MONDAY, JULY 6TH – OSLO AIRPORT, NORWAY:
Got up early to walk over to the airport with the Bellamys for check-in. It was pouring rain and not all of the walkway was covered between the airport and the hotel. When we arrived at about 7:15, the KLM/Delta/Air France counter had not opened. I went to customer service to find out “where” they could check in as a group. Again, no group check-in so everyone got in the Priority Lane. When it finally opened about 10 minutes later, we got a very young, obviously fairly “new” agent. He was great. And, there was no excess charges because of their status on Delta. I tracked their flights and it looked like everything was going to be on time for their arrival back into Nashville.
I went back to the hotel, had breakfast and then worked out in the hotel fitness center. It was a surprisingly good gym! I’m not sure I’ve ever had time to work out when I stayed at this hotel previously.
The remainder of the day was spent working in my room with the exception of a quick lunch break for a salad at the restaurant downstairs. I also walked over to the airport and picked up a couple more books for the remainder of the time over here. It continued to rain all day and the temperature dropped here.
Jan picked me up at about 7 pm and we drove to Kjell’s house for dinner. I met his wife and 13 year old daughter for the first time. The meal was amazing, too. Fresh watermelon, chicken in some kind of wonderful sauce, salad, and potatoes (which I didn’t eat but wanted too). Coffee a “loaf” of vanilla ice cream with fresh berries was for dessert. All the fruit and vegetables over here are so much better and fresher than what we have in the USA….because of the preservatives used in the USA.
Jan drove me back to the hotel at around 11 pm and I worked until 2 am. Leaving for Bergen tomorrow morning for the rest of the week. I meet Rhonda Vincent at the Bergen airport and bus with her to Breim for the Country-Treff Festival this weekend. Have to do a little “Zac and Zoe” shopping while I’m “off” in Bergen – one of my favorite cities in Norway.
TUESDAY, JULY 7TH – OSLO TO BERGEN:
Not a lot to report today. Got up early and worked out in the Fitness Center. It was surprising good for a hotel. Then had breakfast, showered, and checked out of the hotel. Walked over to the airport for check in for my flight to Bergen. Thankfully, the rain has stopped!
Very short flight between Oslo and Bergen. Then I took the SAS Bus from the airport to the hotel. The bus was pretty full. I had a seat by myself and my rolling duffle in the seat next to me. There wasn’t enough space to put it in the overhead or under the seat in front of me. A couple came down the aisle and he sat across the aisle from me and indicated that his wife wanted to sit in the aisle seat in the seat my duffle was occupying. I had to move to the aisle seat and put the duffle in the aisle so she could sit in the window seat. There were several other seats available but obviously she did not want one of those.
I’ve stayed at this Radisson many times and always liked it. It is not meeting my expectations this trip though! Room was extremely HOT and I thought the hotel has air conditioning. Evidently NOT or at least not a system that works! The lamp on my desk also didn’t work. I called and reported it and they said they would replace the bulb. I went out for a walk and to find some “lunch” and was gone for a couple of hours. When I came back, no one had fixed the lamp. I took the bulb out and headed downstairs to the front desk. The girl took it from me and said she would have someone bring up a replacement. She actually came up with a new bulb but once inserted, it did not fix the problem. The lamp is “hardwired” behind a panel of wood, so no way to check the outlet. We finally moved a large floor lamp over by the desk with the assurance that maintenance would fix my desk lamp the following day.
I had snow crab and salad at the Fish Market – Bellamy’s favorite place to eat in Bergen. It is all very, very “fresh” fish. Picked up some water and fruit for my room and went to “work”. It was so hot in my room and the front desk says they don’t have “fans”. I vowed to buy one tomorrow if it’s this hot again. I have spent a LOT of time in Bergen and take the same photos over and over. They will be posted on my Facebook Page and JSI website.
Left the room at about 8 pm to find dinner somewhere. Ended up in a Chinese Restaurant where the Bellamys and I ate years ago. It was really good food. Back to the room to work until 2 am.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 8TH – SECOND DAY OFF IN BERGEN:
At least it’s not raining today, but cloudy and cold again. I was going to put my purse and rings in the safe but it was locked! I called down to the front desk and they said they would send someone right up. Yeah, right. I caught on to that trick yesterday.
I went to the “fitness room” but was really disappointed. A few weights, one “machine” and some cardio equipment. Definitely not what I was expecting. Sad when the Park Inn has a much better fitness room than a Radisson! Worked out as best I could and will definitely hit the streets for a jog tomorrow. Had breakfast and then went back to the room for a shower.
There is a half door on the shower so all the water runs out onto the bathroom floor, even UNDER the half door. I guess the drain is stopped up because there was about 2 inches of water on my floor and it even ran out into the carpeted bedroom area.
Worked for a couple of hours and then grabbed a map and headed out to find the largest shopping center and a Spa where I have booked a massage for tomorrow. I used a map and didn’t get lost once which is a miracle for me. It was a nice shopping center and I found the Z’s some “toys” to bring back for them. Also found the Spa and then walked around the main square for a few minutes taking some photos.
Stopped for coffee and water and then went back to the room to work for several more hours. Before I left earlier today, I took a “list” down to the front desk and asked to speak to the manager. I told her all the problems I was having in my room and how disappointed I was since I stay in Radisson Hotels all over the world on a regular basis. She promised to have the maintenance people fix my problems while I was out. When I returned, the lamp worked and my safe was open. The rod in my closet kept falling down every time I hung clothes on it. Instead of fixing it, they moved my clothes to a smaller area with a small place to hang clothes! Don’t know if they fixed the shower drain or not. Guess I will know tomorrow morning.
I passed an Indian restaurant today and decided to go back there for dinner. Eating Indian and Chinese is not a lot of fun with no rice! But it was still good food. When I got ready to pay, I realized my wallet was missing. I think I mentioned that for months I have been having dreams about my purse being stolen. I was totally freaked out. I went back over in my mind the last time I had the wallet and knew I put it back in my purse after I bought the water and coffee. I remembered taking it out at the hotel and getting my receipts out to “list and file” them. Was praying I left it on the bed. I tried to explain to the restaurant owners and promised I would come right back and pay. They didn’t understand enough English to know what I was saying. Finally, I handed them my cell phone, told them to keep it, and I’d be right back. Guess they understood enough because they let me go. I ran the several blocks back to the hotel and was so relieved to find the wallet on my bed. Went back and paid for my dinner and by then the owners were smiling at me. Good Grief, that was not a fun escapade!
Talked to Zac and Zoe tonight because they are going to the beach with their Dad for a week. They won’t be at home when I get back but I will get to see them over the weekend before I leave for 3 more weeks in Europe!
THURSDAY, JULY 9TH – LAST DAY OFF IN BERGEN:
Started my day with a “great” run but it was COLD! The wind was blowing hard, too. There was a “weather warning” on my phone about the wind causing “disruptions” today. I decided to run the opposite way from all the shops and that was a good choice. Other than having to dodge hundreds of people on the sidewalk who had just gotten off the cruise ships, it was a terrific run. There were not traffic lights that way either.
Came back and ate some fruit that I had purchased at the Fish Market the first day, showered, and headed down for my massage. I left in plenty of time to get lost – even though I had scoped out the place yesterday. Didn’t get lost and arrived almost 30 minutes early. I had a female masseuse and she was great. Got all the “knots” out of my shoulders!
As I was walking back to the hotel, a Japanese lady stopped me and asked directions. Then she realized I was a “tourist” as well. Fortunately, she asked where the Fish Market was located and that was an easy one for me to answer even though I’m not a “local”!
Worked some more and then went shopping one last time. Still had a couple of things to purchase as gifts. I decided to walk down and get Thai food for take away at a restaurant where I have eaten before. The wind was still fierce and then it started raining when I was about 4 blocks from the restaurant. Fortunately, it stopped while I was waiting for my food.
No excitement on my last full day in Bergen. Will check out at 1 pm tomorrow and take the bus to the airport where I’ll meet Rhonda Vincent and her group. Then we’ll drive for 5 hours to Breim!
FRIDAY, JULY 10TH – BERGEN TO BREIM:
So, the area I am staying in is called “Bryggen” and there are some really, really old shops and houses – all painted bright colors” along the water that are “crooked”. I went upstairs in one and it was like being in a “Fun House” at a State Fair. Bizarre! I had to hold tightly to the rail to keep from falling to one side of the stairwell.
When I was walking back through the “Square” yesterday, there were literally hundreds of birds flying around and landing everywhere…even on people. Reminded me of that old move “The Birds” that terrorized me as a child!
Woke up to sunny skies but still very chilly outside. Had a very small breakfast (fruit and coffee) and then went to the fitness room and worked out as best I could. Had to improvise a LOT. Showered and worked until time to check out and take the bus to the airport. I had packed my printer last night in anticipation that I would not need it this morning. Wrong! Had to set it up again.
Checked out at 1 pm and it took the bus almost an hour (with stops) to arrive at the airport. I walked over to the Clarion Hotel where we will be staying on Sunday night and dropped off one of my suitcases. Still stressed that I packed something in there that I will need in Breim instead of in the suitcase going with me. Will know in a few hours.
The bus driver was already at the airport so I loaded my other bag on the bus and went inside to grab lunch and wait until Rhonda arrived at 3 pm – although the arrival board was showing an actual arrival of 3:15 pm. The board changed at 3:07 and said the flight had arrived. I waited in the arrival area and waited and waited. At 3:45 pm I went to the SAS counter and asked if there was another arrival area. Keep in mind that the Bergen airport is TINY. Of course, there was. Right next door. I went to the bus and everyone had already found it and had gone back inside to purchase “snacks” for the trip. There was one musician on the bus and a guy sitting the back of the bus. The driver thought he was with Rhonda’s group but they had no idea who he was. When quizzed, he said he was supposed to be taking the bus with us. Since I knew nothing about this and the bus driver had not been informed of an extra “passenger”, we had to call the festival organizers to find out if he was supposed to ride with us. I just didn’t want to take him to the wrong place. We finally figured out that he needed a ride to Breim and has something to do with the Bluegrass Stage there.
I forgot that we have a ferry ride on this 5 hour trip! It’s a beautiful, but short ride across the water. I take the same photos every year – mountains, waterfalls, snow, glaciers – beautiful scenery!
We arrived at the hotel a few minutes after 8:30 pm and the hotel had kept the “buffet” open for everyone. Got everyone checked in and as we were walking into the restaurant, one of the guys realized he had left his cell phone on the bus. Called the bus driver and he was only about 2 minutes away and brought it back.
I’ve only worked with Rhonda once and that was at the Country Gold Festival in Japan many, many years ago. She’s a sweetheart and amazing talent! All her guys who I have never met before, are great as well.
Rhonda and some of her guys walked a few blocks to a “museum” where another bluegrass band was performing. I went to my room and worked and worked. Going to bed soon at 2 am!
Sound check, concert, and acoustic show at the church tomorrow. Then back to Bergen on Sunday. HOME on Monday!
JULY 11TH — PERFORMANCE IN BREIM, NORWAY:
The performance is in Breim, but we are actually at a hotel in Sandane. The hotel is on the Historical Register and we’ve stayed here for years. It is the Gloppen Hotel (www.gloppenhotell.no). When we first started staying here, there was only one building, no elevators, and no air conditioning. It was beautiful – furnished with antiques – but always so hot and the stairs curved around which made lugging the suitcases up and down difficult. Then several years ago, they built another wing and it is very modern with air conditioning and elevators. Guess which part we stay in now?
Got up and went to breakfast and saw lots of my “friends” from this festival that I have known for years. Then I went for an amazing jog. Weather was perfect. I remembered that I needed to stay away from this one section of the lake where the seagulls have their nests and like to “attack”. I got a little too close and was chased by them again. I swear they have an apartment complex on the top of the building. I’m guessing they have a “Command Center” up there and someone notifies the birds when to get into formation and attack. I am positive they have been googling our U.S. Air Force and learning the formations for dive bombing. The Thunderbirds don’t have anything on those creatures I have my pepper spray with me but doubt I would be able to hit one in the “face” as fast as they swoop down on me.
Anyway I got out of that location as quick as possible but it meant taking the route “up the hill” for more than a mile. Talk about a workout!
Had a quick shower and worked a while then walked over to the Coop and bought some fruit and water and a great salad at a little restaurant. We left for the venue at 1 pm for sound check. Rhonda and her guys finished the sound check in less than an hour and we drove to the little church where all the artists were performing acoustically. Rhonda sang two songs and then did a medley of Gospel songs where all the other artists joined in. As usual, it was magical.
We stopped at the beautiful waterfall and salmon run and the group took photos for quite a while. It was starting to rain when we left and has continued to rain throughout the afternoon. Makes for a really “sleepy” day.
So, the only thing I put in the suitcase that stayed in Bergen that I should have brought here are my vitamins. Thankfully I’m not on any prescription meds, and I will only miss one day of the vitamins. I did leave my scales there purposely and wish I had brought them.
It continued to rain lightly all through the evening. Rhonda and 3 of her guys went out to the festival early – like at 8 pm. I rode over with the other 2 guys at 10 pm. Rhonda did a short VIP “Meet and Greet” and then it was show time. She had a fantastic show and a big crowd. She brought Billy Yates up to sing with her on a couple of songs as well which was a real crowd pleaser. The way this festival is structured is there is a huge dance floor right in front of the stage and no one is allowed to drink in that area. Then outside the fence, there are picnic tables set up all around so that people can watch the show and drink.
Rhonda signed autographs after the show. I asked her and the guys if they wanted to ride the bus back that left at 1:15 am but they weren’t ready and decided to stay until the last bus come back after the festival.
We leave at 10 am tomorrow to drive to Bergen and spend the night.
SUNDAY, JULY 12TH – BREIM/SANDAN TO BERGEN:
At exactly 4:20 am this morning, a “party” started in front of the hotel right outside my window. Either the ones coming back from the festival at 2 am or the groups leaving on a tour bus to Bergen were celebrating….probably a combination of both. When I went down for breakfast at 8:30 am, there was only one Norwegian man in the restaurant.
All my group was on time for the 10 am departure and Gunnar was down there to see us off! It rained on us all the way to Bergen and made for good sleeping weather for the guys. Took us 5 ½ hours to get to Bergen…almost 6! I had a “voucher” from the hotel for our rooms and still the desk clerk could not find our reservations. It was very frustrating. Took about 20 minutes just to “find” our reservations and then the entire check in process. It’s a really nice hotel but they sure need a better means of locating reservations. There was a kiosk in the lobby and I was able to check-in for my flight tomorrow and print my boarding pass and baggage claim tickets.
I worked until almost 7 and then went downstairs for dinner. Everyone but Josh was already there and almost finished eating. The food was good and we all sat around talking for a long time. Since tipping is not expected, the waitress doesn’t care how long we sit there since her salary isn’t based on tips. We told some great “road stories” which can’t be repeated here. LOL
I’m going to take a shower and try to get in bed before midnight.
The entire tour was such a wonderful experience this year – fantastic entertainers, promoters who are dear friends and new promoters who were excellent!
Rhonda’s birthday is tomorrow so she will celebrate in Norway and Amsterdam! Cor is going to meet her at the airport and take care of them for me….not that they need “taking care of”. Still it’s my date and I feel responsible for making it a good experience for them.
So happy to be heading home for one week but sad that Zac and Zoe won’t be back in Nashville until Friday night.
MONDAY, JULY 13TH – BERGEN TO NASHVILLE:
Made it in bed by midnight and got up at 6 am. Showered, breakfast and headed to the airport. My bags were already tagged, so I just had to drop them off at the KLM counter. Then went upstairs to go through security and to the gate. Bergen is a very small airport and they only have “one” departure area with 3 security scanners for all the airlines. The line was so long, it stretched down the escalator to the first floor. The escalator was broken, so that was probably a good thing. Maybe they just turned it off. It took me 40 minutes to clear security. Had a few minutes at the gate and then boarded the flight for Amsterdam.
Landed a few minutes early in Amsterdam and wanted to buy the twins some chocolate and another book for myself. Had to clear Immigration and then go to the gate area. I wasn’t aware that my gate area was under construction — I mean massive construction. Looked like some of the bombed out areas I saw in Iraq! There were some shops open but very limited on the items for sale. I did find what I needed and headed to the gate because usually you have to go through another screening and another security check. I was at Gate 43 and it was a long way from the shops. I hiked down only to see a sign that said I had to go to Gate 1. I had passed Gate 1 on my hike down and there was a really long line there. Once I got there, I realized their “new system” is to screen everyone on every International flight at that one location. Fortunately, I was able to get in the “Priority” line which only had about 30 people waiting. There were positions for about a dozen agents but they only had 3 working. Finally cleared that and headed for the gate. I guess the good news is, there was not another bag security screening.
Our flight was oversold and they were asking for volunteers. It is the plane with the really strange configuration and terrible uncomfortable seats. The list of movies for July is much better than the choices we had for June though. I watched a great movie “Danny Collins” starring Al Pacino. Then I slept for 2 hours. The meal was outstanding. I had the best Thai Coconut soup ever! As I was scrolling through the movies, an announcement was made that they had to shut down the video system because of the rows were not working. They said it would take about 10-15 minutes but actually took 30 minutes. At least it eventually came back on.
My tray table “slanted” on one side and everything placed on it slide off to the right. I had that same seat when we flew to Europe so I guess no one bothered to fix it.
We had a lot of turbulence the last 3 hours of the flight. I was able to log on to the internet and even got on “free” because my AMEX Platinum offers 10 free sessions a year. Wish I had used it for longer than an hour!
We landed in Atlanta and once again, my “priority” bags were some of the last ones to come out on the luggage belt! I had time to go to the lounge for a few minutes before boarding the flight to Nashville. We landed a few minutes early and my bags were last of that flight, too!
I went to Delta Customer Service to file a claim for the damage to my Rimowa suitcase. There was no one behind the counter but I could see (and SMELL) someone in the office behind the counter. I said, “Is anyone working here?”. A very large obese man stuck his head out and said that “she” was on break and would be back in about 10-15 minutes. He was eating a large box of Kentucky Fried Chicken and the entire office reeked! I told him I had a car waiting but he just said I would have to wait for her. I did and about 10 minutes later, she came to the office and asked if I needed something. I told her I had damage to my suitcase and wanted to file a claim. She informed me that I would have to wait because she needed to go get the bags off the belt. She then proceeded to leisurely walk half the length of the terminal three times retrieving bags from the belt. She finally came into the office and informed me that Delta would not cover the crack in my suitcase. I asked her exactly what damage Delta does cover and she said, “Only contents that are damaged as a result of suitcase damage”. What??? I informed her that Delta had bent a handle on my suitcase this past May and that the Delta Customer Service in Hawaii GAVE me a new suitcase right there at the airport. They even had me unpack my damaged one and put everything in the new one before leaving the airport. I filed a complaint with Delta tonight.
Very happy to be home even for one week. Just wish Zac and Zoe weren’t at the beach until Friday night!