MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1ST – SWITZERLAND TO QATAR – HAPPY LABOR DAY!
Very short night but plan on sleeping on the 6 hour flight to Doha today.
We all had breakfast at 6:15 am before leaving for the airport at 7 am. Check-in was “painless” but Qatar charges by weight for excess, not by piece. In the end, it was about the same as per piece – around $1,000. We had about 45 minutes once we got checked in before we had to board. Susan got checked in on Delta and was still in “pain” with the kidney stone trying to pass – but nothing like the pain she was in last week. Hate that she has to fly by herself to Tampa but know she will be very happy to be back in her own home with her doctors.
The aircraft is one of the new “Dreamliners” and was really nice. I was in a section that was behind the first 5 rows of Business Class – two seats all by themselves in a little “alcove”. As soon as I got everything situated, the flight attendant came up and asked if I would mind moving to another seat so a “couple” could sit together. There was a lady standing there in a burka and a man with her. I moved and as soon as I did, the man left and another lady in a burka sat with the lady! We had been talking about the man when we were at the gate area because it was evident he had around 6 wives!
The flights attendants were super nice and the meal was excellent. The Bellamys had told me to watch “The Golden Arm” because it was about the recruitment of the first two baseball players from India. They said it was “everything we went through” with our visit there. They were right. I was laughing so hard, I’m sure the people around me were annoyed. I am pretty sure one of the “Indian” stars is the brother of the promoter we worked with.
We landed and were met by the “escort” service. They processed our Visas for us while we waited in their lounge. The only thing is, it took well over an hour because the also collected our luggage for us. Of course, they couldn’t find everything – we had 10 suitcases and 10 pieces of equipment. They told us 5 pieces were missing. Once we escaped the lounge and could go “look” for ourselves, we realized it was all pieces of “oversize” equipment. I told our escort to go to the “oversize” belt and check there. They did find one piece but said the other 4 were not there. I knew they were wrong because we were on a direct flight from Zurich. We went to file a claim for the missing pieces but the man at the counter agreed with me. He made a phone call and said that the belt was broken for the oversize pieces and we should wait a few minutes. Their “few minutes” are not like America’s “few minutes”. After more than a half-hour, I was ready to go out back and look for myself. Finally someone came in and announced that they found all our equipment.
We headed for Customs and that’s where I spent nearly an hour getting Darryl Worley’s group cleared. It was amazingly easy this time. Couldn’t even get them to stamp our manifest – which means I hope we don’t have problems when we depart!
Had another glitch when the promoter wasn’t waiting out front for us. I called him and he said he would have to bring the buses around. We waited about another 10 minutes and finally got on buses and headed for the hotel. The drive to the hotel was fantastic – quite a light show. Reminded me of the Hong Kong skyline. The hotel is the St. Regus and is a 5 star hotel. It’s really beautiful and we have a “butler” who takes care of us. Mine is “Stanley” but he got off duty at midnight, so I’ll meet a new one tomorrow. David and Howard have a huge suite and I went in David’s with him. There was a framed “Collage” of photos of him on his desk along with welcome messages from the hotel staff. Too funny.
Stanley helped me figures out my air conditioning and tv and most importantly, my internet. Only the wireless nor the LAN line would connect. We finally got the wireless connected but the website wouldn’t accept the passcode they gave us. He tried and tried and finally said he would have to contact IT. I went down to dinner with the guys in the Opal restaurant. The meal was good but we were told that we were limited to 200 Riyal for our food. In our contract, it states that the buyer will provide an appetizer or salad, entrée, dessert and beverages (excluding alcohol). There was nothing on the menu that would allow us to eat all that and stay under 200 Riyal. I had to call the promoter and get it straightened out.
I went back to the room to unpack a few things and work. Was able to Facetime with Zac and Zoe. They have really enjoyed their “holiday”.
Our show tomorrow is in the Grand Ballroom at this hotel. Hopefully, it will be sold out.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2ND – FIRST PERFORMANCE IN DOHA, QATAR:
What a DAY! Got 5 hours sleep then went down for breakfast. I was FREEZING in my room and no matter how high I set the thermostat, it was still freezing! The breakfast buffet is worthy of a photograph. Will have to take one tomorrow. The one at the Radisson in Kuwait is amazing but this one tops even that! Wally came in and ate with me. He said he had the same problem with the air conditioner last night!
Went to the gym to work out and it is state of the art. Every cardio machine you can imagine, free weights, nautilus, water sports…you name it. Had a great, much needed work out! Back to the room to shower and deal with “problems”. I made a “list” and took it to the front desk. It included:
Internet Code does not work
Drain in bathroom sink is broken
Hair Dryer is broken
Plug in Foyer is broken
Plug under desk is broken
Air conditioner is broken
Supposedly, they “fixed” everything. Only when I got back to my room late tonight, the internet code didn’t work and it is FREEZING in here.
Sound check went relatively smooth except for having the wrong drum kit for Gregg. They “say” they will have the correct one for the show on Thursday. I walked outside to snap a few photos of the pool and beach area (which are spectacular) and it was so hot and muggy, it was hard to breathe. It’s about 100 degrees with 100% humidity! Feels like you can reach out and grab a handful of air.
I got it cleared with the promoter for the guys to charge dinner to room service. The restaurant doesn’t open until 6 pm and we have to be in the ballroom by 7:15 pm. And, service at the restaurant is incredibly slow.
Everyone finished up sound check and went to their rooms to shower and order room service. That’s when my text messages and room phone started blowing up. Room service would not let them charge to their room. They told them they had to pay cash or use a credit card. I called Keith and he said he would fix it. He didn’t. I got so mad, I went up to the 5th floor where most the guys are located and literally took the tickets out of their hands and told them to follow me downstairs. I plopped everything down on the Concierge’s desk, told her how to fix it, and walked. I ordered room service once I was back in my room. I told them NOT to send it up with someone asking for payment. They did. I made them call their “boss” and get it cleared up. Not making a lot of “friends” at this hotel and it’s a shame. It’s a beautiful that is very deceiving. There are also people from 67 different counties working here!
Right in the middle of all the “dinner” stress, the group that I had invited from the Military Base arrived and their tickets were not at the Concierge!!! I finally got that straightened out and was able to get their tickets to them.
We had to be downstairs at 7:15 pm for a VIP Meet and Greet that would last 30 minutes. We arrived and “no one was there”. There were a few people in the ballroom and I quickly figured out who was there from the military base. Took them all backstage to meet the Bellamys and have a photo taken with them. I asked Keith why no one was at the Meet and Greet and he didn’t have an answer for me. Turns out, they were in one of the bars and no one TOLD them it was time.
The show started late because evidently no one told them we were supposed to start at 8 pm. They began wandering in a few minutes later and it turned out to be a GREAT Audience, too. They clapped and yelled and sang along with every number. After the show, the Bellamys took photos with everyone….the ones who were never told about the VIP Meet and Greet!
I got some great video and posted on Facebook. There’s two guys just dancing like crazy to “Redneck Girl”. Then there’s a small clip of “Beautiful Body” but the best is the “sheik” dancing to “Let Your Love Flow”. He and another Sheik came backstage after the show and took tons of photos with everyone. I think he may have been the main “Sponsor” for this event.
It was a wonderful evening. Stanley – my “butler” had felt sorry for me earlier this afternoon and brought me a big tray of fruit and one of chocolates. I thanked him but made him take the chocolates away”! Much too tempting to have them in my room. Wish I had them right now at 2:30 am!
I think that’s all my “report” but am just too tired to think straight. Will try to report what I missed tomorrow!
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3RD – DAY OFF IN DOHA:
Slept in until 8 am and then went down for breakfast. Some of the guys were already there eating. One of them talked me into trying the Mango Mint Smoothie. Different! J
I got side-tracking by emails and didn’t have time to work out before my massage. The massage was good and much needed but definitely nothing spectacular. Went to the gym afterwards and used the elliptical trainer for 40 minutes. By the time I showered and dressed, it was 4 pm! The Sales and Catering manager called and wanted to bring the IT guy by my room. He explained that instead of issuing 9 “bellamy” access codes where each person could sign on with up to 3 devices, there were actually only a total of 10 log-ins possible! Would have been nice to know that. They apologized profusely and he agreed to set up our email so that we didn’t have to log in at all. We’ll see how that works.
I also had a chance to speak with the Sales and Catering Manager. Evidently she has been just as frustrated as I have in trying to deal with this promoter. Definitely can’t put what was said between us in this Road Report!
I went down to the Concierge at 5:30 pm and arranged our vehicles to take us shopping to a local market and the Gold Souk. Then had dinner with the boys. My meal was excellent.
We left the hotel at around 8 pm and arrived there at 8:30 pm. The place was HUGE and very different from any “markets” I have shopped around the world. No one hassles you, the place is spotlessly clean, and you “bargain”. It was 110 degrees today with 100% humidity. The shops were air conditioned but most of the time we were outside walking and window shopping. I was absolutely dripping with sweat and my hair was soaked by the time we left. I purchased some beautiful black silk scarves with rhinestone designs on them. They were originally 60 Riyal each but I got him down to 30 Riyal each since I purchased 10. Got Zac and Zoe t-shirts and postcards.
Most of the shops closed down at 10 pm but a few stayed open until 10:30 pm. I walked over to the Gold Souk and THAT was amazing. The gold actually “shimmers” as you walk by it. It’s a two story “mall” with beautiful display windows and shops. Fortunately, everything was closed or I would have spent a lot of money. Walked back through the “handicraft” shops and found some more great items….but shops were closed. I may have to go back by there on Friday morning since we don’t depart until 8 pm for the airport. But, they close from noon to 4 pm, so will have to go early if I go.
Got back to the hotel and had to take another shower. Been answering emails for hours and really tired. Hope to get in bed within the hour.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4TH – QATAR NATIONAL CONVENTION CENTER PERFORMANCE:
LONG BUSY DAY YESTERDAY! It’s almost 5 pm on Friday and this is the first chance I have had to “blog”!
Had breakfast early as we had to depart to the venue at 10 am. It was about a 30 minute drive and the venue is BEAUTIFUL. However, we were dropped off in front because our driver didn’t “understand” the word “Backstage”! We did manage to get the truck driver turned around and send him to the loading dock.
Met the folks at the Convention Center and they were all very helpful. I finished with my “recon” by noon and called the Concierge at the hotel to have a car pick me up. I had “pre-arranged” with them that I would be calling and they said they needed 30 minutes notice to get there. I made sure to tell them that the driver needed to come backstage to the loading dock. After 45 minutes, I called the hotel back. The concierge told me the driver was there but was not “allowed” to come to the loading dock. So I hiked (and it is a “hike”) back to the front door. No car. I asked the security guard and he said no one had been there. Called the hotel again and they wanted to give me the driver’s phone number and have me call him and give him directions to the front door of the Convention Center. Really? I think I’m from the USA and really don’t have a clue how to give directions in Qatar! I told them to forget it and send the driver back to the hotel and not to charge me.
The guys finished up at 2 pm and I had told our bus driver to pick us up AT THE LOADING DOCK at 2 pm. At 2:15 pm we were still standing outside “melting” in the heat. I called the promoter and he said the bus would be there in 5 minutes. Yeah, right! At 2:30 pm, he finally pulled up. When I questioned him as to why he was 30 minutes late, his response was “Oh, it is hard to get here”! Told him he’d better plan to start earlier when he picked us up tonight.
Had time to change and eat dinner from room service before leaving for the show. No problems with “signing to our room” for our meal this time! The Bellamys had a great “meet and greet” before the show. There were people there from Kuwait (flew in because Kuwait isn’t allowed to have public concerts!) and Goa, India! My invitees from the military base were there as well. At intermission, one of them came up to me – Jimmy Hardy — and said we have a mutual friend – Colonel Tim Sughrue! He knows Tim’s daughter. I took a photo of him and will email to Tim and Mary Cahterine. And, get this, Jimmy won one of the “door prizes”. So cool!
The Sheik was there front and center again. It was a GREAT concert. Everyone was up dancing by the end of the set. We hung around for a while afterwards to talk to the Sheik (who confirmed he wants them back next year!) and take some photos. Our bus was waiting for us this time. Guess my little pep talk worked.
I worked until 2 am and literally passed out at my laptop.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5TH – LAST DAY IN QATAR AND SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6TH – QATAR TO ZURICH:
I lay down across the bed at 2 am and set the alarm for 3 am to get up and finish answering emails. Just couldn’t do it. Slept until 6 am and then worked for a while before going down to breakfast. The restaurant was so crowded! Friday and Saturday are their “weekends” and Friday is their “Holy Day” (our Sunday).
Got in a good workout and saw Howard and Gregg had the same idea. By the time I showered, only had a few hours left to work on emails that I didn’t get answered the night before. For some reason, my phone had started ringing “once” about every 15-30 minutes. I called the front desk about it numerous times, but they couldn’t seem to fix it. And, of course, our room keys quit working at noon — check out time!
Tried again to check everyone in but no luck. Emailed my travel agent and she did it for them but by the time she emailed it to me, it was too late to print boarding passes as I had already packed up my printer.
One of the musicians called me at 4:30 pm and said we needed reservations because the restaurant was already packed and it was open! I knew something wasn’t right because the hotel info said the restaurant opens at 6 pm. I called them and they said they were just finishing their big “weekend brunch” and wouldn’t open back up again until 6:30 pm. I explained that we have to depart to the airport and asked if there was any way to accommodate the group at 6 pm. They agreed and had our usual table waiting for us – right by the bar with all the smokers. Howard got us moved to another area and we had a nice dinner together once I got them to turn down the overly loud music they were playing.
Had a problem checking out because all room charges had gone on the “master account”. Wally and I spent a half hour trying to figure out what we owed.
Driver was on time and we departed at 8 pm. David and I called “Stanley” – our great butler – to say goodbye and tip him but he never came down. We left his tips with his friend as we had to leave. The promoter was texting me saying he was waiting at terminal one. Our itinerary says terminal two. I tried to find it on the website but couldn’t. I even called Delta and they showed that the flight number I gave them was departing from Washington State! Our driver pulled over on the side of the road to wait for the buyer to tell him which terminal. Traffic was just flying by and it didn’t feel too safe sitting there. When we finally arrived, there were signs that stated the first 3 terminals were for Qatar Airlines and the 4th was for all other airlines.
After all the “drama” of the terminals, check in went fairly smooth. We did have to go to a separate counter to pay for the excess but only had to pay for 2 pieces.
Lindsey was en route to Norway yesterday with the Mavericks for a festival I have in Lofoten. There were flight delays and she “lost” 5 guys and an accordion. I talked to her today and everyone/everything had finally arrived.
The aircraft we were on was OLD. The flight was actually operated by KLM and they usually have nice aircraft. There was guy sitting in the window seat by me – passed out. He slept the entire trip.
I watched an Adam Sandler movie called “Blended” and it was hilarious and the lovely and talented Wendi McLendon had a starring role. Wendi went with me to Iraq many times over New Year’s to entertain the troops.
We landed Amsterdam on time and the Bellamys had a 5 hour layover. I had an hour and had to go straight to my gate. I was in Zurich by 8:30 am and guess what – my room was ready at the hotel! I was able to work almost all day except for taking time to meet with Lukas to discuss the TV show in November and January tour. Had room service for dinner and it was excellent – little pieces of veal with sautéed veggies in an amazing sauce. Had a chance to talk to Zac and Zoe on Facetime. They are ready for me to come home!
It’s almost 2 pm, so going to shut it down and get some sleep. Wouldn’t you know I have tomorrow off and NOTHING is open on Sundays except the shops in the airport and train station!