THURSDAY, JULY 16TH – LAST DAY IN ZURICH:
Easy last day in Zurich. Went to the gym and “ran” on the elliptical trainer for an hour – intervals of 5 minutes forward and 5 minutes backward. Definitely not as good as running outside but still a good cardio workout. Met my promoter for Zurich to go over some ideas for February and March. Walked over to the airport terminal to have dinner at the Asian Gallerie that my friends recommended. They were right! It was really good food – especially for an airport.
Doug Stone’s flight left Atlanta a few minutes early and is supposed to land a few minutes early. Penny met everyone at the airport and one of the guys did not have his passport! He said that since he emailed her a copy of it, he didn’t think he’d need it. He had left it in his truck where he parked it at a nearby hotel. Penny drove him over so he could retrieve it and luckily he still made the flight. Guess he’s never been out of the country before. Should be a fun group. 🙂
The weather is supposed to be bad on Saturday. Predicting a high of only 55 (glad I purchased that fan!) and 90% chance of rain. I really hope they are wrong. It is miserable at that festival when it rains and it has rained a LOT in the past. It’s an outdoor event with a covered stage. Riding that gondola up is not fun in pretty weather and I hate it in the rain.
Going to bed early so I can get up early, get checked out and meet Doug’s flight at the airport.
FRIDAY, JULY 17TH – ZURICH TO KLEWENALP:
So, I was texting at 4 am this morning when one came in from Chely Wright asking if I was in Indonesia because there were hotel bombings. Turned on CNN to see what was happening. Now my friends are worried because I’m going to Cairo next week. I told them, it’s safer there now than it was before the bombing in Indonesia because security will be on high alert! Not worried at all.
Got about one more hour’s sleep and got up at 6 am to go to the airport and meet Doug Stone and his group. Their flight was early. Pretty unusual that flights this summer are landing early (instead of a day late!) AND they aren’t very full. Guess the economy is so horrible, no one is flying.
Didn’t get to work out today and if the rain stops, hopefully there will be somewhere I can jog once we get to Stansstad where the hotel is located. It’s supposed to be a beautiful 4 or 5 star hotel right on Lake Lucerne. Supposedly, this hotel is in a much nicer “area” than last year. Last year there was nothing within walking distance and we didn’t have any transportation.
Doug and his group arrived pretty “refreshed” because they had room to stretch out on the flight. They had these great ideas of going to play golf. I told them I’ve been coming to Switzerland for years and have traveled the entire country many times and never seen one golf course. One of our hosts for the festival – Urs – said there are definitely golf courses here. Let’s also keep in mind that they have no golf clubs with them and it is pouring rain.
It was an hour and a half drive from Zurich Airport to the hotel. We arrived at 9:30 am and our rooms were not ready for us. They held the breakfast open so that everyone could eat something while we waited for guests to check out and rooms to be cleaned. Got the last person in their room before noon. It’s a beautiful hotel, in a beautiful location, and within walking distance to lots of shops and a village. Very happy with the choice this year.
The guys had the front desk call a golf course for them but it didn’t work out. First roadblock is the fact that they don’t rent clubs or balls! The rain stopped for a little while but started back up again later in the afternoon. I spend all afternoon answering emails. My friend, Iris, drove over and arrived before 8 pm. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant and it was excellent food and much “nicer” staff.
I am glad I brought my fan though because it’s “loud” outside and not a good idea to keep the windows open because of that. We have to leave the hotel at 8 am tomorrow to go to sound check because the shows start up there at noon. Really not looking forward to riding that gondola up in the wind and rain. Why do they need me at sound check anyway? 🙂
SATURDAY, JULY 18TH – KLEWENALP, SWITZERLAND:
It stormed most of the night with lots of thunder. Good sleeping weather if I had time to sleep. 🙂 I had weird dreams all night. I dreamed a man was standing out on my balcony smoking a cigarette. I slammed the glass door and locked it but he came around to the front door of my room. I remembered that I hadn’t locked it because it’s the kind you have to lock with a key. Last night when I did lock it earlier in the night, I got locked in. Couldn’t get the key to turn either way. Thought I was going to have to call the front desk to come get me out. Scared myself so badly in the dream, it woke me up. I went to the bathroom but didn’t turn on the light. Big mistake. The door closed by itself and it was darker than any cave in there. Since it was the first night in this hotel, I was disoriented and thought I’d never get out of the bathroom. Exciting night, huh?
Got up at 5:30 am, showered and went to breakfast. We had to keep begging for them to bring us coffee because they never bring enough for Americans.
I grabbed my thin jacket and my fleece and we drove the short 15 minutes to the gondola. I was NOT looking forward to taking it up in the wind and rain. About halfway up, I realized we had slowed down to almost a full stop. Why? The gondola was swaying from side to side – not back and forth – because of the wind. Freaked me out. We hit the last tower and it seemed to take forever to get to the station. As we were pulling in, they had to slow the car even more as we banged into the walls on each side. I swear I may have to stay up here until after the show is over instead of just for sound check.
We quickly made the decision that the show had to be moved into the tent. It was still pouring rain and now at the top of the alp, freezing cold. It had to be below 30 degrees and the wind was whipping the tent. While the sound company moved everything to the tent, we had coffee and colas and sat for a while. I hate that the weather is so bad Doug and his guys don’t see the spectacular view. Occasionally the clouds would clear and everyone would rush to the edge to snap photos.
Doug did a really quick sound check but sounded terrific. We had a nice lunch at the venue and then it was time to head down. I needed valium to get back on that gondola. Our host and driver – Daniel – decided at the last minute that he needed to go to the restroom. While he was gone, the gondola arrived and we left before he returned. I guess we should have waited since we have no way of getting back to the hotel until he shows up with the keys to the van. But, it’s warmer at the bottom of the hill. Took him about 10 minutes to get down after we arrived.
Iris and I stopped at a little convenience store and I found some “tights” that we can wear under our jeans tonight. I’m wearing tights, 2 pairs of socks, a button up shirt, a pullover shirt, a thin zip up jacket, a fleece jacket, and my winter gloves for the concert tonight. Brent Mason (famous Nashville musician) is playing before Doug and everyone wants to leave the hotel early to go see them. Everyone except me and Iris. I do not care about getting up there in that freezing weather to see him perform. But, we’re out-numbered it seems.
I did Pilates in my room since it’s still raining at the hotel, too. Really hope it clears up tomorrow morning so I can go for a long jog around the lake! Went down and had dinner with the boys. I had whitefish fillets and the mean wasn’t nearly as good as what I had last night. But it was okay.
We left for the venue at 7:30 pm so they could see Brent perform. Doug didn’t go watch his show because the tent was packed. He sat backstage and played a lot of songs for us on his guitar. It was great. He took the stage a few minutes after 10 and performed a terrific 90 minute set with lots of recognizable hits. Audience loved him and the band was really good, too. Really smart decision to move the show inside the tent. I felt like the Pillsbury dough boy with all my layers but I still got cold even in the tent. Doug signed autographs for about 45 minutes after the show and then I rushed them into the gondola so we could beat the crowd of 2,000 people that would be leaving the tent after the last performance. The gondola was still packed!
Iris showed up at breakfast this morning with a knot and a gash over her right eyebrow. There is a light that is mounted over the bed and she almost knocked herself unconscious with it last night! Hopefully she’ll have a better night tonight.
There is a nightclub next to the hotel and a bunch of drunks outside my window yelling and partying. It’s 1:30 am and I don’t know how late that place is going to stay open. With any luck, it closes at 2 am. Tomorrow we take a steamboat into Lucerne, walk around and check out the shops, bridges, and Blue Balls festival and then go to a little cottage restaurant for a traditional Swiss meal. The weather is supposed to be warm and sunny.
SUNDAY, JULY 19TH – SIGHTSEEING DAY IN LUCERNE (AGAIN):
So, I read my road report from yesterday and it sounded like it was a horrible day. Other than the cold and the scary gondola ride, it wasn’t. I love this festival and the people who produce it plus the artists I bring always have a blast.
Anyway, got a few hours sleep because I closed the window and used my trusty fan to cool the room. Got up and FINALLY the weather is perfect. I ran around Lake Lucerne for 5 miles and loved every minute of it. Showered and met the boys downstairs for a day of sightseeing in Lucerne. I’ve been there many times and have actually taken lots of people sightseeing there and I’m a pretty good “guide”. (right – Mark and Ben? J ).
We took the steamboat across Lake Lucerne and sat out on the deck. I remember the first time I took this trip, I decided I would just quit my job, move to Switzerland, and work as a waitress. It’s so beautiful and I can’t imagine ever being stressed in this setting. Doug and the guys took a couple of hundred photos. We docked and immediately went to the main stage area for the Blue Balls Festival because that’s where all the food booths are located. We split up and ate bratwurst, Thai and Doug even had a burger (which he said wasn’t good but since he paid the equivalent of $15 for it, he was determined to eat it.). Everyone wanted to buy a Blue Balls t-shirt but they don’t sell them. The only people who have them are the “staff”. I managed to scam one last year and did the same again this year – for a friend!
We walked around looking at the bridges and famous buildings and they boys did their souvenir shopping. Only thing we didn’t find was a Sprugle’ candy shop. They are going to try and find that at the airport tomorrow. I know there’s one there. We went to a famous Catholic cathedral and ended at the Lion’s Monument. Then we met Peter (our promoter) and drove to a fabulous Swiss Chalet for dinner. The meal was unbelievable but just way too much food. First course was a little cup of homemade tomato soup, followed by a local fish with a sauce that had a lot of horseradish in it. There was a mozzarella tomato salad and FINALLY the main course — tender veal medallions with a tiny pastry on top, vegetables, and a potato “cake”. When we thought we would explode, they brought fresh strawberries in vanilla cream sauce on strawberry ice cream. Boy, I’m glad I ran 5 miles this morning.
Got back to the hotel at around 10 pm. I have to give everyone a 5:30 am wake up call, so I am going to finish this up and get in bed. Cairo tomorrow. I’ve been to Egypt but never to Cairo. Can’t wait!!!
MONDAY, JULY 20TH – SWITZERLAND TO CAIRO:
Got a couple of hours sleep and then called all the boys to get them up at 5:30 am. The hotel was supposed to have breakfast ready for us at 6 am but they didn’t. They did manage to bring us some coffee and croissants before we had to leave. Everyone was on time and Urs drove us to the airport.
I got my bags checked in pretty quickly and then went over to the other terminal to make sure the guys were all checked in. They didn’t have any problems and headed for their gates.
I checked email this morning before I left the hotel and there was a message from my friend Marc reminding me that our friend Wally is not at the American Embassy in Cairo!!! I can’t believe I forgot that. I met Wally and Marc many years ago in Korea when I was on tour with Chely Wright. We have stayed in touch and Marc saw me in lots of strange places throughout the years – DC, Switzerland, Germany, Kuwait…to name a few! I emailed Wally and he emailed me back right away. Had I not already set up with the hotel to pick us up at the airport, he could have done that. He did set up all our tours for us while we’re here. Unbelievable good luck for me to find him here. He was great as a Protocol Officer in Korea and hasn’t lost his touch.
Iris arrived later at than I did and was going to upgrade to business class. Swiss Air wouldn’t let her upgrade but it’s a short 4 hour flight. We headed to the gate but there was construction and we had to take a bus instead of a metro. It took us about 20 minutes to get to our departure terminal and the line for security was really long. I went through business class security and went to buy us some water for the flight while I was waiting for her. I was waiting at the gate and the gate agent told me I had to board the plane. I was afraid Iris was going to miss the flight and I’d be on my way to Cairo. But, she made it before we departed.
Business class was full but the flight attendants were very nice. I tried to watch “Duplicity” a Julia Roberts movie but it was really bad. We landed in Cairo a few minutes early and stopped to change money before going to passport control. I asked about purchasing a Visa and they sold it to me right there at the bank! Cost 15 Egyptian Pounds and there was NO paperwork to fill out. Obviously it’s more about the “money” than the country’s security.
Someone from the hotel was waiting for us with a sign with my name on it. He got my luggage but Iris’s didn’t come out. We waited and waited and waited and thought it was not going to come out. But it finally arrived and the hotel rep took us out to our “limo”. HA! I’m going to look at my booking and what I paid for that service. It was a tiny little car with a trunk so small our bags didn’t fit. We had to put Iris’s bag in the front seat! I was surprised at how “lax” security was when we came through passport control and immigration. They barely looked at our paperwork.
The traffic is horrendous with 6-8 lanes bumper to bumper. All the cars look like they have been wrecked numerous times. When the traffic opens up a little, the drivers speed up as fast as they can go and “make their own lanes”. We almost rear-ended the car in front of us a couple of times. It was nerve-wracking just trying to get to the hotel. It took us at least an hour to arrive and we passed some really “poor” neighborhoods as well as some very “wealthy” neighborhoods.
The hotel is nice and HUGE. There are two towers with 20 floors in each tower. Iris has no sense of direction either, so this should be fun. The rooms are very nice and the internet works although it is a cable modem, not wireless. Wally called and said he had our Dinner cruise on the Nile confirmed for that evening and we needed to be downstairs at 6:30 pm. Barely had time to unpack a few things and change my clothes. Of course, Iris and I got lost trying to find our way back downstairs and some nice gentleman walked us to the correct area. There was a travel agency van waiting for us with a nice man driving us. Only took about 20 minutes to arrive at the “ship”. Of course, we got lost trying to find the ticket window and then thought we got on the wrong “ship”. Again, some nice man sent us in the right direction and we had a few minutes to relax and take some photos before moving into the ship for dinner.
Because we were listed as “American Embassy”, we got the royal treatment. Our seats were on the upper deck by the windows. Our table had hummus and bread and some other traditional “appetizers”. I was explaining to Iris the nutritional value of hummus (she’s never heard of it) when our waiter said that the buffet was ready to begin. We kept talking and eating hummus and the waiter came back and explained that we had to “start” the line because no one would eat until we did! How embarrassing. It was a great buffet with fish, chicken, beef, and pasta, a big salad bar (that we didn’t see until after we had eaten) and a huge dessert bar. Very good food, too.
The buffet was open for 45 minutes as the ship cruised along the Nile. A man and woman went on stage and sang for about 20 minutes. Iris and I walked outside on the deck and took some photos while they were signing. Then the belly dancer took the stage. She was absolutely amazing. I asked Iris if she could do some of the moves and she said not and be able to walk for at least 3 days! After her, a guy with this huge “skirt” came out. He spun around and around constantly for about 20 minutes using all sorts of props as he was spinning. I don’t know how he didn’t get really dizzy and just fall over! The belly dancer came back for one more “set” and by then the ship was back at the dock. It was really a fun evening. One of the staff was talking to me as we were leaving and he said the belly dancer was from Australia and they also had another one from the U.S.! I’ve seen them in Turkey before but this girl tonight was even better than those.
Our driver was waiting for us and Wally called and talked to me as we were driving back to the hotel. He has the driver set to pick us up at 8:30 am tomorrow morning (no work out for me AGAIN – maybe when we get back tomorrow!). He has a full day planned for us ending with meeting up with him and his wife who I have not met yet.
Back in my room answering emails. Got to get in bed soon so I’ll be ready to go by 7:30 am when I meet Iris for Breakfast.