WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17, – THURSDAY, MARCH 18TH, 2010 – ZURICH, SWITZERLAND WITH CRYSTAL GAYLE:
I have gotten so spoiled by not traveling overseas since January…okay, and a little bit “bored”, too. I did make quick trips to New York City, Las Vegas, and Virginia in the interim. Sent Lindsey to Switzerland with John Adam Murph and Penny to Switzerland with the Grascals – both in February. Now it’s my turn to go to Switzerland. All the performances are at a 6 week country music festival that has been taking place for 3 decades at Albisguetli Schuzenhaus… a terrific venue. I was there last year with the Bellamy Brothers and they historically perform there every other year.
So, my day started off similar to all my Chevy Chase Vacations. Arrived at the airport on time and was waiting for “my” skycap to check me in curbside. There was a small line in front of me and I noticed a man pulling his suitcase trying to get past to another check in counter. I moved back so he could pass and he looked me right in the eye and smiled and thanked me. I was watching him maneuver his way down the sidewalk to his destination. He turned back around to look at me and walked right into a concrete column! I looked away so he wouldn’t see me laughing.
Next another passenger walked past smoking a cigarette and my skycap politely told him that he couldn’t smoke in that area and would have to go across the street to the smoking area. The man got belligerent and started arguing. Skycap just called security to handle it.
Flight to Atlanta was on time but in a tiny plane that was packed full. I sat next to a nice businessman and even though it was very turbulent due to rain in Nashville and Atlanta, I did not claw his hand or arm. We taxied out to take off and then were informed that we would have to “sit” for at least 20 minutes due to low visibility and only instrument landings only. Thankfully my connection time was long enough that it wasn’t time to panic yet.
Actually landed and had time to go to the Delta Lounge and answer a few emails before departing. Called the artist I manage – JAM to check on his meeting with the new record label. For all of you who have kept up with my career, I’ve been managing John Adam Murph for almost 3 years and struggling in this crazy business to sign him to a “good” record deal. FINALLY, this week, we signed. Expect great things from him soon. 🙂
Boarded the flight from Atlanta to Zurich and Business/First was pretty full. There was a female sitting beside me and right before they closed the door, the flight attendant came and told her that she had to move to another seat – not “asked” but told her. I figured I would have to move as well since they probably needed our seats for crew rest. But that didn’t happen. Instead the flight attendant came over to me and said no one would be sitting in the seat next to me on the flight. I figured it out. I am Platinum Medallion Elite and Silver Medallion Elite on Delta so it has its privileges. The only thing higher is Diamond. I couldn’t figure out how I could be “both” so last week I called Delta. Evidently Silver Medallion is for passengers who have flown more than a million miles with Delta/Northwest and it is a “lifetime” membership. Now that is way cool!
As usual, the meal was fabulous. A tiny cup of what tasted like “homemade” tomato soup, couple of broiled shrimp with avocado and a salad of romaine lettuce leaves with tomatoes sprinkled with blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. I had the “lasagna bites”. It was again what tasted like homemade pieces of lasagna noodles with shitake mushrooms and spinach is a really light broth. I was too full to eat the fruit, cheese or sundae! I did watch a movie that everyone has been pushing me to go see…George Clooney in “Up in the Air”. My friends say it is “my life” and I can see that to a point. But, I really hope it’s only as it relates to flying so much because it depressed me to think that’s how my friends see my life!
I slept for about 3 hours – very poorly though. There was quite a bit of turbulence throughout the flight. Got up in time to have coffee before we landed but just as I started to take my first sip, one of the flight attendants walked down the aisle and bumped my elbow, spilling the coffee all over me. She was horrified.
We landed on time and both my bags made it. I grabbed a taxi since I arrived by myself and transportation wasn’t set up until the afternoon to pick up Crystal and her group. It took about 50 minutes to get to the hotel and cost me $85.00 U.S.! Quite an expensive taxi ride. Of course, my room wasn’t ready so I went into the “bar” where they had free wireless internet and worked for a couple of hours. Finally got in my room and remembered how great this hotel is. Rooms are huge and the shower stall is a “room” all by itself! Grabbed a quick shower and ran downstairs to meet my promoter on this date for lunch at 12 noon. When he had not arrived by 12:15 pm, I gave him a call. He said he was almost there and called back at 12:30 pm. I had read his email incorrectly and was supposed to meet him at the AIRPORT HOTEL, not my hotel. I asked the front desk if I should take another $85.00 taxi ride and they said public transportation was much faster (and cheaper). Told me where to grab a train or a trolley to go to the main train station and then a 10 minute train ride to the airport. Front desk even sold me the ticket I needed. Only thing I did wrong was they told me to take the train that goes to the right. I waited for the train for about 10 minutes before I realized there were 2 sets of tracks. I found someone who spoke English and of course, I was on the wrong side. And, getting to the other side wasn’t as simple as walking across the tracks, which isn’t allowed. I had to go down a long ramp and then run about ¼ mile to a traffic light and race up to the other side, just in time to get on the train. Once I got to the Zurich train station, I was “home” and had no problem getting on the right train to the airport.
Had an interesting meeting with my promoter and then met Crystal’s group at the airport. They arrived on time and we delivered them to the hotel. Nothing planned for tonight so I told them I’d see them at 1:30 pm tomorrow unless they needed me. I had tons of emails to try and answer and my promoter from Switzerland was supposed to meet me for dinner. She called to say she was going to be delayed so I walked next door and ate Indian food for dinner. Have been back in the room pounding out emails for hours now. It’s midnight and I am about to pass out. Going to bed very early for me.
FRIDAY, MARCH 19TH – FIRST PERFORMANCE IN ZURICH:
Did not get in bed until 4 am!!! Darn email. 🙁 Met Iris for breakfast at 8:30 and then went to the “spa” in the hotel to work out. Showered and then it was time to go to the venue for sound check. Sound company is the same one we use in Interlaken and they are great. When sound check was over, we went back to the hotel to change for the show. My promoter friend from Germany is here. Had dinner with him and Iris. Then Crystal did a short meet and greet with about 30 fans. This venue insists on two 45 minute sets to the same audience which is hard. They passed a no smoking inside buildings rule. They built a clear igloo outside that is heated and has a big video screen so that the smokers can still smoke and see the concert. Only they changed the date the rule takes effect to May 1! Today is the sound guy’s birthday so we got several slices of apple strudel and sparklers for candles. It was a nice surprise for him. It will be very late before we get out of here tonight. At least a friend of mine brought me a bag of Swiss chocolates so I have a midnight snack awaiting me. Nothing like Swiss chocolate to make everything right with the world. 🙂 I was walking Crystal across the balcony to the stage and one of the attendees stepped out in front of me and didn’t know he was blocking me. I put my hands on his shoulders so as not to offend him. Only he thought I wanted to DANCE with him. When I was able to make him explain “not now”, he said in broken English “Ja, tomorrow night”!
Crystal had a great show and her voice is still as beautiful and sexy as ever. The audience loved her as did my promoters, so life is good.
Got back to the hotel at 12:30 am and I am NOT staying up until 4 am. Iris and I have a full day of adventure tomorrow. We have to drive to some out of the way place in the hills to meet Gola and his manager. Will take us an hour and a half to drive there so, early morning for me.
Night! Jude SATURDAY, MARCH 20TH, 2010 – SECOND AND FINAL ZURICH PERFORMANCE:
Good grief. Guess I forgot to mention that I am here with Crystal Gayle and her band. 🙂 I didn’t stay up until 4 am. But did talk on the phone until 2:30 am. Had breakfast with Iris and then we began our big adventure. We left the hotel at 9:30 am in a Mercedes that was loaned to her because her car didn’t have a GPS. Her sense of direction is exactly like mine — NONE!! We were going to a studio about an hour and a half outside Zurich in a tiny village. Other than lots of expletives trying to get out of the city, we did okay. We came to an exit and there were policemen standing on the side of the road and of course they motioned for her to pull over. I had no idea why and they were not speaking English. Turns out vehicles must have a sticker to drive on the autoban. The one on the Mercedes was expired. We searched all over the car for the registration papers and there were none because the car was part of a festival sponsorship. I figured we would be spending the night in the little village jail. She had to pay 40 francs for a new sticker and 100 francs as a fine! We continued on our way and were soon climbing very high into the mountains. So high there was still piles of snow on the roadside. The road was narrow and winding and I was very thankful that we didn’t meet a car coming in the other direction. Finally arrived at the studio and it was amazing. Beautiful old “house” with a state of the art studio. A man and his wife (who is also an entertainer), live there and will only rent it out to certain people. There are 6 bedrooms available and a restaurant with an Italian chef. Met Gola (who I love), his manager Lukas and his engineer Alec. He was tracking “If I said you have a beautiful body would you hold it against me?”. Really great voice and exceptionally good English. We stayed and listened for a couple of hours. Got lost trying to get back to Zurich but only because the GPS kept having us do U-turns! Iris dropped me off and drove back to Interlaken. Mitch and his friends from Italy were at the hotel when I got back so I had a quick drink with them before getting ready to go to the show. First time I had met him and they are great folks. Aaron Tippin will be playing at their festival this summer in Milan. I need to stay over several days after that one. 🙂 Had dinner at the venue and then had quite a while to wait until show time because the performance time had changed. I met the policeman that I had mailed one of JAM’s cds to when he sold out last month at his performance. He brought me chocolates, too. ;). And by the way, I have not eaten any of the chocolates! Yet.
Crystal had another terrific performance. Tonight was “Gala Night” and the ticket price included a huge dinner buffet. The crowd was smaller because of the special evening. My friends who saw her shows loved her as did the audience. Promoters are happy, too. She and Bill depart to Italy tomorrow via train for 3 days of sightseeing in Rome. I couldn’t get my flight changed to tomorrow, so I’m flying out on Monday with the boys and Peggy. I have breakfast with Mitch and the Italians tomorrow, then lunch with Albi and I think the band and I are going to my favorite restaurant in Zurich – Contra Punto (Italian). And I AM going to bed now. Only 1:30 am. Early for me. Jude
SUNDAY, MARCH 21ST – 1ST DAY OF SPRING:
Zurich is a nice place to be on the first day of Spring – and it actually felt like it! It was raining when I got up and continued off and on throughout most of the day and evening. I met my new Italian friends and business associates for breakfast. We had lots of “business” to discuss which is really good. Went to the Spa in the hotel for a good workout and then showered and dressed for my meeting with the Zurich promoter. That, too, was a good meeting.
After answering several emails, I ventured downtown on the tram. The hotel is in a great location and tram #13 takes you straight into the city center in one direction and to the venue in the other direction. Since I have “no” sense of direction, that’s very convenient for me. The rain stopped long enough for me to walk less than a block to the tram station. I was wishing I was jogging instead of going downtown. Everything in Zurich is closed on Sunday… even the little Kiosk and shopping mall next to the hotel. I needed to buy a Blick newspaper to see if the article ran on the Bellamy Brothers and Gola and there was nowhere at the hotel or near the hotel to do so on a Sunday. So bizarre in a city full of tourists. The train station is the only place in Zurich with shops that were open for business. The streets of Zurich were packed with tourists but the only thing they could possibly do was “window shop” or eat at one of the restaurants – all of which were open.
I quickly located the paper and there was a great article with a huge color photo about the Bellamys/Gola project. The photos were of them performing on stage and the way the photos were positioned, it looked like Gola was performing on stage with them. It was in Swiss German so I still don’t know what it said but one line mentioned American “super stars” the Bellamy Brothers which was way cool. I’ll get the translated version by the time I arrive home.
Had to stop and purchase some Truffles for gifts from my favorite candy shop. Headed back to the hotel to answer more emails and then met my “boys” in the lobby to go to Contra Punto. The staff at the restaurant was much friendlier than in years past and we had a great waiter – Val. He was very patient with us and understood our Southern accents. “Spargle” (asparagus) was in season but it was the green asparagus instead of the white. I had spargle soup which was excellent and my favorite that I have every time – homemade noodles with a light cream sauce and white truffles. It is to die for. Even though I only got the half portion, I was too stuffed to eat any dessert. All the guys loved their meals which made me feel good. I’m always reluctant to recommend a reastaurant – especially one that is rather expensive – for fear the food won’t live up to their expectations. Not so this time, thank goodness.
Ventured back to the hotel and decided to go ahead and pay my incidentals tonight instead of at 5:30 am tomorrow. There was an error in the master billing which stated that we were only responsible for paying for mini-bar items and parking. They were billing the promoter for alcohol, any additional meals charged to the room (other than breakfast), the health club visits, etc. I had to call the promoter to get it sorted out.
Was hoping to get in bed early but had lots of work to do (as usual) and didn’t make it in bed until 1:30 am with a 4:30 am wakeup call. It was still a “nice day off” in Zurich.
MONDAY, MARCH 22ND – FLYING HOME:
Boy, that alarm seemed to go off the minute my head hit the pillow. Took a quick shower, packed up and met everyone at the van for the drive to the airport. Ernie, our driver, is always on time and so sweet.
We arrive at the airport at 6:30 am for an 8:40 am flight. The guys and Peggy were on a “group” ticket so I was the only one in the “Elite” line. The lady was extremely rude but I smiled her down. J It took the guys almost an hour to check in because they had “pre-paid” all the excess charges for their luggage/gear (something I’m going to check into for the Bellamys this year!). The Swiss counter agents did not want to accept this but after several phone calls and “supervisors”, they all agreed. We were supposed to be at the gate at 7 am which seemed ridiculous for an 8:40 am departure. The line to check in was very, very long as we left for the gate area. Had to go through passport control, then take the tram to our departure area and go through security. We did arrive in time to have a cappuccino and croissant before going through another security check (and I got a “pat down”) and finally into the boarding area.
Business class if very full! Not an empty seat anywhere. I have a nice businessman sitting beside me who hopefully will not want to talk.
We departed on time and the meal was excellent again….yogurt, smoked salmon, fresh fruit and an incredible pasta dish made with fettuccini, julienned vegetables, ricotta cheese and a really light “broth”. No cheese and fruit or ice cream sundae for me. We were talking at dinner last night about the large portions of food being served in Switzerland. Americans are usually the ones notorious for that but seems Europeans have caught up with us.
I worked for about an hour and then watched a movie with Jennifer Anniston called “Love Happens”. It was a chick flick and I cried like a baby at the end. J Slept for about 2 hours and got up to work some more. Couple of rude passengers who refuse to lower their window shades and since it’s very bright daylight outside, the only way to sleep is with a mask.
We landed on time and my “Global Entry” worked like a charm which meant I was the first one at baggage claim. As the luggage started coming off, someone from the airport started pulling it off the belt or standing it pieces u on their side. I was only standing a few feet away from him and when he pulled mine off, he ripped the handle off the suitcase! I walked over to him and he said, “Your handle broke off”. Duh!! I took it through Customs and put it on the “re-check” belt because I knew I couldn’t file a claim until we arrived in Nashville.
Our flight to Nashville was delayed but only by 30 minutes. I went in the Delta Lounge to answer emails and then walked down to the gate. Flight was delayed from 4:40 to 6 pm! There was one other flight but it only departed at 5:47 pm, so I stuck with the delayed flight. I was trying to find out what was happening with the delay but the flights are really “Delta”. They are the tiny little “contractor” jets…that I HATE. We finally departed the gate area at around 6:00 pm but had to sit and wait in line to take off. Sat next to an interesting man who travels a lot to Dubai and Kuwait. Flight was very full and it was raining when we took off. Wasn’t too turbulent though.
Landed Nashville and only one of my bags made it. Of course the one that didn’t make it was the one the guy ripped the handle off. I started thinking that maybe he had ripped the bag tag off, too, and I’d never see it again. I filed a claim but they couldn’t tell “where” the bag was in Atlanta which re-confirmed my thought that it didn’t have a baggage tag. When I got home, there was a message from someone named “Stan” at Delta in Atlanta saying he had my bag but there was no tag on it and they didn’t know where to send it. He left a phone number but no one answered. I tried calling Baggage Claim where no one answered and Delta Platinum Medallion where they said they couldn’t help me. I called and was put on hold in various places for 2 hours. Finally I reached someone at Delta Platinum Medallion who was very helpful. He contacted “Stan” and my bag was put on the last flight out of Atlanta to Nashville. I picked it up at the airport at around 11:30 pm.
So, I’m home and tired and going to bed. It’s 2 am!