WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY, JUNE 24 AND 25 – NASHVILLE TO DETROIT TO AMSTERDAM TO ZURICH TO INTERLAKEN, SWITZERLAND:
Interesting start to my “summer in Europe”. Flying to Zurich today via Detroit and Amsterdam on NW/Delta/KLM (whatever it is). Up at 5 am so I could answer email before taking my “personal” taxi to the airport where my personal “sky cap” met me curbside. LOL. When you fly every month, you get to be real friendly with some really nice folks.
No line at the check-in counter but they weren’t able to change my window seat to an aisle seat on the Amsterdam/Zurich flight because it is KLM. Evidently, there are a lot of problems with the Delta/NW merger and KLM will no longer be one of the “air partners”. I keep getting emails from NW and Delta saying it’s a “done deal” but lots of things are not “done” yet.
Went to the Crown Room where another friend works and got on the internet. First email was from NW saying the flight was delayed out of Nashville to Detroit by an hour. Years of international travel taught me to book long connections, so no worries. Answered email and chatted with my friend. Then I found out the flight was delayed by 2 hours – noon departure instead of 10 am! Of course, my friend in the Crown Room couldn’t access any of the information because he still has Delta flight info and no NW info – although they are merged, right? Called my travel agent who found out the delay was “mechanical”. That’s good news because NW/Delta has to “protect” me and put me on another flight. If the delay were weather-related, it’s just too bad for the passengers. However, the flight would have to be delayed until 1 pm before they would route me to Atlanta where Delta has a nonstop to Zurich!
I kept working and waiting and pacing out of the Crown Room to the departure gate because as I said, the Crown Room can’t tell us anything because of their system. Very frustrating. Finally, at 11 am, I noticed a plane at the gate and asked if it was ours. Gate agent confirmed that it was. Shut down my computer and headed to gate area only to notice that now another flight has been posted below ours – one to Minneapolis at 11:25 am with ours still showing 12 noon. Since it departs before ours, I asked a lady in line which flight was boarding and she confirmed it was the Minneapolis flight. Back in the Crown room to fire up the computer then walked back out to the gate are to make SURE it wasn’t Detroit but before I could ask, the gate agent made an announcement that he was boarding the DETROIT flight at that gate at that time. Back into the Crown room to shut down computer and get into line. Only I went to the desk again just to make SURE and another gate agent said they were boarding Minneapolis. I told him his co-worker had announced Detroit and he said, “Yeah, he was wrong!”.
Back into the Crown Room and you guessed it, fired up the computer again. Had to keep walking out to check the gate to see if a plane had come in for us. As I was standing there, the plane taxied away from the gate and the Crown Room had told me that their computer was showing our flight as “landed”. About 5 minutes later, an announcement was made that the Minneapolis flight was taxing BACK to the gate to let a passenger off who was on the wrong flight. Gee….I wonder how THAT could have happened.
Finally the gate agent said he was going to board our flight and there was a plane sitting at the gate. However, it was impossible to tell if it was the plane for Minneapolis that had returned to the gate or our plane. I gave up and shut down my computer AGAIN and got in line. I asked about 4 people in line where they were going and everyone confirmed Detroit. When the gate agent took my boarding pass, he confirmed Detroit and he remembered me from my frequent travels.
Got on the flight with a lot of disgruntled passengers who were sure they were missing their connections in Detroit. I was still “fine” with my connection at that point. The gate attendant got on our plane and I thought I heard him say my name to the flight attendant. Yep. A few minutes later he got on the intercom and called some lady’s name asking if she was on board. She was. Then he called my name and asked if I was on board. This is the same guy who “remembered” me 5 minutes ago! Announcement was made to turn off our electronic devices and we were departing. Then announcement was made that “maybe we’d like to take our bags with us and those had not been loaded, so we needed to wait for the bags to be loaded onto the aircraft”. Let’s see….the bags have been sitting on the ground for about 3 hours waiting for the airplane but they were never loaded onto the airplane??? Hmmmm…Talk about unhappy passengers!
Flight was shorter (but no turbulence!) than I thought and we landed about 20 minutes before we had to board the plane for the flight to Amsterdam. I tried to change my Amsterdam/Zurich seat again, but still no luck. Will have to take my chances when we land in Amsterdam. At least it’s a short flight if I do get stuck in a window seat.
Maybe my luck is changing. No one sitting next to me on a very full flight. Love that.
So, Craig, remember the above when you start “puling” about your commercial air travel in the future. 🙂 It seems to be the “norm” with me rather than the exception unfortunately.
Tex Mex Experience is flying from Texas to Zurich today and so far their flights are on time. Lonestar departs Nashville tomorrow and arrives Zurich on Friday and Danni Leigh travels from Spain to Interlaken. Tex Mex performs on Friday night and Danni and Lonestar perform on Saturday Night at my Country and Trucker Festival in Interlaken, Switzerland.
Okay, not fun. An hour into the flight and we are in severe turbulence. Have I mentioned I hate flying? Fortunately, the turbulence didn’t last long and we didn’t have any the rest of the flight. We landed a little early but I still had to rush so I could get my seat changed. I stopped at the transfer desk and they said I “had” to use the kiosk. So, I did, and changed my seat easily only it printed out a boarding pass for someone named Jeffrey Carr! When I showed it to the KLM representative, she wanted to argue with me that it was the correct one. Finally got that sorted out and headed for passport control and security and ultimately the gate.
I was in the second row and a man was seated next to me. The flight attendant told us that Row 1 was empty and one of us could move up if we liked. I told him to go ahead because I hate bulkhead. He was happy to get it but about 5 minutes after he moved, he came BACK and sat beside me. Said there was no legroom in bulkhead and the arm rest couldn’t be moved. Hello. He can’t move the armrest between our seats either…not and keep both his arms intact any way! 🙂
Landed in Zurich early and Tex Mex was coming in over an hour late. All my luggage made it and as I was exiting Customs, I got pulled over by the agent. He started asking me questions and I told him why I was here. He knew about all the country music festivals I produce here so he was friendly. He wanted to know what was in my two bags and I told him it was all clothes because I’m over here for over a month. That he finally related too.
Got a cup of coffee and read my book while waiting. Then I left the empty coffee cup and the book on the table when the guys arrived. They got all their luggage and gear as well and we departed the airport in our Big Yellow Bus for the 2 hour drive to Interlaken. Jrene was waiting for us at the hotel and had our room keys ready. I have learned to never unpack anything until I am sure the internet works in my room. Success! Internet works but the phone didn’t. Had to get the front desk to come up and fix it.
I have this great little Canon I90 Travel printer that I’ve had for years. It started giving me trouble in May on the Bellamys tour and I should have replaced it then. But, I didn’t and it crashed today. Went to two computer stores here but they had never heard of it. Ended up calling Best Buy in the U.S. and having my daughter go pick up one. One of Chely Wright’s musicians will bring to me next week. If I had known just a little earlier, she could have sent it today with Lonestar!
I walked across the street and got a slice of pizza for lunch and found a bookstore with English books. Also got lots of bottle water from the Kiosk across the street. I spend so much time in Interlaken, it’s like a second home to me and I love it here.
Tonight was the “sponsor” party and I got to reunite with my extended family here. Some of my buyers from other events also attended. It was held in a building decorated like a saloon on the festival grounds. As I was getting dressed, I realized I left the one pair of shoes I had planned to wear all month. Had to call my daughter and have her put them in the bag with the printer to send to me next week.
Food at the sponsor party included meat fondue that you had to cook at your table. You should have seen Tex Mex Experience trying to master that craft. Either the meat was still raw when they took it out or it fell off their fork and they lost it in the boiling water. The Country Sisters (from Prague) sang a couple of songs and Tex Mex sang a couple of songs. Had a nice time just chatting with everyone. I decided to leave at around midnight and the boys left with me. I think they are all scared to death of me and that’s good. Will keep them in line.
It’s after 1 am now and I’m going to bed. Going jogging tomorrow morning and will try to get caught up on my emails. Just too tired to do it tonight. Just heard the news that Michael Jackson passed away today.
FRIDAY, JUNE 26TH – INTERLAKEN, SWITZERLAND:
Only been here one day and already I’ve forgotten what day of the week it is. Got a great 5 hours of sleep last night and went for a jog this morning. I have a route mapped out along the river that is so beautiful. And talk about perfect weather. It was SOOOOO much cooler and less humid than Nashville. Passed an older gentleman going in the opposite direction and he started talking to me in Swiss German and making hand gestures. Not sure what he was saying and he didn’t seem to care that I was only speaking English. Finally I just said “Super” which means great in his language and jogged on. Showered and went down to meet Lonestar who had landed early at the Zurich airport. It had rained while I was showering and was much cooler outside. Can’t remember it ever being this cool here in June. I’m sure it won’t last.
Lonestar boys had a great trip with no delays but were “toast” when they arrived. They went straight to bed. I got Tex Mex over to the venue for their sound check. Spitz is our driver again this year and even though he doesn’t speak much English, he and I “bond”. 🙂 They gave him a vehicle to transport the groups in this year that is much too small. It will only carry 7 people and NO equipment. He would have to make several trips with each group. I let the promoter know and she’s got a different vehicle for him tomorrow. This is a first class event and I expected nothing less. They are good about fixing problems.
Tex Mex finished sound check in about 20 minutes once the sound company got them mic-ed and set up. Wish all the groups were that quick.
A little after 5 pm, I was answering email when a band started playing right outside the hotel. Very loud and music unlike anything I’d ever heard before. They played for about 45 minutes. I’m sure all my guys who were trying to sleep enjoyed that.
So, I think we have the line of the tour and unfortunately, it was one of mine. I was going room to room making sure Tex Mex was ready to go to the Sponsor Party last night. I knocked on one door and one of the guys (no names here) opened the door, half asleep in his “shorts”. I said, “Get your britches on, boy. It’s time to go!” in a teasing voice. Scared him to death. Said it sounded like his Mom and he hadn’t heard the word britches in years. Told him he needs to spend some time in the South. Britches is a part of our daily vocabulary. 🙂
Everyone made it to dinner tonight because of the band playing a wake-up call. Except one person in Lonestar. I called his room at 7:30 pm to make sure he was awake and would be ready to go to the radio station at 8:15 pm. He thought Switzerland was 5 hours ahead of Nashville time and that it was 5:30 pm. Didn’t realize he was supposed to have eaten dinner at 6:30 pm. Told him to come on down and we’d get him fed!
Went to the radio interview with Lonestar and then Tex Mex did theirs. Great interviews because Mike at the station does his homework. Lonestar went back to the hotel and Tex Mex and I went to the venue. The tent was packed because it was still raining outside….which is good for our shows. The German band “Truck Stop” was performing and the audience loves them.
Tex Mex Experience went on right on time and blew everyone away. They have such a great show. They perform original songs but mix in Doug Sahm, Freddy Fender and Texas Tornados tunes as well. It’s a “dancing, party, kind of music”. I saw lots more of my friends from Switzerland tonight. Got out of there at about 1 am and am hoping to go to bed soon.
SATURDAY, JUNE 27TH – INTERLAKEN, SWITZERLAND:
Late to bed…well actually I suppose 3 am is early. Got up at 8 for another fantastic jog. Needed it because I did not sleep well. Too much on my mind to “shut down”. Had breakfast with a photographer friend of mine who lives in Switzerland. He covers most of my events so I have known him for years but that is the first time I have had “free” time just to enjoy a chat. Got half of Lonestar off to the venue early and I think some of Tex Mex went up to Jungfrau (the top of Europe) today. Some of them didn’t make it in until 4 am this morning so I’m not sure anyone made it. Quick shower and the work day began. Got the rest of Lonestar out to the venue by 1 pm for sound check. Like all the groups who visit for the first time, they are amazed by the spectacular beauty of Switzerland. My goal is to move here and just be a waitress. No stress. Just wake up each morning with the lake at my feet and the Alps towering above me. Everything was running smooth until Wanda Jackson and her band from Switzerland came in and thought they were supposed to be sound checking. Actually they couldn’t find their passes and couldn’t get in the venue so they missed their sound check time. Lonestar was going to try and cut theirs short and I asked Danni to do the same hoping she will then have time to sound check before the press conference at 5 pm. I left to pick up Danni at the hotel and to ask her if she could cut her sound check short. She said she could but when we got back to the venue, Wanda was leaving. I found out that her Swiss musicians got there at around 12:30 pm but would not set up and sound check without her. She did not get there until 1:45 pm and was supposed to finish by 2. Definitely not our fault that her band would not go on. We did a press conference with Tex Mex, Danni and Lonestar but Wanda didn’t make it. Then Shawn did an interview with a radio station. There was a small stage set up outside the VIP room and a man with long hair and dressed in black leather was talking. Found out he is a priest and was having services. Danni took the stage right on time and had a huge crowd and a great show. I had to get Shawn back to the hotel and pick up Lonestar for their show so I missed some of her performance. But the crowd loved her.
Lonestar took the stage exactly on time and the crowd was in frenzy. It was great to see that they have so many fans over here because that means return visits. They did encore after encore after encore. The promoter was standing on stage at the end of the show and it was good for him to see how well-received they were.
Got out of there at around midnight. Have to get up at 4:30 to get Tex Mex off to the airport. Then back up at 7 am to be ready to go sightseeing with Lonestar.
It’s been another great visit to Interlaken!
SUNDAY, JUNE 28TH – LAST DAY IN INTERLAKEN:
I got up at 4:30 am and gave all of Tex Mex wake-up calls for a 5 am departure. I think all but one of them was sound asleep. Went down to the deserted lobby to wait for everyone and one of the guys showed up to sit with me. I had to call the desk clerk and have him bring the “Breakfast Boxes” that we had ordered to us. The van and trailer showed up at about 10 minutes until 5 am.
As I was sitting in the deserted lobby and I heard a loud commotion outside. I was praying it wasn’t some of my guys. 🙂 Some of the Lonestar guys walked in and I don’t know who was more surprised – me or them. They were with some of the other artists that had performed at the festival and had been out a little club jamming. Now, they were looking for food and NOTHING was open. They were eyeing the breakfast boxes, so I took those to the van as quick as I could.
Got Tex Mex off to the airport and since I didn’t get a phone call, I’m assuming their flight was on time then I went back to bed for an hour. I was really disappointed that some of Lonestar had stayed up all night because I knew they wouldn’t get up for the 10 am departure to Jungfrau – the highest point accessible in all of Europe. It ended up being me and 6 of the guys. I’ve been up dozens of times but the beauty never fails to take my breath away. Plus, I get a kick out of watching the groups see it for the first time. The weather was absolutely perfect and we walked to the “West” train station that was about 20 minutes away. Love riding the trains in Switzerland — so clean and always on time. I took them up the Grindelwald side and back down the Lauterbrunnen side. At the top, we first had lunch in the cafeteria and then went out on the “Plateau”. It is a snow covered glacier and you have to hold on to ropes to keep from slipping. Because the weather was so clear, you could see “forever”. From the Plateau, we went to the “ice caves” which is basically a hole hollowed inside the glacier with the wall, ceiling and floor made of ice. Again, you have to tread carefully to keep from busting! Last stop on the “tour” was the observation tower which is at the very top of the Eiger. Again, view was spectacular.
The train ride takes 2 hours up and 2 hours down and the scenery is beautiful. I’ll have dozens of photos of the same thing I took on every other tour. I was back in Interlaken by 6 pm and went out in search of some delicious chocolate candy that is only made in Interlaken. Found some of the Lonestar boys who didn’t make the trip sitting at McDonalds. After busting them for coming to Switzerland and eating at McDonalds, I proceeded to tell them what a great trip they missed today. I’m sure I made points with them. 🙂
Had dinner at the hotel although I wanted to go next door to the Indian restaurant. Back in my room, catching up on work and packing for the 6 hour bus ride to Germany tomorrow. Yes, I made SURE it’s not the bus driver that we had with the Bellamys who tried to drive us on an Alp!
The festival this year was absolutely awesome. Artists are happy. Promoter is happy. And, best of all, I am happy!