MONDAY, JULY 18TH:
Up at 3 am (went to bed at 1 am!) to drive to the airport and HOPEFULLY NOT have to fight with SAS. Because the group didn’t take the flights into Ostersund last week, we ran the risk of having their outbound flights canceled. My travel agent has been working on this all weekend.
Got to the airport very early – before the ticket counter even opened, but we were first in line. We had a sweet little man and he checked us right in with no problems. Short 1 hour flight from Ostersund to Stockholm where we didn’t go through the “pick up your luggage” nightmare this time. I had changed my flight so that I could fly with the group but it meant a 4 hour layover in Stockholm. It was fine. They have wireless connection so I was able to get lots of work done.
I thought I was in business class on the flight from Stockholm to Zurich – 2 ½ hour flight. But when I boarded, I found I had accidentally been booked in coach. The flight was FULL and I was in an exit row seat so the seat didn’t recline at all. So much for getting a little sleep on the plane. They flight attendant even made me take off my fanny pack because I was in an exit row. Never had that happen before.
We hit severe turbulence right before we landed in Zurich. I do NOT like flying over the Alps and having turbulence. When we landed, it was raining in Zurich. My friend – Ben – from California had arrived Zurich early that morning. I gave him directions on how to go into downtown Zurich and he had been in walking around. Met me when I landed and the airlines had lost his bag!
We took the train from Zurich to Interlaken. It’s Ben’s first visit to Switzerland and I’m the tour guide. God knows, I know where to take him after all my trips over here. It was raining in Interlaken, too, so we had dinner at an Indian restaurant and he was going to go to bed early. I got my computer and printer all set up and then couldn’t connect to the internet. Went to Ben’s room and I could log on there. So, I packed everything back up and we switched rooms. It’s storming here now and it’s after midnight. Sure hope the weather clears up because tomorrow is the only day we have for me to take him up to Jungfrau – the highest point accessible in all of Europe (my second trip in TWO weeks!).
It’s strange to look outside and see “darkness” after only having about 30 minutes of “dusk” in Norway and Sweden.
TUESDAY, JULY 19TH:
Got up at 7 am to get ready for the day of sightseeing. Ben knocked on my door at 7:30 am – ready to go! He thought it was 8:30 am. I sent him away for a walk while I finished dressing.
We took the train up to Jungfrau (second time in TWO weeks for me). The scenery is breathtaking but he was more impressed with the “cog railway”. He spent the entire trip trying to figure out what pulled that train up the steep mountainside. I told him next time we should just go to a train museum and save a lot of money! J I showed him the trail that I took the sled down the Eiger with the Bellamys in 2000. He was properly impressed, as he should have been. Every time I look at it, it gives me cold chills just thinking about how crazy that was. The weather was bad on the top and part of the viewing platform was closed so he didn’t get to see the spectacular view from the peak. But he still got to go through the ice caves and out onto the glacier.
We made it back to Interlaken in time to take an early train into Zurich. The airline found his luggage and it was waiting for him at our hotel in Zurich.
When I walked in my hotel room, there was a little Teddy Bear sitting in the middle of my bed. I got all sentimental because the last time that happened was at a really remote little camp (Camp Summerall) in Iraq. The Commander of the base had put Teddy Bears on mine, Danni Leigh’s and Chalee’s beds to make us feel more “at home”. It touched us so much that he would try to do something for us when we were there to try and boost their morale.
Tomorrow we meet Rick Trevino and his group for the trip to Klewenalp. SURE hope Rick doesn’t have the travel challenges that the last group did….
WEDNESDAY, JULY 20TH:
Took the hotel shuttle back to the airport at 8:30 am to meet Rick Trevino and his group. Checked the internet before I left and it said that his plane was on time. Got to the airport to find that it was delayed by an hour!
We drove the 1 ½ hours to Beckenreid and I got everyone checked into the hotel. The front desk clerk (who doubles as a waitress in the restaurant!) wasn’t very efficient. Most of us were on the same floor and I was talking to Ben as I unlocked my door. I stood in the hallway and talked to him for a few minutes with the door to the room open. Then when I started to step inside, I saw a pair of men’s boots and a pair of feet hanging off the end of the bed. The curtains were pulled and the room was dark. There was a MAN already in that room. Front desk apologized and I called my promoter friend and thanked her for putting a man in my room for me! J
Ben and I walked down to the little village and rented a couple of bikes. I suppose they were mountain bikes – the kind with tiny little pedals and handlebars that you have to lean way over on I had a really hard time staying on mine because the seat wouldn’t go down far enough and my “shoe cast” kept slipping off the little pedal. But, we managed to ride for hours around Lake Luzern. It was so beautiful. BUT, the seats were those little bike seats, too. Before we even started the ride back to the bike rental shop, both of our bottoms were so sore, we could barely sit on the bike. Ben kept trying to ride “side-saddle” to relieve some of the pain. I can’t tell you how sore I am right now!
We all had dinner together out on the terrace and watched the sun set over the Alps on the lake. It was beautiful. At one time, there was this “red glow” on the mountains and reflecting off the lake. We all started telling Texas Tornado stories from our past and it was a very fun evening.
Going to take the boat into Luzern tomorrow to sightsee and do a little shopping. Festival is on Friday.
THURSDAY, JULY 21ST:
Worked out with the “bands” again this morning. Sure will be glad when the toe heals and I can run again. Woke up to pouring rain but it stopped before we went to the boat dock. Took the boat cruise from Beckenreid over to Lucerne – about an hour and a half trip with lots of stops and beautiful scenery.
We walked around Lucern and I showed Ben all the “tourist” sites. I can’t believe I have not done ANY shopping this entire trip. Bought some chocolates, but that’s it. No clothes or shoes. Unbelievable for me.
We had to take the train and then a bus back to Beckenreid and I was very nervous about making these connections. But everything worked out just fine.
Had a nice dinner with the group and Iris (my promoter from Interlaken) and her boyfriend are here and joined us. Some of the musicians/crew were going up to Klewenalp (where the performance takes place tomorrow night) to listen to the yodelers tonight. Not me. I saw it a few years ago and it was beautiful but bored me relatively quickly!
Tomorrow is show day!
FRIDAY, JULY 22ND:
Today is “Show Day”. We departed the hotel at 9:30 for a 10:00 load in at the venue. Van to the station and then the Gondola (that I HATE) up the Alp. It takes 12 minutes to go up and we go over 4 towers. I hate the towers because the gondola SWINGS after it comes down the other side. I keep looking at the cables wondering what their “safety” measure is. I mean, if one cable breaks, there are no emergency brakes to stop the car from falling. There is comfort in the fact that there has never been an accident.
The stage is outdoors at the base of a large slope. The “cart” to take the gear down was no where to be found (typical at this festival) so we had to carry everything down including the stand-up bass. Sound company is great to work with as usual and Rick Trevino and his boys are real professionals. Of course, the buyer forgot to put water backstage again. Last year I had to go up the hill, buy it, and carry it down myself. Same thing this year only I didn’t have to pay for it. Guys finished sound check right on time and we took the gondola back down the mountain. Only takes 6 minutes to go down but the swings at the tower are much stronger.
We had some free time before dinner and the show so I got packed and caught up on some email. A really severe thunderstorm came through and I knew we were going to be walking around in a lot of mud at the venue tonight.
The show started right on time. There is a large festival tent at the top of the slope and the sides roll up so the audience has the option of sitting in the tent and watching the show instead of standing on the slope. It was really cold after the rainstorm so I didn’t expect many people to stand in front of the stage. Was really surprised to see the largest audience I’ve ever seen come out of the tent and watch the entire show. Show ran right on time and Rick signed autographs for about a half hour after the show.
We took the gondola back down and by that time it was after 1:30 am. Rick and his guys had to depart the hotel at 4:00 am for their flight to Spain so they just stayed up all night. I went to bed but couldn’t sleep because I was worried about their ride showing up. Everything went fine, though.
SATURDAY, JULY 23RD:
I left for the airport at 9:30 am with Ben in tow. On the ride over, we noticed that he only has 40 minutes to clear customs in Dallas. American definitely booked him on an illegal connection. He tried to get it changed at the airport, but American wouldn’t do anything about it. I’m sure he will be spending the night tonight in Dallas….hopefully at the expense of AA.
Got on the Swiss Air flight only to learn that my seat was once again Bulkhead! I had my office call and confirm that it was NOT bulkhead. Not going to fly Swiss Air again. Arrived Chicago and the Business Lounge told me that Swiss Air has decided NOT to partner with American, so they won’t be sharing “services” in the future.
The flight from Chicago to Nashville was one of those tiny jets. I was so tired and the flight was full. It was pretty miserable. A few of us had boarded and then they stopped the boarding and announced that everyone would have to get off the plane so they could do a “security sweep”. Never had that happen before. Arrived Nashville about 30 minutes late.