SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26TH – PERFORMANCE IN SCHUPFART, SWTIZERLAND:
Was very hard to get up so early after only 2 hours of sleep. It was a very “quiet” 2 ½ hour bus ride to the airport. The owner of the bus company drove us in a huge tour bus. He was an excellent driver which made the trip more comfortable on the winding little roads throughout Norway.
We checked in at Swiss Air and the ticket agent told me I could only check one bag even though I was in business class. I knew she was wrong but she was not very nice, so I just stepped aside. Another agent was checking some of our guys in, so when we got down to the last person and he had 3 bags to check instead of 2, I said, “Well I am business class and I only checked one”. She immediately let me check another bag free of charge! Ask a different person and you will get a different answer every time!!!
We had time for breakfast before the flight but all they had was lots of breads and the Norwegian “pancakes”. I sure did want that pancake but had a salad for breakfast instead. We boarded on time for the 2 ½ hour flight from Oslo to Zurich. I tried to sleep most of the way but it was just too uncomfortable. We circled and circled when it came time to land. Then he started the approach and the guy sitting next to me commented that it must be a really long runway because we had flown over so much of it. The wheels couldn’t have been more than inches from the ground and the plane was banked sideways when the pilots revved the engine and took back off as fast possible. Talk about nearly having a panic attack….you KNOW I hate to fly and having something like that happen does NOT help matters. He came on after about 5 minutes of climbing and said that he was going to try the landing again because that one just wasn’t quite right! I had that happen to me once on a C-17 military aircraft returning from Afghanistan to Kuwait. All the flight crew were very, very young and I was on deck with them. The young pilot had to circle and then land and he started his descent too late as well. He pulled back up and all the guys called him a “skirt”! I wonder what the pilot would have said if I had stuck my head in the door when we finally landed and said “skirt”! LOL. Of course, we lost our place in line and circled in clouds and turbulence for another 15 minutes before finally landing safely. There was a “map” tracker on the wall right in front of me and boy was it confused. When we were landing it showed a big circle with Zurich as the target. Then when he took back off, it searched around for a few minutes and then brought up a mapgoing back to Germany.
All our equipment came off the belt first but then none of our bags came off until the very last pieces. But at least everything arrived which was a very good thing. Peter and two other vans were waiting for us. I took Howard and David and all the suitcases to the hotel. Everyone else went to the venue with the equipment for sound check. The hotel didn’t have our rooms ready but they switched some of the guys around and were able to give us keys. It’s a really nice hotel of course, since we only stay here one night.
Peter took me over to the venue to check out some things for the meet and greet and TV interview tonight. It was great to see Peter and his drivers again and Doris who runs the festivals. Hanspeter (Doris’s father) was the organizer since the festival first began 33 years ago. He passed away unexpectedly last November with a heart attack at 71 years of age. Very sad as he was such a nice man.
Last night was their “rock” night and tonight is the “country” night. Sunday is their Schlager Party. It’s good to be back this year!
We all went back to the hotel and I got all the information and headed downstairs to check everyone in and print boarding passes. Something was wrong with their printer so I gave up and went to my room to log in and check everyone in because the letters and symbols on the Swiss keyboard are much different from our U.S. keyboards. That’s when the real problems started. When I logged onto the Delta sight and signed in using my confirmation number, I was informed that since our first flight was not on Delta, I was being re-directed to the KLM site. Once on the KLM sight I again had to type in a confirmation number and flight number. Only, I didn’t have the KLM confirmation number on any of my information. I ended up calling Delta in the USA and having the agent give me the confirmation numbers one by one on everyone. I was able to get everyone checked in and emailed the boarding passes to the front desk to print out. A 20 minute process took 2 hours!
Went down to eat dinner and Tim was eating as well. The food was excellent. I had the Caprice Salad and Weiner Schnitzel. Blew my entire diet with just one schnitzel!!!! Service was very slow even though there were only people at two other tables. I finally had to tell them that we have a show tonight and ask how long before we could have our food.
Barely had time to shower and change and head downstairs to go to the gig. Sandro and his pretty girlfriend are here as well. Only one person was late and was late enough for me to be concerned. I went in and called and he said “Good Morning” when he answered the phone. Not good. He had slept through the alarm and missed dinner and his shower. That’s what happens when we only get a couple of hours sleep.
We arrived at the festival and it is packed. Had a quick meet and greet with some of our long time Swiss friends Marcus and Bridget and Hans and Yvonne. Then the Bellays had to do a TV interview with ALF TV who video tapes the festival. Sarah Jury is here performing and they got to spend a little time with her as well. Then it was show time! It’s a huge Fest Tent and I walked all the way to the back. Every table seems to be full and lots of people standing in front of the stage as well. Hope it is successful so that they will continue holding the festival. I know it will be much more difficult without Hanspeter but I know he would have wanted his family to continue it.
As usual, it was an awesome performance and Schupfart is a terrific festival and venue. The guys went back for a couple of encores but had to leave the crowd wanting more because Sarah still had to perform.
Was back at the hotel by around 11:30 pm. Took a shower and was hoping to get in bed by 1 am but that didn’t happen because of my internet connection. I paid “extra” for the high speed connection and it is terrible!!!
Going to give up soon and try to get 3 hours sleep.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27TH – LEAVING SWITZERLAND FOR THE USA:
It was another short night mostly because of the internet. When I met the guys in the lobby at 6, they said they had been unable to get online the entire time they were there, too. I don’t remember the internet being a problem in the past. Will have to go back and read some of my road reports to see if it was.
One of the guys who is always about 30 minutes or more early for everything was not downstairs at the time we were ready to depart. I called his room and he was sound asleep. He rushed down and we departed about 20 minutes later than I would have liked. The Zurich Airport seems to be constantly under construction. Today was really special….there was no access to the departure level. We had to go to arrivals and take the elevator up.
Surprisingly, I didn’t have to get in a fight with KLM this time. We all got checked in with no excess to pay. Most of us stopped at Sprunglii to purchase chocolates and then walked to the gate and the flight departed on time. No time to go to the lounge or eat breakfast this morning. When we arrived Amsterdam, they have a new “procedure” this year and we have to all go to one main gate and clear immigration. Then we go to the departure gate. There wasn’t enough time to go to the Lounge. The plane from Amsterdam to the U.S. was a full flight. Flight attendants were really nice. The pilot warned us that there was going to be turbulence about an hour and a half out of Amsterdam but he didn’t tell us how bad the turbulence was going to be. Flight attendants had to take their seats and it lasted for over a half hour. It was the worst turbulence I’ve had on a flight in years. I was trying to watch a terrible movie –“True Story” – which did nothing to take my mind off the turbulence. Once it finally stopped, I was able to sleep for about 2 hours.
We landed in Detroit on time but it took forever for all our bags to come out. We had all checked in “Priority” in Amsterdam, but KLM didn’t tag all our bags that way. In Detroit, “Priority” bags come out on one belt and the other bags come out on another belt, a long way from the priority belt. When we went through Global Entry, I was surprised that they took our Customs Form. After we picked up our bags, there was no “customs” to clear. I asked one of the officers and he said they felt like passengers had already been asked enough questions by that point! We still had to clear security and kept reminding everyone to make sure there was nothing in their pockets. Howard had a rubber band in one of his pockets and they strip searched him because of it!
The board showed that our flight was departing from A77 which was all the way at the end of the terminal. Usually, there is a tram that runs the length of the terminal but today it was closed for “maintenance” until the 12th of September! It took about 10 minutes to hike down to A77. When we were almost there, a notice came on over the speaker system saying they were investigating a fire alarm and everyone should move to a stairwell. No one did but there were lights flashing and a siren going off near where we were supposed to depart. When we finally arrived at the gate, Frank came down the stairs from the Lounge and said that the gate had changed to A5 – the complete length of the terminal away from us. It was only 15 minutes before we were supposed to board. It was an incredibly long walk but we made it.
As I was sitting in my seat while the other passengers boarded, Anita Cockran came by and she had been crying. Her Mom has been ill for quite some time but had gotten better. She said her Mom was not going to make it and she was afraid she wouldn’t make it home in time. Just heartbreaking. There was an empty seat by me and I was going to ask the flight attendant if she could move up there but just before the doors closed, a very large man got on. He asked for a seat belt extender and sat beside me. After takeoff, he asked for coffee with lots of cream and sugar. They brought him 4 packets of sugar and he asked for more. They brought him 4 more and he used all of them in his coffee. I had to resist the urge to tell him how bad that was for his health.
We landed on time in Nashville – no turbulence – and Lindsey had brought Zac and Zoe inside to meet me….a really special treat. Of course, they look like they have grown a foot in the week I’ve been gone. Zoe had a large Trick or Treat bag filled with drawings she had made for me. She’s quite the artist. They both had lots of hugs and kisses for me.
On a very sad note, we lost another wonderful friend and business associate while we were away. Sharon Eaves passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack. She was a wonderful person and loved by many.
Home for a couple of weeks then off to Japan and Korea.