FRIDAY, JULY 13TH – TRAVEL FROM OSLO TO BERGEN TO BREIM:
Four hours of sleep was “heavenly”! J Went to the great gym again at the Radisson, breakfast and over to the airport. I got there early and checked my bags in. Then helped the guys print their baggage tags once they arrived. Very quick process and we had about an hour to kill before departing. It’s an SAS flight and thankfully a big airplane because it’s still raining heavily. The flight was pretty bumpy getting out of Oslo but smoothed out until we got ready to land in Bergen. I was in the Exit Row because there’s no business class section.
We landed on time and my bags – which were marked “priority” were the last ones to come out. J Anna – who drives us every year – is our bus driver. She brings tours over to America every year, so she’s quite the tour guide. She has a microphone and speaker system and tells interesting facts as we’re driving along. It’s a 5 hour trip including a ferry ride. The ferry was about 2 hours into the trip and was a 25 minute crossing. The bus drives right onto the ferry. We were able to grab a sandwich or hot dog at a little store prior to getting on the ferry. Think the guys were very impressed by the “beauty” of this country. But the roads are narrow – should be one lane but they are two lane. When you’re in a huge tour bus and meet another vehicle, someone has to pull over. There was a big semi in front of us with a load of Volvos. He got too close to the concrete guard rail and scrapped the side of the truck – and hopefully not the new Volvos! We drove up mountains with very winding roads at a high rate of speed and rarely was there a guard rail. Pretty “hair-raising” for most of the guys.
This is the same hotel we have always stayed at but they have added a new “wing” since I was here 2 years ago and boy is it nice. The old part of the hotel is on the historical register and there was no elevator or air conditioning. This side is great except for one problem. There are no telephones in the rooms! Hard to believe a hotel doesn’t have telephones in the rooms.
Got everyone checked in and went down to dinner. It was 7:30 and the buffet was closing at 8 pm. Vince said it was the best meal he has had since he’s been here and I’d agree. Salmon was so fresh and everything else tasted great. Especially the coffee!
Josh wasn’t feeling well and thought he might have a sinus infection. There was a 24 hour clinic near the hotel so I took him over there. He was very reluctant to go but I insisted hoping we could get him a prescription for antibiotics. He did great until she wanted to take blood from him. They finally compromised and she only stuck his finger. Results came back as “viral” instead of “bacterial” so she wouldn’t give him antibiotics. Wish I had brought mine with me. I don’t think over the counter is going to be very helpful.
Cor Sanne – my friend from Holland – is here and I chatted with him a while. Also arranged for someone to bring fishing poles to the hotel tomorrow so the guys can go fishing. Rain has finally stopped and fingers are crossed for none tomorrow. It’s 1 am and I have to be at 5:30, so going to bed now.
SATURDAY, JULY 14TH – PERFORMANCE AT COUNTRY-TREFF IN BREIM:
Had a nice little surprise at 1 am when I opened my suitcase. My clothes were wet. My first thought was that something had leaked but I always put everything “liquid” in ziplock baggies. I realized pretty quickly that the airline had left it out in the rain for more than a few minutes. My clothes weren’t just wet—they were dripping water. I had to squeeze them out in the shower and hang them around the room, hoping they would dry by 5:30 am. Didn’t happen. So at 6 am I was using the hair dryer to try and get my jeans dry enough to wear and the iron to try and dry my very wrinkled shirt. SAS partners with United who is the airline that left everything out in the rain on a recent trip to Kuwait. However, it’s not the airline employees who do this. It’s the baggage handlers.
Anyway, was in bed by 2 am and up at 5:30 to shower, dress and have a wonderful breakfast with the crew. Coffee here is great plus lots of fresh fruit, yogurt, eggs, make your own waffle, fresh bread, you name it. Problem is, I don’t get to eat all the wonderful fattening stuff. L But they have my brown cheese which is my favorite.
We left the hotel at 7:15 for the venue. Their equipment van was waiting for them and I stayed long enough to make sure they had everything they needed and check out the backstage dressing rooms for tonight. Kristin was there working away. She’s the daughter of the man (Nils) who started this festival in the 90’s and a real sweetheart. I looked at all the posters on the wall and found that my first visit was in 1998 with the Bellamy Brothers. Wow, how time flies. This is one of my favorite events in Norway – along with Vinstra and Seljord. Such nice people to work with and you know that if there is a problem, it will be taken care of quickly and professionally.
I came back to the hotel so I could walk over to the Pharmacy to get a prescription filled for Josh. The doctor gave him a prescription for a nasal spray that has cortisone in it to use on the flights to help with the pressure on his ears. The doctor told us the pharmacy opened at 9 am but I guess she forgot today is Saturday. They don’t open until 10 am. So, I have time to write a little on my road report before going to the venue at 10:15 am with Vince and the musicians. Load in and sound check is early because there is another stage at the festival and the music begins there at 1 pm. We wanted to be through “making noise” before they got started.
I have never attended but Vince has agreed to sing a couple of songs. Everyone says it’s the most special part of this festival and I’m looking forward to seeing it for the first time. Really sweet of Vince to participate as not all entertainers do so. Usually the entertainers I bring over arrive here on Friday and are still so jet-lagged on Saturday that they just want to sleep through the afternoon. Vince doesn’t perform until 12:30 – 2:00 tonight! But since we are so far north that it never gets very dark, you really can’t tell what time it is!
Sound check was painless and I got to see Kristin – Nils daughter who co-manages the festival. The drive out there was beautiful and we go over a bridge at the entrance to the hotel with huge white water rapids. I rode back to the hotel with Anna to pick up Vince and the musicians. They finished sound check right on time and headed back to the hotel. Most of the guys went to the pizza parlor for lunch. I did my “Z shopping” and got something to eat at one of the little food stands that had been set up for the day in the town square. I asked a local what a round piece of bread was. They really couldn’t explain it but as long as it didn’t have fish in it, I was willing to try it. It wasn’t sweet and really didn’t have a taste. I later learned I should have put some sugar, jelly or brown cheese on it! I also had sort of a “lo mein” mixture. Vermicelli noodles with stir fried veggies. It was awesome.
Went over to the beautiful little 1700’s Lutheran church on the water for the church service. Most of the entertainers from the festival were there and did a couple of songs. When Vince took the stage, he told the audience that he had come there yesterday with a heavy heart. He had learned his uncle had passed away. His uncle was the first person to give him a job — bailing hay. Vince said it was such hard work, he learned right away that he didn’t want to do that to earn money and became a great guitar player instead. Anyway, he got choked up as he was talking about him. While Vince was singing, someone opened the back door to the church to take out of the pews. There was a beautiful view of the lake and mountains and Vince asked if we could keep the door open while he performed. The service ended with everyone on stage singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and then there was the sounds of bagpipes outside with someone playing “Amazing Grace”. It was very emotional and touching and the promoter said the best church service they have ever had. Vince realized later that the funeral service for his Uncle was taking place at exactly the same time he was performing in Norway because of the time difference.
We went back to the hotel and some of the guys went fishing in front of the hotel. Others passed out for a few hours. I think most of us had dinner at around 6 pm. I rode over with the guys at 9:45 pm to make sure everything was set up for the little “Meet and Greet”. It was still cloudy, but no rain. There was a huge crowd on the festival grounds. I took a couple of the crew out to walk around the booths to see some of the unique items for sale. Lots of leather, chaps, western wear with “bar girl saloon type” outfits for the women and pink cowboy hats with lots of flashing lights, sequins and feathers! They even had LED belt buckles that flashed “Good Luck”. There were also LOTS of items I can’t mention in this report. J
Vince and the band arrived at 11:45 pm and he did a little “Meet and Greet” with about 20 people. One local musician had hired a taxi to drive him to the festival. He paid 7,000 NOK ONE WAY for the trip and 7,000 NOK for the return trip, purchased a ticket for the driver and paid for dinner for her AND the meter was running for HOURS while they were there. 7,000 NOK is about $1,150 U.S. Figure that out! I don’t think there is any entertainer I love that much unless maybe Elvis came back. J
Show started right on time. The European Highwaymen introduced Vince and at the end of the intro, they all said loudly into one mic “Vince Gill” and right before they said it, the PA went out. After the show Vince was joking with them that he would have had a lot better response if the audience had known who was performing. I’ve always know Vince was very quick-witted and humorous but it was very nice to learn that it comes naturally for him and he truly IS a nice guy. In honesty, he could not have had a better show. The audience loved him and staged as close to the front of the stage as possible. There were two huge dance floors that were packed. Vince was professional enough to realize it was a drinking, dancing crowd and while he played all his hits, he kept the tempo up by interspersing just the right number of ballads between the up-tempos. I was walking through the crowd and recognized a man in the audience. It was Egil, the promoter from the Seljord Festival at the end of the month. Talked to him for a few minutes but the music was so loud we were having to shout. I tried to get him to come backstage with me but he said they had to drive a couple of hours back home and would be leaving soon. This festival is set up very differently from other festivals I work with in Norway. No one under 18 in Norway is allowed to be in an area where alcohol is sold. They want “families” to be able to watch the show so they fence off the area right in front of the stage where the dance floors are located. Outside the fence are areas that sell beer and food and have seating. No one is allowed to bring alcohol inside the fenced off area, so the audience is more of a “listening/dancing” audience.
There is a special cake here for weddings or birthdays. Basically, it is a white cake with cream inside and marzipan icing. It is to DIE for and they always make one for me at this event. I blew my “no sugar” diet and had one piece. As good as I’ve ever had! Kristin arranged for hot burgers and paprika fries to be brought backstage and the guys chowed down at about 2:30 am. We were back at the hotel by 3:00 am and I was in bed by 3:30 am.
SUNDAY, JULY 15TH – BREIM BACK TO BERGEN:
Got up at 8:30 am and showered and finished packing. Had one last awesome breakfast at the hotel. Nils was there and so happy with this year’s event He said they had 11,500 attending which is 1,000 more than last year. This is especially good because the weather report for the weekend was for rain and cold temperatures. Other festivals have shown a decline in attendance but this one actually increased their sales. So good to know because Nils and the community are wonderful. This festival was listed by the Norwegian Government as the top festival in Norway for government sponsored events.
Nils and Gunnar came down to say good-bye to everyone. Nils got on the bus and thanked everyone for the best event ever – especially Vince’s performance at the church. I think everyone was touched but you sure don’t have that happen with promoters in America!
About 30 minutes into the drive, traffic stopped quickly – not easy to do in a large tour bus. There was a goat in the middle of the road! We stopped and several people got off to take a picture with him. He wanted “tobacco” to eat. J
Rest of the drive was uneventful. Think the guys have grown accustomed to meeting other vehicles head on and nearly scraping the paint off the sides of the bus when we almost run into guard rails on the top of mountains with several thousand feet drops. J Vince’s humor has been so entertaining. We had the ferry ride back but from a different point. Two of the guys were still standing outside the bus at a little food stand when the line started moving. Anna had to take the bus on, so we left them standing there. Guess they saw that the bus had left and ran to get on the ferry!
The hotel is the Radisson Blu Royal in Bergen. Really nice hotel. They had our room keys ready for us with only a couple of mistakes – not bad for a Radisson. My room had an extra “rollaway” bed in it which took up all the floor space. I walked back downstairs and told them someone would have to take the rollaway out. Instead they moved my room. Now all the rooming sheets that everyone has are wrong and no one knows where I am….hmm…..maybe not so bad. J
Dawn and I walked around the town which surprisingly enough was still open! I bought some more goodies for the Z’s and she got a beautiful scarf made of goat “fur” – is it fur or hide or what? No idea. Whatever it is, it’s really pretty. About every 10 minutes, it would pour down rain and we would get soaked because we didn’t have umbrellas.
We all had dinner in the hotel restaurant compliments of the promoter. We were told dinner included an appetizer, entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic drink. Instead it was a “set menu”. Before we arrived, one of the guys told Vince that Entrecote was Cod fish. (It’s actually beef – similar to steak). He ordered a pizza and then was disappointed when he saw what the others were served.
Have been trying to print boarding passes for everyone for over an hour now and it’s not happening. I can print the boarding pass from Bergen to Amsterdam on KLM but can’t print the other two boarding passes because they are on Delta.
We leave for the airport at 4:15 am tomorrow so I am going to shower tonight and go to bed — very soon. So happy to be going home to see my beautiful grandchildren after 3 long, very “entertaining” weeks!
MONDAY, JULY 16TH – HOME AT LAST:
That 3 am wake up call was EARLY. Was showered, dressed and in the lobby by 4 am. We left at 4:15 am and were at the airport by 4:45 am. We had been told that the ticket counter did not open until 5 am but that was not true. There was already a long line at the counter. I was able to check 3 bags weighing 70 pounds each because of my status on Delta so I checked the pedal board for Vince’s group with my luggage to save them the cost of excess baggage fees. The flight to Amsterdam departed on time and was a very short flight – about 1 ½ hours. I think I slept the entire flight. J We landed in Amsterdam and had a couple of hours before we had to depart but they flight was boarding and hour and a half before departure time. That left us only about 1 hour before going to the gate. We had to clear Passport Control and then a security scanner right before going into the gate area. I hate it when it’s set up that way because we have to throw away our water and there’s nowhere to buy any more before boarding the flight.
We were late leaving Amsterdam but only by a few minutes. The flight was entirely full in business class. The movies were horrible. I tried to watch one titled “Young Adult” but didn’t make it through to the end. At least the flight attendants were nice and the food was really good. I slept another 3 hours on that flight. Somewhere in my sleep deprived dreams, I heard the flight attendants asking if there was a doctor on board. Guess it was someone in coach because I woke up enough to see there was no activity in Business Class.
We landed Detroit a few minutes late, cleared immigration, picked up our luggage, cleared customs, and put the luggage on the re-check belt, then went through security and to the gate. That’s where we learned that our plane was late coming in from Nashville and our flight home was going to be delayed an hour. Not what you want to hear when you’re ready to be home.
We finally left about 1 hour and 15 minutes late and landed in Nashville about that late as well. Lindsey had Zac and Zoe waiting for me at the airport. It’s always hard to tell if they are excited to see me because they missed me or because they want their “presents”. J
The two shows with Vince were awesome and I’m glad we were finally able to get him to Norway. Lots of happy fans and promoters. He has such a great group of people working with him, too. Great way to end the long 3 week tour!