Up at 6 am to do some Pilates and then in the shower.  Quick breakfast and we’re off for a 3 ½ bus ride to the Stockholm airport and then a short flight to Helsinki. Because of the time change, having to arrive at the airport 2 hours prior to flight and long bus ride to the airport, it will be 4:30 pm before we arrive in Helsinki.  I’m excited to have 2 days off in a city where I’ve spent very little time.  We were ready to leave at 8 am and were sharing the bus with a British Oldie’s Rock ‘n Roll band.  They took the downstairs and we all sat upstairs.  About halfway through the ride, we were all falling asleep except sleep was impossible.  All the Brits were so old, they were very hard of hearing.  So they were talking to each other and laughing downstairs but they were actually YELLING.  Our bus driver obviously had no idea that he was supposed to take us to the DEPARTURES level of the airport.  I tried to get him to drive there and he refused.  Kept saying he couldn’t get up to that level.  He parked down near a parking garage where we had to walk a long way into the parking lot, then get in an elevator, go upstairs, find carts and then do the process in reverse to get back to the bus.  When we finally got everything unloaded and into the terminal, only one cart would  fit in the elevator at a time.  When we walked up to the Finnair counter (which had not opened when we arrived), there were tour buses lined up outside letting people off with their luggage.  Good thing our bus driver had already left so I couldn’t choke him.  L Had to wait about 30 minutes for the FinnAir counter to open.  I talked to the agent and asked about checking in as a group but he said he had to do it individually.  I checked in my luggage and checked the pedal steel as one of my pieces since I knew it was overweight and I have a bigger allowance than everyone else.  FinnAir refused to allow us the “international weights” for our luggage and said we could only have 400 kilos total.  The agent who was checking us in was new and it took him over an hour just to print out the luggage tags.  Then the machine ran out of paper half way through and he got all confused ….. which worked to our favor.  One of the other agents apologized and said they were not going to charge us any excess because of the “inconvenience”.  That was really good luck as it could have cost thousands of dollars. We boarded the flight on time and it was only a 45 minute flight.  Landed in Helsinki and all our luggage made the flight.  We were worried because of the screw-up with the luggage tags.  Then things started not going our way. Live Nation is the promoter on the event and we had emailed him several times regarding the amount of luggage/equipment we had with us and told him if he was providing vans, he needed to provide 2 passenger vans PLUS a trailer or cargo van.  He sent (he didn’t meet us) two passenger vans.  Of course, everything didn’t fit and we ended up having to put heavy bags inside in the seats with us and cramming in as best we could for the 30 minute drive to the hotel.  I have worked with this promoter before but it was many, many years ago.  Arrived at the Radisson Royal Hotel which is right in the middle of the City.  Very convenient.  Hotel is beautiful and they were ready for our arrival except someone had canceled my reservations.  Had rooms for everyone but me.  Thankfully, they had a room for me.  The rooms are great.  Very pretty and they have free wireless internet and a coffee maker.  Gym is right outside the front door of the hotel.  The weather is still beautiful here, too. David, Susan, Wally and I walked across the street to a little restaurant with Indian Food.  It was excellent.  I could easily eat there every night and may do that.  Best food I’ve had since we arrived.  J Have been trying to answer some emails.  Can’t believe we traveled all day and only 45 minutes of that time was the actual flight.  We did lose an hour here though.  Going to work out tomorrow morning and then ride over to the venue with the boys for sound check.  Jude

Got up at 7 am and went to the gym.  It’s in front of the hotel and you go “underground”.  Pretty strange not to have any windows to look out.  But, they had decent equipment.  No nautilus so I had to figure out the “weights” for the machines.   Worked legs today.  Hopefully I can jog outside tomorrow.  It’s a little cooler here today and it rained early this morning. Howard was telling me about talking to his Mom – Frances – yesterday.  She’s an amazing lady and definitely still “runs the show”.   He said she told him, “I dreamed I had that PIG FLU last night.  J  But when I woke up I was okay except I think I’ve been making myself cough”.  Walked down to the train station to change money and sort of recognized a lot of the things I saw when I was here 2 years ago.  Got a little bit turned around (imagine that) but still managed to find my way back to the hotel without taking a taxi!    Went over to the Theatre with the boys.  It’s the Savoy Theatre and is a very famous theatre in Helsinki and it’s really beautiful.  Great production company and really cool gig to play.  The promoter – Johan – didn’t get there until after I had left to go to the hotel.  He came by the hotel and he still looks exactly the same as he did in – I think it was 1990 or 1991!!!  Had dinner in the hotel with David, Susan and Wally.  The restaurant is renowned for its steaks and the food lived up to its reputation.  Really good meal.   We left for the show shortly thereafter.  Only about 350 seats were sold in the 700 seat theatre but the promoter was happy.  Country just doesn’t sell well here.  Dolly Parton only sold a little over 3,000 and she was supposed to perform in a huge stadium.  They moved her show to Norway.  Toby Keith may come here for a promotional visit next year and probably won’t sell more than 1,500 tix.  Just not a “country” marketplace.  I think the shows would be much better if held in one of the neighboring towns.  When Johan had the country festival years ago, it was about an hour from Helsinki if I remember correctly and it did great.  Bellamys had a great show and the buyer was very pleased.  The backdrop on the stage was beautiful, too. Came back to the hotel and Susan and David had to change rooms because their air conditioning didn’t work.  Frank changed this morning for the same reason.  I think I must be stealing all their air because you can hang meat in my room.  When we were in Sweden, the driver who met them for the first time told David he must be a very rich man to have such a young wife.  I was horrified but David just laughed and said, then you’re going to think my brother is even richer when you meet his wife!  🙂 Tomorrow I’m going jogging and pray I don’t get “too lost”.  Then we are going down to the marketplace to shop and hopefully up to the “rock church” to take some photos.  On Wednesday, some of us are taking the ferry to Estonia.  That should be lots of fun. Jude

Got up early for my morning “jog”.  Weather is still beautiful.  I went to the front desk and asked where I might be able to jog so that I went in a “straight line”.  All of you know how “geographically” challenged I am.  They pulled out a map and told me to run in the CEMETERY.  Now THAT was a first and wasn’t sure I liked the idea.  However, it was nearby and there were only a couple of “turns” I had to make to reach it.  I got a card from them so I could take a taxi back if I got REALLY lost.  Left the hotel loaded with my map, my reading glasses (map isn’t of much use if you can’t read the names of the streets), 50 Euros, and my room key in the hotel packet so if I drop dead, someone will know where to take the body!  Only made one wrong turn trying to get to the cemetery.  I really wasn’t excited about running “in” it and quickly figured out that they meant for me to run around the outside of it.  There was a huge stone wall around it which made it pretty simple for me to follow.  At one point, it even bordered some pretty water….just sure what.  Pretty isolated in most spots.  I heard something that sounded like “digging” in one really remote part and that got my heart rate up.  I kept looking over my right shoulder to see if I could see anyone and just as I got even with one set of tombstones, a man popped up.  He looked like a street person with an old straw hat on his head.  Guess if I’m going to drop dead of a heart attack, the cemetery is a pretty convenient location.  Kicked into my 3 minute mile pretty easily after that scare.   I made 3 wrong turns trying to get back to the hotel but managed about a 5 mile run.  When I walked back into the Radisson, the two front desk clerks applauded me.  They were thrilled that I didn’t arrive by taxi.  🙂 My daughter found a wristwatch with a built-in GPS that she wants me to purchase.  However, not only am I “geographically challenged” but I am also “technologically challenged”.  I am afraid that by the time I figure out how to program it, I’ll be too old to jog! Susan has been teasing me consistently about the cute young Swedish musician.  She put our photo on her “Facebook” page and labeled it “Judy, THOR, and Susan in Sweden”.   Now, keep in mind, she was teasing me about him yet I had to chase him down after the show so SHE could have her photo made with him.  LOL.  Well, yesterday, her infatuation came to a screeching halt.  She found out he plays the BANJO.  LOL David, Susan, Wally and I took a taxi down to the Market Square.  This is where I went a couple of years ago with the group “Bomshel”.  Kristy and I had a blast – we shopped, walked up to the old “Stone Church” and took a ferry over to an island with old forts.  I bought a beautiful ring that day.  It was a solid white band with gold inlay.  Didn’t realize my hands were swollen from all the walking and when I got home, it didn’t fit.  Can’t have it sized because it’s all one piece.  I didn’t buy a beautiful amber ring that I wished I had and was determined to find it today. There were a lot fewer “stalls” down there today because the weather is still cool and there’s not as many cruise ships coming in.  But, David found a great food stall and had a seafood lunch – fresh salmon and fried white fish and potatoes.  The white fish look totally gross…little fish with heads and eyeballs that you eat whole.  He says they taste like French fries only better.  I’ll take his word for it.  Susan and I found these great “scarves”  They are 100% wool with fox trim…rather expensive…but so beautiful.  We each bought one.  Then we went to this little Thai restaurant that Wally had seen when we first arrived.  We passed a crepe stand (as you remember from my Greece and Paris adventures – this is one of my favorite foods) and I decided to eat light at the Thai restaurant and come back for a crepe for dessert.  The Thai food was a buffet and it was great….but really spicy!   We walked back to the crepe stand and everyone had a crepe.  David showed me a beautiful scarf he had purchased that was much different from the ones Susan and I had.  I went back and purchased one as a gift.  We left the Market Square and decided to walk back to the hotel with a stop at Stockmann’s – the huge department store in Helsinki.  It’s by the train station and I went in it yesterday and purchased some items for the twin’s room.  They have a “wall” dedicated to my “international travels” and it’s filled with items from around the world.  Pretty cool.  We passed another souvenir shop and I found my LARGE amber ring and Susan got a beautiful pair of earrings.  David bought a Cuban Cigar.  Then we went into Stockmann’s and “browsed”.  It’s an amazing store.  Reminds me a little of Harrod’s in London with all the food on the lower level.  Came back to the hotel and I was going to take them up to the Rock Church after they did some “work” since offices were open in Nashville by then.  But, everyone had too much to do, so we passed on that trek.  I went to a huge department store right by the hotel and could have spent all day in there.  Found several things I was looking for though and will go back tomorrow if we get back from Estonia in time.  I found a great Italian restaurant on the lower level and got Susan and David to come over and eat with me.  We all had Caprese and I had ravioli stuffed with fresh mushrooms in a white truffle sauce.  It was to die for!  Man, the food in Helsinki sure beats the food in Sweden and Norway.  🙂 Back in my room trying to work but the internet keeps going out.  Was able to book a ferry for me, Susan and Kenny to go to Estonia for the day tomorrow.  We leave at 8:30 pm and will be back at 4:30 pm.  All the locals encouraged us to go there.  It looks really cool on the internet.  Plus, when will I have another chance to visit Estonia?  Can add another country to my long list of those I’ve visited AND pick up some items for the twin’s room.  Our group kept talking about the naked dolls and the “Adam and Eve” syndrome.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  Susan came to my room last night and pointed to my headboards of my beds.  There is a “shadow box” with glass on the front of it over each.  In one, there is a naked woman and in the other is a naked man.  Both are only wearing a fig leaf!  Looks like they are made out of clay.  Guess the females are supposed to sleep in the bed with the female doll and vice versa for the males???  Realized I’m sleeping in the one under the naked man though.  We are all having problems with the internet connection going out in the hotel.  I’ve called several times as has Susan.   At first the front desk told me to go to another part of the hotel!  I suggested they call whoever they needed to call and get it fixed.  🙂 Going to bed soon so I can get up early and catch the ferry.  Bet it’s going to be cold on there.  Susan and I will probably get to wear our sexy new scarves.  Guess Kenny will be our “chaperone” since David isn’t going.  Lord knows, we need one if for nothing else than making sure we don’t get lost!  🙂 Jude

First thing I did before booking the cruise to Estonia was to check the weather.  Supposed to be partly cloudy here and in Estonia with a high of 59.  Woke up this morning to RAIN.  Checked the weather again and now they are predicting drizzle and showers for both areas with winds 15-20 mph.  No way I’m getting on a ferry if that’s true.  I called the ferry line in Estonia and they lady denied that it is raining there.  Guess we’ll go down to the ferry terminal and see how the “sea” looks before making a decision. Meeting Susan for breakfast in a few minutes.  Kenny was already down there and ready to go.  We took a taxi to the Ferry terminal and decided to “upgrade” to First Class just in case the sea was really choppy.  It was a really nice boat.  Totally enclosed.  We were upstairs in a private area.  The sea was definitely choppy but I didn’t get sick.   No worse than turbulence on an airplane.  We out in the open sea most of the way. Docked right on time in Estonia – the name of the city is Tallinn.  It looked pretty “rustic” from the ship but once we got closer, realized it is a beautiful city.  We took a turn to go to a church and ended up getting off the main tourist path.  Found a great souvenir shop and then found an antique shop.  I had bought that gorgeous amber ring yesterday but found one even more unique and prettier today.  Bought it and will give the other one to some lucky family member or friend.   The antique shop had some amazing pieces – especially guns and knives – from the Russians and Estonians from the War.   We walked and shopped and looked at the old buildings throughout Old Town for over an hour and then decided to grab some lunch.  We wanted something quick so we could keep sightseeing and decided on a pizza.  It had the really thin crust and was very good.  We stumbled back onto the main tourist street and found some great bargains.  There was a stage set up and an Estonian Square Dance taking place in the main square.  We realized we were going to be late getting back to the ferry, so started rushing downs the docks.  Only we needed to make one last stop at the little souvenir shop we saw on the way in.  Susan thought it was a lot closer than it was and we finally had to give up on that idea. Of course, with our great sense of direction (NOT), we got lost a couple of times, too.  Susan and I have very long legs and Kenny does not.  We were covering ground very quickly so as not to miss the ferry and both of us were talking a mile a minute.  We got to the ferry just as they started boarding.  Kenny plopped down across from us and was totally out of breath.  He said he had blisters all over his feet from trying to keep up with us.  He was amazed that we were walking and TALKING.  Said he was breathing so hard just trying to keep up with us that he couldn’t even manage to say, “Slow Down”!  J   Estonia is really beautiful and I’d like to come back when I have more time to look around.  Ferry ride back was sort of interesting.  Instead of turbulence we hit some currents that kept pushing us sideways.   There were black clouds on the horizon and I think the ship was trying to outrun the storm.  We made it back without an incident and docked right on time.   Then, there was no taxi at the taxi stand.  We told Kenny we had to walk to the next street and the look on his face was priceless.  He really didn’t think he could walk another block.  I went shopping when we got back then out to dinner with David and Susan – Indian one last time.  Have been answering emails and working for hours and it’s after 1 am.  Have to get up early.  Tomorrow is a very long “travel day” to Norway.  Hope the weather is good! Jude

I forgot to write about one of the best things that happened yesterday.  Wally was walking around downtown and saw a man with what looked like the pole from a broom and some sort of “machine” attached to the end of it.  He was walking around looking at people so Wally followed him to see what he had.   The man walked up behind a group of females who were smoking and held the “device” over their heads.    A few seconds later, a piercing screech began followed by the girls screaming and running.  The guy had a smoke detector attached to the pole!  He’d go from group to group when he found them smoking and “out” them.  I need to get one of those as much as I hate cigarette smoking!  Misjudged my time this morning and didn’t get in my exercise.  Not happy about that.  Had a quick breakfast of “natural yogurt” and then we departed for the airport.  Our van driver was very knowledgeable about the area and concerts coming in so the 30 minute drive passed quickly.  We were pretty much the first ones in line at the Finnair counter and it’s a good thing we were.  I checked in easily and then tried to help the Bellamys because excess weight is always a huge issue.  The agent they had was not very nice.  They finally called a “supervisor” who was much nicer but not flexible on the overage.  They were 200 kgs over the legal limit.   When I checked in, my agent checked me all the way through to Stavanger and gave me boarding passes for my Helsinki to Oslo and Oslo to Stavanger flights.  Norway is STRANGE in that EVERYONE has to pick up their luggage and “re-check” it no matter what – even if it is only a connecting flight.  Jenny got the “mean” agent and she refused to check Jennifer all the way through to Stavanger and would not give her the boarding pass for Oslo to Stavanger.  I knew that if she didn’t check the luggage all the way through, we would get hit with double excess charges when she had to re-check it in Oslo.  I showed the agent my boarding passes and claim checks and her response was, “Well, that agent broke the rules.  I am not going to do that!”.  So, we went down to another agent and got her to take care of it.  I wanted to walk back to the mean agent and flash the boarding pass and claim checks just to show her but was afraid she might have the power to raise our rate on the excess charges.   It took over an hour to get everything weighed and then Wally and I had to go downstairs to try and negotiate the rate.  There was no negotiation.  It’s 10 Euro PER Kilo for excess – 2,000 Euros or over $2,600 U.S. for ONE flight.   When I asked why it was so expensive, she said, “Because of the price of oil”.  When I reminded her that oil prices are at an all-time low, she suddenly no longer spoke or understood English. We had a few minutes at the gate area before boarding the flight to Oslo.  They served “lunch” but if there hadn’t been a little menu card on the tray, I would not have known what it was.  There was this green mush that looked like baby food.  That was pureed asparagus.   Then there was salmon that smelled so fishy it was nauseating.  There was something brown with what looked like cranberries in it on some sort of brown bread.  That was supposedly some type of beef on a cracker.  The dinner roll was orange and the dessert was a red “gel” with a couple of strawberries in it.  I drank water for lunch.  J   It was a smaller plane and it was pretty bumpy trying to land in Oslo.  The sky was dark and it was raining which added to the turbulence.  We waited for OVER AN HOUR for our luggage in Oslo.  They kept making announcements that “it was coming” but it never did.  You’d think after paying that much money to fly it there, ours would have beat us into the terminal!  I was getting worried about making our connection when it finally arrived.  We had to pick up everything, take the elevator to the departure level and take it to an “excess baggage” desk to re-check it.  The good news is – they didn’t charge us again!  Finnair is very arrogant about how great their airline is and I sure don’t understand why! The flight from Oslo to Stavanger was “HELL” for me.  Unbelievable turbulence.  And, no, it wasn’t just me being paranoid.  Everyone in our group said it was bad.  There were thunderstorms in the area and the wind was gusting at more than 25 mph.  It was a short 30 minute white-knuckle flight for me.  Our promoter – Gunnar — met us with a nice bus for the 15 minute ride to the hotel.  The hotel is very nice and it’s right in the center of Sandnes.  Got everyone checked in and we have wireless internet!  We met in the lobby at 6 pm and walked to a local restaurant for dinner.  The food was amazingly good for Norway.  I had a grilled chicken fillet with a nice salad.  Food in Norway isn’t usually to my “tastes” and I can only eat so much “salmon”.  After dinner, most of us stopped at a 7-11 to buy water then stopped by a little “park” that is right in front of the hotel to take some photos.  It’s a lot colder here in Norway.  I plan to get up and run tomorrow but may have to go to the gym instead because I didn’t bring any “cold weather” jogging clothes. Going to bed early tonight.  It’s only 1 am!  Tomorrow is show day.  Jude