TUESDAY, JUNE 23RD THROUGH WEDNESDAY JUNE 24TH – NASHVILLE TO FULDA, GERMANY – HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LINDSEY!!!
I feel like it has been a week instead of 2 days since I left Nashville on Tuesday morning with the Bellamy Brothers for a tour of Europe. Let me “try” to remember what all has happened!
Met them at the airport at 11 am. I had called my skycap yesterday to “warn” him but he was on vacation in Hawaii. He called the guy taking his place and “warned” him about me. He was ready for us and insisted he could check us in outside. I told him that the agent inside gave everyone the same baggage allowance that I have as a two million miler plus flyer on Delta. He said he could handle it but when we came down to having the last two people to check in and there were 5 bags left to check, he couldn’t do it without charging excess. We went inside and the great Delta agent handled the rest from there. Just one of the reasons Delta is still my airline of choice.
We had omelets at Noshville before boarding the flight. It was a short flight to Atlanta and we had about a one hour layover. Most of us went into the Lounge. Because I am something called “360” with Delta, they offered me an “executive lunch” in the Lounge. If course, I didn’t have time to accept it. All I wanted was to get my email downloaded so I could answer during the flight just in case the plane didn’t have WiFi. There were so many people in the lounge using the internet, that most of us were never able to connect! I finally used my iPhone as a “hot spot” and connected that way.
The flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt had several empty seats which made it nice. But several of the guys had problems with “broken seats, broken trays, and broken video screens”! Delta at least gave them “miles” for their inconvenience. The man who sat next to me on the flight from Nashville to Atlanta was sitting right in front of me on the flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt. That rarely happens!
The flight attendants were really, really nice which is usually a surprise. And the meal was excellent. I had crab cakes and they were better than I’ve had in restaurants. I watched the “Second Marigold Hotel” movie and related to all the “India” scenes now that I’ve been there. I actually liked the first movie better but this one was okay, too. I had planned to watch “American Sniper” that I had downloaded on my ipad but initially had “power outlet” problems with my seat. The flight attendants got it working but not until later in the flight. The plane had WiFi so I was able to work. I did sleep for almost 2 hours though.
We landed on time and all our personal bags were first on the conveyor belt. But, the equipment cases didn’t come and we were directed to the “bulky luggage” belt. Several of the guys went there to wait. All the bags were gone from the conveyor belt and all the passengers had departed and still no equipment had shown up. I walked down to the bulky baggage belt to see why it was taking so long. One of the employees told the guys waiting that the cases looked like “gun” cases and everything was being inspected. Come on…this is Frankfurt…they see musical instrument cases like ours come in on every flight. I walked a few feet away to ask another employee for help and he pointed behind him. All our cases had been sitting there the entire time in a freight elevator! Now, this is the airport where several years ago, they took Charlie Daniels into the Customs Office and made him sing a verse of “Country Roads” before they would let us leave with the equipment. They wanted “proof” that he was a country singer. Charlie said it was a good thing they only made him sing one verse because that was all he knew. Crazy!
We were met by Franci and a great bus driver whose name escapes me….he was VERY young and an excellent driver. It was supposed to take about an hour but ended up being about an hour and a half to drive to the hotel in Fulda. I knew I had been to Fulda before but didn’t realize it was in 1992 on a USO Tour with Holly Dunn and Ricky Skaggs. My how time flies. Fulda is a great city with wonderful restaurants and shopping. En route, we passed this huge “brown” mountain with no vegetation at all. Turns out, it is where they mine salt. The “good salt” is used for table salt and all the salt that is left over is used to salt the roads. That’s what the huge mountain was – salt for the roads and dirt!
We are staying at the “Apart Hotel”. It is located off the main street. Problem was – today was “Market Day” and the street we needed to drive down in the HUGE tour bus was closed. The driver actually drove down what I would have considered the “walking street” with that monstrosity. You should have seen the looks we got from the pedestrians and shop owners. David said he could have reached out the window and picked up some ice cream. And they had pistachio – my favorite. Our driver parked as close as he could but we still had to roll our luggage several blocks to the hotel. Again, lots of quizzical stares from the locals.
I always check everyone in and this time the man at the reception refused. He said each person had to come up and check in. Of course, I immediately got into an argument with him. I won but he was NOT happy about it. He was very arrogant and I was hoping he would be off duty soon. Then this wonderful gay man (Michael) waltzed out from behind the reception desk and started helping me. He was terrific – helped me carry my bags to my room and explained all the “amenities”. The room is great – a big (and I mean BIG) screen tv, a full size Apple computer, a wonderful balcony with seats (or course, the “view” is the wall of the building next door), beautiful antique chest for clothes, amazing selection of teas and coffee each with their own machine and all the items in the refrigerator are complimentary – and there are lots of items in there! The only thing I thought was missing is the fact that there are no telephones in the hotel and no paper and pen in the room. Also, my internet wouldn’t connect but Michael got that fixed quickly.
I went to lunch with David, Wally and Rocky. My new best friend “Michael” told us the name of the best Bratwurst restaurant and he was right. David and Rocky had this huge plate with all different kinds of “wurst” on it. Wally and I had the Currywurst. I didn’t realize it came with pomme frites (French fries) and had to ask for some sauerkraut after mine was served. We also had a bite of “horse” that was offered by the waiter. Everything was great.
Walked back to the hotel and got my camera and took some photos of the beautiful city. I do remember it from my 1992 visit but it has changed quite a bit. When we checked into the hotel, Michael kept telling me about the “after hours” door and how to use our keys there. I got back to the hotel at around 3 pm and the lobby was closed! Had to use the “after hours door”. We have the old style “metal” keys to our rooms but you have to insert them into a slot by the door and “turn on” the electricity. Since I want to leave my computer on, I got an extra key from “Michael” for my room.
I worked for several hours and then slept for almost an hour and worked some more. Around 7:30 pm, I headed out in search of dinner. Wally was just coming out as well and we ran into Howard. Howard wasn’t hungry but told us about a great Steakhouse where he had eaten lunch. We went there and it was excellent. I had a grilled veal steak stuffed with feta cheese and some mixed vegetables instead of potatoes. I also had baked feta cheese as my “appetizer” but I swear it was Brie. Wally had some delicious looking ice cream for dessert and I had a “Turkish coffee”. If you’ve never had a Turkish coffee (and I have), beware! I don’t know if it is “grounds” or what it is but it is served in a tiny cup and the spoon stands up in the cup! That’s how thick it is. I had it at around 8:30 pm. It is now 1:30 am and I’m still thinking of going jogging!
At around 10 pm, I got a text message from David asking where I was. He was locked out of his room! He had walked a few feet away to Howard’s room and left his door open. The wind closed his door and his key was inside in the power outlet. Of course, the hotel lobby and reception was closed. I assumed there was an emergency number on the door, so I went down and called it. And guess who answered? The rude man who checked us in earlier. He was just as rude when I told him the problem. He said there was nothing that could be done as the hotel was “closed”. He said no one lived anywhere near the hotel and everyone was sleeping! I argued with him and got so mad, I hung up on him. I called Franci and told her we needed her help. She was going to call Michael (our promoter) and ask him to call the emergency number and try to reason with the jerk. In the meantime, David and I located the “fire alarm” and decided we would just pull that and get someone’s attention. I was trying to figure out how to “push the alarm button” without breaking the glass when Michael walked up! Turns out he is married to that rude man and heard our conversation. He said they live one minute walk from the hotel. He had the pass key and let David in his room. I hugged him and gave him a cd and told him he needs to get a divorce! I am a sex magnet for gay men, married men and men under the age of 30. J
So pretty much another typical Bellamy Brothers tour adventure. Where is “Reality TV” when you need it. You just can’t make these things up.
Check out the photos on my Judy Seale International Facebook website when you have time.
Tomorrow is “show day” and then we depart to Switzerland on Friday.
THURSDAY, JUNE 25TH – FIRST PERFORMANCE AT RHOENER COUNTRY FESTIVAL – BERNHAUSEN, GERMANY:
I slept off and on for only about 4 hours. NOTE TO SELF: Do NOT drink Turkish coffee at 9 pm. Got up and went for a really great jog down towards the beautiful “dome” and churches. The weather was perfect at about 49 degrees and was warming up. I went down for breakfast and Wally was the only one in our group eating. “Mr. Personality” was the only hotel employee there and he was bare civil to me. Breakfast was “pre-set” on the table and included half a kiwi, a small yogurt, a basket of bread, a plate of cheese and slice deli meats, and a basket of bread. Wally and I both really wanted eggs but I was afraid of what the guy at the hotel might do to mine if I asked for them.
I showered and had a few minutes to walk around the town before going over to sound check. It is an hour drive from the hotel to the festival site and Fabian (I asked his name this time) picked us up in a 9 passenger van – and there were 8 of us. It was very crowded and the road to the venue was curvy. I sat in the back and Tim and I were both extremely car sick. We made one stop to see what is now a hotel but was a “summer retreat” for Hitler years ago. When we got back in the vehicle, we switched seats with a couple of the other guys and that helped a little. The van is a stick shift which made the curves much worse.
The venue is a fest tent with a capacity of about 1,500. They had pre-sold 1,000 tickets and were hoping for 500 more by show time. The weather was beautiful so there should be lots of walk ups. They have the typical “booths” selling “western wear” and food. There is a camping area, too, and lots of American and Confederate flags flying. Guess Europe didn’t get the “memo” about the inappropriateness of the Confederate flag.
I checked out the backstage area, toilets, and “access” for the Bellamys tonight. Then made sure the guys were okay with their backline. Met the promoter who is really “young looking” and has done a great job, obviously for a long time since this is the 10th Anniversary of the event. He got me a ride back to the hotel with someone and since it was in a BMW, I thought I wouldn’t get car sick. Wrong! It was just as bad only worse because of other circumstances which I can’t put into this road report. When I got back to the hotel, I immediately went in search of a Ginger Ale to calm my stomach but could not locate one. Finally settled for a “Cola Light” and that helped tremendously. I never drink soft drinks but this was an exception!
I worked for about an hour and then had to find somewhere to have dinner. The guys had recommended an Italian restaurant so I tried it out. I had the “Spargel Soup (White Asparagus at this time of the year)” which is always excellent….NOT. I ate a few bites, canceled the rest of my order and decided to eat the fruit in my room. Walked around for a few minutes and purchased some postcards and another Cola Light for the drive back to the venue tonight.
We had the same driver only this time in a pickup truck. It wasn’t “quite” as bad as before. When we arrived at the venue, there was a line of people outside the backstage entrance waiting for photos and autographs – which is fine only the guys had to do a TV interview so we had to cut it short. There is a regional TV station that will film a couple of songs and air the interview. Only problem was the opening act was still performing so it was too loud for them to do the interview backstage. The buyer asked her to finish her set a little early so the interview could take place.
Next on the agenda was a VIP Meet and Greet with 4 contest winners. Then it was show time. The tent was packed! And the crowd was awesome. Very enthusiastic fans which made for a great performance. The guys said the power kept going out during sound check, so I was holding my breath through most of the show. But, no problems.
We left immediately after the show but still didn’t get back to the hotel until 1 am. I had messages waiting for me telling me that John Michael Montgomery’s group and Stephanie Urbina Jones’s group were delayed in DC. They were on United and there was mechanical issues. They were supposed to depart at 5:45 pm and arrive at 9:00 am. Flight was delayed and I got a text at 8:30 pm their time saying they were boarding. That was 2:30 am my time. I decided to go to bed and sleep for an hour and a half. Then I got another text saying the flight was delayed again due to weather! I finally just gave up and worked instead of sleeping for an hour. The group eventually departed around 10:30 pm but wouldn’t land until around noon.