ROAD KILL – DAY 7 – AUGUST 2nd:
There was a really pitiful little gym at the hotel – a bike that worked and one “universal” machine that sort of worked. Better than nothing.
Got Elizabeth and Tim off on time with no problems and our group departed on time as well. Easy check-in this time because the line wasn’t around the building. We had to take several pieces of gear to the “oversize” counter. I sent each guy one by one because it was just a short walk down from where we were checking in. Once I got everyone checked in, I went down to make sure there were no problems. All the guys were there and had checked in their luggage – except one – the first one I had sent down there. We started looking around for him and found him standing in line at a ticket counter to check in for a Braathens flight to God only knows where… Fortunately, there was a long line and he hadn’t made his way up to the check-in counter when we plucked him out of the line and re-directed him.
Went through security and was standing on the other side waiting for everyone to come out when this guy comes up and starts speaking Norwegian to us. He’s gesturing towards the security belt. I figured out that someone had left something….you got it….Jolie’s purse, again. She’s more frustrated with herself than we are with her. It’s actually a small clutch/fanny pack that she keeps hanging around her neck. It’s just that she takes it off and then forgets to put it back on!
Flight from Oslo to Copenhagen was only 1 hour and then we had to change terminals. We walked past all these great shops and restaurants en route to our gate. Once we got to our gate, there was NOTHING. No shops, no restaurants, NOTHING. Not even a “gate area”. There were these two solid doors with a sign saying if the doors were closed, the gate agents were not ready. People were sprawled all over the floor waiting for the doors to open. Jolie and I were going to go back outside of security to get the guys something to eat. We had to go through the scanner and then once we got outside, there was only one little snack bar with nothing that looked appetizing. We settled for buying them snickers candy bars to tide them over.
Flight from Copenhagen to Zurich was 1 ½ hours and they fed us “something”. It looked a little like a salad with grilled chicken, but it had an entire onion cut up in it, some potatoes, some “weeds”, and I’m not sure what else. There was a slice of the rankest tasting cheese I’ve ever had. Then some kind of mushy “mousse” type cake sitting in a puddle of purple jelly-looking stuff. Yummmm! I ended up eating a slice of bread and that’s it.
Landed in Zurich and there was a van and trailer waiting for us. I’m beginning to think all the drivers in Switzerland went to the same “school”. This one took us through Bern (as many times as I’ve been over here, we’ve NEVER gone that way) and we got stuck in 5 o’clock traffic. He kept changing lanes – back and forth and back and forth – for no apparent reason. He also kept running up on the back of other vehicles and having to slam on the brakes. Sounded like the trailer was going to come through the back of the van every time he slammed on the brakes.
Got to the hotel just in time to try and check in when about 200 Japanese tourists were also trying to check it. But, this is a great hotel and our promoters had everything waiting for us. Had a nice dinner with one of the promoters and then she took them down to the only “Hooters” in Switzerland. I opted to come to my room and catch up on email.
Tomorrow we are going to Jungfrau – the highest point accessible in all of Europe. I’ve been up more times than I can remember but it’s still an awesome trip. We don’t have to “work” again until Thursday night!
ROAD KILL – DAY 8 – AUGUST 3RD:
Jogged along the river for 5 miles this morning. Been here so many times, this feels like “home:”. Weather is absolutely perfect at 6 am. Came back to shower and it’s already “HOT” in the hotel room though. I opened all the windows and hopped in the shower. Right after I got in, I thought I smelled something burning. I was already having an “issue” with light bulbs blowing out in there and a loud “popping” noise that happens about every half hour. Couldn’t see any smoke out and then I had a panic attack that it might be my laptop because I knew it was plugged in and turned on. Jumped out of the shower and rushed into the bedroom — only to remember that all the windows and curtains were open and I have ceiling to floor windows. Guess I gave the “neighbors” across the alley quite a wake-up call since their windows and curtains were open, too!
Today is a day off and the promoter got us passes to go up to Jungfrau. We left the hotel at 10 am for the 10 minute walk to the train station. Then, we rode trains for two hours – through the Alps. It is breathtaking. The temperature began dropping as we neared the peak and we all had our jackets with us. The last few miles are on a “cog” train because it’s so steep. There were about 500 Japanese tourists and 50 Indian tourists on the trains with us.
There’s a huge metal building at the top with restaurants, gift shops, ice caves, and a place where you can walk out on the glacier. Lines were pretty long for the ice caves, so we had lunch first. Then we decided to walk out on the glacier. Jolie and I and a couple of the guys walked out first. You have to walk on the snow and ice and hang on to ropes to keep from falling down. We made it about halfway out and it started snowing and raining. Then there was a loud clap of thunder and lightning. I went back in to get the other guys so we could take a photo before the storm hit. Just as we all got outside and started sliding our way across the glacier, a HUGE clap of thunder and lightning hit at the same time. Jolie said there was a noticeable change in the temperature right before it hit and all her hair stood up. For 2 hours afterwards, every time I blinked my eyes, I saw a “starburst”. A guard came running out onto the glacier yelling something in Swiss German. Wasn’t hard to tell he was telling us to get inside quickly. They closed down the glacier entrance as soon as he got us all inside. Since everything is made of metal, and it’s all sitting on snow (water), AND it’s the highest point accessible in Europe, we were a “lightning rod”!
Went down to the ice caves. Basically, they have just “hollowed” out a tunnel through the glacier. The walls, ceiling, and floor are solid ice. Talk about slick! There are rails to hold on to but you still slide like crazy. Beautiful ice carvings throughout the tunnel. Next we went to the Spinx which is this huge tower with observation decks. Right after we got outside, the clouds lifted and we had a beautiful view of the Alps – up close and personal.
Took the train back down the mountain and stopped in Grindelwald to see some friends of mine who own a hotel. We had hot chocolate with them and then continued on to Interlaken. Didn’t get back to the hotel until almost 8 pm! Great way to spend our day off. Jolie did not lose her purse once today. Way to go, Jo!
ROAD KILL – DAY 9 – AUGUST 4th:
Hotel told me that there was a nice gym within walking distance but that it did not open until 8:30 am. I walked down and found out it doesn’t open until 9 am…. everyday except Monday when it doesn’t open until 2 pm! I guess no one in this city exercises BEFORE they go to work! It was a nice gym, with new equipment so I suppose I’ve found an “exercise home” for the rest of my time in Switzerland.
I had put the stuffed Orangutan on my bed while I’m in Interlaken. When I woke up this morning, it had fallen over and was lying next to me. Hmmmm…..sleeping with an Orangutan is a new low for me….or maybe it’s a step up J
Had to take care of business problems this morning and then met Jolie for lunch and shopping. We shopped until 5:30 pm and still didn’t hit ¼ of the stores just in Interlaken. Have to take her again tomorrow.
Her “boys” ventured to the self-service laundry today. Said it was crowded with lots of British people there doing their laundry as well. One of her guys needed change for the machines, so he watched how the other people were working the change machine. He started feeding his money in, and it set off a really loud alarm. They said all the British people when flying out of the laundry. The “owner” came out and started reprimanding them in Swiss German. They still don’t know what they did to set it off!
The band and crew for Asleep at the Wheel came in today. Ray Benson gets here on Friday. I’ve taken those guys around the world several times, so it’s great to be working with them again.
Pretty “boring” day in beautiful downtown Interlaken, Switzerland!
ROAD KILL – DAY 10 – AUGUST 5th:
Another day of beautiful weather. Went back to the gym for another workout then went shopping with Jolie. The shoes over here are incredible. But, it’s just OVERLOAD. There are so many cute pairs, reasonably priced, that we don’t know where to start. Probably shouldn’t buy any because our luggage will be overweight and we’ll have to pay excess charges. Then, they are no longer a “bargain”.
All the shops close between 12 noon and 2 pm for “lunch”. No one gets in a hurry to do anything here. A meal is ALWAYS a three hour process. You have to chase the waiter/waitress down every time just to get the check from them. Definitely not like Americans who are always rushing from one thing to another.
One souvenir shop that we went into had a “Japanese” owner. He was so excited when I gave him my business card and it was printed in Japanese. I told him all about Country Gold and Charlie Nagatani and guess what…he HAD to give me and Jolie a “gift”… the Japanese way! There were some little samples of chocolate in the store and Jolie and I ate a piece (or two or three or four or five…) It was the best chocolate I’ve ever had. Felt like silk in your mouth. Have to take some of that home!
Saw one of the Asleep at the Wheel guys. He said that six of them went up to Jungfrau today and thought it was spectacular!
Tonight was the sponsor party at the hotel. I met the new contact for Honda Suisse and he’s Japanese! I gave him my business card in Japanese and told him about the festival, too. He said that he has been to the Honda Plant that is located in Kumamoto (the city where Country Gold is held). I told him he must visit Charlie’s nightclub the next time he is in Kumamoto.
Jolie got up and sang a couple of songs at the party and then a Scandinavian Band – THE REDNECKS – performed….sort of. I’ve never seen anything quite like them. They had a big hit about 10 years ago with a remake of “Cotton-eyed Joe”. When they got up to perform, every other word out of the band leaders’ mouth was f..k! Pretty wild group.
Have to get up early tomorrow because we “go back to work” tomorrow!
ROAD KILL – DAY 11 – AUGUST 6th:
Seems strange to be typing “Day 11”. In a way, it doesn’t seem like we’ve been gone that long. But, it also seems like we’ve been gone forever at times!
Jogged along the river this morning. Perfect temperatures again this morning. The river is a beautiful blue/green color because the water is from the glacier. People were swimming in it yesterday. Guess it’s not as cold as “glacier ice”.
Got Jolie’s group off to sound check and I waited for Dale Watson to arrive. I got everything together for his check in so that they could immediately go to their rooms and rest after their long flight. But, the hotel wasn’t aware that they were arriving so early in the morning. The hotel staff really “stepped up to the plate” and got the rooms cleaned and we had the guys in them within a half hour. Not sure a U.S. hotel would have been so accommodating.
The dressing rooms at the venue have been moved this year. They are much “nicer” rooms but much too far from the stage. It’s a HIKE just to get to them. Also, there’s no mirrors or restroom facilities. There is a restroom next door and we’re trying to secure the keys to it. Otherwise, it’s port-a-potties.
Of course, it started raining right before show time. I didn’t have an umbrella or a vehicle and the dressing rooms were too far away to take Jolie in the rain. We got a ride over but I was soaked by the time we arrived from running back and forth backstage looking for a ride. My pants were wet all the way up to my knees and stayed that way all night long.
From the crowd response and the number of people in line for autographs afterwards, I’d say that Jolie had a great show. The FestTent was packed with people. The rain drives the truckers and bikers inside which is good for our shows. After Jolie performed, she stayed to watch the Rednex perform (the group with the foul language last night). It was beyond bizarre. They lip-synched the entire show! No one sang!!! They would be crucified in the U.S. I think there are 4 principal artists but we were told that every one of them is “new”….no original members. But no one cares. They are still riding off the success of the remake of “Cotton Eyed Joe” almost 10 years ago. They had all these dancers – couple of guys dressed up like cowboys and numerous girls wearing “saloon dancehall costumes”! I’m still not sure exactly what we saw….
Jolie helped with the drawing for prizes and then we came back to the hotel. After 1 am now…. Good night.
ROAD KILL – DAY 12 and 13 – AUGUST 7th and 8th:
Hmm…Let’s see if I can even REMEMBER what has happened. Was too busy on Saturday to even turn on my computer….didn’t even check email — a RECORD for me!
Got up early, jogged, and got Asleep at the Wheel to the venue for sound check. Spent all day riding back and forth between the hotel and the venue getting the artists shuttled back and forth for sound check.
Did I mention that hardly any of the buildings here are air-conditioned – not our hotel, only a few of the shops, not the Fest Tent, not the van we travel in – and it’s HOT here. Okay, not as hot as Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar or Djibouti, but pretty miserable. We are soooo spoiled with air conditioning.
Had a press conference with all the artists. There was one reporter there from a major Swiss Radio station. Jolie was asked about her tour in Iraq last December and then he asked her about her feelings about President Bush, and the war, etc. She handled it so well. As you can probably guess, overall Switzerland is not a supporter of Bush or the war. Jolie told how much she supports our troops and what a life-changing experience the tour was. He pushed her to give her feelings about the war and President Bush and she told him that she sings country music (which was what the Press Conference was supposed to be focused on) and that her political beliefs don’t enter into her musical career. He pushed again saying that she obviously had very strong feelings about entertaining the troops and why wouldn’t’ she say how she felt about the war and Bush. She told him that her political beliefs were a private matter and she discusses these issues with her family and friends. The press conference moved on but a little later, one of the other artists decided to give an unsolicited response to the war and Bush. This particular artist did not support the war and made the comment, “If I were President right now, I would resign”. So, now I’m waiting for that to hit the U.S. news like the Dixie Chicks comment! I’m wondering if one of the big differences in conservatives and liberals are the fact that conservatives do keep their beliefs a private matter and liberals have no problem in vocalizing their opinions publicly?
I think the concert was awesome. Jolie opened and “rocked the house”. Dale came on and they loved him because he has so many “trucker” songs. Asleep at the Wheel gave them a hit of Western Swing. All the artists signed autographs afterwards. Right in the middle of Dale’s show, a huge thunderstorm passed through. I, of course, was having to run back and forth between the FestTent, Green Room Tent, and the office – getting soaked in the process. The ground of the Fest-tent flooded in about 5 minutes time. Then it started hailing. Obviously, they don’t see a lot of hail in Switzerland because people were rushing outside to watch and picking up pieces of it. Now, tents are NOT the best place to be in a hail storm. I was afraid there would be holes in the top of the tents, but we were lucky. Storm lasted about and hour and then it cooled off considerably!
Got the last group back to the hotel by 2 am and I had a 5 am wakeup call to get Jolie and Dale off to the airport. Asleep at the Wheel’s road manager called to say that he has lost his cell phone “somewhere” last night. I called and told our Coordinator but I didn’t think there would be any chance that he would get it back. Then I went to the gym to work out and back to the hotel to get Asleep at the Wheel off to Norway for their shows. While I was gone, the hotel changed all the computer codes for our rooms because check out time was at 11 am. I’m not even checking out today and they changed mine, too. Right before Asleep at the Wheel departed, our Coordinator came up with the cell phone. Someone had found it backstage and turned it in! Now, why couldn’t I have that kind of luck in Qatar instead of having to shell out another $300 for a replacement and losing all my numbers I had programmed?:
Now I have THREE days off in Switzerland and what do I do all day long….work on my computer! But, it feels good to get organized again and send out about 50 emails taking care of business! Flying to Denmark on Wednesday for one more festival with Asleep at the Wheel!
ROAD KILL – DAY 14 – AUGUST 9th:
Today was a “jog” day. Good thing because the only gym I can find doesn’t open until 2 pm! I don’t know how the Swiss eat so much bread, cheese, and dessert yet they don’t exercise and they are not overweight. Maybe it’s because they walk or ride a bike to most places.
Went shopping for a few last minute panic purchases and bought a “box” from the Post Office. Think I need to ship some things home to myself so I won’t be charged excess fees when I fly to Denmark. I purchased a “card” to use in a Solarium but couldn’t figure out how to use it. The Solarium is like our tanning salons in America – only there are no “attendants”. You just walk in and put your money in a machine and tan. Only none of the instructions are in English. It was probably a blessing that I didn’t figure it out. Last time I tried this was in Norway and I still remember my third degree burns from that little escapade!
I had my first manicure and pedicure in Switzerland. Very, very different than in the U.S. In America, they spend about 90% of their time on the “nails” and 10% of the time on the “skin”. Just the opposite here. AND, I was there for TWO hours. If it takes more than 30 minutes in the States, it’s because you’ve had to wait for an appointment. The pedicure was interesting. It took place “upstairs” in her salon and trust me, it’s true that HEAT RISES. I had a sauna and pedicure all at once. Like I said, she spent a lot of time on the actual foot and my feet are extremely ticklish. I had to play a lot of mind games to keep from jumping off the recliner (yes, you “lay” on this recliner to have the pedicure!). Then she put something hot on my foot, applied a cloth and YANKED! Figured out that it was hot wax pretty quickly. I know, you GUYS on my list….way too much information for you!
The lady who owns the salon is originally from Panama but has owned her shop for 20 years. She has some very influential clients who frequent her salon. She has two daughters and they all speak FIVE languages fluently…French, German, Italian, English and Spanish!
Went to dinner with the promoter of the event who happens to also be my dearest friend. We went to a restaurant that her boyfriend owns and the meal was to die for. Good to know the chef, I think! The restaurant also has a beautiful hotel and is located almost next door to the venue where we performed yesterday. He told me that every room has wireless internet connection and I told the promoter that I’m staying there next year!
Back to the hotel for a coffee and now I get to work on the computer all night. Tomorrow is my last day in Switzerland. Seems like I’ve been gone for months.