THURSDAY, JULY 9TH – LAST DAY IN OSLO:
Lindsey called a little after 1:30 am and said she couldn’t do the video hookup because she was going to her Dad’s for dinner with the twins. I had just gone to bed but wasn’t asleep. Then my boyfriend gave me my 5:30 am wakeup call. Much rather talk to him than sleep any way. Actually, I think he believes he’ll get my voice mail and can just leave a message and get by without actually having to talk to me. 🙂 Went back to bed until 8 am, then had breakfast and packed for the bus ride back to the airport hotel (where there is air conditioning). Taking a chance that their gym is open again by now. As I was leaving the hotel and walking towards the bus terminal, someone grabbed my arm. Like most cities, the bus terminal isn’t the greatest of neighborhoods. I was startled for a second but when I turned around, it was the little concierge who had been so helpful. He was off today and just wanted to say good-bye to me. So sweet. Told him I’ll probably see him again next year.
Finding the right bus and heading towards the airport was so easy. As we drove away, I looked at downtown Oslo and felt like I had “conquered” it. My problem is, I am “spoiled” when it comes to visiting foreign countries. There is always someone picking me up the minute I land and taking care of me the entire time I’m there. Having to venture out on my own with my “lack of a sense of direction” is a challenge. I really feel like I know Oslo now and will be happy to come back again next year.
My room was ready at the airport hotel. It has rained off and on all week and was raining a lot more at the airport. The weather is much cooler here, too. Cold, in fact! I only have two pair of long pants with me and no long sleeve shirts but I do have a fleece and a couple of light jackets. If I can just survive the weather in the North for the next 3 days, I’ll be fine once I hit Switzerland again next week.
I went to the gym in the hotel which wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered. Had it not been raining and cold, I would have just jogged outside. Instead I got in a fairly good workout on my legs and then ran on the elliptical trainer for an hour. Walked over to the airport and got a salad rather than eating the terrible food in the hotel restaurant.
It’s been really hard to keep up with days of the week and even hard to remember what “date” it is. I can tell I’ve been gone a while by the number of vitamin pill packs I have left.
I am so sick of watching CNN which is the ONLY English speaking channel over here. For two days solid, they had nothing but the Michael Jackson memorial – over and over and over again. Did not even show any news although the news they do show is never accurate. From the news coverage of Michael Jackson, he obviously single-handedly united the entire world. I feel sure that the next statement is going to be that he is actually Jesus Christ who came back to earth as promised in the Bible. I finally have BBC news at this hotel but it isn’t much better.
Need to get in bed earlier tonight so I can check out and meet Mark Chesnutt’s group at the airport. They were flying from several different cities to Philadelphia and then a direct flight to Oslo. Everyone’s flight left on time except for the big group flying out of Nashville. Their flight was delayed but all but one of them was there in time to get on an earlier flight to Philadelphia – that was also delayed. Now I only have to worry about one person not making it to Oslo tomorrow.
FRIDAY, JULY 10TH – OSLO TO BREIM, NORWAY:
See what I mean about getting the days/dates mixed up. I thought yesterday was Wednesday and it was actually Thursday. J I forgot to mention the really good street performers all over Oslo. There were two guys blowing into glass bottles and making very pretty music. Their sign said, “Performing so we can raise money to buy instruments”. Pretty funny. Then there was a group of Indians and they had cds for sale. I mean like Native American Indians in full headdress, beads, loincloths, etc. Their music was good, too.
A couple of times I got nervous walking by myself late at night when I would be returning from eating dinner. The streets were pretty deserted except for lots of winos and homeless people. The mall that was connected to the hotel had a lot of teenagers every night. They were not well-behaved teenagers. Very loud and pushing each other. I almost got hit by one riding his skate board INSIDE the mall. At least it wasn’t dark, even at around 10 pm.
After a very stressful time in Nashville because of a delayed flight, Mark’s group arrived on time and all their equipment and gear made it. Was surprised to see everyone get on the plane in a great mood. Evidently the flight was not full so they all had space to sleep and the flight attendants were unusually nice. They flew U.S. Air out of Philadelphia. Said the plane was “old” but the service was great. I’ve never flown them but it sure sounds a lot different than the flight attendants I regularly get on my flights.
Got all the luggage re-checked and told them we’re flying a small prop plane to Sandane. It’s windy and raining here today, so I am NOT looking forward to that flight. They landed at 10:40 am and our flight doesn’t leave until 4:10 pm. LOOONNGGG layover after their international flight. I’m sitting in the airport working, as usual.
When the plane pulled up to the gate, my heart sank. I had forgotten how TINY it is. If the weather had been better, I would not have been so nervous. Kenny – one of Mark’s guys – was in even worse shape than I was. There are no “seat assignments”. We all tried to get on first to get good seats and I sat in the second row on the aisle. The props were right outside my window. The flight attendant seated a little boy who looked to be about 7 years old next to me. He was having a hard time with his little backpack and I kept helping him out. Don’t think he spoke a word of English though.
I was braced for severe turbulence because it was windy, very overcast, and raining off and on. Actually it was smooth as could be. I just don’t get it! It was about an hour flight. The landing was one that I had also forgotten. We banked between huge mountains and followed the water for quite a while. Then when we landed, we landed HARD. Like we had been shot down. I was never so glad to get on the ground. If we could, Kenny and I would blow off sightseeing on Sunday and drive to Bergen (4 hours away) so we could fly from there to Oslo on a large plane. J
Hotel is a big, beautiful historic house. There’s some information available on it that I need to read because I’ve forgotten all the details. I’ve been here many times but it’s always fun to see it from the guy’s eyes for the first time. Their first response is how beautiful it is and second reaction is they want to live here. Again, until they hear the cost of living.
Got everyone settled in their rooms and by then it was around 6 pm. The hotel had brought in a chef from Argentina and he was “bar-b-queing” outside. He had reindeer, sausage and salmon. It was warm enough and had cleared up enough to sit outside and eat. I had the salmon and of course, it was excellent.
Came up to my room to work and it’s after midnight now. Some of Mark’s guys may have gone over to the festival to watch tonight’s entertainers. Dawn Sears and her husband and band are here from Nashville but they perform tomorrow night as well. One of her musicians – Pete Finney – is a friend from years and years ago. I figured all of Mark’s people would just pass out after dinner. They were all sleeping on the short flight over.
Sound check tomorrow and performance tomorrow evening. They have changed Mark’s show time from 1:45 am to 12:30 pm – 90 minute show. From years past, it will just be getting dark when he goes on but the sun will be coming back up about 20 minutes later.
There’s a big group of Americans right outside my window talking and laughing really loud. I think they are going to get their instruments now and start jamming. Oh joy! Wish I had my earplugs from the plane. On wait, I think I do. This hotel also does not have an elevator. Our promoter carried my bags up for me and I was afraid he was going to have a heart attack even though it was only one flight up.
SATURDAY, JULY 11TH – BREIM, NORWAY FESTIVAL
The noise outside died down a little but I started having really strange dreams. I dreamed that my boyfriend once again called in the middle of the night and thought I was talking to him. This went on for what seemed like 20 minutes until I realized I didn’t have a phone in my hand. Then I dreamed that someone was trying to open the door to my room. I knew they were at the wrong room, but they kept trying the key and I wasn’t sure I had locked my door. I kept trying to wake myself up and just couldn’t quite get there. When I finally managed to wake up, I got the “Do Not Disturb” sign and opened my door to hang it on the door. There was a black case sitting outside my door that I don’t remember seeing there when I went to bed so maybe I didn’t dream everything. Went back to bed but a while later, I really did get that phone call in the middle of the night. Told him about my dream and he tried to convince me that he really had called and talked to me earlier and told me he would call me back later. NOT!
Finally slept for about 3 more hours and got up and went jogging. I have a “route” mapped out here from my many other visits. The first mile is straight uphill. And hills in Norway are STEEP. Then I backtrack and jog around the beautiful lake. Got in about 5 miles in all again. Had breakfast with some of my boys and saw Cor Sanne, a promoter that I have known and worked with since the early 90’s. Also saw Nils, the buyer on this event who is also the Mayor of this village.
As I said, the hotel is a fabulous older “inn”. The shower is typical Norwegian. Just a shower curtain with a drain in the floor. But water pressure was great. Of course, the floor was totally flooded by the time I got out.
The hotel told me I could wash my clothes in their machines, so I decided to give it a try instead of spending $500 to have clothes professionally laundered. They showed me how to use the machines – hopefully without shrinking all my clothes. So far, the first load has been washing for TWO hours and still isn’t finished.
I looked up the information on the airport that we flew into. Very interesting: The only airline at the airport is Widerøe who operates regional Dash 8 aircraft on public service obligation contract with the Norwegian Government. The airport has a single 800 m runway running roughly east-west, hence numbered 09/27, which straddles the peninsula. The airport is in fairly rugged terrain with mountains and water, and landing an aircraft at and is fairly demanding. Safety regulations regarding the runway length have put the airports future in doubt because the location of the airport makes extending the runway difficult. A study did show that it would be possible to bury the E39 road, which now runs west of the airport into a tunnel and expand the runway to 1000 m at a price of around 110 million NOK.
Note the bold red print….”fairly” is an understatement! 🙂
We went up for sound check at 3 pm. Mark doesn’t do sound checks so it was just me and the band/crew. The stage wasn’t set up and ready for them so we ran about 30 minutes late with sound check which made the next group late as well. I found a little booth selling children’s clothes. Got Zac a little short set with a tractor on it and the words, “Do you think my tractor’s sexy” and Zoe a little denim skirt and pink halter top that says “cowgirl”. So cute.
Came back to the hotel and my next load of clothes had finally finished washing but the ones in the dryer were still wet. Took another 2 hours just to dry them! At least now all my clothes are clean…for a few days.
Had dinner with the boys and choices were salmon or hamburgers. I had the salmon again and one again, it was excellent. Came back to the room and worked until time to go over for the concert – which was leaving the hotel at 11 pm. Of course, it was still daylight.
Great crowd at the concert and we got there in time to see Dawn Sears performance. She has such a beautiful voice. Reminds me of Connie Smith. When Mark hit the stage, the crowd probably doubled in size. Two songs into his set, some guy ran past me yelling, “I’m in love”! He really had a great show. He took the stage a few minutes late – at around 12:45 am and finished up at around 2:15 am! Still light outside. J
Nils the buyer and Gunnar the promoter were extremely happy. Gunnar said, “We don’t need Alan Jackson”, we have Mark Chesnutt. The both told him he is the best artist they have ever had perform at Breim. Love that!
It’s 4 am and I’m going to bed. We are going to the glacier at 1 pm tomorrow. If it’s raining, I may stay here and work since I’ve been before.
SUNDAY, JULY 12TH – DAY OFF IN BREIM:
Got 4 hours sleep and went down for LOTS of coffee before my morning jog. Weather is beautiful. I hate eating before I run but no choice since breakfast will be over by the time I can get back. Had another great run around the lake and up the mountain. Only problem is the lack of a running trail. There are no shoulders on the roads and the cars, vans, campers and buses use both lanes and drive really fast. Not real smart to jog on the highways here.
Got showered and met the group downstairs for our 1 pm departure to the glacier. I really didn’t need to go because I’ve been before and I needed to stay at the hotel and work. But I felt guilty sending the guys without me. The road that takes us to the glacier is narrow and winding and we’re in a big bus. Trip is about 1 ½ hours one way. Some of the guys didn’t come to the lobby so I went knocking on doors to make sure they didn’t want to come with us. Yesterday, EVERYONE said they were going but that was before they didn’t get in bed until around 5 this morning. J
I knocked on one guy’s door and woke him up. Asked him if he was going to the glacier with us and he said, “Later”. I told him we were leaving in 5 minutes and he said, “Oh. Okay. Thank you. I’ll just go next time”. J Turns out he thought I was the maid coming to clean his room.
Trip up was beautiful and when we arrived, the weather was fabulous. No rain and warm. You could either pay (a LOT) and ride up in a cart or walk up. Since I didn’t remember it being a really hard hike from my trip up with Pam Tillis 2 years ago, we opted to walk. It was about an hour and mostly uphill but the scenery was gorgeous. Only bad part was I seemed to be allergic to everything blooming. I sneezed and blew my way to the top. Several of the guys made the hike up to actually touch the glacier. Since I’d just walked on and in one in Switzerland, I passed on that last trek. When we were here 2 years ago, that area was roped off with lots of warning signs about falling ice and enter at your own risk. There were huge chucks of ice floating in the water at our feet last time too. None of that this time.
One of the other guys opted to stay down with me and just as our guys got to the glacier, we heard this sound like thunder and huge chunks of ice broke away at the top and started tumbling down the glacier. I expected our guys to run for the bottom but evidently they didn’t hear it.
I think we all slept on the ride back to the hotel. Had a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant and I think everyone was going to bed early. We have to LEAVE the hotel for the restaurant by 5:45 am tomorrow. Early morning flight on that little prop plane to Oslo. Only this time we fly for 10 minutes…make a stop!….then fly on to Oslo. Oh Joy! The guys go on to Nashville from Oslo and I go to Zurich until Friday when I meet up with Doug Stone.
MONDAY, JULY 13TH – NORWAY TO SWITZERLAND:
Well, 4 am came very quickly – especially since I didn’t get in bed until 1 am! Quick shower, quicker breakfast and we were off to the airport. Yes, I left my fan at the hotel so I’ll have it again next year. J
Yesterday when we came back from the glacier, we rounded a curve in the road there were about a dozen cows just standing in the middle of the road. I mentioned how narrow and curvy the roads are, plus there are steep drop-offs along the side. The driver braked quickly and started blowing the horn and easing towards the cows. They totally ignored him. He was actually “nudging” them with the front of the bus and they were still resisting. Didn’t see any “bulls” in that group.
When we were eating breakfast, two pilots and a flight attendant walked in. I knew since we were the first flight of the day, they had to be ours. They were and I got to quiz them about the weather. Pilot assured me that it was perfect flying weather because there was no wind. The tiny little airport didn’t open until 6 am for our 6:50 am flight. There is one little “podium” where you check in and then you put your checked bags on the same belt that you put your carry on bags on. When they go through, the person running the belt, diverts the checked bags to another section. There is also one little belt about 12 feet long where bags come in when passengers land. All of this is in one tiny room. You go through security and that’s the gate area. When the plane starts boarding, you just walk right out across the pavement and board.
The pilot was right. It was a very smooth flight. It’s still very disconcerting because it’s the little prop plane and we fly over the huge snow covered mountains. We flew for about 20 minutes and then had to make a stop in Sognedal. Went into the terminal (again one room) and waiting about 5 minutes before boarding our next flight. This flight was to Oslo and it took about an hour – again very smooth.
One of Mark’s guys had his ticket booked separately and they could not check his bags all the way through to the U.S. He had to go pick up his bags, go to the check in counter, check his bags and get his boarding pass and then go back through security to the gate. They had a 4 ½ hour layover so he had plenty of time to accomplish this. I, on the other hand, only had about 1 hour. I went to the gate to get my boarding pass for Swiss Air which is what they told me to do in Breim. The gate agent was extremely rude and said I had to go to a Service Center and “he” was SAS and they did not partner with Swiss Air. He said he didn’t know how I would be able to get one. So, I went to the SAS Service Center where they were extremely nice and helpful. The assured me that the gate agent could definitely give me a boarding pass and suggested I wait until the other jerk left the counter. I did and was issued my boarding pass by a nice lady immediately.
Flight to Zurich was about 2 hours and smooth as well. Landed and all my luggage made it. I’m staying at the new Radisson connected to the airport. It was just opened at the end of last year. So convenient. Very pretty, too. I know not to unpack until I’m sure my internet is working. This time, I could sign on to Internet Explorer but not my AOL. Called the front desk and they sent up a tech support person. Only I knew more than he did. He did call “Wayport” the server but by the time they called me, I had turned off my computer, re-booted it, and it was working! I did give myself a killer migraine in the process though. L
Answered the emails that needed immediate attention and then went to the gym. It’s a pretty good one for a hotel. One multi-purposed nautilus machine, bikes, treadmills, elliptical trainers, and free weights. Also, air conditioned and LOTS of televisions – but CNN is the only English speaking channel.
Walked over to the shopping mall connected to the train station and airport. Have lots of great shops there including a small grocery store where I can buy my water, a Starbucks, some pretty interesting restaurants and my favorite candy shop.
Probably going to take the train into Zurich tomorrow to walk around for a while since that’s the only day this week I don’t have meetings scheduled. Really no reason to go in except I need to buy a long sleeve shirt for this weekend. It’s always cold up at the top of the alp where the festival takes place.
TUESDAY, JULY 14, 2009 – ZURICH, SWITZERLAND:
Went to the gym and used the cardio machines since there is nowhere to jog outside at this airport – at least not that I’ve figured out yet. Going to ask the concierge tomorrow so maybe I can run outside on Thursday. The weather here is beautiful.
Usually breakfast is included with the price of the hotel room but not so at this hotel. It was 37 CHF which is about $37.00 U.S. There’s no way I can eat enough to justify spending $37.00 for breakfast. Of course I didn’t know the breakfast wasn’t included until after I ate. I ordered an egg white omelet with tomatoes, mushrooms, and cheese. When she made it, she used mushrooms and onions and I refused to take it. So she made another one and this time left out the cheese. I gave up!
Showered, answered some emails and then got really brave. Everyone knows that I have NOT sense of direction. So, I decided to take the train into downtown Zurich. I’ve done it before but always with someone and it’s been a couple of years. The line to purchase tickets was really long so after about 6 false starts, I was able to purchase a roundtrip ticket from a machine. At least I “think” it was the right ticket. I found the track and got on the track – praying it went to downtown Zurich. About 8 minutes later, we pulled up at the main train station. Whew! Walked around and did some shopping and then managed to get the right train back. How about that? Not one wrong train and no wrong turns. Usually, I have to get off the train and backtrack because I always get on the wrong one or I get on one going the wrong way.
Have been answering emails all evening. Have lunch tomorrow with some dear friends who live in Switzerland – Bill and Susann Loop. Met them when Bill hired the Bellamy Brothers to perform at Susann’s 50th birthday party last year. Really great people.
Bought lots of candy and will ship it home tomorrow because I don’t want to take it with me to Klewenalp, Cairo and Sweden. I’m SURE it would melt on the flight to Cairo since it’s over 100 degrees there. I stopped at a little hair salon downstairs and had my bangs trimmed. The girl who cut my hair was 20 years old and didn’t know anything about country music. I “educated” her pretty quickly.
Hoping to get in bed at a decent hour tonight. Nice to have some “time off” even if it is spent working instead of enjoying the sights.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 15TH – ANOTHER DAY OFF IN ZURICH:
So, Europe gets all the latest fashions at least a year before it hits the U.S. I remember when Capri pants came out, red shoes, leggings – European women were wearing them a year before any of them showed up in shops in the U.S. So, are you ready for the latest style? It’s “I Dream of Jeannie” pants – Harem pants. They are loose pants with elastic at the cuff and the crotch hangs down almost to the knees. I remember laughing at this lady who bought a pair when I was over here earlier this year in Sweden with the Bellamy Brothers. Not laughing any more. I bought a pair today and they are so comfortable! Of course, I can’t wear them in the U.S. yet.
Got up and went to the gym again. Can’t do much “leg” work because of the lack of machines. So, I combined the legs with butt, back and abs and got an “okay” workout. Quick shower and then I had to meet my friends Bill and Susann Loop for lunch. They called and said they were running late because there was an accident on the highway. They sat in traffic for an hour. We decided not to drive to the little village they had suggested but instead took the train into Zurich to my favorite restaurant down there Contra Punta. I had my usual – homemade pasta with white truffle cause and a caprese salad. It was delicious.
I came back to the hotel and went to work again. Have to tell you about the contraption in the lobby of the hotel. It’s called the Wine Angel Bar. It’s at least 3 stories high and is a glass cage with lights in it. There are over 2,000 bottles of wine stacked inside. At certain hours of the day, there are “wine angels” performing. They are dressed in these skin tight white “space” looking outfits. One girl sits at a computer terminal and punches in the information when someone orders a bottle of wine. The other girl is hooked up to cables and she is raised up inside the glass cage to pull the bottle of wine. She does all this “posing” as she is flying through the air. It’s pretty bizarre actually. There are always lots of little Japanese tourists standing around snapping a couple of hundred photos of the performances.
I heard thunder last night and it was raining today. By the time we got to downtown Zurich, the rain had stopped and it was another beautiful day.
Only one meeting tomorrow and that’s my last day “off” on this tour. Meet Doug Stone on Friday and then it’s work, work, work.