Wednesday, August 9th:
We decided to depart at 8 am instead of 9 am for the airport because everyone kept warning us about traffic. We would have made it in an hour but had no way of knowing that before we left. Plus it took us a long time to check in all the equipment. Every Flight…there are new rules. We have flown Lufthansa many times on this trip but today the ticket agent said that we could not fly the pedal steel with us! It weighs 85 pounds and she said they would not accept it. Now, keep in mind, we are flying on a HUGE new Airbus! Evidently, the problem is the fact that none of the luggage handlers will pick it up because it weighs more than 70 pounds. We had to get a supervisor to come down and he asked if we had notified Lufthansa that we would be flying a piece of equipment that heavy. I punted…pulled out our form where we registered everything at U.S. Customs, showed him the “official” stamp and he bought it. Thanks goodness. And, they didn’t charge us anything!
The new airplane was amazing. I was in business class and it is definitely one that I would like to fly overseas. It was a short flight to Frankfurt and then another flight to Zurich. Our promoter was 30 minutes late picking us up because of a mistake in his itinerary and traffic. Then we had a 2 hour bus ride to the hotel – arrived about 8 pm. So – 12 hours of travel today.
The area in Austria is beautiful. Our concert will take place at the top of an Alp and the only way to access it is in a cable car…not a big one like the festival I have in Klewenalp…but a little 8 person car. I am NOT looking forward to that. I quizzed them pretty good about their safety record. Of course, everyone always says that they have never had an accident except when the American pilots flew into the one in Italy!!!
The hotel is beautiful…set in a little village in Gaschurn. Our rooms are the nicest we have had the entire trip. And there is a beautiful “Wellness Room” with a huge indoor pool, a meditation area, massages, facials, manicures, sauna, tanning bed, etc., etc. I am going to book a Thai massage tomorrow because it is our “day off”. There is also a pretty nice exercise room if I don’t go jogging along the river.
The dinner was really good in the restaurant, too. Think the guys are going to enjoy being here. Tomorrow is Gary’s birthday (sound guy with Bells).
More tomorrow. So tired as it is 2 am again..going to bed.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 10TH:
What a SHOCK to wake up to the news about Heathrow this morning especially since we just flew out of there yesterday. I cannot imagine how horrible it would have been had this happened yesterday when we were departing. I’m just glad to know that the UK is so on top of things and stopped this from happening before more innocent lives were lost. Really glad that we are not going back through Heathrow on this tour, too. Not sure what it is going to mean to us as far as our carry-on luggage for our last few flights though. Should be interesting.
I went running this morning down by the river. I am convinced that the bike path goes across the entire country of Austria. It is incredibly beautiful here. I ran 6 miles instead of 5. Weather was great – overcast and a little cool and altitude was a bit more than Nashville. But what a great run!
I woke up with back pain and I KNOW it’s from the down pillows. I put 4 under my head last night but when you lay on them, that turns out to be about 1 inch of thickness. I wanted to book a Thai massage but was told he didn’t have any time. However, the masseuse came in just as I was talking to the front desk and he said he could work me in for 1 hour even though he needed 2 ½ hours with me. With a Thai massage you keep your clothes on. But when I got there, he said I needed to remove all my clothes. I thought he would leave the room so I could change but instead he said, “I’ll hold up the towel”. He proceeded to hold this big towel up but he held it at his shoulder height so I might as well just have undressed in front of him. He did a combination of Thai and Chinese healing. It was pretty strange. Started with my EARS! But, whatever he did, certainly worked. No more back pain. He drew this Chinese symbol on my hip and said that if it washed off before 7 days, I have to get someone to draw it on again! It’s supposed to help with the healing. Hmmmm…..
Walked down to a little grocery store to get some yogurt and birthday gifts for Gary (sound guy) in Bellamy’s band. Today is his birthday. I tried to book him a massage but they couldn’t take him until tomorrow and we have a show tomorrow.
We had another great meal in the hotel restaurant tonight. The scenery in this little village is spectacular. Looking forward to seeing what it’s like on the gondola ride up to the venue tomorrow. Supposedly, the festival is sold out. Just hope it doesn’t rain again tomorrow. The buyer said it might snow up there though. Just kidding!
FRIDAY, AUGUST 11TH
Went to the gym in the hotel this morning and it was okay. No free weights but a few machines. Enough that I could work all the muscle groups. Whatever that masseuse did, it worked because the pain in the back is gone and I slept on those “flat” pillows again last night. My “symbol” on my hip has already rubbed off though. He also massaged warm honey into my back and said it would remove the toxins. Never heard that one before.
I had a meeting with a promoter that works with on a festival in Schupfart, Switzerland. Next year is their 25th Anniversary so we’re planning a big event. Went up to the venue with the musicians. It was about a 30 minute drive to the “gondola” station. Beautiful scenery on the drive up. Then, we had to take that darn gondola up the mountain. It is small cable cars that can accommodate 8 people. I timed it and it took 8 minutes exactly to get to the top. At least on this one when we passed the towers, the car didn’t swing back and forth like they do in Klewenalp at that festival.
The backine had not arrived at the venue when we got there. So I took the guys over to the restaurant and had lunch served to them. It is still raining and looks like it will rain all day. And COLD. The heat wave that hit Europe is over and it’s “winter” here. People are wearing their fleece and fur boots and we are all freezing. I have on a long sleeve shirt, a sweater, and a fleece jacket and I am not too warm. It is a beautiful venue – outdoor amphitheatre at the very top of the alp. The view (when I dared to open my eyes) on the trip up in the gondola was so beautiful. We had a discussion about what would happen if the car fell…would it slam into the ground and “stick” or would we roll all the way down the mountain? Thankfully we did not have to find out.
I had to go back down the lift and to the hotel to meet Howard and David and bring them back up. Then ride in the thing again with them. One more trip down tonight after the show and no more gondolas for me this trip.
There were about 2,000 fans at the concert – all wearing their rain slickers. Jesse and Noah had a great show and no one left during the Bellamys’ 90 minute set. The promoters on this event are EXCELLENT. They own several different hotels and properties and they have made sure everything was first class for us. It has been a pleasure working with them and I hope to work with them again next year. They were happy with the ticket sales but said there would have been 4,000 people there if the weather had not been so bad.
I am SO not looking forward to tomorrow. We have to depart the hotel at 4 am for the 2 hour drive to the Zurich airport. Not sure what we will face when we get there as far as “security” and trying to check in.
My daughter flew from Nashville to DC for me last night. She said they were not allowing anyone on the plane with any liquid or gel. But, she said that people purchased water after going through security and they were allowed to carry it on the plane. She is in DC to accept the “Newman’s Own Award” from Paul Newman and the Fisher House for me. Stars for Stripes is the recipient of a $5,000 grant from them. How cool is that? General Pace presented the checks and certificates and I was so bummed that I couldn’t be there. But, Lindsey (my daughter) represented me as well as my buddy Lt. Col. Kyle McClelland (who I met in Iraq in 2004), my pro bono attorney from DC Libby Langworthy, Lara Coffee my partner with SemperComm, and Denny Clifford my NWA buddy there as well. I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends.
We did NOT take the gondola down. We hitched a ride in this tiny little vehicle that had a trailer on the back with all our equipment in it. Trust me, that ride down was WORSE than the gondola! Narrow, winding roads with hairpin turns and NO guard rails. I had to quit looking out the window because of the steep drop down the side of the mountain. Our driver was driving way to fast and kept taking his eyes off the road and talking to my Swiss promoter friend. Was REALLY glad to get to the bottom.
Will get 2 hours of sleep tonight and then off to Dresden, Germany.