WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14TH – NORWAY TO SWEDEN:
I showered, dressed and took my “fruit” that I had purchased at the store yesterday downstairs to eat. Not sad that this is the last day of bad coffee!
We loaded the trailer at 9:30 am and were on the road for the 1 hour drive by 9:45 am. Our favorite agent wasn’t working today but fortunately we only had to pay for one extra bag. I changed some of my NOK for Croatian currency since I’m not sure how difficult it will be to get the local currency once we are on the cruise. Other than Sweden today, all the other countries accept Euros.
We were all sitting in the front of the plane and it was a short flight. When we landed, all our luggage made it and none of the equipment was on the flight – 9 large cases. SAS had over an hour and a half to load it but somehow couldn’t get it on our flight. Jason was there to meet us and we decided to go ahead and take everyone to the hotel and he would come back out with the bus driver and collect the equipment. SAS said it would be on a flight that landed about an hour after our flight.
We are staying at the Radisson Blu Royal Viking right downtown Stockholm…my favorite hotel in Stockholm. It’s right beside the Central Train Station which has tons of great shops.
Jason tried to help me set up an “ad” for Country Gold on Facebook but we kept hitting roadblocks. He had to leave to go back to the airport to collect the equipment before we figured it out. Going to try again tomorrow.
All the equipment arrived on the flight and he was able to leave it on the tour bus until we depart at 3 pm tomorrow for the cruise ship. Jason and I walked up the street to an Indian Restaurant where we ate this past March. It was just as good this time as it was then!
I got an email from my travel agent about flights that were connecting through Paris and the airlines offering to change passengers flights free of charge because of an “airline exception”. In otherwise, there’s another “strike” of some sort at CDG. I knew Galen’s wife was connecting through there tomorrow so was able to get in touch with her and Delta changed the flight for her. She’s now flying in with several of the other wives to meet their husbands for the cruise.
My usual evening of work, work, work! After 1 am now. Have some packing and repacking to do then will try to get in bed by 2 am….early for me!
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15TH – SWEDEN TO FINLAND VIA M/S CINDERELLA:
The breakfast at this hotel is outstanding (as usual for any Radisson overseas). They had lots of organic and gluten free items. And, the workout room is great, too. Got in a really good workout.
After showering, I went back to the train station to try to find postcards for Howard and a book for me. Success! Now we just have to find him somewhere to mail them. J
David sent me a text and said that someone had called his room and said they were with the cruise line and wanted to know what time we were departing the hotel. He told them he thought 3 pm but they should call my room. They didn’t. I told Jason and he said that had happened before and it’s some “fan” trying to find out so they can show up for photos and autographs. Sure enough, there were several people waiting in the lobby right before we left. Man that takes balls! I told Jason we should tell them they have to buy a cabin on the ship if they want an autograph and photo. J But, of course, Howard and David were as always, gracious and accommodated them.
I was able to check everyone in but was shocked to learn I am the only person who gets to check bags free of charge. All the others are booked on fares that don’t even allow one bag to be checked free! I hope I am reading their website correctly and it is only 40 Euros per piece because they will have 18 pieces!
It was a short bus ride from the hotel to the port and we were able to drive the bus on board. I had “repacked” everything so that I only had to take one small bag on the ship and left the big bag on the bus. When we got off, a workman was using some kind of machine to tear up the flooring and the noise was deafening. We couldn’t communicate at all regarding the luggage and equipment. We finally made it up to the “showroom” where they had sandwiches and beverages waiting for us while our rooms were being cleaned. Howard and David have a huge suite. The guys did a quick sound check and by the time they finished, all the cabins were ready. The cruise line gave us internet codes so that we can use their “business” internet and so far, it’s been working just fine. I was able to work for a couple of hours before meeting everyone at 7 pm for dinner.
As it was last year, the food was amazing. I had cold tomato soup which was surprising good and the cod. The buyer for the cruise line joined us for dinner and we started telling “road tales”. He’s a really nice man and I’m glad he will be able to see the performance this time.
The show time moved to earlier – 10:15-11:15 pm instead of 11:00 pm til midnight. Good thing since we have to get up and be ready to disembark on our bus at 6 am! OUCH.
When we dock in Finland, the time actually changes and we lose an hour. BUT, we are getting off at 6 am Sweden time. J Everyone is going to be so confused.
The showroom, balcony and in front of the stage were packed with Bellamy Brothers fans singing along. It was another GREAT show. Staff on the ship were fantastic to work with and Jason is just THE BEST.
Going to grab maybe 2 hours of sleep. We are in Finnish waters now. J
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16TH – FINLAND TO SWEDEN TO VENICE:
Happy Birthday to David!!!
Talk about a “strange” night. We all had “wake-up” calls at 5:30 am and met at the bus at 6:00 am. Of course, it is 7 am in Finland. We drove off the Cinderella and onto the Rosella. Everyone got off and some of us had breakfast. The Rosella gave us “cabins” but there were no beds in them. There were two long couches and two pull down beds but no sheets or blankets or pillows. It was FREEZING in the cabin. Since we only had an hour left after breakfast, I wrapped up in bath towels and worked until time to get back on the bus.
It was an hour drive from the ship to the airport. We got checked in and for the first time, got “nailed” on excess. The tickets did not allow the Bellamys to check even on bag free of charge. I was allowed to check 3 bags up to 70 pounds because of my status. But that left 17 bags that they had to pay excess charges on. After checking in, I walked into the terminal where the Radisson Hotel is located and purchased some of the amazing candy that is only available there. Then I cleared security and went to the Lounge. Was able to get Howard into the Lounge but David decided to stay at the gate area. It was a great Lounge!
Flight departed on time and landed in Frankfurt a couple of hours later. I think we all slept all the way. We had about a two hour layover in Frankfurt and Howard and I went to that Lounge. Our flight to Venice was oversold and they were asking for volunteers to get off. Once we boarded, the pilot came on and said there was a “problem” and they were going to try and get it fixed quickly. They were able to fix it…but not quickly. We sat at the gate for about an hour with no air conditioning. Again, I think most of us slept.
All the wives/girlfriends had landed in Venice and got checked into the hotel. But, it was pouring rain so no one got to do any sightseeing.
All our baggage and equipment arrived with us and our escorts were waiting for us — all of them such great folks. It’s going to be a wonderful tour!
It was still raining when we landed. I got the 3 of us checked in and got all the “instructions” for tomorrow. When I walked into my room, I had to take in my big suitcase and then go back for my small rolling bag. It took a few minutes to get in the door. I was standing by the bed when all the lights went out. I had forgotten to put the keycard in the slot to turn on the power. It was pitch black in my room and I couldn’t see anything. I “felt” my way back over to the door thinking I would open the door and have some light from the hallway until I could find my key. The door wouldn’t open! I literally crawled across the floor feeling for my purse to locate the key. Finally found it and got the power back on.
As I was coming up in the elevator, there was another lady on there. We started talking and she asked where I was from. When I told her Nashville, TN, she said “So am I”! Talk about a small world.
Our escorts tonight said it took one of them 3 hours to get from the downtown tourist area back to the hotel today because of all the tourists. I encouraged the guys to get up and go EARLY and allow plenty of time to get back to the hotel to check out at 1:30 pm. I’ve been to Venice many times, so I probably won’t try to make the sightseeing trip tomorrow.
I am running on “fumes” after a very long day! Goodnight.