DAYS ONE, TWO AND THREE! JULY 17, 18, AND 19:
Wow. Am I ever behind on my reporting.
Flew over via Atlanta on Delta Airlines. Sat next to a nice young man from Austin who had never flown business class before, so I spent a lot of time “instructing” on the various amenities. I have never seen anyone eat as much as he did. He ate everything they brought him and then asked for (and got – believe it or not!) seconds. He later told me that he is in Switzerland to participate in the Iron Man Triathlon this Sunday. Sure explains the appetite.
Landed in Zurich at 8:30 am and had to kill time until the sound tech arrived from Washington, DC. I stood at the arrival gate for an hour holding a sign with his name on it, but he never arrived. I had him paged and went to the other terminal looking for him. Checked with the airline and they said he was on the flight. Finally found him at the information desk. He thought the line to go through Passport Control was going to be really long, so he went into a restaurant and hung out. Then he got to Passport Control and Baggage Claim and realized everyone else was gone. Anyway, we found each other, stored his luggage with mine and took the train into downtown Zurich. He had never been there and loved the experience.
Got back to the airport in time to meet Lee Roy and his band at 4:30 pm. Then about an hour and a half drive to our hotel in Beckenreid. Lee Roy has been to Switzerland many times but everyone else was in “awe” of the beauty of the Alps. We have great weather, too, which helps.
Stopped at a little convenience store and purchased some water and snacks for the room. I had previously warned everyone that the hotel restaurant is the slowest I have ever encountered. Lee Roy asked the promoter (who was driving us around) about some cheese he was buying. The promoter assured him it was “mild”. Lee Roy told me the next morning that it smelled so bad, he had to put it outside his window and didn’t dare try to eat any of it!
We all went down for dinner – which was a 3 hour process by the time they finally got around to serving us. Chris – the sound tech – didn’t come down. We assumed he had fallen asleep. The guy rooming with him – Mark – needed his jacket out of the room. We banged on the door and called the room and NOTHING! Finally, since my room was next door, Mark crawled out on this very narrow beam – 3 stories above the ground – and yelled in their open window at him. He finally woke him up and got in the room. Chris didn’t remember anything about this the next day. Talk about jet lag!
We all went to bed early. I got up and jogged around Lake Lucerne the next morning. Beautiful run, but the altitude is a big different from Nashville!
Had to go to sound check and the only way to access the venue is in a gondola! It takes exactly 7 minutes for it to go up the mountain. Believe me, I timed it because I am terrified the entire ride. Guys kept making jokes about American pilots flying in the area (remember the incident in Italy where on of our planes flew into the ski lifts?). And, if I’m not already a nervous wreck, they had these two HUGE forklifts filled with beer in glass bottles. They loaded this onto the gondola with us and then packed as many people as they could get on there, too. I just knew we weighed too much and would crash to our deaths. Every time we went past one of the “poles”, I was convinced we were stuck. But, we made it! Then came the ride back down. We stopped at one of the poles and they opened the door on the gondola and a man dropped a metal plate down so he could step over into the gondola from the pole. When it hit the gondola, it made the entire car rock. Then, we stopped at the next pole and he repeated the process only exiting the car. Obviously, he was a maintenance man and I didn’t know whether to be alarmed or happy that he was working on the cables!
Lee Roy had a great show and a good crowd. Jo-el Sonnier is over here on tour and made a “surprise” appearance on stage after Lee Roy’s encore. They did some songs together and THEN, the promoter wanted Lee Roy and Jo-el to do Jambalaya with him (a wantabe artist!) and his co-host (a female wantabe artist). You KNOW what a nightmare that was. The female was reading the lyrics off a card when she “sang”. I have another word for it…
We didn’t get back to the hotel until about 3 am. One of the musicians was telling me about a lady that backed into a pole with a light on it right before we left for the show. He was laughing because she drove off thinking no one had seen her hit it. The pole was leaning at a pretty good angle. Then, he looks over and says, “that’s the lady”. It was my promoter from the Interlaken Festival who also handles this festival. She came to my room a little later and I told her that her that the hotel was looking for her because of something about a light pole. She totally freaked out. Let her off the hook after a few minutes!
DAY FOUR – JULY 20TH!
The Captain in the U.S. Army who was Chely’s escort in Korea is now stationed in Germany. He drove over to Switzerland to see the festival. He had just purchased a BMW (imagine that – in Germany!) so we were able to drive over to Lucerne. Weather was beautiful and we walked around the waterfront where the Blues Festival is taking place all week. The name of the festival is “Blue Balls”! Van Morrison and B. B. King are both playing later in the week.
Lee Roy had a much bigger crowd on Saturday night than on Friday night. Last year we had two different artists from the U.S. each night. I think that is much better for drawing a crowd. Had a great show, but another late one. We didn’t leave the mountain until 2:30 am. Was REALLY happy that was the last ride in that gondola. It was swaying really bad on the trip down. Maybe because there weren’t as many people in it or maybe because of the wind. Marc kept reminding me that it was much “easier” than our helicopter rides in Korea.
DAY FIVE – JULY 21ST
Went to work on email once I got back to the room so didn’t get in bed until around 4 am. Got up at 9:30 to jog but it was raining. Kept waiting for it to quit but finally gave up and worked out with the bands. Marc had to drive back to Germany today, so we went to a little village close by and had lunch before he left. I had bought some Klewenalp cheese at a booth at the venue last night. I tasted it while we were there and it was very mild. Purchased some for Lee Roy and myself. I knew I couldn’t eat it all before I left here, so I gave Marc half of it. BUT, even though it is very mild – it smells rank! I told him to put it in his trunk for the drive home so he wouldn’t have to smell it for 5 hours. I’ll be willing to bet he tossed it out the window as soon as he left the hotel.
Can’t get on line today. AOL worked fine at 4 am this morning and now I can’t connect! So, I’m stressed and decided to change my flight so that I fly back to Nashville tomorrow.
Finally quit raining so I was able to jog around Lake Lucerne one last time. Great stress reliever! And, now AOL is back up and running. I think they must have webcast the Triathlon and jammed the site.
We’ve been having a little fun with Chris (sound engineer). Told him one of the guys working with the festival is “sweet” on him. Pretty funny to watch how he acts around him now. I’m sure the other guys will keep it going after I’ve left them.
One final meal with the guys and now it’s good-bye as I leave at 6 am tomorrow. Am definitely throwing the cheese away as well….
DAY SIX – GOING HOME
Need to go to sleep earlier tonight so I could get up at 5 am. Didn’t happen. Started trying at midnight but the room was too hot. Opened the window and it was pouring rain again. Traffic noise was keeping me awake and then I heard a “buzzing” around my face. Turned on the light and there were dozens of green “mosquitoes” flying around. I didn’t know bugs could fly in the rain! Closed the window and turned on the light over my bed to attract the bugs. I was able to smash them with a book. They didn’t even try to escape. But, then there were dozens of little green smushed bugs all over my wall. I’m sure the maids loved that. By then, it was 2:30 am and I was still awake.
Got on the flight from Zurich to Atlanta and there was a lady sitting by me who looked like she was 9 months pregnant. She was traveling with her husband – across the aisle – and a 4 year old and 1 year old. Families can’t often afford the cost of business class, so it’s not unusual to have to worry about a crying child. One of or the other of the two children screamed the entire 9 hour flight. And the pregnant mom was letting the 1 year old bounce around all over her stomach. I’m just thankful she didn’t go into labor. So, couldn’t sleep and had already seen all the movies. “A Beautiful Mind” is a great movie but I’ve watched it 6 times now.
Landed in Atlanta and a friend of mine with the Georgia State Patrol came to the airport and “entertained” me during my 3 hour layover. Brave soul who didn’t mind that I needed a shower and sleep.