TUESDAY, MARCH 22ND – SWITZERLAND TO SWEDEN:
Was up at 6 am to answer emails before showering, having a quick breakfast with some of the guys and packing to depart to Sweden. As I was dressing, the news hit CNN about the bombings in the Brussels Airport at the American Airlines check in counter. It seems a lot more “real” when you are in Europe and heading to a check in counter in a couple of hours! Honestly, I’m surprised check in counters have not been targeted before now. There is no security in that area and hundreds of people checking in at any given time. So very sad for those who were injured and the families of those who lost their lives.
We departed for the airport at 8:45 and it was about a 30 minute ride with just a little bit of traffic. The Zurich airport (as I mentioned previously) has been under construction for years and years. Currently, it’s impossible to access the “Departures” level of the airport. Everyone has to go to the “Arrivals” level and take the elevator/escalator back up to the “Departure” level. Today when we arrived, there were armed security personnel everywhere in the check in area. I’ve never seen that before. Additionally, a huge portion of the check in counters were “taped” off and no one was allowed in that area. We had to walk all the way around the counters to the far side of the airport just to get to the KLM counter. We were told that someone had left a bag unattended so they roped off the area. Not very comforting!!!
I had checked everyone in yesterday and knew that I was allowed to check 3 bags at 70 pounds each and everyone except Galen was allowed to check 2 bags at 50 pound each. We had almost finished check-in with the nice lady helping us when an older man walked up and started arguing that they were NOT allowed to check 2 pieces each. I told him that the KLM website confirmed it when we checked in but he still argued with me. I had to log into KLM on my iPhone and actually go through the check in process on one of the passengers and SHOW him the allowance. Come on KLM….train your agents a little better!!
We had about an hour before boarding so I stopped by the Lounge “briefly” and then headed to the gate. There wasn’t any additional security after leaving the check in area. When we went through the security check, there was an older man dressed in a shiny Neon Blue suit with a floral scarf and the worst “man bun” I have ever seen!!! He had a bad comb over on top and then a teeny, tiny bit of hair pulled back at the base of his skull (not even on the back of his head). Plus there was another fuzzy layer of growth along the bottom of his neck. We took a photo, of course.
It was an hour and a half flight to Amsterdam and about a 40 minute layover there. By the time we landed there, everyone had started getting messages from friends/family in the USA who were concerned about us. Didn’t notice any additional security in Amsterdam either. The flight to Stockholm was 2 hours and it was very cold and rainy when we landed. Jason and our escort met us with a nice, big tour bus and drove us about an hour to the Radisson Blu hotel in the middle of downtown. Jason had us checked in already and after storing the baggage, we all went to our rooms.
I worked for about 40 minutes and then met Jason to go to dinner. We asked the front desk for suggestions but none of the restaurants they suggested sounded appealing. We finally “googled” Indian food and found a restaurant nearby. The walk to and from the restaurant was very COLD but the food was excellent! Had a nice dinner and great conversation with Jason. Came back to the hotel to answer emails for several hours.
First thing on the agenda tomorrow is the “luncheon/press conference” for the duet cd with Sulo.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23RD – LUNCHEON WITH SULO KARLSSON AT CAPITOL RECORDS, STOCKHOLM:
The breakfast buffet at this hotel is enormous and they make fresh omelets for you. Tim and Jason were down there so I ate with them and Rocky came in just as I was leaving.
Howard, David and I were in the Lobby before 11:10 am to meet the taxi for the drive to Capitol Records for the press conference. The taxi driver was supposed to come inside with a sign that said “Bellamy”. At 11:15, I sent a text to Maria and told her no one was in the lobby. She sent a text back a few minutes later and said that he was waiting outside! When we walked out, he was getting a sign out of his car that had “Bellami” written on it. The experience with him did not improve. He drove us several miles and then stopped the car and said “walk”. I told him there was no way we were going to get out of the car and walk because we had no idea where we were supposed to be going. Then he drove us down tiny little “walking streets” and around in circles. The pedestrians were definitely giving us the “stink eye”, too. I sent another text to Maria and she called him and he said “yes, yes, yes” several times. She also sent me the exact address which I shared with him. However, he did not put it in his GPS. We got “trapped” on a small walking street behind a car. People were getting into the car and there was barely enough room for them to open the car doors. They had even flipped the rearview mirrors in so they wouldn’t be broken off when driving the street. David asked what the loud screeching sound was and I told him it was a cat in a carrier that someone was trying to put in the car in front of us. I had to text Maria again and she had to call the driver again. This time he took off in a totally different direction and finally found the correct address. It was quite a “scenic” route.
We met Sulo and Maria for the first time as well as the executives at Capitol Records and the producer and people involved with the recording project. Howard and David did a short interview and then we had lunch. I didn’t recognize anything on the table and asked what it was. The response was, “I really don’t know either, but you can’t have any bad food in Sweden”. Ha! Guess he doesn’t know American “tastes”. One large round item appeared to be cold mashed potatoes mixed with something and another large round item seemed to be cold mashed lentils mixed with something. There was hummus and salsa and pita bread as well. We had a different taxi driver when we left Capitol and he delivered us to the correct hotel about 5 minutes later.
Worked all afternoon and then met Howard, David and Jason for a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant. After convincing the “Fisk” restaurant (fish dishes) that I only ate fish if it didn’t taste “fishy”, we decided on a nice piece of cod. It was great and didn’t taste like fish. We had great conversations comparing road stories about the Bellamys and Smokie (Jason’s client).
Have been working non-stop since dinner and somehow it is now almost 3 am. Time to go to bed!
THURSDAY, MARCH 24TH – STOCKHOLM TO THE MS CINDERELLA:
Got in bed at 4 am and up at 9 am for breakfast. Met Jason and eventually Tim showed up as well. I worked for about an hour and then went to the great fitness room at the Radisson and worked out for an hour. Went for the cardio since my muscles are still feeling that long workout from the other day. Showered, packed and called Lindsey because I had an email saying Zac has strep throat! Will be really glad when I get home and can see them again.
We depart the hotel at 3 pm today and board the ship. Our cabins won’t be ready until around 5 pm, so we’ll hang out in the “venue” while the guys do a sound check. Hard to believe the tour is almost over in one way and in another way, seems like I’ve been gone for a month. I guess if I count the Japan Tour, I have been gone for a month!!
The bus drove on the ship and dropped us off. We all went to the venue with all our luggage to wait for the cabins to be cleaned and they guys started their sound check. Jason and I went and checked on the suites for Howard and David and no one had stayed in them the night before, so we escorted them up to them. Howard said it’s the biggest suite he has ever had on a cruise ship and it is definitely BIG. Howard’s is a little bit larger. I worked with Jason on checking to see if the other cabins were ready (they weren’t) and getting rooming lists, meal tickets etc. sorted out. By the time the cabins were ready, the passengers were getting on the ship and it took me forever to get an elevator. We are all on the 11th floor and the venue is on the 8th floor, so walking up that many steps with my suitcase was definitely NOT an option.
I called my friend Kjell (from the Furuvik Festival) to see if he was on board and he had just gotten to his cabin. He was going to take a shower but I told him to wait because I was bringing him a surprise. The cruise buyer couldn’t make it at the last minute so we had an extra cabin on our deck and Jason said I could give it to Kjell. Kjell also admitted that he had made a mistake when he booked the cruise and he booked it for FEBRUARY 23-24 instead of March. He just realized it recently and was able to get it changed – for a fee – but still couldn’t get an outside cabin. So, he was happy to make the cabin change!
I had a couple of hours before I met David with his meal tickets and we walked down to have dinner. The guys were already there and Jason met us. Howard wasn’t answering our text messages but we got a text from him as soon as we sat down in the restaurant. We both send him text messages back but he didn’t respond. Jason and I even tried calling his room, and no answer. I finally walked up there and took him his meal tickets. He had not been able to log onto the internet on his iphone, so I got that set up for him. He just wanted us to bring him a to go plate to eat after the show. I ordered him the halibut which is what David and I had as well. It was spectacular!
Met security at 9:45 and we walked Howard and David down to the venue. In order to access the stage, they had to go down a metal, spiral, narrow staircase. That was fun…not…but we all made it. The room was packed – upstairs and downstairs. So all the shows have now been sold out! It was a very lively audience with lots of alcohol flowing. David said one lady in the front of the stage was just sobbing and saying, “I miss Freddy Fender. I love Freddy Fender” when they sang “Vertical Expression”. Freddy sang on that song with them for the CD. There were lots of kids in the audience, too, because this is the Easter Holidays. Was such a great show with two encores.
After the show, Kjell and his friend came backstage to say hello and a radio DJ and his wife came by and did a short interview for his program. Howard and David went to their cabins and I went to mine to work, work, work. While I was answering emails, my phone “pinged” and the message said, “Welcome to T-Mobile Finland”. Guess we are getting close to Finland. The ship will stop at around 6 am for one hour and 45 minutes. Rocky is determined to get off and touch Finnish soil. Not me. I’ve been to Finland several times. J
Going to bed so I can get up and work out in my room. I thought there would be a great fitness room on this ship but there’s nothing but a Spa. Not even anywhere to jog on any of the decks. So it’s rubber bands in the cabin.
FRIDAY, MARCH 25TH – MS CINDERELLA TO RADISSON BLU STOCKHOLM AIRPORT:
I got up at 6 am this morning when the ship docked at the little island in Finland. Looked out my window and the houses looked like I could just reach out and touch them. It was a quaint neighborhood and our ship was “parked” in front of up. As I was getting in the shower, I got a text from Howard saying his breakfast had not been delivered. I reminded him that it was supposed to be delivered at 9:30 am. At that time, it was 8:45 am. Told him I would try to get it delivered “now”. I couldn’t reach Jason and before I could find him, Howard sent me a text saying David did not get his either. I reminded him that David’s was supposed to be delivered at 9:30 am too. After several more text messages back and forth, I realized that Howard thought it was 9:45 am, not 8:45 am! When the ship stopped in Finland, all our iPhones and clocks in the cabins switched to Finland time which is one hour ahead of Sweden time. Mine switched while we were docked but switched back when we sailed. J Once Howard got his breakfast, he said it was enough to feed the entire ship. LOL
We had an “autograph session” set for noon at the Duty Free Shop. Jim had sent me a text and said there were a lot of people who had already been drinking heavily. He said one man was on our hallway with his pants down around his ankles, trying to get into his room and pull his pants back up at the same time. I decided to ask for “security” for the autograph session. There were only a few people there when we started because we were 10 minutes early. Then there was a “mad rush” with people everywhere. I had to get someone from the shop to get the fans to “line up”! We sold all the cds and could have sold another box if we had it.
Had another hour to work and then met everyone for lunch. The food was excellent again even though I only had a Grilled chicken Caesar salad. Had about another hour to work and do some “duty free shopping” before heading downstairs to meet our bus. Not as easy as it sounds. The elevators were full of passengers trying to get off. There was one that stopped and was full of very strangely dressed, very drunk females. We didn’t even try to get on with them. Finally made it downstairs but not without another “encounter” with inebriated individuals that was pretty funny. There’s some language we encountered in that meeting that isn’t appropriate to put into this report.
The bus drove onto the ship and picked us up and the backed all the way off the ship. Very impressive. It was about an hour drive to the hotel. Got everyone checked in and then went downstairs in search of a printer, food, and some special candy only available in Sweden. I totally forgot to pick up some lip cream that is only available here and am hoping I can get it in a drug store in the airport tomorrow morning before we depart. L I did find the chocolate, some Indian food, and the printer. I thought we would be departing from Terminal 5 which is right next to the Radisson where we are staying. No such luck, we are departing from Terminal 2 which is as far away as possible from where we are. It’s a good 10 minute walk without any luggage. I walked over to make sure I knew where to take everyone tomorrow morning. Check in counter opens at 4:30 am and it will definitely take us about 25 minutes to walk over with all the luggage and gear.
Going to bed soon as I have to get up at 2:30 am! It’s been such a great tour!!!!
SATURDAY, MARCH 26TH – STOCKHOLM TO NASHVILLE:
One of those days that didn’t go well from the start. Went to bed early for me – 11:30 pm. Got up at 2:30 am and got ready for the flight. Decided to work on emails for a few minutes. Lost track of time and then had to rush to meet the guys.
We “hiked” the length of 3 terminals to get to our check in counter. We were the first ones in the “Priority” line and had a great agent. I was “loaded for bear” because it’s always a fight regarding the number of pieces the guys can check free of charge. I had even taken screen shots of the check-in page that pops up when I checked everyone in, showing they get to check 2 pieces free of charge. For the first time on an “International” flight with KLM, we had no issues checking everything in. As we were leaving, the guy who checked us in said we were the most “organized” band he had ever checked in. J
It was too early for the Lounge to be open and only a couple of shops/cafes were open at that hour. We boarded at 5:40 am and it was a 2 hour flight to Amsterdam. Right before we landed, I started checking our “layover” time in Amsterdam and the itinerary that my office had typed up for me didn’t match the flights on my boarding pass. I checked Tripit and Flight tracker and they all matched my boarding pass but not my itinerary. I was on Delta #75 which didn’t depart Amsterdam until 1 pm. All the guys in the Bellamys group were on Delta #73 which departed at 10:30 AM! I was going to have a really long layover in Amsterdam and they were going to have a really long layover in Atlanta. We were all on the same flight from Atlanta to Nashville which makes no sense at all since the connection time is too short for me. I am pretty upset that this could happen.
I went to the KLM counter once we landed in Amsterdam to try and change my flight and they said that since I had checked luggage, I would not be able to change it. They said it would take them 3 hours to find my luggage and switch it to the earlier flight. I called the Delta 360 line (some secret society that I belong to because of my 2 ½ million miles. I haven’t figured out any advantage to it yet). They said that even though there were plenty of seats left on Delta #73 with the Bellamys, it was out of their hands and KLM would have to approve. I gave David all the claim checks for their luggage and kept the 3 that I checked – my suitcase and 2 large guitar cases. Went to the KLM Lounge and waited and waited and waited for someone to help me. We had to “take a number” and wait in line and mine was B-55. They kept calling all “S” numbers and then started on “A” numbers. I told the lady at the counter that if they couldn’t help me now, it would be too late. She finally got someone to talk to me and again I was told that I couldn’t change my flight because of the checked luggage. Her comment was, “Wouldn’t you rather be safe”? I asked her why I would be “safer” on a flight with my luggage than on a flight “without” my luggage, especially since KLM Amsterdam manages to lose it on a regular basis and I fly without it on my plane anyway. She didn’t have an answer for that one.
I’ll bet my suitcase and the 2 guitars I checked are on the flight right now with the Bellamys and will be in Atlanta with them. I sure hope so, at least. There are no “porters” in baggage claim and I have no idea how I’m going to get my huge suitcase and two guitars through baggage claim and customs by myself. And, I have less than 1 ½ hours to clear immigration, pick up the items, clear customs and make it to the plane. Really, really upset on several different levels right now. Not a good “finale” for such a great tour. L
I had planned to buy the Z’s some of the candy that looks like little hamburgers (their favorites). I always get it in Switzerland but was told a the candy shop that it is only “good” for two days. I assumed I could find it in Amsterdam on the flight home but looked everywhere and never found it!
The flight to Atlanta was full and I couldn’t find a movie worth watching. Even before they finished serving the meal, I was asleep and slept for almost 4 hours. We landed on time and I began the mad dash for the connecting flight. I have “Global Entry” so getting through Immigration was a breeze. But really doesn’t do any good because I know my bags will always be the last ones off the belt because they are tagged “Priority”! I grabbed one of the guys who was helping offload luggage for another flight and asked if he could help me. First I went to oversize luggage and sure enough, there was a guitar that had come in on the flight with the Bellamys. Jim had sent me a text and said neither of the two guitars that I had checked had come in on their flight but I guess they just missed seeing it. Then I waited and waited and waited for my bag and the other guitar. While I was waiting, this really, really, really, really “immense” lady walked up and yelled at the guy who had the cart and was helping me and said “she” would take over. I promise you, she only had 2 teeth – one on top and one on the bottom. I could barely understand what she was saying when she talked to me. I was looking at my watch and realizing the time for me to make the flight was slipping by.
My suitcase finally came out, but no guitar. I went back to “oversize” luggage and it wasn’t there. Then it came in on the same belt where my suitcase had come in – the last piece off the plane. The “large, two-toothed” lady then decided that she was going to “rearrange” the luggage on the cart. I lost it at that point and told her to just leave everything as it was and “Let’s GO!”. I was running to the Customs inspection and she was waddling along behind me. Once I cleared customs, I threw $30 at her and told her to put it on the connecting flights and I was out of there. The lady at the security checkpoint could not see where my boarding pass said “Priority Boarding” even though I was pointing to it. I finally had to get out my Delta Million Miler club card to get her to let me through. Had a text from Jim that the flight was boarding.
The line for security was really long and the guy in front of me had a wife and 6 kids with him. He was the only one who was priority and just took them through with him. I asked him politely if I could go in front of him since I was about to miss my connection. He said he had a connection, too. I hope he missed it!
Made it through security and then had to run to catch the tram. I was as far away from the terminal where my flight was departing as possible. I ran all the way down the terminal and there was no one left in the gate area. I figured they had already closed the doors but they let me board. I was sweating like crazy by the time I got on board. And, as luck would have it, someone was in my seat. But I just told them to stay there and I’d take their seat.
We landed on time in Nashville and David said when they landed in Atlanta, Wally had left his passport on the airplane so Immigration held him until the cleaning crew found the passport and brought it out to him. Thankfully, they had a really long layover in Atlanta.
Good to be home but not happy that Zac and Zoe aren’t here. I won’t see them until Monday, so I guess we will celebrate Easter next weekend.
It was a wonderful tour – Thanks to Stig, Albi, George, Jason, Howard, David, Wally, Randy, Jim, Rocky, Galen, and Tim. Ready to do it again in September – for a MONTH!!!!