PHOTOS (Courtesy of Bruno Casartelli)
THURSDAY, JUNE 23RD AND FRIDAY, JUNE 24TH
(HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER – LINDSEY):
What a crazy two days. Guess it always is when international flights are involved!
I was scheduled to fly out of Nashville to Washington, DC and on to Zurich Switzerland on United Airlines today. Terri Clark and her band were flying on American via JFK and Carlene Carter and her band are already in Europe so coming in much later in the day on British Airways.
I arrived at the gate and the aircraft was there and passengers were disembarking. When it was time for us to board, the gate agent announced that we were being delayed by an hour or more because of “weather” in DC. A long line immediately formed so I decided to call my Premiere Million Miler Line and let them help me.
The first lady I reached argued with me and said my flight was leaving on time and landing early! Nothing I could say would change her mind! I huge up, waited 2 minutes, called back and got a more intelligent operator. If the flight didn’t take off until 2:30 pm, I was going to miss my connection in DC and there were no more flights on any airline that would get me to Zurich on Friday. I asked the United operator if I could fly on another airline. Again she placed me on along hold and came back and said “no. not until my United flight is cancelled, not delayed!”
I called my travel agent and she said there was one seat left on a Delta flight through Atlanta that was departing at 2:30. The line was gone at the ticket counter, so I asked that gate agent. She said, “no problem putting you on the Delta flight”. She changed my ticket and I ran at full speed from the United terminal to the Delta terminal since I had less than 20 minutes to make the flight. When I got on, I gave the flight attendant my United claim check and she said she would let me know if my bag made it on the flight. Before we took off, she came back and told it was there. Pretty impressive that they took it off the United Flight and got it on the Delta flight in 20 minutes!
When I landed in Atlanta, had to go directly to the gate for the flight to Zurich. Again, when I got to the gate, I took time to ask if my bag was going to make it on the flight and the gate agent tracked it and said it was there.
Flight to Zurich was short compared to most of my flights. I watched one movie that was not memorable and worked for several hours once I got the internet working. We landed on time and Terri and her group were there and already waiting for me. But, one thing was not there. My bag that I checked and had been assured that it was on the flight. When I checked with baggage services, they already knew that it had been left in Atlanta. So, it will come in at 8:45 am tomorrow morning but won’t be delivered to my hotel until tomorrow night. Not especially happy about that!
Jrene with the festival called me and said “Two Tons of Steel” and “Truckstop” were riding with us from the airport to the hotel. Only problem was, “Two Tons of Steel” were “lost”. Evidently, they came in on the flight I came in on and then got “lost”. Not sure how they did that.
We searched for a while and Jrene and Albi were calling them trying to get them to us. The driver brought the bus around and then they “appeared”. J
It was about a two hour ride to the hotel in Interlaken. Most of the rooms were ready when we arrived so I was able to get to work on emails. Don’t have any luggage, so not much else I can do but work. I took a break after about 2 hours and went in search of items I would need to get me through until tomorrow night when hopefully my bag will be delivered. Grabbed a salad and went back to the room to work some more.
There was a press conference at the venue at 6 pm and I rode over with Terri and the other artists. It’s really nice to get to know her this trip. When she was here in 2012, she only came in for one day and Penny was escorting that tour and I was at this same festival escorting the Bellamy Brothers. She’s a really sweet and funny person! Albi – the promoter that I work with on the festival in Zurich in February/March every year is here and he is our “driver”. Very strange to have him driving us around in Interlaken instead of Zurich. J I’ve worked with a couple of Terri’s musicians before – one of them (Clay) for years and years and years! All really nice guys, too.
Press Conference was short and I saw my “dear, sweet, Swiss friends” … photos on Facebook. We came back to the hotel and Carlene and her group arrived about 30 minutes later. Got them checked in. She is using musicians and a tour manager from the UK and they were all very nice as well.
I walked next door and had Butter Chicken for dinner at the Indian restaurant and then it was time to go to the Radio Station for an interview with Terri. Albi drove us down and we walked back because it’s only a couple of blocks. Interview was short and sweet.
I’ve been in the room answering the hundreds of emails that have been popping in every few minutes. It’s after 1 am, so going to bed soon, I HOPE! Sure hope my bag comes tomorrow or I’m going to have to do some more serious shopping that I did today.
SATURDAY, JUNE 25TH AND SUNDAY, JUNE 26TH:
Not even sure I can remember half of what has happened these past couple of days. I slept for 4 hours on Friday night and then go up to have breakfast. No clothes or running shoes, so that wasn’t an option. I dressed in the new pants and shirt I had purchased and met Carlene’s guys in the lobby to go to sound check.
The production company was set up and ready for us when we arrived. I went out onto the grounds to look at all the booths and the Western Village. They also have several smaller stages outside with mostly European talent performing. It’s such a GREAT festival. So far the rain has held off and we’re all hoping the weather man is wrong….didn’t happen.
While Carlene and her guys were sound checking it started pouring rain. That lasted for most of the afternoon. I had on little Jessica Simpson Ballerina flats and the tent was flooded and muddy. I was hoping to finish up with both sound checks and go back to the hotel to find my bag had been delivered.
Carlene and her musicians left and Terri Clark’s musicians arrived. Their sound check went smoothly as well and we were back at the hotel a few minutes before 5 pm. I immediately went to the front desk to ask about my missing bag and was informed nothing had been delivered.
Carlene had an interview scheduled with an Italian journalist and we added a Swiss journalist at the last minute. Both were supposed to arrive at 5:30 pm but the Italian journalist was a “no show”. So, the Swiss journalist had her all to himself for about 45 minutes. I took advantage of that time to call Delta again about my missing bag. The person I spoke with at the Diamond Medallion Desk was surprised that my bag had still not arrived. They put me on hold for a long time and when he came back on the line, he said that their records showed that the bag had been delivered at 6 pm. By then, it was 6:15 pm and the front desk assured me while I was still on the phone with Delta that nothing had arrived.
I was so confident that the bag would arrive today that I didn’t go shopping for more clothes. All the shops close at 6 pm in Interlaken except for a few ‘tourist’ shops. Thankfully I had washed the clothes that I flew over in and they were dry. After the rain, it turned much, much cooler. Of course, the only shoes I had were the little flats and no socks. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. I had one of the little amenity kits from the flight over and there was a pair of blacks socks with big gray stripes in that kit. They looked really great with my brown and black leopard print blouse. At least they were warm but my feet were soaked within an hour of arriving at the fest tent. Not to mention the mud that covered my shoes. Don’t think these will be “wearable” after tonight.
For dinner, I walked next door to an Italian restaurant which is one of the restaurants where our meals are provided. Had an amazing grilled salmon on spinach. Some of Terri’s musicians had just finished eating and loved their meal as well.
Left at 8 pm with Terri’s musicians for the performance. There continued to be periods of very heavy rain and then it would stop. The toilets for backstage were located right outside the tent so we all waited for breaks in the rain to use those. Terri’s tour manager was concerned about the departure time on Sunday am as Albi had told him they needed to leave earlier. Albi was concerned it might be raining and he would have to drive slower because of the trailer on the van. I talked to Jrene and she told me that the plans had changed and Albi would not be driving them to the airport and she had arranged for the tour bus to take them. So, we left the departure time as it was.
The fest tent was packed when Terri took the stage. She has a really high energy “country” show and the fans loved it. One big section to the left of the stage was reserved for line dancers and that area was filled throughout her performance. My friends from Gstaad were at the festival as well as Maya (travel agent). I went out front to talk to them but of course it was too loud. They didn’t have back stage passes, so I told them I would be right back and went to find Jrene to get passes for them. When I returned, they were gone! After texting Marcel, I learned that they had already walked all the way back to the Sponsors Building at the back side of the festival. Told them I would come over after Terri came offstage. I think the Swiss have a hard time understanding my accent most of the time. LOL
Terri had a great performance and then signed autographs for about an hour. Carlene and her guys arrived right on time and there was a quick set change. Carlene always packs out the tent and tonight was no exception. I watched the beginning of her show and then had to go see my friends from Gstaad and visit the office for final payments. Had a nice visit with them and got back in time to see the last half hour of Carlene’s show. As always, she had a wonderful show. She signed autographs for almost an hour and it was after 2 am when we finally arrived back at the hotel. I just KNEW my bag would be there. NOPE. I called Delta and they said that my ticket had been closed out because they had confirmation that the bag arrived before 6 pm. I looked on the “track my bag” app that Delta has and it said the bag was delivered at 4:26 pm and the ticket was closed! The night clerk at the front desk helped me look everywhere and there was no bag there. I called Delta back and they said there was nothing they could do until Swissport (the delivery company) opened back up today. I immediately made the decision not to go to sleep but to ride to the airport with Terri’s musicians at 5:45 am and see what I could find out in person. I was given a reference number by Swissport that supposedly had contact information on the paper. The website listed was no longer accessible and when I called the phone number, there was a recording in Swiss German and then a “beep” which I assumed meant I was supposed to leave a message!
I was in the lobby by 5:30 am and Terri’s tour manager and I were surprised to find Albi there! I told him Jrene told us that a bus was coming but he insisted he was driving us. It made sense because he lives in Zurich and was returning home this morning. I called Jrene but didn’t get an answer, so I called Iris. No answer there either but she called me back immediately. She also confirmed that Albi was supposed to drive us to the airport, so we loaded up the trailer. I just didn’t want the festival to be paying for a bus to take us and when the bus arrived, no one was there.
The hotel was supposed to have breakfast boxes for them to take with them. There were breakfast boxes in the lobby but the night clerk would not let the musicians have one. They said the boxes were for the tour group that was leaving at the same time. Iris talked to him and he said he would get some more. But that was going to take at least 15 minutes and the band couldn’t wait that long, so we left.
The way we went to the airport is what I call the “scenic” route and it’s a narrow winding road up and down the Alps. I was in a “single” seat in the middle of the vehicle and there was no seat belt. I had to hold onto the armrest and the side of the van to keep from being thrown out of my seat on the curves. So much for grabbing a couple of hours sleep on that drive.
We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for their flight and I left them checking in to go see Swissport. The lady pulled up my information and said it was put on a truck for delivery at 7:36 AM Friday morning. I informed her that would have been impossible since the bag did not arrive on the Delta flight until 8:49 AM Friday morning. I had her check the files for “which” hotel the bag had been delivered to and they had the correct information. Then I insisted that she call the delivery driver. She talked to him and said that the bag would be delivered AFTER 6 pm tonight. That’s when I totally lost it. I told her to get my bag for me and I was not leaving her office until I had it. She talked to the driver again and said it would take about 30 minutes to bring my bag to me. I left to go find a cup of coffee and “cool down”. When I returned, a different lady – who was not nice at all – was working the counter. She had my bag and I asked her why Delta paid them for Priority Expedite Service and then they didn’t deliver the bag. Her response was, “They never should have told you that the bag would be delivered. Interlaken is much too far!” I took that to mean that had I not come to the airport this morning, my bag would never have been delivered and I would have flown home without it!
I took the train back which is also a 2+ hour trip with change of trains in Bern. A very comfortable and scenic way to travel. Only problem is, I just wanted to sleep but was afraid to because of the fear of sleeping through the train change or worse yet, getting off in Interlaken. I did buy a first class ticket for 128 CH since I had the large suitcase and there is only overhead storage in some of the cars. I plan on having Delta reimburse me anyway since the trip to the airport didn’t cost them anything.
Jrene called and solved the mystery of Albi driving. She was talking about Carlene’s departure on Monday….not Terri’s band departure on Sunday. It’s really loud backstage so very easy to mis-communicate! She also spoke with the hotel to make sure they knew about the breakfast boxes for the group’s departure tomorrow.
There are two train stations at opposite ends of Interlaken – West and Ost – and I never can remember which one is the one by the hotel. I assumed I would be able to tell when we stopped but nothing but “tracks” were visible at the first stop. I decided to stay on the train and, of course, it was the wrong choice. The next stop was at the opposite end of the town which meant I got to roll my heavy suitcase about a mile down the sidewalk from the station to the hotel! Nothing compared to the nightmare of just trying to get my bag.
I got back to the hotel at around noon and was able to see Terri and Laurie before they checked out to go to another hotel and spend a couple more days in Switzerland. Truly nice ladies and great to work with! I went shopping for “chocolate” to take to DC next week because there is an item in one of the rock band’s catering rider that isn’t available in the USA. Perfect timing for me to pick it up here.
Went next door and totally blew my diet by grabbing a pizza to go – because it was quick. I wanted to grab at least 2 hours of sleep before meeting Iris for dinner – and I did!
Iris and I went to a great fondue restaurant and had the “meat” fondue instead of the bread and cheese. It was delicious … but even better was the opportunity to catch up with one of my dearest girlfriends. I am truly blessed to work with such wonderful people.
It’s 11 pm and I have to get up at 3:30 am for a 5:00 am departure to the airport. At least it’s a big tour bus and maybe I can grab a couple of hours sleep on the rider. Carlene’s group departs at 10 am and with traffic on a weekday around the Zurich area, plus 1,500 “truckers” pulling out at 5:15 am and longer lines at security at the airport, it’s best to give ourselves 3 hours to get to the airport and 2 hours to check in. Hope everything goes smoothly. Actually my flight and Two Tons of Steel’s flights do not depart until noon. So we will have a LONG time at the airport but I can use it to work in the Lounge.
MONDAY, JUNE 27TH – FLYING HOME FROM SWITZERLAND!:
Got in bed by 1 am and up at 3:30 am for a 5 am departure to the airport. Hotel had the breakfast boxes for us this morning! We needed to leave at 5 am to avoid getting caught in the traffic of 1,500 trucks all departing the festival at the same time – 5:15 am. Unfortunately, one of the musicians overslept and we didn’t leave until 5:30 am. We got right in the middle of the truck convoy. It was interesting following them up the narrow road through the Alps. That also meant that we hit rush hour traffic right outside of Zurich. But, we made it to the airport in plenty of time for Carlene and her guys to catch their flights – musicians back to the UK and Carlene and Joe back to LA. Two Tons of Steel are on the flight back with me and we don’t depart until noon. But, Iris gave us a big bus with lots of seats and room to lie down so I think everyone slept most of the ride.
I did my Sprungli candy shopping and then went into the lounge to try and get caught up on some communication. Flight boarded late and we were told we would be arriving late. Not good because I only had a 2 hour connection in Atlanta.
Surprisingly, the United flight attendants were really nice and it was a good aircraft. I watched a movie about a “powerful woman”, ate dinner, slept 2 hours and then worked 2 hours. I cannot believe there was NO turbulence the entire flight. They never had to turn on the seat belt sign even once. That never happens.
We landed even later than I expected but it only took me about 2 minutes to go through Immigration because of Global Entry. Then, of course, it took 30 minutes for my bag to come out because once again, it had a “Priority” tag on it which means it is supposed to come out first. Never fails. The line to go through security was really long and there is no TSA Pre-Check for some reasons when entering the USA from another country.
By the time I cleared security, I only had 20 minutes before the flight to Nashville was departing. I ran like an Olympic sprinter! Had to take the tram between terminals and my gate was at the very end of the “A” gates. When I arrived, it was 5 minutes until 5 pm and the board still said it was departing on time at 5:05 pm. I think not! Boarding had not even begun! I was sweating like crazy and if they had updated the information, I would not have had to run. They held boarding for another 30 minutes because of “weather” in Nashville.
We finally boarded and landed Nashville over an hour late. And my suitcase landed with me! J
It was such a great festival – as it is every year – and a pleasure to work with Carlene and Terri again as well as everyone at the festival – Iris, Jrene, Andrea, and Lorenz.