MONDAY AND TUESDAY – JUNE 14-15 – BERGEN, NORWAY – BELLAMY BROTHERS:
Today I left from the Nashville airport with the Bellamy Brothers for the first of our European Tours in 2010. First stop is Bergen, Norway. It was a nightmare at the airport – everyone from CMA Music Festival AND Bonnaroo Festival were leaving town with us. Delta had 2 people working their counters which should have been fine because they insisted that everyone check in through the kiosk so all they had to do was call the passenger’s name and attach the bag tag. I went to the “first class/medallion member” line and stood there for more than 40 minutes just waiting for the agent to finish with ONE customer. Finally went to the kiosk and entered all my info. Then I stood and stood and stood waiting for my name to be called. Never happened. My wonderful skycap took control and put the tags on himself. Only had about 10 minutes to run into the lounge and download all my email before flying to Detroit. And, let me tell you, standing with all those Bonnaroo festival fans for more than 30 seconds was not pleasant. They had done nothing but drink all weekend and evidently “showering” did not figure into their camping experience. It was brutal.
Flight was smooth and it was a big plane which was a perk. We went straight from that flight to board our flight to Amsterdam. There was a problem with the jetway when we landed and they couldn’t get it to the plane. Took about 10 minutes to fix that. I thought the Bonnaroo stench was bad but someone from Europe walked past me on the plane and it was obviously deodorant was not on their shopping list. If I had sat by him, I would have needed a face mask!
Because Delta and Northwest and KLM merged, our flights were booked on KLM but we flew on a Delta plane from Nashville to Detroit, a Northwest plane from Detroit to Amsterdam and a KLM jet from Amsterdam to Bergen. The NWA plane to Amsterdam was the kind where the seats in Business class recline like a slant board. So uncomfortable. They also did not have the little amenity kits which is find IF they had warned me first. I was in the 4th row and when they came around to take the dinner orders, I heard them telling the passengers in the 2nd row that the only meals left were salmon and a cold beef plate. I wanted the pasta because it’s the only thing edible on airplanes usually. Delta has always been the best airline for meals but they definitely lost that title this trip. I didn’t want the salmon because I’m sure that’s what I’ll have every meal in Norway plus it always sucks on the airplane. Obviously not much of a choice so I took it. I made a comment about the meal of my choice not being available and was informed that they had a lot of children on board today! You’d think they’d take care of their Platinum Medallion flyers a little better, huh? Sucks to pay so much money to fly business class and that’s the service we receive. Flight was packed full, too. I watched a really horrible movie because for once I had already seen all the “recently released” films. It was a very short flight – not much over 7 hours. I prefer the long 12-14 our flights to Kuwait and Asia since I can get a lot more done in that time in the air. J
We landed on time and again and had to go through passport control and security before heading to the gate. Had time for a cup of coffee before boarding the plane to Bergen. We were sitting around talking about the movies we had watched and I was telling them how sad that George Clooney movie “Up in the Air” had made me because it sounds like my life. If you read my road report a few months ago, you know they moved a passenger from the seat beside me to another seat so no one would be sitting by me for the international flight because I am “Global” on United. As we started to board the plane, the agent took my boarding pass and said they had moved me from 5 C to 3 C. I questioned why as I did not want to be in bulkhead and sometimes that is row 3. She said that they moved me so I would have the entire row to myself with no one sitting with me. Trust me, the Bellamys gave me hell about that. J
Difference in the European flight crew and U.S. flight crew is night and day. Europeans are so nice and service oriented. Americans act like we are imposing on them and could not be any more rude, as a general rule.
We landed on time and our promoter was waiting for us. All our luggage and gear made it – yippee! He had a nice bus for our 15 minute drive into Bergen. Been a few years since I’ve been here but I love this city. I’ll have two days off here when I come back in July and really looking forward to it. The hotel – Thon Hotel – is very nice and located right in the city center which is truly convenient. The rooms weren’t ready but I did get Howard and David in theirs. They gave me a key to a smoking room that was available to see if we wanted to use it. I walked up to look at it and my throat started burning the minute I walked in. No one in the group wanted it. They all decided to go into the restaurant and eat lunch while they waited for their rooms.
When I got in mine, it was really nice. The bed is about 24 inches wide. If I turn over in my sleep, I’ll fall onto the wooden floor! At least the bathroom is nice with a tub AND shower curtain. Half the time in Norway, it’s just a shower stall with no floor – just a drain in the bathroom floor –, no shower curtain and a huge squeegee to push the water off the floor. No air conditioning, of course, but I got a fan from the front desk and the highs here have only been in the 50’s during the day and 40’s at night. Kind of chilly for us after leaving 100 degree temperature in Nashville. I think everyone but me crashed for several hours. I had email to answer. I did sneak in a 2 hour nap later in the afternoon though.
Everyone met downstairs for Dinner at 6 pm except for the Bellamys and their wives. I figured they were still crashed out. But, Wally went to check on them and said he saw David and Susan in the upstairs part of our restaurant. Susan had gotten confused from jet lag and lack of sleep and told David there was no “band dinner” tonight. So, they were upstairs eating burgers at their expense while we were downstairs feasting on free steak. Except, I don’t eat a lot of beef, so I had – you guessed it – the salmon. It was certainly a hundred times better than what I tried to eat on the plane today.
Our buyer and promoter had dinner with us and gave me the news that the “security personnel” have gone on strike at all the airports. Evidently we landed right before this happened. Flights are being canceled and no idea when the strike will end. We have to fly again on Thursday from Bergen to Kristiansand. It would take us 8 hours to drive by bus or we can take a Hydra-foil boat to Stavanger and then drive to Arendal. We will have to be at the boat by 7:30 am and won’t arrive in Arendal until around 4 pm. Will really push us to be ready to perform on time but no other option, depending on the strike. A train would take us over 14 hours! And to think I was worried about volcanic ash!!!
Dinner was really good – grilled salmon, steamed broccoli, and baked potato. Very healthy. I went back to my room to work on the internet for 6 more hours and hope to go to bed soon. Almost midnight now. First performance is tomorrow night.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16TH – FIRST SHOW IN BERGEN, NORWAY WITH BELLAMY BROTHERS:
So, the tv only has 4 channels that aren’t “pay” channels and the only English speaking news channel is BBC. However….my BBC has no “sound” on it. I called the front desk and their response was, “Oh yes. We have problems with that. Unplug the tv and see if it fixes it.” I did. It didn’t. No other answer to the problem according to reception. Thon isn’t feeling like such a great hotel anymore.
Didn’t sleep more than an hour at a time last night. The “twins” keep getting colds and passing them along to me, something that never used to happen. Sure wish Zicam was still available in the cold remedy swabs. I am going to see if they have it in Europe.
Got up at 7 and went for a wonderful jog along the water. The fish and souvenir stalls were just beginning to get set up. Weather was perfect..almost 50 degrees. Grabbed a quick breakfast back at the hotel and took a shower. When I stepped out of the bathtub, the entire front panel fell off the tub. It was metal, so it made a huge clanging sound. I couldn’t get it back on so just left it for housekeeping to deal with. I was able to spot the Radisson Hotel on my jog. I’ll be staying there in a couple of weeks when I have the days off in Bergen. Looking forward to that.
Had a couple of hours to kill so I walked around the shops in the area and bought a fresh shrimp salad at the fish market for lunch. Have to go over for sound check at 1:45 pm today, then dinner at 6 pm and show at 9 pm. Still not sure what we are doing about travel tomorrow but have a feeling it will be a very short night.
Decided not to go to sound check at 1:45 because they only brought small cars and had to make a couple of trips to take everyone. I walked down to the fish market with Susan and David and then went over with them at 3:30 pm. Venue is really nice and I hope the ticket sales are good. Sound was excellent in the venue.
Back to the hotel and a quick walk down to the book store before it closed. Needed to get some English language books before we go to the small towns in Norway where they probably won’t be available. Scored with a “buy 2 get one free” sale!
We all had dinner together in the hotel restaurant and I did NOT have salmon….I had chicken. J Dressed and left for the show at 8:30 pm. The sound at the venue was just as great tonight and they Bellamys got a standing ovation. Really fantastic show.
Found out that the airport we are supposed to fly into tomorrow is definitely closed for the strike. So, at 6:30 am we depart to the boat dock and travel by boat for 4 hours to Stavanger. Then it’s at least a 4 to 5 hour bus ride to Arendal. Probably have to delay the start of the show since we will arrive so late. Going to be a long day! But weather is supposed to be good, so hopefully the “water” will be calm.
By the way, the Road Kill Reports are now on my Facebook page as well. Will add photos to that site tomorrow.