THURSDAY, JULY 11TH – TRAVEL FROM DENMARK TO NORWAY:
Got 4 hours sleep, showered, breakfast and checked out of hotel. Took exactly one hour for the drive to the airport. None of us were happy that we are flying SAS. I’m the only one who has “Elite” status on United (partners with SAS) and I’m the highest level possible – Global. SAS refused to allow me to check 3 bags. I had to go to the “office” and they also refused. I called the United Global line and put them on the phone with the airport. THEN they allowed me to check 3 bags at no charge. I don’t even have 3 bags. I was just trying to save the Bellamys some money on excess by checking one of theirs for them. Probably cost me more for the international call than it did if we had just paid for the excess!
We had a short 1 hour flight from Billund to Oslo then had to pick up bags and re-check them. I asked SAS if we could do this as a group since we had already paid the excess and they were tagged to Bergen. The answer was “No. Go get in line with everyone else”. Frank and I walked over to stand in line and then I left to go find the rest of the group. An airport employee had recognized the Bellamys and arranged for us to re-check everything as a group. I went to retrieve Frank but he was already at the desk. Then the ticket agent started telling him he had to pay excess AGAIN. I was furious. Told him to get his bags and boarding pass back from her and we left. Took him to where the Bellamys were and we got everything re-checked.
We had a couple of hours before the flight to Bergen and had time to eat a great salad at a restaurant in the airport where we usually eat. Flight was on time and we landed in Bergen on time. Our bus and driver were waiting for us. He’s a really nice man but a horrible bus driver! Remember, we were on a 5 hour drive on very narrow, winding roads with steep drops on the side. We stopped at a grocery store for food and when we got back in the bus, I asked how long the drive would take. He said about 3 ½ more hours but he had to drive really, really fast. I thought he was kidding but he wasn’t. He floored it. I had bought yogurt to eat and it spilled all over my dress. I had to tell him to slow down. He just didn’t know how to slow for curves and threw us around constantly. He also didn’t “look ahead” and see when we were going to have to stop so we were all thrown forward when he did manage to stop. Boy, do I miss Anna (our usual driver)!
The drive took 5 ½ hours including a ferry ride. But we didn’t have to wait for the ferry because we pulled up just as it was pulling in as well. We were all dead tired by the time we arrived. I’ve made this trip many times and I think he took a different route from what we usually take. Our promoter’s daughter had made arrangements with the hotel to still have dinner for us after we arrived – at 9:30 pm.
When we arrived, Nils our promoter was in the lobby so the Bellamys got to say hello to him. No one was at the check in desk and we waited and waited and waited. Evidently the person who could check us in was working in the kitchen preparing for a wedding dinner. We finally got checked in but were told that there was no “dinner” for us! After some discussion, they agreed to prepare pizza for the band and another dish for the Bellamys – something to do with “deer” meat. We also had a salad and that was excellent.
Randy went in his room and someone was already staying there. It took another 30 minutes to get him situated in another room – in the old part of the hotel. I couldn’t figure out why the service was so bad this year at the hotel. Then Cor Sanne (my dear friend from Holland who is here), said that Doug – the owner of the hotel – had passed away a few months ago. Very sad as he was a really nice man who I’ve known since we started coming here years ago!
Hallur from the Faroe Islands is also here and he will be singing the duet with the Bellamys tomorrow from his new cd. Gene Watson and his group are flying in tomorrow from London. They have a very short connection at Heathrow, so fingers crossed.
This is a great festival and Nils and his daughter Kristin do a fantastic job. The Bellamys performed here way back in 1998! After 2 am, so going to bed soon. Hotel is GREAT – nice room and the internet works! David says we will need a large size squeegee for the bathroom though.
FRIDAY, JULY 12TH – BELLAMYS PERFORM IN BREIM:
Have I mentioned how much I like the rooms at this hotel? We have an elevator that works, air conditioning that works, internet that works, a huge shower stall with a wand that doesn’t fly off and chase you around the room, a “kettle” to make coffee or tea in the room, an iron and full size ironing board, and unbelievably comfortable beds!
Got in bed at 3 am and didn’t get up until 8 am. Had breakfast and then decided to jog again today instead of working out. It “might” rain tomorrow morning and I didn’t want to take that chance. I have a great “route” mapped out for a 3 or 5 mile run. On one stretch, the sea gulls started dive bombing me. Remember that I got trapped in a culvert in Norway last July while sea gulls guarded the entrances waiting to attack me. I changed my route a little this morning. Howard said they dive bombed him last night when he was walking (remember, it is only dark here from about 12:00 until 12:30 am) and one even tried to poop on him. Brave suckers and they are BIG! Sure wish I had a BB gun. J
Showered and met David and Howard in the lobby and hooked them up with Hallur so they could rehearse the duet they will sing tonight. Walked over to the “Coop” and bought water and fruit. They had a great salad bar, so that’s what I had for lunch. Everyone here laughs at us for buying water because their tap water is so pure.
Rode out to the venue with the guys for sound check. The festival changed the way transportation is handled this year and we didn’t get the message. There is a bus that departs the hotel to the venue on every half hour. Then that same bus departs the venue to the hotel on every hour. We missed our ride for sound check but the venue quickly sent a van over for us. I stayed long enough to check things out and then came back to the hotel to meet Gene Watson’s group. They arrived at around 3:45 pm which means their drive from Bergen only took 4 hours and 15 minutes. It was the same driver as yesterday and I asked the guys what they thought of him. They said he drives just like their driver in Texas – start/stop/jerk/sway! J
Gene was dead tired so we got him a quick meal and sent him off to bed. I walked across the street and got him an adapter so he can charge his cell phone.
Had dinner with some of the guys at around 6:30 pm and working on emails until I leave at 10 pm. They guys go over at 9:30 pm but I will ride over with Howard and David at 10 pm.
Got the band off to the venue and Wally looks terrible. He has fever and chills, nausea, congestion…you name it. Don’t know how he’s going to get through a performance.
Rode over with Howard and David at 10 pm. There was a very small “meet and greet” with some people and a radio interview before the show. The crowd was huge but got even bigger when the Bellamys took the stage. Another great – and last performance for this trip – except for one acoustic song with Gene Watson tomorrow at the church. Nils and Kristin were very pleased. Hallur did great with the duet with the Bellamys and the crowd loved it.
Wally did make it through the show although I’m not sure how he did it. I put him in the car with the Bellamys back to the hotel and I waited and rode back with the bus at 1 am. David was still sitting in the car with Wally when I got back and Howard was trying to find him a doctor. They found a doctor and I told them to make SURE he would give Wally antibiotics. I offered to go with Wally since I had virtually this same experience with Vince Gill’s sound tech last year. The doctor he saw was a Danish lady and all she would give him was over the counter medicines which did no good at all. Turns out it was the same place – basically just across the street from the hotel but it was a male Danish doctor this time. He did give Wally some antibiotic pills but told him he has to take them with food. Wally has been much too sick to eat. I had bananas in my room and he thought he might be able to eat those. We went through the same experience as last year with payment, too. There is a machine where you pay and it would not accept our credit cards. I had enough Norwegian Kroner on me to pay for his fee.
I sat in the lobby and talked to Erik who is Nils’s assistant. He loves the “old country classic” stars, too. We are going to encourage Nils to book Desert Rose Band next year. J
Gave Wally his bananas and encouraged him to sleep all day tomorrow. Sure hope he is better by Monday when we have to fly. And sure hope the guys don’t give me that “crud”!
Can’t say enough good things about this festival and the staff here. Nils and Kristin are not only great to work with but just wonderful people. That’s why I love my job. I get to work with great artists and wonderful promoters and fans around the world!
It’s 2:30 am and I have to be in the lobby by 10 am for the acoustic rehearsal. Going to bed by 3 am, I hope!
SATURDAY, JULY 13TH – LAST PERFORMANCE OF THE TOUR!
Woke up several times throughout my short night. Worrying is what I do best and I was really worried about Wally! He is in the room next to me but this hotel is so great, you can’t hear anything between the walls. And I was listening! J
Plus, it is only dark here for about 30 minutes around midnight. The curtains in my room have a “gap” at the very top that allows the sunlight in. I used my duct tape on them but it came loose sometime after I went to bed and sunlight was streaming in at 5:30 am. Ouch!
Had breakfast with Gene – who I absolutely adore – and then he and the Bellamys did a quick rehearsal with Gunnar and his partners for “I’ll Fly Away”. Pretty hard to sing at 10 am though. They will sing that song at the church service later today. It rained sometime after 2 am and was still raining when I got up. It is supposed to clear up this afternoon and be clear until tomorrow morning. Think we are going to have a “wet” day to travel to Bergen though.
I worked out with my “bands” (and I am NOT referring to “musicians”) in my room, showered, answered emails and then made my way back to the grocery store for more water and bananas. Howard, David, Gene and I drove to the church and arrived just as it was time for them to perform. Everyone always asks – why are we performing one song at a church. And then they arrive and see this beautiful little white church – built in the 1800’s — nestled beneath the huge mountains overlooking the lake and a very old cemetery in the back and realize “I get it”. The “vibe” in the church just can’t be described and the artists always have hundreds of questions after they arrive. The church was packed and it was a very moving service. But it was so packed, I couldn’t get anywhere to take a photo. I’m hoping the festival photographer will share his photos with me!
I sent the guys back to the hotel via the incredible water fall and trout run. Howard said he wished he had known that was the best place to fish in all of Norway. I’m sure he would have found time to get in a little fishing!
I went to the venue for sound check with Gene’s guys. The Hellbillies were sound checking when we arrived and they went very late. The production company loved Gene’s guys because they finished much earlier than the time allotted. I got a chance to sit and talk to Cor Sanne which was an unexpected luxury. We’ve known each other for decades and see each other at lots of festivals but we’re both BUSY!
I took the guys by the waterfall on the ride back to the hotel. We all had dinner and I made the decision to depart at 9:30 am tomorrow instead of 11 am. All the festival traffic will be leaving late tomorrow morning and I don’t want to get stuck for an hour or more waiting on the ferry.
Rode over with Gene at 10 pm and it has gotten really COLD outside. I wore my one long sleeve shirt that I purchased in Switzerland and the fleece that Susan left me (THANK YOU, SUSAN!). The female artist before Gene ran over several minutes on her set so Gene started at around 11:20 instead of 11 pm. When he took the stage, there was a decent crowd in the front but the majority of the crowd was in the “beer tent”. I think they all heard that voice and went “WOW”! He filled the place up quickly. If you have never heard Gene Watson sing, google him right now and just listen. The man has the most incredible voice of any male artist in country music. Until tonight, “Farewell Party” was my favorite song. Now it’s “Make the World Go Away”. He sings an amazing version of that hit song. Our driver – Erik – was so “smitten”, he couldn’t stop talking. He was excited beyond belief and it was pretty “cute”.
Hellbillies were going on after Gene so it was going to get rowdy. J We were back at the hotel by 1 am and I’m going to bed VERY soon.
Hard to believe this 3 week tour is over. Such a great, great trip. Only negative side of any of the tour has been the “crud” that the guys keep passing around. As long as they don’t pass it to me! I’ll be home for a week then coming back over to Norway with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Bo Bice and then France with The Mavericks. And then who knows….Armando might actually come up with a budget for Mexico the middle of August. LOL!
SUNDAY, JULY 14TH – BREIM TO BERGEN:
Was up at 6 am so I could print boarding passes. Because the first flight is from Bergen to Amsterdam on KLM, the system wouldn’t let me print from Amsterdam/Atlanta and Atlanta/Nashville. Guess we’ll have to try to get those at the Bergen airport because I do not want to have to deal with this in Amsterdam/Atlanta. Same thing happened with Gene Watson. Could only print Bergen to London but not London to DFW!
Said our good-byes to the promoter and friends and left at 9:30 am. We made one stop to pick up a musician and give him a ride to Bergen. Svein was our driver again but he was much “smoother” this time. We only had to wait about 5 minutes for the ferry to arrive and we were in Bergen by 2:15 pm.
The Radisson had our reservations but said not all the rooms were ready because they did not know what time we were arriving. I told them I’d have to “switch” some rooms so I could give the artists their rooms. Rooms suddenly became available for everyone. When I asked “why”, they said that they just couldn’t give us all rooms on the same floor. I assured them that was not a priority. Second challenge — hotel desk clerk informed us that the restaurant was closed on Sunday even though we have a voucher to eat dinner there tonight. I checked with the “bar” and they found someone who could help me. Evidently, they are opening the restaurant just for us for dinner.
Got everyone in their rooms and Howard, David and I walked own to the “fish market” for a snack. Howard stopped to do some shopping on the way and saw the “Princess of Thailand” and her huge entourage shopping. David had what he said was great fish curry and mussels. I had king crab which was really good but not as good as what I had at Joe’s Crab House in Miami/Palm Beach area this past January! Howard met us before we left and he had the fish curry and salmon.
I helped David find a small jar of cloudberry jam and then went shopping to try and find the Z’s something I haven’t already bought for them. It was impossible. Will get them some chocolate in Amsterdam! I also ran into the “Princess of Thailand” as she was shopping. She and her security guards filled the entire shop and I couldn’t get to the things I wanted to see.
Back in my room answering the few emails I get on Sundays and re-packing. Will have to get up at around 2:30 am tomorrow. Going to be a long day!
Went down to make sure there were no problems with dinner. My “Italian” guy who helped me this afternoon was there and said everything was set up for 26 people. I said “no, 16 people”. He said “okay, they made a mistake”. So everyone sat down and 5 minutes later a waitress comes barreling out of the kitchen raging that we have to get up because those aren’t our seats. I looked at her and said “come with me”. Took her to my Italian and let them sort it out. Evidently, they had given us the seats for a group of Thais. So we moved over and my guys got fed! The Italian actually served us and took great care of us. Wally is still really sick, and he even arranged to take food to his room…..not that he can eat it. L
Said “good night” to everyone at around 8 pm, showered and I’m going to bed by 10 pm and get up at 2:30 am. Has been such a great tour!!!
MONDAY, JULY 15th – BERGEN TO NASHVILLE:
2:30 AM came much too quickly. I was in bed by 10:30 pm and awake at 11:30 pm – sneezing and eyes watering. I had left the window open because even with air conditioning, it was hot in the room. Big mistake. The rain escalated my “allergies”. Got up and took medicine and went back to sleep…for an hour….woke up every hour until I got up at 2:30 am to shower and dress for the flights home.
We departed at 4 am and arrived at 4:30 am. There was a really young guy working the KLM counter and I think he was very, very “intimidated” by me. Every time he was say, “I can’t”…I’d say “yes you can and here’s how you do it”. He ended up checking 10 pieces of equipment under my name and didn’t charge us any excess! We were able to grab some “breakfast” (as it was) before boarding the flight to Amsterdam. Landed Amsterdam on time and didn’t have a very long layover. We were able to get boarding passes from Amsterdam to Atlanta but they would not issue the boarding passes from Atlanta to Nashville. That is a big concern since we have a little less than 2 hours to clear immigration, pick up bags, clear customs, re-check bags, clear security, and take a tram to the gate! I went into the KLM Lounge and got my boarding pass issued. The lady who helped me was not friendly and said that my travel agent should have “re-issued” all the tickets because Delta had a “flight change”. Delta notified us of the change via email several weeks before we departed but the only thing that changed was our departure time by 5 minutes!
I managed to buy the chocolates for the Z’s and friends and then went straight to the gate. They issued David’s boarding pass and he told them that there were several more people behind him who also needed their issued. She said, “No problem. I’ll take care of them”. Then when they came up to get their boarding passes, she told them she couldn’t issue them and they would have to get them in Atlanta at the gate.
We departed on time and the plane is one of the “new” ones that have been reconfigured. We had little individual “cubicles” with lay-flat seats in business class. Very nice. Flight attendants were definitely NOT attentive. Not once did they come by and offer water or beverages after the meal was served. I was talking to someone about how smart it would have been to give the pilots their “private” toilet so they wouldn’t have to close off the toilets for the passengers in first/business class. This plane was like that. There was one toilet in the front of the plane in the galley and then a second toilet right outside the cockpit door with a metal “gate” that could be closed off when the pilots came out. Only problem is….the STILL wouldn’t let anyone come to the galley and use the other toilet when the pilots were out of the cockpit.
We landed Atlanta 20 minutes early and cleared Immigration quickly. Then it took forever for the bags to come out. I started sending everyone who still needed a boarding pass on to the gate once they got their luggage. Then, I left to try and talk to the pilots and get them to “hold the plane” for our guys. There was a huge line to re-check bags and go through the scanners — seems it was the “Tennessee Ambassadors – LOTS of teenagers who had been in Europe for 13 days traveling to 7 countries – singing and performing.
I got a phone call from Wally after I had cleared security saying Customs would not let them through without a copy of the Equipment Manifest. Penny had put the original in my road book and I thought she gave Wally a copy. He didn’t have one. I had put my road book in my checked luggage thinking there was nothing else I would need. Wrong. Wally was finally able to talk the Customs Officials into letting them go through. I honestly didn’t think they would make the flight and had convinced the flight crew and gate agent that we might need to “delay” if possible. But, everyone made it before they closed the door!
Landed in Nashville and baggage claim was a nightmare. All the Tennessee Ambassadors had LOTS of relatives meeting them and it took almost 45 minutes for the luggage to come out. Finally headed home at around 5:15 pm!
It was such a great trip – wonderful entertainers and fantastic promoters. I’d do it again — and hopefully will next year! Will be home for one week and then back to Norway with Nitty Gritty and Bo Bice and France with The Mavericks!