THURSDAY, JULY 13TH – FRIDAY, JULY 14TH: FLYING TO NORWAY:
Today I fly from Nashville to Norway – Atlanta, Amsterdam, Bergen – then a 5 hour bus/ferry ride to Sandane, Norway. Ben and Noel Haggard with The Strangers are performing in Breim on Saturday at the Norsk Country Treff. Lindsey drove me to the airport at 8:30 am and right after she dropped me off, I realized I did not have my passport. Had to call her and have her go to my house, pick it up and bring it back to me. Fortunately, I had arrived early enough for her to do that. I NEVER take my passport out of my travel purse…except I went to NM a few days ago and decided not to take it with me. It’s so hard for me to pack for such a short trip, especially when I decide not to check a bag so Delta can’t lose it!
I arrived at the airport early so I could change some dollars to Norwegian Kroner but I got so stressed about the passport, I forgot to do it until after I had gone through security. The agency that changes the currency is before you clear security. Decided I’d just try to change some in Atlanta.
Boarding started on time but this lady, her daughter and 4 other “teenagers” were all trying to “pre-board”. The lady had a rolling bag, a small hard shell carry on, a huge backpack and a bag that looked like it might have a C-Pap machine in it. The gate agent kept telling her she was not allowed to carry on 4 large items (and, by the way, this lady who required “early boarding” because she needed extra time was carrying/rolling all these items herself). The lady was arguing with the gate agent and finally the daughter stepped in and took some of the bags from her. Everyone in the group had a huge backpack and a large roller bag that they carried on. It delayed our boarding by about 20 minutes.
We still landed Atlanta on time and I headed straight to the currency exchange. They did not have even ONE Norwegian Kroner. They called their other terminals and everyone was “out”. When I was at the Atlanta airport a couple of weeks ago, the exchanges were out of Euro! What kind of money exchange doesn’t have foreign currency on hand to exchange? The airport needs to change their vendors!
Had a few minutes to spend in the Lounge and then got in line to board the flight. And guess who is on my flight – all the women with the huge carry on bags. Fortunately, they didn’t hold up the flight this time. I was originally scheduled to fly through JFK but Delta offered a few “change” to passengers going through NYC today because of the weather. I was delighted to change my flight and route through Atlanta but the only seat left in Business Class was the first row. It wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. We were late boarding because the plane had not been cleaned but supposedly we were going to make up the time in the air. Right after take-off, the turbulence started and lasted throughout almost the entire flight. And it wasn’t a “light” turbulence.
After eating dinner and watching a great movie, I was going to nap for a couple of hours because I only had time to sleep 3 hours last night. As soon as I feel asleep, the man behind me started coughing – loudly! That went on for an hour. Then the lady beside him loudly yelled for the flight attendant to get her bag out of the overhead for her. For the next hour, there was a loud noise coming from her seat that sounded like air blowing on a plastic bag…just this constant “scrabbling” type noise. It was much louder than a rustling sound. I have no idea what she was doing – other than disturbing everyone on the flight!
I gave up on sleep and got my computer out and worked the rest of the flight. The flight attendants were very nice and “attentive” the entire flight which remained turbulent most of the way.
We landed Amsterdam and I had about an hour to spend in the Lounge. Got more coffee and more work done then headed for the flight to Bergen. This is a KLM flight instead of Delta and a smaller plane. I was very pleased to see who big the overhead space was! Much better than any of the Delta flights, even the international flight.
This was about a 2 hour flight landing at around 10 am and then I had to wait for the “Haggard” group to arrive at noon. I saw a couple of “musician-looking” guys (can always SPOT them) and asked if they were with Sam Outlaw. They were and had arrived about an hour before me and were waiting to ride with us to the hotel. We walked outside and found the bus driver who was already there waiting for us….a really nice guy named Alf. They put their stuff on the bus and I went back inside to see the bad news that the Haggard’s flight was delayed and wouldn’t arrive until around 12:45 pm.
The flight finally showed up at around 12:30 pm and I was texting back and forth with the tour manager when he gave me the bad news that the pedal steel was still in Reykjavik! Iceland Air said they thought it was coming in on the 4 pm flight and they would deliver it to the hotel. I told him to just have them fly it up to Sandane (small airport that is 15 minutes from the hotel) because I do not trust delivery companies to drive it the 5 hours to us. Never happens. He’d be lucky to see it when we get back to the Bergen Airport on Sunday. John (tour manager) said the airline agreed and we departed.
We drove for about 2 hours before driving the bus on the ferry for the crossing. Everyone was asleep until then. Got off and had a snack and took the same beautiful photos I take every year on the short 20 minute crossing. Then we loaded back up on the bus and drove another 2 hours to the hotel – another very quiet ride as everyone slept through seeing the beautiful scenery. But we will be taking this same route back on Sunday to spend the night at the airport hotel and they can see it then! At one point, all the cars had to stop as this herd of goats (I guess herd is the appropriate title!) crossed the road!
Gunnar was waiting for us at the hotel and already had our rooms keys ready. We got checked in and ate at the buffet in the hotel restaurant. Gunnar had to go to the festival as he’s also the “announcer” so I sat and talked to my dear friend Cor Sanne from the Netherlands. Always good to see him each year, too!
I was finally able to get my WiFi working in my room as well as the TV – both of which were a challenge. Gunnar was calling Iceland Air every hour to check on the pedal steel and they told him it arrived Bergen at 5 pm. But, they were NOT going to fly it to Sandane. They were going to put it on a bus at 8 am and drive it up. It would be tight to receive it for sound check but at least he would have it for the show.
I worked until midnight and received an update from Gunnar saying the pedal steel was actually still in Reykjavik!!! Just can’t believe anything an airlines tells you. Supposedly it will arrive tomorrow on the same flight the guys came in on today – at around noon. Then someone has to drive it to the hotel – another 5 hours. No way he’ll have it for sound check but fingers are crossed that he has it for the show since they don’t perform until 12:30 am until 2:00 am. It will get dark for a little while during that time period.
Everyone in both groups are so very nice. Can’t wait to see the shows tomorrow!
SATURDAY, JULY 15TH – PERFORMANCE AT NORSK COUNTRY TREFF IN BREIM, NORWAY:
Only thought I was going to bed at midnight. Emails and calls started coming in relative to Brad Paisley’s concert the end of this month in Norway and it was 2 am before I got in bed. I got up at 7 am, showered, and had breakfast at 9:30 am. Most of my guys had already eaten or were coming down to eat. It’s a really good breakfast buffet and it is supposed to stay open until 11 am on Saturday and Sunday. It’s “open” but they don’t replenish the food after it starts running out! I had a hard boiled egg and some fruit but stayed away from making my own waffle or eating the bread, granola and yoghurt.
I walked over to the markets and purchased bottled water. The Norwegians laugh at us for buying water since the water out of the tap is probably “purer” than what we buy. Old habits are hard to break, though!
Have been tracking the pedal steel all day. It actually DID arrive on the Iceland Air flight today at 12:15 pm. Then it became an issue for our contact to pick it up since all he had was a copy of the claim report and wasn’t the passenger who checked it in. They got that worked out, put it on a bus to one city and then someone from the festival picked it up in that city and drove it to the hotel. It arrived at about 9 pm. Just glad he has it for the show.
We went over to the venue at 12:30 pm for sound check. So far, the rain has thankfully held off. It is “cool” enough for long sleeves and a light jacket though. Saw Kristin who usually takes care of us at the hotel and lots of other Norwegian friends. The guys made quick work of sound check – such professionals!!! We finished early and had about 20 minutes to “kill” before leaving for the church.
All the entertainers perform a couple of songs at this beautiful little church located on a lake at the base of majestic mountains. Such a great event every year! They finish with all the artists singing “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”.
I asked the van driver to take the guys by a spot that used to be an old salmon run. The water cascades down so fast that it makes a huge “waterfall” and is beautiful. I guess this will be our only sightseeing this trip. Usually I take them to a nearby glacier on Sunday but we have to drive back to Bergen and the weather is calling for rain all day.
We were back at the hotel a little after 4 pm. Everyone was hungry since they skipped lunch. We were told the buffet opened at 5 pm and would stay open until 8 pm. But, it didn’t open until 6 pm. There was grilled salmon, meatballs and Lasagna. Lots of potatoes are always included with every meal and a salad that only has a couple of pieces of lettuce in it. Not great for my diet but I was able to eat salmon and salad plus have some fruit for dessert.
We don’t have to depart to the venue tonight until 11:30 pm so I was guessing I’d get at least a 1 hour nap. Wrong. Emails always take care of my sleep plans.
There was a steady rain falling by the time we left for the festival. We had some confusion when we were leaving because some Norwegian that we didn’t know was insisting that he ride in our van with us – and the van was full. I had to call our contact out at the festival and get him on the phone with the guy to make him understand we were not his “taxi”.
After we arrived at the festival, the guys did a quick “Meet and Greet” and took photos with some of the staff. They also did a radio interview with someone from Bergen. They went on stage at exactly 12:30 am and it had begun to get a little bit darker by then. The rain continued to fall off and on throughout their 90 minute set. But the fans came out in the rain and danced the entire time. They had a fantastic show and what an amazing tribute to their Dad – his music lives on through them!
Left the festival at about 2:30 am and back in the room a few minutes before 3 am. We have a 10 am lobby call for the 5 hour bus ride back to Bergen to spend the night. Going to be a really quiet ride again tomorrow, I’ll bet!
Love working with this festival – Nils, Kristin, Gunnar, Bill – everyone is so darn nice. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful job that takes me around the world to meet and work with the nicest people on the planet!
SUNDAY, JULY 16TH – SANDANE TO BERGEN:
Not a lot to report today. I got up at 8 am and it was still raining. We departed the hotel at 10:00 am for the 5 hour bus ride and we were the only people on the 50 passenger bus – 7 of us. So, again, it was a quiet ride because most of the guys slept. I tried and you’d think after only sleeping 3 hours, I’d pass out. But, on no, I had to have those 2 cups of coffee for breakfast.
We had another good bus driver and arrived at the hotel at 2:30 pm – 30 minutes earlier than anticipated. The desk clerk remembered me from 2 years ago and was very helpful. Got everyone checked in quickly and they had all our information about pre-payment already on file.
John asked if I wanted to go into Bergen – something I had not considered. Since I wasn’t overloaded with emails that needed to be answered, I agreed. We took the new Tram service which was great. It’s about a 45 minute ride with multiple stops but still faster than the bus. I had asked the desk clerk if we would know when to get off and if the last stop was the fish market and she said yes. Once we got into downtown Bergen, I started remembering where things were. But, the last stop was not the fish market and we didn’t get off. The tram started back the route we came from, so we got off at the next stop and walked.
We walked around for about an hour – showed him Old Town and the Fish Market. The streets were crowded with passengers from several cruise ships which were docked in the port.
John called a friend of his who plays for the Bergen Orchestra. His friend was rehearsing in their concert hall and invited us over for a “backstage” tour. What a beautiful hall it is! And the acoustics are amazing. It looked really familiar but I don’t think the Bellamys have played in that hall.
We took the tram back to the hotel and arrived at around 7 pm. John and I had dinner in the hotel restaurant and it was excellent! Came back to my room, showered, and packed and I have to get up at 3 am. Hoping to be in bed by 11 pm tonight.
I fly home, Jimmy (drummer) flies back to his home and the rest of the group stays over until Tuesday when they fly to London for acoustic performances. It’s been a great tour with a fantastic group of musicians. My buyers were very pleased and the band was happy. Can’t ask for more than that!
MONDAY, JULY 17TH – BERGEN, NORWAY TO NASHVILLE, TN – FOR A WEEK!
Got my 3 hours of sleep then headed over to the airport at 4 am. The counter opened at 4:30 am and I had already printed my boarding pass and bag tag so all I had to do was hand it to the ticket agent. I decided not to carry on both bags since I won’t panic if Delta loses my luggage when I’m going home.
I was going through the security check point with my one carry on bag when this tall guy with a fuzzy long goatee just jumped in front of me and went through. After I cleared security, I was sitting on a stool waiting for the coffee shop to open when he walked up to me. He was so close to me, he almost fell on top of me. He had his phone in his hand and started talking to me but not in English. I told him I’m an American and only speak English. Then he started speaking English! He asked if I were going to some location but I couldn’t understand what he said. I just said, “No. I’m going home to the USA”. Then he handed me his phone and said “talk to her”. I said, “who is ‘her’?” and he responded “my friend”. I handed his phone back to him and said, “no, I’m not talking to anyone.” Then he wanted to know if I was going to Barcelona to the “concert”. I assured him I was not. The entire time he was swaying back and forth and his breath smelled like he had been drinking all night. I told him to go talk to someone who works at the airport and pointed him in the right direction. Instead, he went into Duty Free and started harassing the sales clerks. The last time I saw him, he was weaving his way through the “Exit” where he would not be able to re-enter without going through security again. I never saw him again so hopefully he’s on his way to Barcelona – or somewhere other than on my flight!
I fly from Bergen to Amsterdam to Detroit to Nashville. Delta was kind enough to send me a schedule change this morning as I was leaving the hotel. Seems I now have 30 minutes less time in Detroit to make my connection. I am going to be really angry if I miss that connection. It’s been over 2 weeks since I saw my grandchildren and I’m ready to get home to them.
The Bergen airport is really expanding. They are building a huge new terminal and it is connected to another hotel and the Tram station. Going to be super nice!
Landed on time in Amsterdam. All Delta passengers now should go through Passport Control at E1 or D1 depending upon which gate they are departing from. Then we get our “gate assignment”. Since my flight is delayed by 30 minutes, I had plenty of time to go to the lounge. Which was a good thing because the closest one was about a 10 minute “fast walk” from the E gates!
We started boarding 30 minutes late and I was the 2nd one in line. When they scanned my boarding pass, I had been selected for an “extra security check”. That never happens because I have a redress number! I was one of the last ones to board the flight because of the delay. Once I got on board, I looked at my boarding pass and realized what had happened. When I checked in for my flight in Bergen, it was a KLM flight and none of my information printed out on my boarding pass as it usually does. My TSA Pre-check info, my Diamond Medallion Status, none of my Delta info was on my boarding pass. I also realized that because I printed my own claim check, no one at KLM put a priority sticker on my one bag I checked. With the late arrival in Detroit, I was wishing I had just carried everything on again. ☹
I watched a movie, slept for 2 hours and then worked for a couple of hours. The flight attendants were pretty much non-existent on the entire flight. At least there wasn’t any turbulence on the flight home! We landed only about 10 minutes late into Detroit and I went through Global Entry very quickly. But, since my bag wasn’t tagged priority, it didn’t come out on the priority belt. I waited over 30 minutes for the bags to start coming and when they did, everything started piling up on top of each other. The baggage belt jammed and it took over 20 minutes for someone to come pick up the suitcases and re-start the belt. Bags started coming in again but quickly jammed up again and it took another 15 minutes for someone to come back and clear it again!
My bag finally came and as soon as I exited Customs, I went straight to the Delta re-check counter and had them re-print my boarding pass and tag my bag as priority. Only had a few minutes to run into the Lounge and download emails. Our flight to Nashville departed on time and I planned to work all the way. Only problem was, my internet wouldn’t connect. I could connect on my iPhone but not my laptop. Very frustrating. First call when I get home will be to my computer guru “Greg” to find out what’s going on with it. If I had to bet, it has “something” to do with Windows 10 – which I HATE!
We landed on time in Nashville and my bag was one of the first ones to come out. 😊 Finally get to see Zac and Zoe!