THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, JULY 14-15, 2016 – NASHVILLE TO BREIM, NORWAY:
It’s been quite an interesting 2 days. I was scheduled to fly with Daryle Singletary and his group to Norway on Thursday, July 14th for the Norsk Country Treff. Late Wednesday afternoon and later into the night, I received emails from American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines stating that passengers booked to fly through New York City and Newark could change their tickets free of charge due to anticipated “weather” in those areas on Thursday.
My first call was to my travel agent. She suggested I call the Premiere Line on United since our flights from Nashville were all on United to Newark. Once we landed Newark, we would change to SAS and then to Wideroe Airlines in Oslo for the flight to Sandane.
I called and after holding for 27 minutes (I wonder how long passengers who don’t have access to the Premiere Line had to hold!), they advised that I should contact SAS because the ticket was issued on SAS card stock. I called SAS and was on hold for over 30 minutes. SAS said that since the first flight was on United, I had to go through United. BUT, they said United could not change us to a different airline until we arrived for check in the following morning. I let Daryle know that I was going to get there early to try and change the flights. The truly impressive thing about SAS airlines is the fact that their office hours are from 9 am – 7 pm EST. If you need assistance after hours, they refer you to their website which is absolutely useless!
I checked the weather for the Newark area and it was still showing strong thunderstorms for the time we would be there. As soon as I arrived at the airport, I told United about the weather travel waiver and asked to be moved to another airline – Delta via Atlanta or Detroit. She said United had not issued a travel waiver. I pulled up the email from “United Sales” on my mobile phone and showed it to her. She even took my phone in the back to show a supervisor. The final decision was that even though United Sales had issued a travel waiver, they had not been advised of it and couldn’t honor it. Unbelievable.
Then, the agent proceeded to tell me that there were no flights on any other airlines anyway. I got my travel agent back on the phone and gave the United agent the flight numbers, times, and number of seats available either through Atlanta or Detroit. She found the flights but would not change our tickets because she still said there was no travel waiver.
We boarded the flight to Newark on time and when I checked the weather again, it looked like the thunderstorms would be hitting right after we arrived. We could only check our luggage to Oslo because we have to pick up everything and go through Customs and then go upstairs and re-check everything.
We arrived Newark on time and had about a 5 hour layover. I went into the Lounge and got Daryle in with me. I worked the entire 5 hours and watched as horrific thunderstorms rolled through. Flights were delayed during that time period which meant when we boarded, our flight was also delayed. SAS flight attendants were very nice but it is NOT a great airline. The seat was one of the most uncomfortable I’ve ever had in First Class on any airline. We took off an hour and a half late and I was hoping we would make up time in the air.
It took FOUR hours for the flight attendants to serve lunch from the time they started until they finished. Since it was only a 7 hour flight, by the time the meal was over, we only had an hour to sleep before they started waking everyone up for breakfast – which I skipped. I watched “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” and loved it almost as much as the first movie.
We landed Oslo only a few minutes late and then it took over an hour for the baggage to come out. At one point, I actually thought most of the bags had been left in Nashville or Newark but everything finally came out – the last bags on the belt! We went upstairs and checked in on Wideroe where they again charged for excess baggage. Usually, we fly into Bergen and then the promoter picks us up in a tour bus and drives us 5 hours to Breim. For some reason, they did not want to do that this time but flying into Sandane was a nightmare in more ways than one.
The Wideroe flight is a tiny little prop plane and a one hour fight. Rarely does all the luggage and equipment make it on our flight but our luck held and everything arrived. Our promoter and buyer were at the airport to meet us and when we arrived at the hotel, our rooms were ready. It’s a great hotel!
I got everyone checked in and then had coffee with Gunnar to discuss “business”. Then I walked across the street to the market to buy water and fruit. Got unpacked and got on the internet to work. Only I was getting kicked off every couple of minutes. It was very frustrating and I’ve never had this problem at this hotel in years past. I went downstairs at 5:30 pm to see Gunnar again before he left for his performance at the festival. Some of Daryle’s guys came in to eat before I left. I waited until a little after 7 pm to eat dinner and the food was great. Not sure what everything was, but very good.
I had Lindsey call T-Mobile for me and ask if there would be a charge if I hooked my mobile phone up as a “personal Hot Spot” and used it for the internet. Guess what – no charge and it works great….so much better than the hotel WiFi.
There is only one English speaking TV channel in the room and I watched the absolute worst movie I have ever seen in my life. It was called “Sand Sharks” and I was riveted to it while I answered emails. It was so bad, I couldn’t look away. So, now I know that terrible U.S. movies end up airing in foreign countries. LOL
It’s after midnight now and I’m headed to bed. All the rooms in the hotel have “names” and mine is titled “Top Foss”. I’m pretty sure it is a typo and meant to say “Top Boss”. J
Prayers for Craig Morgan and his family for the tragic loss of their 19 year old son and for the people of Nice, France. I’ve walked around that area many times in the past.
SATURDAY, JULY 16TH – PERFORMANCE AT NORSK COUNTRY TREFF, BREIM, NORWAY:
Got up early to “jog” only to look out the window and see a steady rain. From years of running in this little village, I knew the roads would be slick and dangerous because of the hills. Went down and had a healthy breakfast instead. Came back to room and showered and worked for about an hour. Then walked across the street to buy more water and some ”gifts” for Zac and Zoe. By the time I returned, it was time to leave for sound check.
The sound check was quick and painless. The production company and the staff listening to Daryle were so impressed by his voice AND the fact that he is “so country”. He’s a terrific entertainer and all the musicians with him are excellent – Phil Benefield (the drummer and newest band member), Phil Frye (bass player who went to Japan with Daryle a few years ago), Tyler Hall (Pedal Steel player whose alarm didn’t go off today…LOL), Ricky Land (guitar player) and Mike Varner (fiddle player).
We went to the “church” after sound check and Daryle was last on the program to sing 2 songs acoustically. His amazing voice inside the little church gave me goose bumps. All the entertainers joined in for “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and I videoed and posted to Facebook. It rained off and on all day and we arrived back at the hotel at around 4 pm. Dinner starts at 5 pm and I’ll bet everyone is going to grab a nap immediately afterwards. We don’t leave the hotel for the venue until 11 pm tonight and Daryle performs from midnight until 1:30 am! Of course, there will be a few hours of “dusk” but no real “dark” at this time of the year.
I worked until around 6:30 pm and then went down and had dinner with the guys. The food was great once again! Had a couple of hours before going over for the show and I “passed out” for about an hour. We left the hotel at 11 pm and there was a light, steady rain still falling. Daryle had a quick “meet and greet” and then a radio interview. Sweethearts of the Rodeo were performing when we arrived and from what I could hear, sounded great. Daryle and his guys took the stage at exactly midnight and performed until 12:30 am and performed until around 2:10 am. There was a “crowd” in front of the stage but the steady rain obviously kept a lot of people from coming out. But Nils and Kirstin thought it was a great show so I’m glad they were happy. And it WAS a great show with true COUNTRY music!
The festival brought over burgers and fries for the guys when they came off stage and they sat in the dressing room and ate. One of the young girls who had been taking such good care of us came into the room and we engaged her in a conversation about “gun control”. It’s very hard for Norwegians to understand “why” Americans have the right to keep and bear arms because there is very little “crime” in Norway. Most of the crime is within a family from domestic disputes. I have a bad feeling that will change over the next few years because of the number of refugees Norway has taken in. Hope I’m wrong.
We were back at the hotel at around 3 am. Going to grab a couple of hours sleep. We are going to the glacier tomorrow at 1 pm – rain or shine!
Was so wonderful to be back in Breim and see all my friends here and watch Daryle’s fantastic concert! I am so lucky to work with such nice people around the world and in the USA!
SUNDAY, JULY 17TH – DAY OFF IN BREIM, NORWAY:
We all slept for a “few hours”, had breakfast, and left at 1 pm for our visit to the famous Birksdale Glacier. No jogging again this morning as it is still raining and the streets are very wet.
I’ve been to the Glacier several times but not in the past few years. Since we started flying into Bergen instead of Sandane, our Sundays are spent driving back to Bergen instead of having a day off to sightsee. Although the drive and ferry trip to Bergen and visiting Bergen are just as awesome as the Glacier trip.
We had a great “guide” – Sjur (pronounced Sure) and driver “Jon” (probably spelled Jan) who gave us some history on the area on the drive up. The festival had arranged a buffet lunch for everyone as soon as we arrived. THAT was most welcomed as it was an hour and a half drive from the hotel to the glacier. The first thing I did was buy a rain poncho for the trip up to the actual glacier. Lunch was really good with lots of variety….most of which we had no idea what we were eating.
I’ve never “driven” to the glacier in their little carts but that was arranged for us this time as well. We have always walked and it is a LONG way – over an hour! The drive took about 20 minutes up because it was all “uphill”. En route, we passed a “glorious” waterfall and the spray covered us. The cart had plastic sheets that they placed over our legs to keep us somewhat dry. We only had to walk about 3 km to reach the glacier after we were dropped off by the cart. When we arrived at the glacier, it stopped raining for a few minutes. We took hundreds of photos and then headed back to meet the cart.
Did a little “souvenir” shopping and I called Zac and Zoe on Facebook messenger and showed them the waterfall. Their first question was “Where ARE you?”. LOL.
Drive back was quicker than coming up. We were in a large van and the roads are basically a one-lane road with two-way traffic. Lots of pulling over on the shoulder to let buses and larger vehicles pass.
We had a nice dinner at the hotel when we returned. No buffet tonight and we had to order off the menu. By this time, I’ve had about all the fish I want for a week but most of the entrees were fish. Most of us ordered a pork dish and it was really good.
Trying to answer emails and finish this report so I can sleep for about 2 hours. We have to leave for the airport at 5 am which means a 3:30 am wakeup call for me. OUCH!
If you get a chance, check out the photos and videos on my Facebook pages (Judy Seale or Judy Seale International). The word I use most often to describe the area is “glorious”! Also check out the comments about Daryle’s performance last night.
MONDAY, JULY 18TH – LEAVING FOR “HOME”:
So, I was ready to turn off the computer and get in bed at a “decent” hour when I got a notice from AOL that they had suspended my account due to “suspicious activity”. Just like that — my account was shut down. I went through all the steps they suggested to change my password and get the account opened back up and nothing worked. I finally went through the AOL website and was able to get back online. You’d better believe AOL will be getting a call from me on Wednesday morning!
We were all in the lobby at 4:45 am waiting for our ride to the airport. As I mentioned, our promoter had talked to the airline yesterday and was told that we should arrive “earlier” than we had scheduled so they could try to check us all the way through to Nashville. I had also confirmed that we needed a “large” vehicle to transport 14 pieces of baggage – large suitcases and large equipment cases. When the van arrived at 5 am, it was large as requested. But, it was a “handicap van”. The driver got out and lowered the ramp and I said, “Well that’s not going to work”! His idea was to make 2 trips to the airport, which I did not want to do. Because the only floor space was “between the seats”, once everything was loaded, there was no way for us to get in the seats! We finally had one guy go ahead and sit in a seat and then we loaded everything in and basically “trapped” him inside. We were able to stack everything to the very top of the van and make it to the airport in one trip. Just made me really nervous for that one musician to be sitting back there in the middle of that equipment. Had the driver slammed on brakes, everything could have easily fallen on him. Thankfully, we make it without incident.
And THEN, we arrived at the airport only to find it was not open. I was afraid of that which is why I double/triple checked yesterday. We had to wait about 15 minutes for the doors to open. The guy checking us in knew nothing about trying to check our luggage all the way to Nashville. However, he was very nice and was able to check the luggage all the way through to Nashville. But, he couldn’t give us boarding passes for the Newark to Nashville flights.
Another surprise was the fact that our little prop plane from Sandane to Oslo was making a “stop” in Sogndal to take on passengers. We didn’t get off the plane and it was only about a 10 minute flight from Sandane to Sogndal. We landed on time in Oslo and since we didn’t have to pick up our bags and re-check on SAS, we were able to go to the gate area. We stopped before going into the international area and had breakfast at the cafeteria where I always eat at the Oslo airport.
Again, several of the guys did not have seat assignments for some reason I still cannot understand. The only way to get a seat assignment was at the gate which, of course, was not open. When it finally opened, a couple of the guys upgraded to Economy plus but the two musicians who did not have a seat assignment were not allowed to come into the gate area. The agent kept telling me that someone was working on getting them a seat and only then would they be allowed into the gate area. It took over an HOUR for them to issue a seat assignment. Never, ever, ever will I fly SAS again.
The flight departed on time and I did not eat lunch….just slept for 4 hours. We had some turbulence throughout the flight but nothing too drastic. We landed on time and got all our luggage and equipment. When we landed, I had a message saying our flight to Nashville was delayed by more than hour – awaiting incoming aircraft. I went to the lounge and worked for a couple of hours and then headed to the gate. Almost as soon as our incoming plane arrived, so did a horrific thunderstorm. Lightning was going straight to the ground. So yet another delay.
We finally boarded at around 6 pm (instead of 3:30 pm as originally scheduled) but had to wait in line for takeoff. Once airborne, the flight attendant walked around and asked everyone what they wanted to drink. I asked for coffee and he said he would “have to make some”….like it was an inconvenience for him. He never brought my coffee but asked everyone else in First Class if they wanted coffee or tea and brought it to them. I was so tired by that time, I just didn’t care anymore.
We landed Nashville at around 8:30 pm – over 3 hours late. But, everyone was happy to be home.
I’ll leave you with a comment that one of the fans made on my Facebook page. Great artist and musicians and wonderful promoters and buyers. It was a GOOD weekend:
Judy Seale,thank you for bringing Daryle Singletary to our festival in Breim.I have been a fan of him for more than 10years now,and finally I got a chance to see him live.And what at brilliant performance he and his wonderful band did.One thing is listening to his records,which are great,but to see him live:Wow!this must have been one of the best performances ever during this festivals 20+ years time!The way he did classics from Frizzell,Haggard,Jones and Paycheck to his own,I have never seen before.He surely do his best to bring the classic traditional country music to a new audience.He got the best voice of today’s new acts,our times Keith Whitley. Thank you very much for a breathtaking evening,I will never forget this.