SUNDAY, JULY 26TH – TRAVEL FROM NORWAY TO FRANCE – PERFORMANCE AT COUNTRY NIGHT RENDEZ-VOUS – CRAPONNE, FRANCE:
Not even sure where to “start” talking about this day!
I did get 3 hours of sleep before having to leave for the airport which helped a lot. I slept so soundly (even without the night guard), that I was confused when the alarm went off.
The bus was on time for the 5 minute drive to the airport. Counter was open and check in was easy. We did not have to pay any excess charges because of priority status on Delta even though the flights are on KLM. The first flight from Trondheim to Amsterdam was 2 ½ hours. Then we had about a 1 ½ hour layover in Amsterdam and another 1 ½ hour flight from Amsterdam to Lyon, France. Amsterdam was still having some “weather” issues and lots of flights were delayed or canceled. Our flight was not affected but they did hold the plane for a couple of passengers and to load the luggage.
We landed in Lyon at 11 am and knew we had to “rush” to have time for a sound check at the venue because the first act was going to start performing at 3 pm.
Then the day pretty much fell apart! Craig and one other guy got their personal luggage and all the equipment arrived except for a pedal board. The rest of us did not receive ANY luggage. How can an airline lose the entire luggage for an entire group? So instead of rushing to the venue to sound check, we all had to stay at the airport and file “lost luggage” claims. The really strange thing is, KLM has “no idea” where the luggage might be. They insist that our numbers were never even scanned into the system! KLM gave us this little “kit” with a white t-shirt (but all the shirts were a size Medium!) and some toiletries. Only enough toothpaste to brush my teeth once! They said if we “had” to make purchases, we can keep our receipts and they will reimburse up to 100 Euro.
We didn’t leave the airport until around 1 pm or later for the 2 hour drive to the hotel. I got everyone checked in and went to my room to “re-pack” my duffle and ride out to the venue with 4 of the guys to do what they could to get set up, knowing that the other acts were going to be on the stage performing.
I had on shoes that are sort of like ballerina flats for the flight and NOT good for walking. The festival has rocks that are much like the ones the put down in Iraq and Afghanistan to keep the dust down. Definitely have sore feet tonight from walking on those all afternoon and evening.
There was a HUGE crowd at the festival and the weather is excellent. Hoping we have even more people tonight for Craig’s show. Was great to see all the committee again – Emilie, Jean and Blandine.
Craig’s drummer was on the side of the stage getting his drums set up and I guess he played too loud. Right in the middle of their set, the bluegrass act that was on stage stopped their show and said, “WHERE are those drums coming from? Bluegrass doesn’t have drums!” Oops.
I called the Delta 360 number (a special “organization for select passengers who have millions of miles like I do) and they started trying to track my lost luggage. They said it was the strangest thing they have seen for the numbers to not even show up anywhere in the “system”!
Craig’s guys did a great job of getting the show up and running and sounding great with only a “line” check. The show sounded just as great as ever even though I know they were all struggling. Craig even made a “special appearance” by going out into the audience. The crowd loved that!
Emilie tripped as she was walking up the steps to the dressing rooms and I thought she had injured her hand badly. She insisted that she was fine though. Then later in the evening while Craig was on stage, her sister hit her head and had to be taken away in an ambulance to an emergency room to get checked out. Hopefully, both of them will be fine tomorrow!
Craig signed autographs for everyone in line and then went to a little “press conference”. The media asked questions via an interpreter and it was “interesting” to learn what some of them wanted to know about Craig and about country music. The guys had eaten dinner while Craig was signing autographs and attending the press conference. Craig, Karen, Jerry and I decided we were just too tired to eat. We were able to leave the venue at about 10 pm.
It was a pretty hilarious ride back into the city. Of course, everyone is worried if we will ever see our luggage again, so they started making up songs about the lost bags. Some were hilarious. The guys had also locked one of the musicians in the toilet when we departed the venue and he was banging on the door and yelling to get out while they were having their sing-a-longs. I’m just thankful everyone has kept their sense of humor. Today was Russ’s birthday and it will certainly be one that he remembers forever.
I had a call from Emilie at 1 am saying the hotel had called her and some of our bags have been found and being delivered at 2 am. I’m going to stay up and go see what came in – sure hope mine are here!
Tomorrow is a “day off” and we are going to tour a castle in the afternoon. I’ll be everyone sleeps LATE tomorrow morning. I’m sure I have left out some of the “good” stuff but will add it tomorrow!
MONDAY, JULY 27TH – DAY OFF IN FRANCE:
Front desk called me at exactly 2 am and said the bags were downstairs. I went down and it was a beautiful site – all the missing luggage and equipment case! I took mine upstairs but did not contact the others until a “decent” hour this morning.
I got up at about 3 am to go to the bathroom. The toilet is in a separate little “room” all by itself. I didn’t turn on the light and as I walked into the bathroom, a “female” walked past me. Okay…freaked me out! I slept (or didn’t sleep) the rest of the night with the light on. I have the “Ghost Buster” app on my phone but I’m sort of scared to use it and find out how many spirits might be here.
Breakfast was typical European but they did not have eggs of any type. They had lots of things I can’t eat like bread! But, I had great yogurt and fruit. And coffee was exactly what I needed after a pretty sleepless night.
I went for a wonderful jog throughout the city in perfect weather. Then, showered and worked on emails for a while. I walked around in the town for a little while taking photos of the same things I took photos of when I was here a couple of years ago. It’s just exactly what you would expect when you think of a beautiful village in the French countryside. Grabbed a salad for lunch and headed back to the hotel. Our bus drivers – Tristian and Yogi – called at around 1:45 pm and said they were in the hotel. They actually arrived yesterday but I wasn’t aware of that. I went downstairs and met Tristian and confirmed that we could leave at 10 am tomorrow instead of 9 am. The shops were closed today and the guys saw some things they want to purchase. Shops don’t open until 9 or 9:30 am tomorrow.
Everyone went on the “tour” today to a fabulous “castle” – Chateau Lafayette. It is the ancient castle where Lafayette lived. We had the best French tour guide ever and a wonderful lady named Barbara (who took such great care of me on my first visit to this festival) was the interpreter. Of course, we all “knew” who Lafayette was but the things we learned today were very, very impressive. So many things like – he was a very wealthy aristocrat and fought alongside the Americans and funded the French participation with his personal money. He married at the age of 16 and his wife was 14 – arranged marriage. She also came from a very wealthy family and they fell deeply in love. I loved the fact that “she wore the pants” in the family, too. He lost his father when he was 2 years old and George Washington because a father figure to him. So many other fascinating stories we heard about him but too long to put into this report. Read about him if you get the chance.
I was very impressed that all of Craig’s guys were so interested in the tour and asked really great questions. It was the perfect way to spend the “day off” in France. Craig and Karen actually got up early and hiked up to the top of the hill to see the Statue of the Virgin. Several of the guys hiked up there last night. I did it last year so opted out this visit. But, it is worth the hike.
We had dinner tonight with our festival organizers and it was a great meal and even better conversation. It gave everyone a chance to get to know Craig and Karen on a personal level. They think the attendance yesterday was around 5,000 which is about the same as last year. It looked like more than that to me but I’m terrible when it comes to determining an audience size.
Had a quick meeting with Emilie, Blandine and Jean after the dinner and have been working on emails for several hours now. I have to get up early tomorrow and go get Euros from the bank across the street that also wasn’t open today.
Craig, Karen and the guys could not be more complimentary for not only the festival but our “hosts” and the sightseeing day today. The hotel is great and it was a wonderful visit all the way around.