DAYS ONE AND TWO – SEPTEMBER 22ND AND 24RD:
Today I left Washington, DC to fly to Switzerland to meet BR549 for the “Schupfarten Festival” in Schupfart, Switzerland. Yep. Pronounced just the way it is spelled. It’s a little “village” about 30 minutes from Zurich. Beautiful area.
I feel like I’ve been gone for a month already because I’ve been in DC for 3 days and I have the luggage to prove it! But I had some great meetings on behalf of Stars for Stripes.
Took American from Reagan National to JFK. Flight was delayed out of JFK but not for too long. It was an American Airlines plane instead of a Swiss Air plane (which I had been dreading). It was one of the really older models though. Seats were really small and the flight was oversold. But my seatmate was “quiet” and it was a relatively short flight compared to my Asia trips.
Landed in Zurich and was expecting to be picked up and taken to the hotel to meet BR549 who was supposed to have landed 2 hours before me. Their flight was delayed out of Chicago and they had to sit on the runway for 2 hours. So they had just landed about 3 minutes before I came in. It was nice to be able to ride with them to the hotel and get them checked in myself.
I remember the hotel from previous years. I’ve been at this festival several times. I always remember the cities if I get to jog in them. Probably because I always get lost and see a lot more of the place than I expect.
Got checked in and grabbed a quick lunch. Walked downtown and changed some U.S. dollars to Swiss francs and bought a pair of boots and a pair of shoes. I saw some shoes I wanted on my last trip and didn’t buy them. Now I’ve looked everywhere for them in the U.S. and can’t find them. So, I decided to buy these immediately. There were actually about 8 pairs I wanted. But, at last count, I have 96 pairs of shoes. So, I’m trying to regain “control”.
Back to the hotel to start answering emails that came in while I was flying. Then I went running for an hour. The weather was perfect. I got in one wonderful run in DC through the Mall Area between the Capitol and Washington Monument. My toe seems to not hurt quite as much as it has been…until I finish running. Then it is so swollen, it looks like a little sausage. But, the other option is going back into the walking cast and letting it heal. Why do I need a toe that “bends” anyway. It’s not like I pick up anything with it! J I KNOW I look like I’m running knock-kneed though because I’m so cautious to land on the inside of my foot.
Came back and showered and went to dinner with my “BR Boys”. They are all so sweet and such a pleasure to work with. Donnie (fiddle) had missed our other trips this Summer because he went on the road with Dylan. It was great to have him back in the fold and I found out that today is his birthday. We got him a special dessert with a sparkler on it at dinner. The food at the hotel restaurant is amazing. I had a “Monk Fish” and some risotto (?) with mushrooms that was to die for.
Then we all went over to the festival site. Tonight is the “rock” night and tomorrow is the “country” night. We were standing out in front of the hotel waiting for one of the guys when one of the guys looked at the hotel and said, “Oh that’s him in his room. See he’s sitting on his bed putting on his shoes.” We all have our windows open because there is no air conditioning and it’s hot. But, there are these white sheer drapes that cover the windows. I didn’t think you could see through the drapes….but obviously you can. I’ve given quite the peep show at various times today. Donnie assured me that he has captured it all on video and will be selling copies at their merch table. Nice!
I thought we were going to arrive just in time to see Uriah Heep but we got there early and a female named “Nina” was performing. All her songs sounded the same to me plus the tent was filled with smoke. I decided to make a quick exit and let the boys stay and “play”. Was back in my room by 11 and now it’s 1:30 am. Going to bed very soon! Curtains are CLOSED.
DAY THREE – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24TH:
Got up early and got in another GREAT run. Didn’t realize it was as cool as it was though. Wore shorts and a tank top and never did really “warm up” even after doing 6 miles. But, the air is so clean and the scenery is beautiful.
We had sound check today which was totally painless. Didn’t even take as long as we expected. Back to the hotel and I walked down to “Migros” – my favorite grocery store – and purchased some Swiss chocolate to take back to Nashville for “gifts”. Worked the rest of the afternoon and then had dinner with the boys.
We went over to the venue in time to see part of “Truckstop’s” show. They are a German band who is extremely popular in Europe. I’ve seen them at almost every festival I produce at one time or another. They have been together for something like 30 years. The Bellamy Brothers even did a duet with them on Truckstop’s last cd.
BR549 had a great show and the crowd loved them. Promoter was extremely happy. Saw several of my friends from my other Switzerland festivals. I sold cds for the guys after the show and we sold all of them. There was a local tv crew filming the festival and they gave me a dvd of the guys’ performance as soon as they came off stage. Pretty amazing technology.
Only had one “mishap”. The dressing room was located all the way in the back of the festtent. It was the only place that had a restroom. Otherwise, it was a port-a-potty out behind the stage. I hiked through the packed festtent and the cigarette smoke that was a thick as fog just to get to a real restroom. Then, just like in Afghanistan, the sliding bolt got stuck and I couldn’t get out. But, this time I had on cowboy boots and it was easy to beat the bolt back and open the door!
It’s almost 2 am and we leave for the airport at 10 am tomorrow morning….short trip but very successful.
DAY 4 – SEPTEMBER 25TH – GOING HOME – almost!
Up to work out with “bands” in the room, quick breakfast, and we’re headed to the airport. Arrived in plenty of time to get checked in but the line was LONG. Then we arrived at the “tram” to find a huge crowd of people waiting and the tram broken. Someone in a bright yellow vest yelled, “Everyone going to Gate E, follow me. You’re taking a bus”. So, everyone started followed the yellow vest and we went through the “bowels” of the Zurich Airport. It was like something out of spinal tap. We went down corridors and up and down stairs and kept asking each other, “do you still see the yellow vest?”. Finally made it outside and there were two buses. We all got onto one – except Donnie, the “little guy”. We couldn’t find him. Oh, by the way, Donnie is the “little monster musician”. He plays banjo, mandolin, and steel guitar and is teaching himself to play trumpet. I actually heard him practicing one morning about 2 am. Now, keep in mind, he didn’t bring the trumpet with him. He can make the trumpet sounds with his mouth almost as good as with a trumpet. Anyway, Donnie wasn’t on our bus. When we arrived at Gate E, still no Donnie. Went through security, still no Donnie. We stood around and waited for quite a while and finally I walked down to his gate. There was Donnie, sitting and drinking his water. No idea we had been looking everywhere for him.
Plane to JFK was full again. American must be doing well…one of the few airlines not in bankruptcy. Again, it was one of the older airplanes though.
It took 9 hours and 55 minutes to fly from Zurich to JFK. I could have flown to Dallas in that amount of time. I was concerned because my connection time was only 2 hours and I had to change from American to Delta. Went through passport control quickly enough but then we waited and waited for our luggage. The monitor said it was coming on carousel B but final porter came up and said that it was on carousel A. It had been sitting there for quite a while. Even though it was checked all the way through to Nashville and I already had my Delta boarding passes, American would not accept my luggage. They said that it would not make the flight if they took it. I told them I was more concerned that I make the flight than my luggage. However, they insisted that I take it with me to Terminal 3. SIX ELEVATORS AND THREE TRAMS LATER, I arrived at Terminal 3. I gave it to the baggage handlers and rushed through security, only to find that I had missed my flight! I had anticipated something like this before I ever left Nashville and had my travel agent check for later flights out of JFK just in case I missed this one. She said that there was another flight to Nashville but Delta told me that there were no flights on any airlines.
I got my ticket re-issued to fly out at 5 am tomorrow morning via Atlanta. I seriously doubt that I will EVER see my luggage again…at least not for several days. I called and booked a hotel and again had to take 3 TRAMS and 6 elevators to get back to where hotel shuttles pick up. I was given a confirmation number for the Radisson. Met a nice man from Australia while I was waiting for the shuttle (which took 45 minutes to come pick us up). He is taking one cruise after another! My girlfriend and I had heard that instead of putting money into a retirement plan, we should just go on cruises year-round. Much cheaper to live that way and what a fun way to “retire”. That’s exactly what he was doing and he was loving every minute of it. When we were standing in line, he asked me to meet him for a drink and it would have been fascinating to hear about his travels. BUT, I didn’t have a room at the Radisson. I was booked at the Ramada instead! I talked the shuttle driver into taking me to the Ramada on his way back to the airport. Finally got checked in with NO LUGGAGE. At least I have a toothbrush. Will only get about 2 hours sleep anyway since I have to leave for the airport at 3 am. Wish me luck!!!!
Day Five – September 26th –not supposed to be a “day 5”!
Decided to order a salad last night before I went to bed. Guy brought it to my room and when I opened my door, he goes “Oh”! Now, I KNOW that my make up is all gone, my hair is flat, my clothes are wrinkled, and I definitely need a makeover so I’m thinking he’s “shocked” by my appearance. But instead, I can’t get rid of him! I paid him and he said, “Can I do anything for you? A glass of wine, some beer, anything you want”! No, I just want YOU to leave! J
Got up at 2:15 to catch the 3 am shuttle to JFK because Delta told me to be there at 3:30 am. There was a couple with a small baby taking the same shuttle and they had 9 TRUNKS plus the baby stroller and baby carrier. The baby was wrapped in a blanket and had on winter clothes plus a hat, gloves, booties…and it was at least 75 degrees already. It took him about 20 minutes to lift everything into the shuttle. Arrived at the airport only to find NO ONE working…just a lot of people waiting. There were no signs telling where to check in and everyone was very confused. Since I already had my boarding pass and no luggage (probably not EVER!), I got in line for gate security. There were about 3 people just standing around but they wouldn’t open the area. Finally at 4:15 they let us go through only to find out that my flight has been delayed until 5:30 am departure instead of 5:00 am to Atlanta. That means I’ll probably miss my connection to Nashville! When I asked about switching to the Cincinnati connection, the gate agent said, “there will be a service fee” and I said, “you’re wrong. There will NOT be a service fee!”. So far, it looks like if we leave at 5:30 am, I’ll still make the connection. They way my luck has been, I’ll get stuck in Atlanta. At least I can rent a car from there and DRIVE home!
NOTHING was open in the gate area so I couldn’t even get a cup of coffee. The flight departed on time and it was FREEZING on board. I found two blankets and wrapped up but never warmed up during the entire 2 ½ hour flight. Landed in Atlanta and had to take a tram to a different terminal. Got there just in time to get on the flight to Nashville. This plane was a little bit “warmer”. The fantastic news is….I SAW my luggage being loaded onto the plane. Never thought I’d see it again.
Landed in Nashville and was STARVING. At least I get to stay home for a week this time.