until almost midnight and then finally got dark but won’t stay dark long. Tomorrow is “show day” and then we leave on Sunday.  Faroe Islands are a beautiful place that I’m glad I got to visit.  The people here are all so incredibly nice.  But, I would definitely not be able to live in a place that is so remote.  Or that doesn’t have adequate internet! J Going to bed early since I’m caught up on email and there is NOTHING to do here.  Early for me is 1 am.  Jude

SATURDAY, MAY 16TH – SHOW DAY IN THE FAROES: Weather is even prettier here today than yesterday.  The wind was blowing so hard last night, it was rattling my windows.   But, when we were here in September, the weather was much stranger.  The day we landed, it was relatively warm, then it started raining, then sleeting, then hailing, then snowing.  All that took place in one hour.  And then it started the cycle over again!  This is much better.  J Had coffee and then went jogging again.  Rare for me to run two days in a row as I prefer to alternate days working out and running.  But it’s just too beautiful of a run to miss today.  I ran for an hour again but changed my route a little.  I actually saw a few dogs tied up in yards today!  I jogged past a store and saw Allan and Wally walking inside.  Stopped for a minute to chat with them and ask Allan if there was a store that sold Faroe Islands souvenirs.  He pointed me in the right direction and I stopped in.  Found out they were closing at noon and it was already 11:45 am.  They had great souvenirs and thankfully I had put money in my shoe before I left…just not enough to buy much.   I got the Z’s a “Puffin” which is the local bird here.  They fed the Bellamys Puffin when they were here in 1997 and Susan still talks about how horrible it was.  This little stuffed Puffin makes the funniest sound ever. Jogged some more and then went back to the hotel to shower.  I am so glad that I’ve got my “distance” back up to 5 miles and more.  Now I just have to work on my speed!    The water was much hotter in the shower today but the floor still flooded.  Much better than some of the showers we’ve had in Norway though. I walked up to the venue to see how sound check was going only to discover it wasn’t.  The sound company had forgotten to bring the converters for the electricity.   The sound company was out of Thorshavn which is an hour’s drive away.  Last night when they arrived, they had forgotten to put all the cables for the equipment on the truck and had to drive all the way back to get those.  They were refusing to go back again today even though it meant we couldn’t perform tonight.  The promoter hired a taxi to pick up the converters and bring them to the venue.  I told him he should deduct the $200 cost from what he pays the sound company! We all had dinner at the hotel again because the only nice restaurant in town was booked full with people who plan to attend the Bellamy’s concert.  We had Allan arrange for a birthday cake for Wally since his birthday is next week.  We tried to arrange an even bigger surprise but couldn’t find anyone to cooperate.  J After dinner, I worked on an email project for about an hour and then came into the lobby to send it.  The wireless was totally down!  The lady at the front desk called her grandson who had helped me before and he tried to get it going again.   Didn’t take him long to re-boot it.  I just think it will go down again before we leave.  He said that whoever installed the system obviously didn’t sell them one that was strong enough to handle all the rooms connecting at one time. Actually the internet has been GREAT since he re-set it.  It even works in my room now!  Figures now that we are leaving.   The show was supposed to begin at 11:30 pm but even though over 500 tickets were sold, there weren’t very many people there.  Allan said shows here usually start around 2 am!  We finally started at 11:45 pm and people poured in all throughout the show.  He ended up with over 700 people attending.  The venue was a huge hall with bleachers along the far wall and lots of wide open space for dancing….which they did.  One particularly drunk guy had some moves we’d never witnessed before.  Jenny got him on video and we’re definitely putting him up on YouTube.  He came over and attempted to speak to us but was slurring so badly we had a hard time understanding him.  He knocked a cd off the counter and then asked Susan to dance.  She jumped up and ran around the front of the counter and Jenny and I were sitting there with our mouths open thinking she was going to dance with him.  He thought so, too and was ready to go.  She was actually picking up the cd he knocked off!    He asked me who I was and I told him I was the “boss”.  He said, “No You’re Not!”.  Okay, then.  The show was a huge success and we have a very happy promoter.  Even with all the challenges of internet and “food”, we love coming to the Faroe Islands because of the people and the beauty of the landscape.  Know we’ll be back here as often as they will have us. It’s after 2 am and I need to pack some things for our flight to Copenhagen tomorrow.  There’s only one airline into the Faroes and none of their flights depart early enough for travelers going to the U.S. to connect with any flights.  So everyone ends up staying in Copenhagen for one night.  We have rooms booked at the Hilton which is connected to the airport terminal so we can just walk over.  I’ve stayed there before and it’s a great hotel.  Night! Jude

SUNDAY, MAY 17TH – ALMOST HOME! Didn’t want to press my luck with my “muscles” by jogging 3 days in a row so I got out the Pilates DVD for a morning workout.  Then coffee and yogurt and we’re off to the airport for our flight to Copenhagen.  Sure wish we were flying all the way home today.  But a night at the Copenhagen Hilton won’t be too bad.  Just wish it wasn’t so far into downtown Copenhagen not that anything would be open today on a Sunday anyway. If you get a chance, wait until Wednesday of next week and go to: click on “Road Kill” and then find the tours for the Bellamys in May 2009.  Click on the “photos” page and look at some of the amazing scenery we saw this trip. Yes, we had way too many days off, but in hindsight it was nice not to be so tired and stressed all the time.   But, I will be very happy to get back home for a couple of weeks.  My next trip is to Iraq with Joe Nichols….his first visit to the AOR, so that will be a blast. Last night, I was looking for Allan’s brother because he promised he would be there.  He’s a real sweetheart.  I called Allan over and asked him where he was and he said, “He’s drunk. Dead drunk.  Drunk as a skunk.  If you want to see him, you’ll have to look down there” (and pointed to the floor).  LOL.  Well a few minutes later, his brother staggered over to see me.  The whole side of his face was scraped and bruised.  I thought he had fallen down because he was drunk but he had actually been playing soccer all afternoon and fell down during the game!  J Summer in the Faroes is very unpredictable because of the weather.  Allan said he’d never attempt to hold a concert outdoors.  He said they have an big event each year called “The Summer Festival”.  Last year, a storm blew in without warning and took out the big tent.  Good-bye Summer Festival!   The drive to the airport took about 1 ½ hours.  There were lots of sheep on the hillside and some of them were standing right on the ledge overlooking the sea.  I asked Allan if they ever fell in.  He assured me they did and then “poof, they were gone”.  Seems they don’t know how to swim.  Some of them had a black head and upper half of the body and a white butt and lower half of the body.  Pretty but strange. I asked Allan about the drinking and driving and he said everyone does it.  There is a fine (not very high) and your license is pulled for 2 years.  Allan’s fiancé was hit by a drunk driver and he only had to pay $100!  Her injuries are permanent.  She’s a lovely girl and she and Allan have a 5 year daughter.  In Scandinavia, couples are engaged for many years (sometimes 20!) and have children.  They may or may not ever marry.  Interesting concept.   It’s a tiny airport and we had some coffee and snacks while waiting for the counter to open.  The gate agent was so sweet and didn’t charge us anything for the excess!  I gave him a cd, of course.  It was raining outside and the plane (Atlantic Airways) was small and packed.  Strangely enough, it wasn’t turbulent.   We landed in Copenhagen right on time and all our luggage/gear made the flight.  The Hilton where we are spending the night is connected to the Terminal so we walked over and checked in.   I stayed here several years ago with my girlfriend from my high school days.  Really nice hotel. Had dinner in the hotel restaurant and after the limited selection of food in the Faroes, the buffet was awesome.  Going to bed soon as we have to be at the airport at 8 am tomorrow for the flight home, via Amsterdam and Memphis on NWA. It has been such a great tour!  Seemed like 3 weeks was forever when we started and now I’m surprised it’s over.  Sure glad I don’t have to wash any more clothes in the sink though!! J Jude

MONDAY, MAY 18TH – GOING HOME! Still can’t believe we actually fly home today!   Had to be in the lobby at 8 am and then we walked over to the terminal.  Checked in at the computer terminal and we were on our way to the gate.  I didn’t have time to eat at the hotel so I stopped for coffee and some more of their great natural yogurt.  Flight took off on time and there was no turbulence.  We landed a few minutes early in Amsterdam which gave me time to by Neuhaus chocolates and syrup waffles for the friends back home.  I also bought some of the Neuhaus chocolates for the Bellamys and their entire group.  Told the girls we have to eat it before we hit U.S. air space because then the diet starts!  J Was delighted to arrive at the plane and find that it is a Delta Airlines flight.  Yippee….that means friendly flight attendants and good food.  We connect through Memphis and then go on to Nashville, arriving after 9 pm tonight.  But then I’m HOME until June 1st.  I’ll even be home on a holiday – Memorial Day – which is a rare treat.  That is if I don’t fly up to DC for the weekend to see Jose being honored.  He’s one of my very special young men who was wounded in Iraq and hasn’t recovered yet.  I’d love to be there with him and his family but just not sure I can make another trip this soon. Landed in Memphis early and the guy at Customs was not very friendly.  He quizzed me for a long time and quizzed one of the other guys even longer.  Also insisted that the Faroe Islands is NOT a country….but that it is Denmark.  Boy, he’d better not EVER make that comment to anyone from the Faroe Islands.  I understand that it is “ruled” by Denmark but that’s like saying Puerto Rico or Guam isn’t a separate country because they are ruled by the U.S.  in my opinion. Our flight leaving Memphis was delayed, of course.  Any time I have a chance to get home at a decent hour, that always happens.  We finally departed at around 8:30 pm…an hour later than scheduled.   But the good news was, Delta had upgraded one of the little soldiers to first class and he was sitting with me.  He was on his way to Ft. Campbell and then on to Iraq.  He was slamming a “free beer” when I sat down.  Said it’s the last one he’ll have for quite a while.   And, get this, he’s going to be at what used to be my favorite base – Balad!  I gave him my card and told him to look at all the posters for entertainers coming to Balad and if he saw the SFS logo, to come backstage and look me up. All our luggage and equipment made it and we all departed the airport quickly to our respective homes!  Will see the Bellamys again during CMA Music Week the second week of June. Jude