DAY 11 – SEPTEMBER 9TH:
Got up at 9 am and went jogging. Ran down to the Parliament and then circled it. Finally found an entrance into the “gardens” and ran around those. The weather is BEAUTIFUL and I did NOT get lost. We’re going sightseeing most of the day today. I ran past the old Olympic Stadium and wished that I had brought my camera with me. The Akropolis is “lit” at night and it is breathtaking – sitting high atop a hill.
Came back to the hotel and had breakfast with Danni and Adam then ran up for a quick shower. There is a “window” inside the bathroom but it is adjacent to a wall. It was open slightly so I peeked inside. It is actually the “access” to the plumbing pipes BUT there is a window in the room next to mine as well, so both sides can see inside. It’s a little unnerving to take a shower knowing that the people in the next room could look in at any time!
The bathtub/shower is pretty funny. The tub is all of 3 feet long and the sides of it are about 4 feet high! It’s one of the “hand-held” type showers and the water pressure will knock you down, it’s so strong. I turned on the water and then put the shower wand up in the “hanger” above my head. It immediately flipped over and sprayed the ceiling which of course, wet EVERYTHING in the bathroom. What a mess!
Met our promoter, his family and the Country Music Association to go sightseeing. We walked all around the Acropolis and the museum. There are artifacts from 500 and 600 B.C. which just astounds me. And, get this, there is not ONE bird that flies over the entire Akropolis area. Usually, buildings like that would be covered with pigeons. And, I know there are pigeons because I had to dodge them on my morning run. It is very strange that they do not come to the Akropolis. There is something about the “sacredness” of the area that keeps them away.
After several hours of sightseeing and several hundred photos later, we went to a traditional Greek restaurant that opened in 1930. The food was incredible – Greek salad (of course), fried cheese, a yogurt dip with fresh bread, rice and mincemeat wrapped in a grape leave, these large lima beans with some kind of sauce, a pastry with spinach — and that was just the appetizers! Then they brought out Moussaka (?) which is a traditional dish that takes 8 hours to prepare. The bottom is potatoes and there is a layer of eggplant and mincemeat and then the pastry. It was delicious. They also had potato wedges that had been baked in olive oil and spices.
After stuffing ourselves, we went shopping because we just “happened” to be right on the shopping street. I found a few souvenirs but need to go again tomorrow afternoon to finish up! I purchased some 100% Olive Oil soap in one little shop and the salesman was the typical Greek Casanova. He told me his name is Antonio and asked all kinds of questions about where I was from, what I was doing here, etc. Then when he gave me my change, he kissed me twice – “almost on the cheek”. Gotta’ love those Greek men!
Came back to the hotel at 7 pm and worked until 9:30 pm when we had to go to Nikos’ radio show. There was also a camera crew there. They interviewed Danni on TV and on the radio and then I had to be interviewed. Those of you who know me so well, KNOW that I prefer not to be on camera or on the radio. Would much rather be on the other side of the camera/microphone. Plus Nikos is telling the audience that I am the most powerful and beautiful woman in all of Nashville. No pressure there!
We went to his nightclub but everyone inside was smoking so I had to sit outside. But, the weather is absolutely perfect, so it was nice out. I had an iced Greek coffee that was to die for. Stayed until about 1 am and then had them bring me back to the hotel so I could finish up my emails.
Getting up to run with Danni at 9:30 am tomorrow.
DAY 12 – SEPTEMBER 10TH:
We ran about 3 miles which was all we thought we had time to do and still be ready for an 11:30 am departure. Of course, we got a call 30 minutes prior to our departure saying that sound check was going to be 30 minutes later than anticipated. Very “normal” for any event and really glad to have the extra 30 minutes. When we were running, Danni saw a large turtle crossing our path and heading for the road. She wanted to pick it up and put it back in the grass but I was afraid it would try to snap at her. We circled around during our jog and he was still heading towards the street. She picked him up and he put his head and legs inside the shell. But when she started walking, everything came back out and he was moving his legs like he was swimming as fast as he could! She got him into the grass and “safety”.
Woke up with another migrane but I KNOW it’s because the customs agents in Afghanistan made me throw away my herbal medicines. I take Fever Few and that definitely helps me keep the migranes away. I looked for Fever Few in all the pharmacies in Frankfurt and here in Athens but no one has ever heard of it.
The internet connection is very frustrating. It’s a “dial up” so it’s extremely slow. Then, I get charged PER MINUTE and it feels like a real rip off when it gets “stuck” just trying to open or send an email. Ah well…welcome to a foreign country!
The elevators in the hotel are the “older” style where you can actually see the doors to each floor as you pass it. Then, you have to physically “open” the doors when it stops. EVERY time I get on and think it’s going down, it goes up! When the doors opened today, I asked a man who was already in the elevator if it was going up or down and he said down. Got on….we went up! Then a couple tried to get on with massive amounts of luggage and I told them it was going up. They got on and we went down!
The mattress on the bed is like sitting on the floor. I’ve never felt one that is so hard and inflexible. But, surprisingly enough, I slept just fine on it. Could be because I’m dead tired and only sleep on it for 3-4 hours!
Yesterday when we were sightseeing, Danni grabbed my arm and said, “did you see who that was?” I thought I had missed out on seeing some celebrity but it was actually a “fanactical fan” of hers that comes to a lot of her concerts. But, to come to GREECE all the way from Holland was a bit bizarre! He always shows up and takes tons of photos and then asks her to sign all of them when he’s in the autograph line. It’s easy enough to get her performance schedule off the internet but to SHOW up in Athens and to know exactly when we were going sightseeing and where is what worried me. Our schedule had changed several times and we actually started our sightseeing several hours later in the day than planned. PLUS, we had no idea where they were taking us first. So, he was either lurking about our hotel and followed us OR since he had been there for several days already, he staked out the Akropolis each day and just waited. Either way is unacceptable and puts him in the category of “stalker” in my book. He came up and immediately started trying to take photos of Danni. Our promoter pulled him aside and had a “chat” with him and he left her alone the rest of the day. I’m sure he was somewhere hiding behind a column with a highpowered Zoom camera snapping away.
We went to sound check and the venue is spectacular. There are bleachers and a stage and it’s inside an old rock quarry. The bleachers face the rocks and the stage is surrounded on 3 sides by the rock wall. An absolutely perfect setting for the event. Sound check was pretty painless…just lots of feedback to “deal” with. Took a little longer than anticipated.
After soundcheck, I walked to the center of town to do some last minute panic shopping. Had promised several people I would pick up items for them and I think I got everyone taken care of.
We drove out to the show and Danni had interviews with Associated Press (the reporter was a cute female from OHIO and she was interning with AP in Greece) plus the 2 major television stations in Greece. The venue seats 2,000 comfortably and it was COMPLETELY sold out. A wonderful start to the first Country Music Festival to feature and American country music artist in Greece. Right before the show, the promoter came up to me and said that I needed to “say a few words” to open the event. I paced and practiced for at least 30 minutes worrying about what I would say. When I actually got on the stage, I couldn’t see anyone in the audience because of the lights. It was all pretty much a blur because I was so nervous but they said I did great. Whew. Just don’t like being on stage. That’s not in my job description!
A great Greek Country Music band – Lost Highway – opened the festival. They only sang cover songs but they had NINE people on stage. Then Danni took the stage and captivated the audience for TWO HOURS. She was amazing. The audience knew all of her songs because Nikos (the promoter) has been playing her on his radio show for months. It was a great, great beginning for the Country Music Festival in Athens, Greece. We’re already preparing for next year’s event. One thing I plan to differently is spent more than 2 days in Greece!
Danni signed autographs for I think, everyone in the audience. She was very patient and kind to everyone. They certainly don’t understand the concept of “getting in one line” and it took several of us constantly encouraging them just to keep things moving along. The owner of the venue finally came out and said he had to close us down. By then it was 2 am. And, of course, the fanatical fan had shown up with a couple of dozen photos he wanted signed. The security guard had to tell him ONE autograph only. He was not happy. I wonder what he can possibly do with the hundreds of autographed items he has now?
Got in bed by 3 am and had to get up at 7 to get ready to go to the airport. Danni and her boys get to sleep in as they are spending one more night in Greece. They have to move to another hotel because all the hotels in downtown Athens are sold out due to a huge conference that is in town. Sure wish I could have stayed over one more day!
DAY 13 – SEPTEMBER 11TH!
For someone who hates to fly, why in the world did I agree to fly back home on my 13th day of travel and on 9/11 as well?
Nikos picked me up to take me to the airport and, of course, had several gifts for me – Ouzo, Greek wine, and a beautiful shirt that says “Wild Girl” on it. It makes me laugh to think that they see me that way. If traveling all over the world and never sleeping makes me a “wild girl”, then I guess I fit the description. Now I have a very heavy “carry on” bag.
No problem getting checked in and we have a very sweet flight crew! I’ve got to get some “thank yous” written during the flight. Will only be home until September 20th when I have to go to D.C. to meetings and then straight to Switzerland for another festival.
It was such an honor to be a part of the first Country Music Festival to feature American country music in Greece. The venue was perfect and Danni was absolutely the right artist to introduce the people of Greece to this style of music. Now I can add another “first” to my belt – first country music events in Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, Brazil, Finland, not sure where else!
The flight appeared to be full and I was sitting in the “middle section” (seats were 2 – 2 -2. When they served the drinks and nuts, the flight attendants totally skipped over me and my seatmate. He had to ask them to bring us something. Then when they served the meal, they skipped us again. I was beginning to feel invisible. My tv monitor had a “short” in it which caused it to quit working about every 5 minutes. Plus NONE of the movies were on that were advertised and one channel (the one with all the NEW movies) was out entirely. About 3 hours into the flight, two kids got up and started running up and down the aisles, screaming and laughing. One little boy had a straw and he stopped at EVERY seat and poked each person with the straw. If they were asleep, he kept poking them until they woke up. The mother and father and flight attendants were totally ignoring them. I know how much we paid for business class seats and I do not want to be kept awake by some kid poking me with a straw. Someone finally complained before I did and the kids sat down. Then about one hour prior to landing, they started again. I came out of the lavatory just as the little boy came flying down the aisle. He slammed straight into the door, bounced off and with a stunned look on his face, took his seat by his parents! Oops. Not my fault.
Landed one hour early in JFK. Flight to Nashville was on time and I arrived back with ALL my bags! J