Thursday, July 12th, 2007:
On my way BACK to Europe. This tour will take me to Norway, Germany, Switzerland, back to Norway, Sweden and finally end in Denmark on August 11th. It is really hard to pack for 31 days!!!
Trip begins with Pam Tillis who is an absolute sweetheart. Her boyfriend/manager and I have been friends for many years since we were in Bosnia together on a military tour. One of her musicians went to Italy with me last year with Lee Ann Womack on a military tour as well.
Flight from Nashville to Detroit was uneventful except for the fact that it was on a tiny NW jet and we were only allowed one carry-on. Not a carry-on and a purse, just one carry on. I “consolidated” until I got on the aircraft which seems so silly….stuff everything into one bag until you pass the gate agent then turn it back into two bags one you’re on board. Some of the musicians were carrying on very expensive instruments. Would have been nice if NWA had advised of this policy before our trip.
Plane from Amsterdam to Detroit is one of the smallest planes I’ve ever flown. I wonder why the planes are getting smaller and smaller when every flight seems to be oversold? Our first show is in Breim, Norway. Been several years since I was there. We fly on a tiny little Wideroe jet into Sandane – way up North. It is incredibly beautiful that far north in Norway. We will only have about 30 minutes of “darkness” each night.
I have never been on such an OLD NW airplane on an international flight. It’s small and definitely not “business class” service. The menu allows you to select a cold plate or a turkey sandwich for dinner. Usually, there are 5 “courses” to a business class meal. The individual video monitors are actually brought around by the flight attendant who pops your little stand out and places it on it. Even the flight attendant says it’s incredibly stupid to have to do that. Oh well, it’s only a 9 hour flight. Hopefully the seat will recline and I’ll sleep!
FAMOUS LAST WORDS….I got all situated to go to sleep, and started looking for the controls to recline. It was the really “old” kind that has push buttons on the arm rest. I pushed and pushed and NOTHING happened. I called the flight attendant who tried and also called in a male flight attendant. NOTHING. So my seat and the guy sitting next to me were broken. I had to sit upright the entire flight. The plane was full, so moving wasn’t an option. I’m thinking….okay, I paid over $6,000 and used 280,000 miles to fly business class. Do you think I’ll be contacting NWA for a refund?
We landed in Amsterdam and had to hurry to our connecting flight because we had to clear immigration and security once again. This is a very small KLM “city hopper” plane. It is a jet, not a propeller. We had about 1 ½ hours total to make the connection so I figured our luggage/gear had a good chance of making it.
Landed in Oslo and were told we had to pick up our baggage and clear customs, re-check it, and go get boarding passes! All that with only a little over an hour connection. But, not to worry, NWA/KLM lost ALL except two pieces of our equipment and ALL of our luggage. Sound familiar? The only items that made it were the banjo and acoustic guitar. A bad joke come to life (i.e. banjo players). We had to fill out paperwork and file a claim and as with our lost items last week with the Bellamys, the airlines couldn’t tell us anything. There is “nothing in the system”. We had to rush to get boarding passes issued, re-check the two pieces that came in and catch our next flight. This is the Wideroe Airlines flight and it is a tiny, tiny propeller flight.
Everyone was amazed by how beautiful Norway is. Take the “greenest green, the most spectacular mountains, rivers, and streams” you’ve ever seen and multiply it times ten. You might come close to describing the beauty of Norway.
The promoter and buyer met us at the tiny airport. There are no “gates” and the terminal is just one room. The “baggage claim” area is a chute where they shove the bags through onto a belt that is about 5 feet long that drops them into the room. Of course, our two pieces that we checked in Oslo didn’t make the flight. Can you believe it?
We are staying at a beautiful old hotel where I have stayed many times. Moot Davis and Pete Anderson are here as well as Billy Yates. All perform on the festival tomorrow. Got everyone checked in and we had a wonderful dinner – only food we have had other than airplane food for the past 24 hours. I walked down to an ATM to get some Norwegian Kroner because I didn’t have time at any of the airports and the hotel won’t change money. At least the hotel has wireless internet!!!
I spent all evening on the phone and email with my office trying to locate our equipment. The last word we had is that it is in Amsterdam and will be flown to Oslo at 8:30 pm tonight, arriving Oslo at 10:30 pm. But, there are no more flights from Oslo to Sandane tonight and NO direct flights from Oslo to Sandane tomorrow. (Flights rarely come to Sandane over the weekend and when they do, there are usually multiple connections!). So, here we are with no clothes and no equipment – once again. Just a different artist this time. Now I think it is “me” that is jinxed instead of the Bellamys.
It is almost 12:30 AM and the sun finally went down at about 12:15 am but is already coming back up….so maybe 15 minutes of “dusk”. I was looking forward to getting up and jogging with some of Pam’s group tomorrow….but clothes to jog in. Sure hoping for some good news tomorrow morning.
SATURDAY, JULY 14TH:
So, I just realized that yesterday was Friday, the 13th. J
Went down and had breakfast with lots of our group and the other entertainers who are here. Ran into a guy from Nashville who is a friend and who traveled to Europe with us several years ago to film the Bellamy’s 25th Anniversary DVD. Since I don’t have any “clothes”, I can’t exercise. Email is “slow” because it’s a weekend. So, I sat and talked with people for hours at breakfast. Something I never have the luxury of doing. Maybe losing my luggage is God’s way of telling me to “slow down a little” and enjoy myself. But, he needs to know I’d enjoy myself more in clean clothes. J
Hopefully everything will come in at noon today. We have a 2 pm sound check.
Everything but one piece came in and that was the merchandise bag. Since they have other merch with them, that was the best one to still be lost. I have a feeling it is being held in Customs at the Oslo Airport.
Had a weird phone call on my cell phone. It came in as “unknown number” which is common when I’m overseas. I answered and some male voice said “Hello Jude”. I said hi back and asked who it was. He said his name was “Jason” and I asked, “Jason who?”. Instead of telling me, he asked what I was doing. I said I was in Norway and he seemed surprised by that information. But, he still refused to tell me his last name. I wasn’t real happy about a “crank call” that was costing me $2.00 per minute so I warned him that I was going to hang up if he didn’t tell me his last name. He didn’t. I hung up. He didn’t call back. So, “Jason” if you are on my Road Report List, identify yourself. Had to be someone who knew me because they called me “Jude”.
We drove to sound check and the driver took us via a beautiful waterfall. Again, think Niagara Falls in majesty. I remember seeing it years ago but had forgotten how beautiful it is. Sound check went smoothly except for the fact that the stage was not set up and ready for us when we arrived. There had been linedancers on there and it had to be completely re-set. We ran over by a half-hour but then we started a half hour late. It has started raining during sound check and I’m hoping it clears up before show time.
Came back to the hotel and had another great meal. Lots of salmon – cooked and smoked – and it doesn’t have the slightest “fishy” taste at all. They have these incredible raspberries – huge raspberries – that they serve with “cream” every night. A really healthy dessert.
We go back over to the show at 11:00 for a 12:30 am performance. Probably won’t get back to the hotel until around 3 am Sunday morning. Typical night in Norway.
It was still raining when we left to go back over. There had been a bad accident on the road that takes us to the venue. Roads are very, very narrow and everyone drives extremely fast. Not surprised that there was an accident.
We arrived as Billy Yates was finishing his performance. Moot Davis had performed before him and I would have loved to have seen his show, too. I had him in Japan last year and he’s great. I was surprised that the audience didn’t seem to be as drunk as they usually are. I normally will not go out into the crowd because there are always men grabbing me or some chick walking around with one ski on. But, I decided to risk watching the show from the front of house. Made it all the way to the sound board without an encounter except for one drunk guy trying to dance with me. Pam’s show was amazing. If you have not seen Pam Tillis in concert, make it a point to do so. Not only does she have a superb group of musicians and amazing vocals, but she is a true entertainer. The promoter and people in the audience just kept talking about her show. The festival grounds were full – probably 6,000 people and they brought her back for two encores.
I was really impressed with the fact that the audience didn’t seem to be as drunk in years past but got brought back to reality on my trip from the sound board back to the backstage area. Some tall guy in a cowboy hat walked by and ran his hand across the entire front of my chest. It all happened so fast, my only reaction was for my mouth drop open! It was a “drive-by groping” in Norway. J
Pam signed autographs and we got back to the hotel at around 3:30 am – still daylight. I got in bed by 4 am but learned at breakfast this morning that she stayed up and jammed with some of the other musicians until 4:30 am.
SUNDAY, JULY 15TH:
Sort of “turned around” all day today because of not getting into bed until 4 am. I slept until 9 am and went down for breakfast. Pam was already up and eating but she went back to bed. I went to “work” on the computer. Decided to see if the rain had stopped long enough for me to get in a run. It had and I did – up a mountain. Hard, hard run because I hate hills. Also, we are at a much higher elevation here. But, the “view” from the top was spectacular. Spent the rest of the day working. I thought the others were going fishing and I was not interested in that. But, at the last minute they changed their minds and went for a hike only they forgot to tell me. So, I missed out on that adventure but they had a great time. We all had dinner together (yes, I had salmon again!) and now I’m back at work on the computer. Going to bed soon as we have a full day tomorrow. Going to see the glacier (which I saw several years ago with Paul Overstreet) and the fjords. Then I have to leave them on Tuesday to fly to Germany and Switzerland for events with Chely Wright.
Even with all the frustration of lost luggage/equipment and the long hours of hard work, I wouldn’t change places with anyone. I love my job. The only thing I enjoy more than these festivals is taking the entertainment to the troops overseas. Have several big tours coming up for them in October, November, December and January when the “festival” touring slows down.
MONDAY, JULY 16TH:
Did my “room” exercises this morning (rubber bands!) and then headed down for breakfast with the group. I never eat breakfast at home but we usually skip lunch over here, so it evens out.
Today we are going to one of the many glaciers in the area via the fjords. The drive was breath-taking. Pam says she feels guilty because this seems like a “vacation” instead of “work”. The buyer has been so good to us. He provided the bus and tour guide today to take us sightseeing. We stopped several times on the way up to take photos. The roads are very narrow and if you meet another bus, someone has to back up, sometimes for a very long ways, to let the other pass. We had to do this several times today. It took us a couple of hours to drive to the glacier because we stopped so many times.
Once there, we had lunch before deciding if we would walk or ride up. The lunch was delicious and “compliments” of our promoter. It was – imagine this – salmon. One of Pam’s guys said, “I think I’m going to lay off of salmon for a while after this trip!” I promise you, there is salmon in everything and cooked every way possible. But, it’s GOOD. We hiked up to the top of the glacier. I took about 100 photos. Every other turn was “another waterfall”. If you ever get the chance to come to Norway, this area is a “must see”. I was happy because when I was here last time with Paul Overstreet, we saw the other side of the same glacier. After raining all day for the past two days, we finally have beautiful weather.
When we finally arrived at the base of the glacier, there were huge chunks of ice floating in the lake. They had broken loose and fallen down the slope. There was a sign with a chain across the trail warning not to go any farther but there were lots of people stepping over the chain and going out onto the rocks right next to the glacier. It was a pretty steep climb to get there and our guide said that she would not do it. Pam had decided not to try it but the guys were going, so I decided to go, too. I had just gotten one foot over the chain when another huge chunk of ice broke loose and started crashing down the glacier toward us. I quickly decided that I was close enough from where I was at that point. They boys were brave and went on without me. I think I made the right decision. J
Our tour guide told us lots of interesting information about Norway – the economy, salaries, taxes, insurance, laws, etc. It was a fascinating trip. Got back to the hotel around 7 pm and had dinner – yep, you guessed it, salmon again. Been working on email for the past several hours.
Told everyone in Pam’s group good-bye. Lindsey will be with them in Kristiansand and I go to Germany and Switzerland with Chely Wright. Traveling all day tomorrow from Sandane, Norway to Munich, Germany.
I’ll have photos up on my website by mid-August when I get back to Nashville. You should check out the photos of the glacier!
TUESDAY, JULY 17TH:
Up early to work out in my room because –yep, raining again! Pam and some of the others had planned to ride horses today but don’t know if it will clear up or not. I had such great plans to jog every day and only got to do so once! Had breakfast, said “good-bye” to Pam’s group (again) and headed for the little airport. There is a little “stand” where the baggage came out that now doubles as the check-in counter. There is a security scanner at least. I’m not happy about flying in this weather on a prop plane.
The flight was late coming in from Songdal because of weather. Once we got on board and took off, I’ve never had a plane climb so fast. When I finally dared to open my eyes and peak out the window, I knew why….those big mountains were right below us. It was a very rough flight with lots of turbulence and I kept wondering what would happen if we lost one of the propellers. Fortunately, we landed safely in Oslo. I had about a 2 hour layover and then flew on a nice, large Lufthansa plane to Munich.
My luggage arrived with me this time. J I realized that the Marriott Hotel at the airport where I had booked a room was not actually “at the airport”. False advertising on their website. I managed to find a taxi with a driver who spoke no English. It was supposed to be a 15 minute ride but he turned around twice and it turned into about a 25 minute ride. Marriott is nice and I found the little “town” within walking distance – sort of. The front desk told me to go out the front door and walk straight across into town. Yeah, right. I had to make several turns (not good with my lack of a sense of direction) but I knew that if I kept walking towards the church steeple, I’d find the middle of town. In Germany, I think there is always a church with a steeple in the middle of town. I was right. Found some bottled water then spent twice as long trying to find my way back to the hotel.
Had a really great dinner all by myself in the hotel restaurant. Usually I order room service and just work while I eat. But, couldn’t find anything “healthy” on the room service menu so I ventured down on my own. Funny how women will eat alone in a strange country but would rather starve than do that in our home towns. I did NOT have the salmon.
Spent the remainder of the night until 1 am on the internet. Lindsey was leaving for Norway and her flight was on time. Chely’s flight was delayed and I was worried about her making their connection. Didn’t go to bed until I was sure they made it.