SATURDAY, JULY 4TH – SJOVEGAN, NORWAY – HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!:
I got up at 6 am and went downstairs. The driver said “Ohhhh…Ohhhh…that was a rough drive. I had to stop twice and sleep”! Now a bus driver should not have to stop and sleep on a 4 hour drive. At 6:15 am, he pulled into the Departure Area at the Oslo Airport. I had to go tell him again it was too early to check in and he needed to go somewhere and park for at least 30 minutes. We did that and we got everyone up at about 15 minutes until 7. More than half the airport was closed for construction and when we arrived inside at the check in counters, the line was really, really long. I asked 3 different “agents” if we could go to a “group check in” and was told “no”. Then I asked a 4th one and she was nice and helped us.
Norwegian Air is the Southwest Airlines of Norway. Lots of families with small children flying and every flight is packed full. I knew checking in 20 pieces between 9 people was going to be challenging. At least the agent didn’t charge us as much as I feared. Seems “musical instruments” qualify for a flat fee of 299 NOK each if paid at the airport. It’s a lot less expensive if paid on line but I wasn’t’ able to check anyone in yesterday. Supposedly, on the fares we purchased, each person is allowed to check 1 bag weighing 20 kilos or less “free”. Then a fee is paid “per kilo” for anything over 20 kilos. Passengers are also allowed to check a 2nd bag for $12 U.S. as long as it weighs 20 kilos or less. Very confusing. But, the agent was nice and Wally only had to pay around $400 total.
The strange thing is, the agent didn’t ask to see our passports and we didn’t have boarding passes. She used the copy of our flight reservations that I had printed out from our travel agency! After checking in, the agent would only accept our suitcases and the 10 cases of equipment had to be taken to bulky equipment. The line for that process was all the way down the length of the airport! There was one person working the counter, too! I noticed that most of the customers were families with small children and were checking the strollers. And, no one else in line already had their claim checks printed, so it was a really slow process. I finally asked the agent if we could just drop off our bags since we already had claim checks. Nope. Not going to happen. But, she said another agent was opening up so we jumped in front of everyone in line and got in that line. It still took about 15 minutes because each bag had to be scanned individually.
We were able to sit down and eat some breakfast once we cleared security. It’s only a little over an hour flight to Evenes Airport (small airport) up North. But, as I said, the plane was packed full and these aircraft don’t have business or first class seating. I know some of the guys ended up sitting next to families with children and the children were obviously sick with very bad colds. Sure hope no one in this group (especially me!) gets sick.
We landed on time and it took a very long time for the bags to even begin coming out on the conveyor belts. The promoter – Chris – met us and he’s a very young man as well. Flying in we noticed that there is still snow on the mountains surrounding this area. All our bags came and we loaded everything in a trailer and took the “mini-bus” for the 1 ½ hour drive to the hotel. Scenery was fantastic – huge snow covered mountains with waterfalls at the top and the water running all the way down to the road and into a rushing “river” of glacier water below.
We are staying at the nicest hotel in the area but it is very “primitive”. Staff is wonderful though. The rooms for the band/crew were not ready when we arrived, so they stored their bags. I ran to my room to get cds out of my suitcases and then met them in the lobby for the ride to the venue. This is called the “Millionfisken Festival”. Basically it is a fishing festival where fishermen compete. The “winner” gets one million NOK (about $100,000 U.S.). Each participant guesses what “type” of fish and the “weight of the fish” they will catch. At the end of the tournament, a sealed envelope is opened with the name of the winning fish and weight. Then all the participants check to see if they came within 10 grams high or low of the winning number. They do not have a winner every year although someone did win 2 years ago.
The stage is literally at the very end of a pier! There’s beautiful water, boats, mountains and snow as the backdrop. We have a tent in the back and they had brought in a large “heat blower” to try and warm it up. Did I mention that it is COLD this far North?? The buyer provided sandwiches, pasta salad and chips for lunch. The guys started their sound check and I stopped in a restaurant and got Howard and David some hot salmon for lunch. David had sent me a text saying there was no food at the hotel. The stage didn’t have enough power adapters for the stage gear either, so once I arrived back at the hotel, the driver came in and took two of the guys suitcases back with him so the guys could retrieve their personal adapters.
Once back in the hotel, I realized just how “much” is missing. There’s no desk or anywhere to put my computer. No trash can anywhere. No hair dryer. Two big closets but not one hanger. I had told the front desk when I left that it was freezing in my room and they said they would turn on my heat for me. They didn’t because they don’t have a master key. I also thought there were no towels but found them in a “design” on my bed. After traveling all night, I just wanted a shower. Only the soap dispenser that should have been mounted on the wall was actually mounted lying down on a shelf. It was impossible to push the dispenser button and get any soap! Lucky for me, I had my Swiss Army knife and was able to pry the dispenser off the shelf.
Found out we are eating dinner at Chris’s mother’s home but in the Garden. I told her I thought it would be was going to be way too cold to sit outside but she assured me it is “tented” and there are huge heaters inside the tent.
It’s going to be a challenge getting the guys to the stage tonight because the only way to the stage is right through the crowd. That’s also the only way off the stage when the show is over, too.
I am sitting “hunched” over a little table and trying to type on my laptop. Had to leave at 6:15 pm to go to dinner. What a wonderful surprise dinner was for us. Our promoter’s Mom had decorated the tent with American flags just for us. And, she had cooked the meal – potato salad, pasta salad, salad, rice, gravy, chicken, pork, bread, and I can’t remember what else. At the end of the meal she brought out a huge Marzipan cake (Susan should have been here because David says it’s her favorite) and it was decorated to say “Happy Fourth of July to the Bellamy Brothers”. We had to rush back to the hotel after dinner so everyone could change for the show. Frank and Randy decided to sleep instead of eat dinner but they sure missed a treat. I think we are all pretty “fried”. I KNOW I am!
Drove back out to the venue and Howard and David did an interview for a Norwegian Radio Station and it was also filmed for local TV. It was outside and I was freezing. Hard to go from high 90’s and being miserably hot to the 40’s and freezing in just one day. The opening act was still performing in the tent next to the stage, so there wasn’t a crowd out front when we arrived. Once the opening act finished at 10 pm, the crowd came to the stage where the Bellamys were performing. The promoter said it is sold out with over 2,000 people. Audience was great and Bellamys had another terrific performance. There are going to be fireworks on the pier but not sure we will still be here when they take place. And, I don’t think it ever gets dark here! It’s 11 pm and the sun hasn’t even started going down. Sure wish we could see the Northern Lights!!!
So hard to believe this is the last show of this run – two new festivals, two festivals they play on a regular basis and one club where they are regulars – the perfect blend. Best of all….everything was sold out. Even with all the challenges of travel, it was another successful, FUN tour. We fly back to Oslo tomorrow and spend the night at the Oslo Hotel. The DeRailers are taking the train back there tomorrow as well and will fly home on Monday. I stay in Norway and have dinner with Kjell and his family on Monday night. Then on Tuesday I’ll fly to Bergen and stay until I meet Rhonda Vincent and her group and drive up to Breim for that festival next weekend.
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY to everyone. We had honestly forgotten it was the 4th of July until our promoter and his staff kept telling us “Happy 4th”! Last year, I was in Afghanistan with Vertical Horizon and our base took a mortar hit right in the middle of their performance – a little bit of a different kind of “fireworks”! J They had a lot of fireworks set up back stage on the end of the pier ready to fire. I asked Chris when they would have the fireworks display and he said after the next band. But, it doesn’t get dark here at all, so no one can really see them. L
Off to bed. Have to leave for the airport at 8:30 am tomorrow.
SUNDAY, JULY 5TH – SJOVEGAN TO OSLO:
Couple of more missing items in the hotel room – no television and no telephone. But, I do have a huge round wooden pole which is actually a TREE that they “polished” and it runs from the floor all the way to the ceiling and is right in the middle of the room and is halfway down the side of the bed so that you have to sit on one side or the other of it when getting into bed!
Howard’s soap dispenser was out of soap and he went to the front desk to request that it be refilled. He was told that they were “out”! He told them he had to take a shower and needed soap so they found a little bar about as big as a quarter for him. The only thing I can figure out is that this hotel is just for hikers. I guess hikers bring everything with them (including a trash can) and having a room here is better than camping out?
A few more “missing” amenities included “blackout curtains! One entire wall of my room was windows but only half of the windows had black out curtains. So, it was bright as daylight all night in my room. Also, the shower was actually a “room” with a sloped ceiling and a glass covering the top that was visible in the bedroom. The floor of the shower sloped steeply around the drain but wasn’t noticeable…until I stepped in and slid all the way to the back wall…gracefully of course…yeah, right. At least there was lots of hot water and water pressure.
Was able to talk to Zac and Zoe last night. They are in Chattanooga with Lindsey and some friends for the 4th of July weekend. I showed them the snow on the mountains and lake outside my window. Showed them the grass growing on the roof, too. The owner said it’s the largest building in Norway with a grass roof. What they could not understand was the concept of it never getting dark! They couldn’t believe it was night time when I was walking around showing them the scenery in full daylight.
Breakfast was as expected…very “minimal”. The only “hot item” was boiled eggs. I didn’t eat it but was told the smoked salmon was great – just not a “breakfast” item for me. I stuck with the eggs and yogurt.
Of course, the wonderful people and hospitality make up for the lack of amenities! All the reviews on the hotel were 4 and 5 stars because of the friendliness of the staff and the “things to do in the area”.
We departed for the one hour drive to the Bardefoss airport at 8:30 am and arrived at 9:30 am. It’s a “tiny” airport and they let us all check in as a group and didn’t charge any excess! Amazing since we were definitely over the limit. Very small gate area and filled with families. Like I said, Norwegian Airlines is like our Southwest Airlines. It was a miserable 2 hour flight because the lady behind me kept pushing on my seat, the man beside me (who let his young son sit in the window seat as I would have done, too) had what David explained to me is being labeled “Man Spread”. His legs were long, so he spread his legs open as far as he could which mean his leg was way over in my space. I literally leaned over into the aisle the entire flight. His son had a very loud, screeching voice. I guess he was excited about flying and would scream out every few minutes about one thing or another. Instead of the father suggesting he keep his voice down, he encouraged him to keep it up.
Then there was the couple across the aisle from me. The mother thought it was “cute” to let her toddler run up and down the aisle unaccompanied throughout the flight. And, the man in front of her with the “lap child”, picked up the pacifier the baby dropped and stuck it back in her mouth without cleaning it. Can you imagine the germs on that airplane floor? GROSS!
Like I said, like a Southwest flight bound for Orlando. Lindsey and I were always so strict with Zac and Zoe and they are actually better flyers than most adults. Definitely a “lack of discipline” with European children and of course, in America as well depending upon the day you fly.
We finally landed at about 1 pm in Oslo. All out bags arrived and we “hiked” over to the Park Inn to get checked in. Every time we stay at this hotel or the Radisson on the other side of the airport, they get the reservations screwed up. Penny was here yesterday and had double checked our reservations. When I checked in, the desk clerk handed me a key and said it was for the Bellamy Brothers. I asked which one – Howard or David. She insisted that they were brothers and were sharing a room. I finally had to pull out the confirmation email Kjell had sent me showing we had 9 rooms reserved and show it to her.
Hotel is nice – a business hotel with everything I need. Walked downstairs and had a salad for lunch with some of the guys. Then walked over to the airport with David and purchased water and some apples. They have put a Starbucks in the airport, too! Back to the room to work and even worked in a very short 30 minute “nap”. Definitely helped with my lack of sleep. Had the “buffet” dinner with all the guys and it was great food. Only negative to the restaurant was the waiter who refused to bring me any water. Randy and Wally had some left, so I high jacked it. David and Howard joined us and I had to chase down the waiter again to try and get him to bring them some. His “lack of service” was reflected in the very small tip I left him!
Three of the DeRailers came in to eat before I left. They said they really enjoyed all the stops on their tour – Interlaken, Untermeitingen, Oslo and Vinstra!
Getting things done in preparation of the Bellamys and DeRailers departing tomorrow morning. DeRailers walk to airport at 5:45 am and Bellamys walk over at 7:00 AM. I stay in Norway another week and will meet Rhonda Vincent on Friday for the drive North once again.