SUNDAY, JULY 28TH – NORWAY TO FRANCE:
Got downstairs early to load the bus only to learn that a guitar for NGDB was missing. We have brought everything back from the venue the night before and placed in storage at the hotel. It was Jeff’s guitar so first thing they did was call him to see if he had taken it with him to Oslo today. He had not. Then I called Kjell to see if he was meeting us at the hotel or if we were picking him up. He said it would be better to pick him up because he had an acoustic guitar that we had left there. LOL
We left the hotel at 2 am and stopped to pick up Kjell and the guitar. I had planned to sleep in the mini-bus but ended up talking the entire trip. Made it to the airport in about 2 hours and 20 minutes which was perfect. We were in line at the counter and they opened 4 minutes after we arrived. I got checked in but really couldn’t help any of the others because they had so much gear and people going to different places. Took them quite a while to get everything checked and paid for. Since their crew guys check all the equipment, it was unbelievably expensive for them.
Nothing was open in the little airport as far as buying “breakfast”. I found some yogurt and ate that since I knew they would give us a meal on the plane. We took off on time and there was lots of space on the flight. The “breakfast” turned out to be Quark (really great – like yogurt) and salmon and rolls. Not so crazy about fish for breakfast.
Landed in Amsterdam and some of the guys split before I could say good-bye. Kjell and I went to the gate for our flight to Lyon. We had about an hour to wait and Kjell passed out while I was talking to him. J I had an empty seat beside me on the flight and I slept the entire 1 ½ hour flight.
We landed and I had a text from Johnny saying they had landed. I called him when we got to baggage claim because ours was the only flight there. His group landed in a different terminal and had to go through Immigration. We didn’t. Emilie – the person I have been coordinating everything with for the festival – met us and walked us down to the other terminal to meet the guys. They started coming out shortly thereafter but were having a problem finding some of their oversize pieces. Barbara is our interpreter and speaks perfect English. Of course she would because she was born in Nashville and grew up in DC then married a “French” man. She is very sweet and extremely knowledgeable about the area.
I also had several text messages from Penny saying Bo is very sick and she was taking him to the doctor. He ended up going to the hospital and they thought they were going to have to keep him. All the guys and Penny have non-refundable flights, so it meant Bo was going to be staying in Norway by himself in the hospital! So, all through the day, I’m dealing with that and very frustrated because the festival is over and there was no one there to help Penny. Fortunately at around 5 pm this afternoon, got word that they did an x-ray and decided to treat him with meds and let him fly home. Still not sure what’s wrong, but he needs to see his doctor when he gets back.
We sent Emilie with the crew guys directly to the venue and Barbara came with us in the big bus to the hotel. Johnny wanted “to go” lunches for everyone instead of eating in the restaurant but this little “village” where we are staying does not do “take away” food. It took 2 hours to drive to the hotel and when I got everyone checked in, we learned that none of the rooms on the 4th floor where all the artists were staying had been cleaned! It was 3 pm and no one had slept the night before and we were all dead tired. Totally inexcusable. We found a couple of the guys rooms across the street at the Ibis. This is the Regina and is supposed to be the best hotel in town. Obviously, it is not. The Ibis is much more “business” friendly. I felt really bad for Barbara and Emilie because they had tried too hard to make everything perfect. Only the rooms on the 4th floor are air conditioned but there are fans in all the other rooms. My room is HUGE but not very functional. You walk in and there is an entrance foyer and a door. Then you enter a room with a desk and around the corner is a huge bed and then another day bed. The bathroom has a tub and sink in one room and a shower in a separate room. I couldn’t find the toilet! Finally went back into the foyer and found a separate room with the toilet.
I walked across the street and had a really great late lunch of grilled salmon and green beans and fresh fruit for dessert. Had just enough time for a quick shower and then headed back to the bus for the drive to the venue. It had been raining very hard off and on since we landed and the tech guys said it was very muddy at the venue.
We arrived and the crowd was HUGE. I saw my friend Jean who also works for the festival and met the rest of the staff. Emilie is one of the only people who is actually hired by the festival. They have 300 volunteers to handle everything else because it is “non-profit”. They all do a great job.
Found out Robert is sick and has been for 4 days. We got the doctor on site to look at him and he was diagnosed with a stomach virus.
The band playing before us was 20 minutes late coming off which made us late as well. The guys finally took the stage and the audience went crazy. Bizarre thing is they started singing “Here Comes the Rain” and it started pouring. No one left! They did a fantastic show and then signed autographs for about a half hour. We had to limit everyone to one autograph and no photos because the line was so long. Then they did a short 20 minute press conference and ate some dinner at the venue. Barbara came in as we were just starting to eat and said that the bus driver was over his limit for driving and we needed to leave. I explained that we were late because the band before us was late and they would need to find a solution to the problem because the guys had to eat something and nothing would be open when we got back to the hotel. They figured it out and we arrived back at the hotel at around midnight. DAY OFF TOMORROW. Barbara is going to give us the walking tour. There’s a beautiful chapel way up on the top of a hill (160 steps up – not going!) and a huge red statue patterned after the Statue of Liberty on another hill. This village is in a volcanic area. Very beautiful.
Also had an email from Jeff saying Matraca left her scarf and jacket at the hotel. Fortunately Penny was still there and able to get it and bring back to Nashville with her.
It’s 2 am and I’m running on fumes. Have not slept in well over 36 hours.
MONDAY, JULY 29TH – DAY OFF IN LE PUY-EN-VELAY, FRANCE:
Sleep like the dead for 5 hours. It was “blissful”! J
Got up and had breakfast with a couple of the guys before they closed it down. It was good food but not a lot that I could eat. No eggs of any type but they did have yogurt and fresh fruit. The rest was cereal, cheeses, and breads…not on my diet. Went back to the room to work my “shoulder” and then had a fantastic run along the river. It was cloudy but warm.
Came back to the hotel and walked around the city for about an hour so the maid could clean my room. Unfortunately, it was “noon” and this city closes down between 12 noon and 2 pm! There were a few restaurants open, but no shops. And, most of the shops close on Sunday and Monday here. Some of the shops close for 5 weeks for “vacation” (can you imagine that in the USA? They’d be out of business in a week!) between end of July and all of August. I was able to buy a couple of pieces of “candy” for the twins and a bottle of Evian for the room. Ran into Kjell on my walk back and he had been exploring. Found out later that he took the little tourist “train” throughout the city.
Showered and then ran out again to see if any of the shops were open that I had seen earlier. They were but I didn’t buy anything. I met Barbara and the group in the lobby for our walking tour at 2 pm. Those of the group who didn’t go really missed a treat. She is an excellent tour guide and so interesting. We saw all the major sites including a closeup of the Cathedral on top of the volcanic peak and the Virgin statue overlooking the city. A few of the guys even walked up inside the statute. I had to pass on that because I wanted to do some last minute shopping. Went into a beautiful cathedral, too. At one point we stopped and Barbara purchased these incredible “lentil” wafers. The lentils are only grown in this area. She also purchased this cheese that has a crust of live bugs. YUCK! The cheese she purchased had been refrigerated so at least the bugs weren’t jumping off it. I passed on that snack.
Barbara took me to the local “Wal-Mart” type store but I didn’t find any gifts for the twins. Guess I’ll look at the airport tomorrow.
Got back just in time to change for dinner with The Mavericks and the festival BOD/committee and staff. We ate in the hotel restaurant and it was really excellent. We had a white fish on rice with vegetables and some type of amazing brown sauce. Then they brought this dessert that looked like a red and white apple. It was white meringue on the bottom and raspberry sorbet on the top . The meringue was filled with fresh whipped cream and raspberries. To die for!
After dinner, Kjell and I met with the festival organizers to discuss next year’s event. If we work together, the dates will be more attractive for the artists and more economical for the festivals. Definitely have some “ideas” pending. I love working with Emilie and Jean and all the people involved. Emilie is as fast to answer on email as I am which is refreshing.
I took about 100 photos today…something I rarely do. It’s such a beautiful little town with winding cobblestone streets and really old buildings, tons of restaurants and just a great ambiance. There is a creperie on every corner but I didn’t indulge and now I wish I had. There are also lots of Gelato shops but again, I was good and regretting it. There are about 20,000 people living in the city limits but around 40,000 total including the suburbs…which can be another city as close as 6 miles away.
I’ll have all my photos posted on the JSI, Inc. website next week. You should check it out. There are some buildings from the 10th Century. Hard to imagine….
Leaving for the airport at 10 am tomorrow and a very long flight home via Amsterdam and Detroit. Won’t be in Nashville until around 10:30 pm tomorrow night. Again, it’s been a great tour….for me, the entertainers, the country music fans and the buyers!
Penny and Bo are almost home. She was able to get them upgraded – free of charge – from coach to business on the flight from Amsterdam to JFK and JFK to Nashville. Amazing!
A side note and very special thanks to Gary Sinise, Judy Otter, and the Gary Sinise Foundation for answering a “plea” for one of our wounded heroes from the Iraq conflict who needed assistance with moving expenses so he could be near a hospital that can provide the type of treatment he needs. Gary and his organization are some of those “unsung” heroes who quietly work miracles for our U.S Military, first responders and so many others on a daily basis. I am blessed to have him and Judy in my life.
TUESDAY, JULY 30TH – FRANCE TO NASHVILLE:
When I passed out the first night in this hotel, I did not notice the “bed”. Last night, when I wasn’t so tired, I realized the bed is horrible. It’s as hard as the floor but has “lumps” in the mattress that are impossible to “bypass”. It was a pretty miserable night.
Got up at 6 am and worked out with my rubber bands, showered, and had breakfast. At breakfast, they have these individual little glasses with fresh yogurt. I put my spoon in mine for a bite and the glass shattered in my hand. Thankfully it didn’t cut me. Got packed after breakfast and ready to go to the airport for a 2 pm flight to Amsterdam. Going to have a really short connection in Amsterdam and praying there are no delays. It’s raining there, so really worried.
Very strange airport. We were dropped off in front of the train terminal and then had to take an elevator upstairs and walk through that terminal to another terminal. We went through all the shopping areas and finally arrived at the check-in counter. I looked outside to see if we could have pulled up directly outside. There was a road but it was blocked off. Hopefully this is a temporary situation as it’s quite a hike with carts full of heavy equipment. I checked in then went to say good-bye to the guys. The staff of Lufthansa was the “epitome” of what is said about the French being rude to Americans. (By the way, I have NEVER found that to be true…until today!). They refused to let them check in as a “group” and were not at all helpful. Johnny finally talked to the lady at the check-in counter and she motioned everyone to her “lane”. I had to leave them since my flight departed earlier than theirs. Hopefully they didn’t have any issues.
It was a short flight from Lyon to Amsterdam and even though we landed on time, I had to hurry to make my next connection. Had to go through Passport Control and then Security and a quizzing process at the gate. I went to the restroom after clearing all that and when I walked out a man was walking around with an iPad saying “left iPad”. It was mine. Thank goodness he checked because I would not have missed it until I got back to Nashville! Evidently, Delta had boarded all the first class passengers and passengers who needed assistance before I arrive at the gate. Then they had to take everyone off because of a “technical” problem. Not good. Finally the pilot came off and made a special announcement that the aircraft had filled up with smoke because the “external” unit that was hooked up to the aircraft was faulty and that’s where the smoke was coming from.
We boarded a few minutes later and lucky me….there was another “family” sitting behind and across from me. At least these were older. A boy around 9 was across from me, his 12 or so year old brother behind him and his 10 or so year old sister behind him. The mother was behind me and across from the kids and her husband was behind her. It was obvious they had never flown in First Class before. The kids were putting their seat down into a bed and opening up their video monitors and headsets before takeoff. The flight attendants were super nice to them and very, very patient. They explained that everything had to be “stowed and closed” for takeoff. Then when we started taxiing, the entire family (including the parents) popped open their video monitors. I guess the flight attendant had enough by that point and came by and slammed them shut. The mother started yelling at him – in English. He told her that if they didn’t follow the rules, takeoff would have to be aborted until they did. I was ready to choke her myself.
Once we got in the air, I watched another horrible movie and then was going to try and sleep for a couple of hours. The “mother” had her overhead light on – only person in the aircraft with that light on. Of course, it was right in my eyes when I lay down. I didn’t want to get out the sleep mask, so I just gave up on sleeping. Was very happy that the rest of her family slept the entire trip. Again, another example of parents not bothering to discipline their children. Seems to be prevalent on flights I take. L
We landed on time in Detroit and I have to say, it’s the quickest I’ve ever gone through immigration, picked up my bags, cleared Customs, and security. I have the Global Entry pass which of course expedites everything but my bags are always the last ones off the belt. They are always tagged as “priority” so they will come off first but that seems to mean “last” to the baggage handlers.
Went to the Lounge in Detroit at about 8:00 pm only to be told that they close at 9 pm. At least I got my emails downloaded before going down to the gate. Our flight was on time and I slept the entire 1 ½ hours. Landed on time in Nashville and Frank my taxi driver was there to pick me up. I won’t get to see the Z’s until tomorrow late because it was after 11 pm when I arrived home.
It was another great trip. Very interesting to see the festival in Craponne for the first time and be able to “meet” with them about how they organize their event. I think Kjell was very glad he came to see it as well.
Believe it or not, I’m home for a few weeks. I have a “day trip” to DC next Monday and a long weekend with the twins in Florida later in the month. But – knock on wood – I’m not scheduled to fly out of the country again until September 12th…..WOO-HOO! J