FRIDAY, JULY 16TH – BERGEN TO BREIM:
Got up at 8 am and had a quick breakfast at 9 am, then went for a jog. It looked like it was going to start raining before I finished but got lucky and actually finished running before the rain started. Was able to answer a few emails and then did some last minute “baby” shopping – clothes for the Z’s. The tour bus driver was supposed to pick me up at the Radisson and something told me she was going to go to the wrong one. When she didn’t arrive on time, I called the promoter and he gave me her phone number. It’s the same driver we always have up here – Anna. She was sitting at the wrong hotel. Took her about 15 minutes to negotiate the one-way streets and get to me. While I was sitting out there waiting for her, the wind started blowing incredibly hard..so hard it knocked my suitcase over which isn’t an easy feat since it weighs about 60 pounds! She finally found me and we headed for the Clarion Hotel attached to the airport in Bergen.
When I checked out this morning, the desk clerk said that I had laundry and 2 local phone calls. I agreed and signed the invoice then walked down the street to meet the bus. When I started to put the receipt in my purse, I noticed she had charged me for the room which I had paid for using my “Goldpoints”. Had almost 4,000 Kroner in charges which is around $666 (ask Ben, he has a calculator! J ). Had to drag my two heavy bags back inside and get them to take it off the bill.
Stored one bag at the Clarion for them to hold until I returned on Sunday. This hotel doesn’t have an elevator, so it’s much better to take one “light” suitcase. Patty’s group actually arrived early and my long-time friend Deannie was the first one out. She said they were having trouble getting cards because no one had Kroner and they needed carts for the equipment. Just as we were going to try and sneak back in to give them money, the tour manager called to say it had accepted quarters. I’ve also worked with Todd from Dierks Bentley days and Greg from Lonestar days.
Most of the group needed to change money and it had to be done in a machine since the counter for money exchange was already closed. I was standing at the machine helping each person with their transaction. Wasn’t really paying attention to who was in line. I reached down and took the money only to realize it was Japanese yen. Some guy from Japan had gotten in the middle of our line and I guess he thought I worked there because he sure handed all his money over to me! LOL
Left the airport for a 5 hour bus ride to Breim with a 30 minute ferry ride included about 2 hours into the trip. The little airport in Sandane is closed, so the closest major airport to fly into is Bergen. I really like it this way because the little planes into Sandane are props and sometimes all the equipment and luggage won’t fit. Plus they stop 2-3 times between Oslo and Sandane!
The ferry ride was beautiful but much too short. I think Patty’s group has snapped off about 300 photos since they landed. J They are overwhelmed by how beautiful it is here. The narrow one lane roads with two way traffic and traveling in our big bus is freaking them out. But, we only had one very “near miss” the entire trip! Not bad actually.
We arrived at the hotel at around 9 pm and the keys were already laying out on the desk for us. Dinner was being held for us with a choice of reindeer steak or salmon. I opted for the salmon and think it was a wise choice. It was excellent, of course. Cor Sanne, my longtime friend from Holland, is here with a bluegrass artist.
There is no elevator in the hotel and I’m on the third floor. The nice “cook” carried my suitcase up for me. Fortunately, it has stopped raining and I’m hoping it doesn’t start back up for tomorrow’s festival. I want to get up and jog again.
The internet wasn’t working on our floor and it took some “turn it off/turn it back on” conversations for quite some time before it would work. Still very slow but better than sitting in the lobby until 3 am working!
COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL BREIM, NORWAY – SATURDAY, JULY 17TH:
Got a good 5 hours of sleep and it wasn’t raining when I woke up. Hard to believe I slept through the night because, as I have mentioned, there’s only a few minutes of total darkness. I’m on the top floor of the hotel…something I never allow them to do. I just forgot this year to tell them to put me on the 2nd floor. Internet works better on 2nd floor AND I only have to carry the heavy suitcase up and down one flight so stairs as opposed to two. But, here’s the real reason….top floor has beautiful “sky lights” above the bed. There is a shade that pulls down BUT sunlight streams in all 4 sides around the shade. Not good for sleeping.
I stopped downstairs for a cup of coffee and then hit the streets for my morning jog. Weather was beautiful but the first 15 minutes of my run was all uphill and we are at a much higher elevation here. I always forget that until I start the run. Of course, running back the same way only takes 6 minutes downhill. Regardless, it didn’t rain on me once and I had a great jog. Had a really quick breakfast and hit the show – literally! The tub is against the wall which is sloped – very steep angle. There’s no rails or anything to hold onto so you have to be very cautious entering the tub. Then I realized, I can’t stand up. The ceiling is too low for me to stand except in a crouched position. The handheld shower is mounted at shoulder height which makes it even more of a challenge. Now, there is a skylight but it’s over the shower head. Basically, I had to plaster myself against the back wall with my head in the skylight and use the handheld sprayer as best I could. Talk about a workout! J
See why I get bored if I stay home for too long? Would make a great YOUTUBE video. LOL!
Answered some emails and then walked into the little village. The shops – such as they were – were all open and doing a booming business. I actually bought the Z’s a couple of things – imagine that? Stopped by the Coop grocery and got some more water and walked back to hotel to answer emails. Not really sure why Norway even sells bottled water. The locals think we’re crazy because their water is so fresh. Guess they sell it to all the tourists who come through.
Went over to the venue with the crew to load in for sound check and my promoter from Vinstra was there. We critiqued what was great and what wasn’t so great with the festival this year and made plans for next year. Patty and the band arrived an hour later for sound check but were delayed because there was a problem with the ear monitors. We actually finished almost an hour late but there wasn’t another band sound checking immediately, so it wasn’t a problem.
The t-shirt vendor for Vinstra and Seljord also has the concessions here. As I mentioned, he did not have the contract at Vinstra this year. You should see this year’s shirt. On the front, there is an extremely sexy female wearing a little bra top and chaps (both of which reveal body parts that we would not find acceptable in the U.S.) and under the photo it says, “Stud Poker”????? The back has Patty Loveless in huge print and then all the other artists listed. The band absolutely loved it and of course, Patty was horrified.
I was sitting out back talking to Gunnar and Bjorn and had an allergy attack. My throat and eyes started itching and I couldn’t figure out what was going on until I realized they were both smoking. Never really recovered and was bothered all evening with allergies. Happens every time I’m around smoke or cats.
We stopped at this beautiful waterfall on the way back to the hotel. I’ve been there a couple of times and there are great photo ops there. They had built “steps” up the side of the waterfall so the salmon could go upstream. But found out that salmon fishing is big money and didn’t want the village at the top of the waterfall to make all the money, so they didn’t use those.
Ate dinner as soon as we got back to the hotel since everyone was starving from not having any lunch. Choices last night were deer or salmon and tonight was deer or monk fish. I’ve had fish both nights. J
Was able to work for several hours and then headed over to the venue for the show. Patty goes on at 11:45 until 1:15. She actually went on a little early and the audience (and the buyer) loved her performance. It rained off and on during her show but there was still a very large crowd. I actually walked all the way to the Front of House Board and didn’t get groped once. Hmmmm…..maybe I should be offended. J I remember when Pam Tillis was here, I had a “walk-by groping”.
She signed autographs and took photos for the people backstage and we arrived back at the hotel at 2:30 am. We’re not leaving until 1 pm tomorrow and may be stuck waiting in line for the ferry for up to 3 hours! No way to judge the traffic so will just hope for the best.
SUNDAY, JULY 18TH – BREIM/SANDANE BACK TO BERGEN:
Guess I’ve gone through this entire weekend without mentioning that the artist I am on tour with this weekend is Patty Loveless. J
Got in bed at 3:30 am and set the alarm for 8 am to go jogging. When I woke up, it was pouring down rain so that wasn’t an option. Did my “workout” in the room and headed down for breakfast after my shower. Met Nils and Cor also having breakfast and chatted with them. Guess most of Patty’s group stayed up all night jamming with the other musicians. That’s always a fun time for everyone. Sorry I missed it but “email” called instead.
Was able to answer several emails before it was time for the bus to arrive. When it did arrive, it wasn’t the luxurious tour bus that we have had the entire time. It was a big coach but no toilet. Remember I mentioned that the toilet wasn’t working on the trip up and asked that it be taken care of before we departed? So, the promoter was kind enough to tell the bus company to take that bus back and bring over the nice bus. It was only about 10 minutes from the hotel, so the switch was made. Only other problem is, the driver speaks and understands very little English. I have a feeling we’ll be calling our promoter quite a bit to have him “translate”.
Can’t say enough good things about Patty and her musicians/crew. All were such a pleasure to work with and I’m sure it will translate into more offers for her in 2011.
I was right about our driver. He never stopped for food even though the promoter at the festival gave him specific instructions to stop a few miles from the venue. We tried to talk to him and he said something about 20 minutes. Then an hour passed and we had gone by several gas stations with “cafes” that were open for business and he refused to stop. I finally had to call our promoter and have him talk to the guy. We eventually stopped after we had been traveling for 2 hours! Most of the people got burgers, but I ordered an omelet and pomme frittes (French fries). I knew that if the omelet sucked, I’d have the pomme frittes as backup because those are always good over here. When they finally gave me my order much later than everyone else received theirs, there were no pomme frittes included. They tried to tell me I didn’t order them and then offered to make some but since everyone else already had theirs, I opted to leave without them. Fortunately the omelet was edible and I had a tiny salad included with it.
We were worried about having to wait for hours to take the ferry back towards Bergen because all of the festival traffic was departing as well. We actually ended up waiting only about 30 minutes.
I thought we would arrive at the hotel by around 6 pm but it was actually 8:30 pm. By the time we got checked in and had dinner, it was too late to go into Bergen. Everything was closed and we wouldn’t be able to take the last bus back to the airport.
The hotel is new and nice but the front desk clerk looked to be about 12 and was totally clueless. She asked me about payment and I told her everything is billed to the festival. She said that might be true but she didn’t know anything about it and we would have to talk to someone tomorrow. I leave really early, so I’ve got to make sure it’s taken care of before I leave. The rooms are very “artsy” and the bathroom is made of glass. You can see inside the shower when you’re sitting on the bed. The one thing that isn’t happening is the internet. When we talked to the adolescent at the front desk she admitted that other guests had complained and she didn’t know how to fix it. When I demanded that she call the night manager and let me talk to him, she said he would be in within the hour and he knew where the wireless was located and could re-set it.
I made the mistake of ordering steak for dinner because it seemed like the healthiest thing on the menu. Big mistake. Couldn’t even cut it with a steak knife. I had asked the waiter if it was good before ordering and he assured me that it was excellent. We need to bring him to America for a real steak. Seven out of the 12 of us ordered it and we all thought it was horrible.
The night clerk finally arrived and I asked him to go reset the wireless. He said the same thing happened a couple of days ago and resetting it didn’t help. By that time I was very frustrated and told him, “Hey, go give it a shot and if it doesn’t work, we’re going to start calling hotel managers at home or the wireless internet company until someone can get it working”. Boy, I sure made “points” with him. But, he shuffled off to reset it and it’s been working much better.
Guess I’ll close this report for tonight and “repack” everything for the flights home tomorrow. Sure hope the weather is good from Newark to Nashville because it’s one of those tiny planes again. It’s been a great 11 days but I am so ready to get home for a week.
MONDAY, JULY 19TH – GOING HOME!!!!
Got up an hour early so I could try and answer emails before flying all day. The “pin” number that they gave us didn’t work so I called the front desk for a new number. The guy who answered said unfortunately the internet was not working. Honestly, it sounded like the incompetent who I dealt with last night so I should have insisted that he give me the new code anyway. Instead I packed up and decided to try my luck at the airport. When I went down to check out, it was him working the desk! There was a lady also working, so I chose her. She asked if I had a good night’s sleep and I told her “no” and why. She was shocked that the internet was not working. It was obvious she was one of the managers because the young man turned blushed profusely. She said they had never had problems with the internet since the hotel opened and looked at him. I told her that he and the other girl on duty last night said that the internet problems started occurring several days ago and had not been repaired. I have a feeling he was in a lot of trouble when I left and he should have been.
Evidently, Summer is the “slow” period in Norway. The tourists are there in September through June – when they can ski – and most locals either close their business altogether and go on “holiday” or cut back to minimal staff and very short work days. The bar in the hotel was closed last night because it’s the Summer season. Also, a “taxi” was double price on Saturday and Sunday! I reminded the hotel manager that the only reason people stay at their hotel is the convenience of the airport next door. The hotel was built for the “business” traveler because tourists stay in downtown Bergen where the sites are located. Trust me, there is NOTHING at this hotel except for the airport. For business travelers, it’s imperative that the internet work properly. The little girl last night told me that they had a small health club on the 6th floor. Guess what, there are only 5 floors in the hotel!
I checked in for my flights but could not print my boarding pass from Newark to Nashville. I knew they were not going to let me go to the gate without one and I did not want to have to go to the check-in counter and back through security in Newark to secure one. Figured I would try at the Lounge in Oslo. I checked my bags and had a coffee and then had to wait about an hour for the gate to be announced. There was internet but it wasn’t free and wasn’t worthwhile for me to pay for such a short period of time.
Flight from Bergen left on time. It was rainy and foggy but not a lot of turbulence. It was only a 30 minute flight. Landed in Oslo and went straight to the Lounge to work. My flight from Oslo to Newark was showing a delay of one hour. Fortunately, I have a long layover. Internet was free in the Lounge and I was able to retrieve my boarding pass but not print it. I asked the Lounge if I could print it in there and they refused! I asked if there was somewhere in the airport where I could pay to print it and was informed it wasn’t possible. So frustrating.
I was working but also checking the board every few minutes for updates on the flight departure time. At noon, the board showed “go to the gate” which is the time we would have to go if it were on time. It no longer showed the departure time, so I headed down. When I arrived at the gate, the flight was still delayed until 2:05 pm – one hour late. I asked why the board said “go to the gate” and was told that it only meant that the gate was open! At least the agent was very helpful and took my passport to have my boarding pass printed. She also took my claim checks and didn’t give them back. She told me to have a seat and wait for the boarding pass. I asked for my claim checks back and she said they needed them to print the boarding pass. Only took a few minutes and my name was called to pick up the boarding pass. She didn’t give me my claim checks back. But, this time I remembered to ask for them.
I’m exhausted already and ready to go home for a few days. Much easier dealing with “American” ineptness than in a foreign country. LOL.
We boarded for a one hour late departure and I had a pleasant surprise. The inside of the aircraft was one of the newly reconfigured ones. A lot like first class on United, each seat lies completely flat. And, even nicer, no one sat beside me on the flight. The flight attendants were nice and the meal was really good – pasta again. J I watched a Nicholas Sparks movie that was based on the book I had read a few weeks ago. Don’t usually like to do that but there really weren’t any other movie options. It was not nearly as good as the book. Slept for about 2 hours and then read until we landed.
Everything was going much too smoothly….landed an hour late but I had time to make my connection. Both bags arrived and I got them rechecked and took the shuttle to the other terminal for the tiny little jet to Nashville. We boarded at 5:30 pm for a 6:00 pm departure. NOT. Weather moved into the area and we were told to get off the plane and wait in the gate area because there was no air conditioner on the plane. It’s now 7 pm and we are still sitting here. Bummer!!!!
The “weather” was in the surrounding areas, so no planes were coming in or taking off for several hours. We were finally rushed on board after 10:30 pm. One of the gate agents stopped me as I was walking on and thanked me. He said I was the only one who was just sitting quietly and not complaining. LOL. Certainly not like me. I just realized that complaining and questioning other flights would not change anything because nothing was flying. When we got on board, the pilot notified us that we were number 32 in line. They were taking on extra fuel and hoping that their “crew rest” regulation didn’t kick in before we could take off.
I arrived back in Nashville after midnight….very, very tired but happy to be home….for a week. L