SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23RD – PERFORMANCE IN GERMANY:
Three hours sleep with the thought that I would sleep most of the drive to Germany. Had breakfast and Bill and the bus arrived right on time. We departed the hotel at 9 am and arrived at the hotel in Untermeitingen at 12:30 pm – 3 ½ hours. We were expecting a 5 hour drive. And, that was with going through the “tunnel” which seemed about 50 miles long and taking the new “super highway” once we were a few miles from the hotel. It started snowing right outside Zurich and we had a “winter wonderland” the entire trip. Lots of snow at the hotel, too.
My friend Sonya who used to work at the hotel was there to greet us and had all our rooms ready for us. Had a few minutes before we needed to go to sound check so I got my computer hooked up and walked over to “Aldo” the bulk grocery store for water and coffee. Bill and Marianne took care of feeding the guys lunch at the club. As I’ve said hundreds of times, the food there rivals anywhere in the world. Sound check was relatively painless and we walked back to the hotel. Dinner is at 5:30 pm because the doors open at 6:30 pm. Feels like we just ate, too!
Got a few emails opened and realized it’s freezing in my room! When it was time to walk back over to the club for dinner, I told the lady at the front desk that my radiator isn’t heating. She called the maintenance man who does not work on weekends. He told her there is air in the line and only he can fix it….on Monday. We leave tomorrow. She wanted to move me to another room but I am already unpacked and not interested. They did find me a little space heater which is helping.
One of the guys tried the Currywurst and one tried the weiner schnitzel at dinner. Both loved their meals. We have a couple of hours now until show time.
The club was totally sold out and the audience was ready to party. No problem for LoCash Cowboys. They had them dancing on the tables. I was concerned about that but Bill said they have to be “inspected” several times a year and each table must hold the weight of 10 men weighing 80 Kilos! Standing on tables in bars in Germany is a way of life. LOL.
Show was awesome and the perfect “finale” for this little run. Sold cds and signed autographs for everyone after the show. I left the guys at the club and got back to my room at 1 am. I think they are going to stay up all night because we leave the hotel at 6:15 am. I will try to sleep 2 hours because I have a very busy day tomorrow in Marseille. Will explain that visit tomorrow night.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24TH – FLYING TO MARSEILLE, FRANCE
Ummmm….2 hours sleep is not enough to survive! At least there was coffee and breakfast for the guys before we left. It snowed a LOT during those 2 hours I slept. We are going to the airport in a van with a trailer, so was a little worried.
Got a late start because one of the guys overslept. Not really his fault though. He found out his wife was going into labor 2 months early. His internet wouldn’t work in his room, so he sat in the lobby trying to reach her but kept getting kicked off there, too. This is their third child. Last he heard from her, she was on the way to the hospital.
We arrived a little late but once we found the proper “level” for United, the guys checked in quickly. I had to go to another place to check in for Lufthansa. They depart at 9:20 am and I don’t leave until 11:10 am, so I am sitting in the lounge waiting for my flight now.
Today I am visiting Gilbert Rouit and his 80+ year old Father – Gerard. I have known Gilbert for decades because he books entertainment for Disney Paris. His Dad has built a little “museum” honoring the World War II Vets. He only allows American men to visit the museum. But several years ago, I started bringing him military items from my tours for the troops. He has changed his rules to allow one female – me – to visit the museum. I’ve been promising him that I would come to Marseille and meet him and felt it was time to “make good” on my promise. Gilbert has also arranged a meeting with the consulate and a military organization while I am there. I fly back home on Tuesday.
My flight to Marseille was on time but we sat on the runway for an hour waiting our turn to be “de-iced”….never something I like to hear. The plane was small but not as small as I anticipated. It was a short flight – 1 ½ hours — but the landing was breath-taking. Winds were blowing at 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. It was a white knuckle landing for me.
Gilbert and his brother were waiting for me. They took me to my hotel next to the airport and then we drove into Marseille to see their Dad and his “museum”. Marseille was not as I expected. It has been selected as the “cultural capital” of France this year and there is a lot of renovation taking place.
I can’t begin to explain Gerard’s “museum”. He has the coolest stuff – all original – mostly from WWII but also from other conflicts. Every square inch of space is covered with memorabilia. Gerard served in the Navy for 20 years and he is 83 years old now. I know I spent a couple of hours looking through his things. It usually does not get cold in Marseille — except when I visit. The high winds made it very, very cold and the museum wasn’t heated. We were pretty frozen when we left there. I was amazed to see a couple of items from friends of mine who Gerard also knows!
We had a little “driving” tour of Marseille and went down to the port area. Gerard is a walking history book and told me so many interesting facts about the WWII here. We went up to the very top of a mountain overlooking the harbor and inside a beautiful old church.
We ended the day with a fabulous meal …some of the best pizza and pasta I’ve ever had. I love the hotel where I am staying. Airport hotels are just the best – free wireless that works in your room, iron and ironing board, coffee maker, gym, English speaking tv channels and on and on. Very happy I picked this one.
Will be going to some meetings with Gilbert, his brother and dad tomorrow. Flying home on Tuesday.
Monday, February 25th – Marseille, France:
Let me start by correcting last night’s report. Remember, everyone here speaks French and I speak “Southern” so there is sometimes a bit of a communication breakdown. J
Marseille is the Cultural Capitol of the WORLD…not of France. Big difference. Also Gerard joined the Navy when he was 18 years old and served for 35 years (not 20 years as I said last report).
Okay, now for today. Got 6 hours of sleep and feel rejuvenated! Also got in a great workout at the hotel gym and an egg white omelet for breakfast. Then came shower time. I could not get the water to shift from the tub to the shower head. It seemed to be very simple…just push or pull out one little button. I tried both options numerous times and nothing happened. I finally had to call the front desk to come up and see if it was broken. They guy who came up, said, “It’s very simple. You just pull out this button” (exactly what I had been trying to do). Then he pulled…nothing happened…and pulled and pulled. Nothing. He was dressed in a suit and the shower is one that is in the bathtub but there is a glass partition that covers half the tub. That partition doesn’t move, so he was having to lean over into the tub to reach the button. He finally pulled hard enough so that the water shifted to the shower head…and soaked his suit sleeve. LOL
Gilbert and Gerard picked me up at 11:30 am and we drove downtown to see the new “Expo”. It is really just getting started and most of the exhibits aren’t ready yet. But when it is finished, it’s going to be wonderful. We had lunch there and didn’t expect it to be very good because it usually isn’t at a “tourist” attraction. But, surprisingly, it was great. I had a Caesar salad. Gerard had a soup that even he and Gilbert did not recognize the name of. It was definitely the “winner” of all the food we had. It was very, very thick and white. Still don’t know what it was but I tasted it and loved it.
From there Gilbert and I walked around the “docks” for a while and the downtown area. It is still very cold but that horrible wind isn’t blowing. We went into another exhibition and there was a short film that showed Marseille in the very early days and what it will look like in 2020. There is a lot of money being spent to “renovate” the harbor area. In the next 10 years, all the major cruise lines will make this a regular stop. And there will be casinos lining the streets in front of the harbor. Will be a great boost for Marseille.
We had a meeting with the Operations Representative of NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) for the American Consulate General and drank some of the best hot chocolate ever. On the walk there, we saw a very strange and sad site. A seagull attacked a pigeon and forced it right in front of the wheels of a car. The car hit it and the pigeon was crying out from pain. Then the seagull swooped down and started eating it while it was still alive. If I had a car, I would have chased the seagull down and killed it. It was a horrible sight to watch. I know….that’s life but it really made me sad.
I was telling Gilbert about the “spirits” I have in my house and turned on my Ghost Radar when we visited the oldest house in Marseille today. I also put the “Ghost Radar” app on Gilbert’s phone for him. But, he lives alone out in the country and says he won’t try it out there. I don’t blame him. I never turn mine on when I’m home alone either. Good to know I’m not the only one spooked by it. LOL
We picked up Regis (Gilbert’s brother) and they drove me down the coast. Now that’s the really beautiful part of Marseille! On the drive back, we stopped at a wonderful restaurant that overlooked the water and there was a full moon shining in the window. Now you tell me….what could be more romantic than having dinner on the coast of Marseille with three handsome French men? Am I lucky or what? My three men ate something very strange as an appetizer. I’ll put a photo of it on Facebook. It came in these “spiky” shell like things and looked like worms. I did not even try it even though they said it was delicious.
The best part of the day was listening to Gerard talk about the “old Marseille”. He still sees everything as it was during World War II and immediately afterwards. He pointed out all the different places where American and German troops were based. Seeing it through his eyes was fascinating. His “dream” now is to go to Pearl Harbor (via San Diego). I really hope he will do this because it means so much to him. Of course now, after I told him about General Franks’ museum in Oklahoma and my dear friends John and Jan Vigiano in New York (who lost both their sons in the Twin Towers), he has decided he needs to stop in Oklahoma and New York and – of course – Nashville. I told him to do it all. At 83, he needs to fulfill his dreams!
I am so glad I took the time to stop by here and meet him. I’ve been postponing it for years because I never had the time. Even now, I didn’t have the time but it was important to me. They kept apologizing about the cold weather but I was not here to enjoy Marseille. I came to see my dear friend Gilbert and meet his wonderful Dad.
I have to get up at 4 am to be at the airport at 5 am. Flying Delta to Paris then Atlanta and then Nashville. Heard there is “wind” in Atlanta….doesn’t surprise me.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26TH – LEAVING MARSEILLE:
Back on schedule with my 3 hours of sleep. Got up at 4 am, showered and headed to the airport. Hotel was great. Shuttle was ready to take me on the 2 minute drive to the departure hall. Check in was painless and now I have an hour to kill before flight time. Catching up on some emails I was just too tired to answer last night!
It was a full plane from Marseille to Paris and only economy class. But it was a short flight with no turbulence. I had a few minutes at the Paris Airport to buy some last minute gifts and go in the Lounge for a coffee. The flight from Paris to Atlanta is an Air France aircraft and much nicer than what we fly with American aircraft. Again the flight was full. I always take an aisle seat in the middle “column” of seats. And it seems every flight, I get someone directly across from me in the aisle/window seats who will not lower their shade. When it’s night, it’s not so bad. But we had daylight the entire trip. You’d think they would have more consideration for other passengers, all of whom were trying to sleep. This couple was also sleeping, but with the light shining in on them. Happened on the flight over as well. Thank goodness for sleep masks because I was exhausted. I ate a little of the meal because they were supposedly “out” of what I wanted. I am in the 3rd row and asked for the pasta but was told they were already out. Then I watched her serve a French couple both the pasta. I had some type of grilled shrimp that was not good. It really pays off to be Diamond Medallion on Delta, huh? Watched about half the movie “Lincoln”. I had heard it was very “slow” and boy was that the truth. After sleeping for about 4 hours, I watched the rest of it. While the acting was stellar, the story was extremely boring.
We landed Atlanta on time and I breezed through the Global Access Priority Lane. Then I was the LAST person to get my bags from Delta. The agent in France did not tag them “Priority” like she should have. See what I mean – great to be Diamond Medallion! L Made it to the gate just I time to board the flight to Nashville. Home and snuggling with my grandbabies tonight. It was such a wonderful trip!