“Our recent trip to South Korea was a truly wonderful experience. Supporting our troops throughout South Korea gave us a new perspective and an even deeper appreciation for our service men, women and their families.” – Trick Pony
DAY ONE FOR KOREA – DAY SIX IN JAPAN:
For the past 5 days, I have been in Kumamoto, Japan with Trick Pony, Jo-el Sonnier. Stonewall Jackson, and Ryan Holladay for the 17th Annual Country Gold Festival. It was a big success! Sent everyone back to Nashville this morning EXCEPT for me and Trick Pony. We are going to Korea to perform 5 shows for the U.S. Military. Will be performing at a different Army Camp each day. I was just here in May and hope to see some of my “friends”. Love coming over here. And the General who is my friend and was in Iraq for the past 18 months is now the Deputy Chief of Staff here. Looking forward to hopefully seeing him, too, but Rumsfeld is in town, so things are a bit “busy”. We’ve offered to let Rumsfeld open one of our shows for us if he’d like too. J
Got the other group off to the U.S. at 7 am this morning and then I departed with Trick Pony at 9:30 am. We had to drive for 1 ½ hours to Fukuoka to catch our flight on Asiana to Seoul. There are 12 of us and we had 28 bags to check but 4 of us were flying business class and supposed to be able to check 3 bags each. The lady at the counter remembered me from last year and was so sweet. She was supposed to charge us excess luggage but didn’t (around $500 we saved!). I gave her and her “manager” some nice gifts from everyone.
The flight was smooth and short. Landed in Seoul and my “case” had been tagged for inspection so it took me a while to clear customs. I bring all these “gifts” for everyone so they think I’m bringing goods to “sell”. Takes a while to explain it. Mr. Hwang met us and we drove for about 45 minutes to the Grand Hyatt Seoul. Shirley was waiting for us with our room keys. So nice! The hotel is fabulous and Trick Pony is very happy. I don’t think I like it as much as the Marriott because the Marriott is in a better location and has a better gym and much better shopping and jogging. But, still, it’s really, really nice – probably a 5 star hotel if it was in the U.S.
There was a knock on my door and Heidi was standing there with a beautiful floral bouquet of roses. She bought them for me just to say “thanks”. (Stan, you’d be proud of your band – just wish you were here with us!).
Going to order room service – a rare luxury – get caught up on some work, and hopefully get in bed at a decent hour tonight. We have AFN radio and tv tomorrow and have to get ID cards issued. Then I’m taking them to see my tailor and boot maker….shop, shop, shop! Shows start on Wednesday.
DAY TWO – OCTOBER 18TH
Went to the Gym as soon as it opened. Nice gym, but crowded and doesn’t open until 6:30 am every day. Definitely not as nice as the Marriott or Dragon Hill Lodge, but it is free. Since everything else here is so expensive, that’s a nice “perk”.
Ordered a bowl of Muesli and some coffee from room service and it cost me $30.00 U.S. Internet connection is $25 per day and I’m pretty sure the “laundry” I sent out is over $200. The guys can’t afford to eat here. It’s much better for them when we can stay at the Dragon Hill Lodge on base.
The “Ponies” and I went to AFN-K for radio and television interviews this morning. I cannot figure out why the radio DJ NEVER knows we are coming and is NEVER prepared. It is embarrassing to have him trying to interview someone that he knows absolutely nothing about. He was nice and thankfully the Ponies were great about this. This happens every time I bring and artist here and I’ve got to find some way to fix this problem. Every time we walk in, the DJ (and it’s a different one each time) will say, “I only found out about 10 minutes ago that you were coming here for an interview”!
After the interviews, we went to rent cell phones – on base and very inexpensive. We paid $30 for a “month” and another $20 for over 200 minutes of international calling time!
THEN, WE ALL WENT SHOPPING. Decided to “walk” to Itaewon from the Hyatt because it’s only about 10 minutes. But we went a different way from what I know and took several wrong turns. Finally made it to Itaewon and the first stop was “Roll In” sushi which is excellent. Huge rolls and oh so fresh. Heidi, Ira and I went for the sushi but Keith went to “Outback”. Just not a sushi person but trust me, we ate his share. After lunch, I took them to New York Tailor. Unfortunately, the owner – Mr. Park – is in Washington, D.C., but his associates took good care of everyone. I tried to have some boots made at “Rodeo” across the street but they need 2 weeks to make them. Took them to my copy watch and copy bag guy. This is the bag shop where this shopkeeper calls his wife. She comes to his shop and then we have to follow her – discreetly, at least 50 yards behind – down these side streets and alleys until we go through a gated area, around the back of a house, and then into a “basement” filled with copy bags, shoes, watches, etc. Didn’t buy anything for me but got a couple of bags that people asked me to pick up for them.
Heidi wanted to know if everyone in Itaewon knew me by name because everywhere we went, the shopkeepers would say, “Oh, I remember you”. I am definitely contributing to the economy of Korea.
Then it was back to the tailor to pick out some cloth from “swatches”. We were all so tired that we decided to take a taxi back instead of walking. Plus it was all downhill on the trip down, so you know what that means going back! I’ve been answering email for the last 3 hours….
Tomorrow is our first show in Korea – Camp Casey – where I have lots of friends. Really looking forward to that show.
DAY THREE – OCTOBER 19TH:
Decided to work out again this morning (arms instead of legs today) instead of jogging. Will hit the jogging trail tomorrow am. As I was going into the gym, I noticed a sign that said no one with tattoos will be allowed in the gym. Now, what am I supposed to do? Have my two lasered off real quick? Now I have to worry about my clothes moving around and “showing” these and I can’t wear some of the gym tops that I brought with me. I wonder who thought up that rule and why tattoos are a problem!
It is about 150 degrees in my room. I called the front desk and they said that the hotel has not turned off the air conditioning for the year and we are being given a “fresh breeze from the outside”. If you’ve ever been to Korea, you KNOW there’s no “fresh” air anywhere in the entire country. I asked if they were piping it in from Hawaii but she didn’t get the sarcasm. She did offer to bring me a “portable fan” which is better than nothing. Feels like I’m back in Europe in the summer with no air conditioning in the hotels!
Everyone was on time for the ride to Camp Casey. Don’t have to worry about that Camp being set up and ready for us. They are always very organized! We took back roads on the trip up because traffic is always horrendous in Korea. But, we ran into road construction and Keith swears that at one point, we were on a dirt road. Told him this was the scenic route through Korea. It took us 2 hours to go up there but because we’ll be coming back at midnight, we’ll make it back in one hour.
Famous last words….the Camp was set up but the Sound Company was NOT! The one thing I never have to worry about is this sound company. Have used them for years and they are so good that the artists always want to take them back to America with us. We walked in today and the stage was not set up and ready. Then they did not have some of the equipment we had asked for AND several of their cables, cords and the snake were broken. It took so long to get everything up and running that the Ponies didn’t get much of a sound check. They had a smoke machine going when I walked in – one of the old oil based- not water based and I told them to turn it off, put it back on the truck and not to bring it near the stage again. Five minutes later, they had it going again. I got the interpreter over and asked her to find out what was going on. The engineer told her that they were only using a “little bit” of smoke. I told her to tell him that I was only going to pay him a “little bit” of his money if he didn’t get rid of it. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t see the smoke machine again! J
The gym was packed and Trick Pony put on a ROCKIN’ show. The audience loved them and they signed autographs and took photos with everyone afterwards. But they were not happy because of the sound system. Can’t say that I blame them. I pulled the sound company aside after the show and they were very apologetic. Told them it was nice that they were sorry but I didn’t want their apologies. I gave them the time that we would arrive at Camp Red Cloud tomorrow (now we have to leave 2 hours earlier because we’re scared they won’t have their act together again) and told them I wanted everything set up and running perfectly BEFORE we arrive. I also told them that if they don’t get it right tomorrow night, we are replacing them with a different sound company. Since I haven’t paid them anything yet, that definitely got their attention. I couldn’t figure out why they had suddenly done a complete 180 on me but our MWR rep said that several months ago, they fired all the employees and sold all their equipment. Now they go out and rent the gear for each gig and hire “independent technicians” for each show. I won’t be using them again after this tour and maybe not throughout the rest of this tour.
Found out that one of my long time friends at this base has throat cancer. He has had 8 heart attacks and every time I see him, I beg him to quit smoking. Now this. He’s in Hawaii taking Chemo and then they will operate on him.
We went to dinner after the show and I can’t remember the last time I’ve laughed so hard. This group is one of the funniest I’ve ever toured with. Can’t even put into writing exactly “what” they were joking about but let’s just say it’s one of “guys” most disgusting habits! I am actually losing my voice from laughing for so long.
My friend (the General) has really gone out of his way to make this tour special for us. He’s arranged for us to visit the small contingency of Swedes and Swiss stationed up at the DMZ and they are supposed to cook lunch for us. We’ve never been allowed to visit them. Then he is giving a private tour for the opening of the new museum on the base and we’re invited to that. Very cool. I’m taking everyone out to dinner on Friday night (our day off) and hopefully some of the Swedes/Swiss will be able to join us for that.
Okay. It’s almost 1 am and I have to get up early….surprise, surprise. Night, all!
DAY 4 – OCTOBER 20TH
Decided to “brave the streets of Korea and go jogging this morning. Got a suggested “jogging map” from the front desk and headed out. I remember running this path before when we stayed at the Tower Hotel. It’s right beside 4 lanes of traffic so I was sucking in exhaust fumes the entire time. I ran out of sidewalk in front of their Library and had to back track. There were some pretty steep hills along this route, which I really hate. Found a little “park” across from the hotel and managed to finish up what I think was 5 miles. Didn’t have any problems except for this one guy on a motorcycle who came out of NOWHERE and was barreling down the sidewalk – even though there were 4 lanes of highway for him to use. I had to jump out of his way. Sure wish I spoke Korean so I could have told him what I thought of him.
Yesterday, I walked Keith over to the exchange to buy some antacids for his heartburn. We had to walk through a little shopping area and he spotted some Abercrombie cargo pants. Stopped, tried them on, and kept them on! He paid $40 for a pair of $80 pants in the States so it was a good deal. BUT, men are always talking about women’s shopping habits! He went for a $3 package of Pepto and came back with $40 pants. HA!
Going up to Red Cloud today. Camp Red Cloud is also the 2nd ID — same as Camp Casey. Korea had quite a few troops deployed to Iraq and some of them are back over here now. Sure hope the production company has their act together!
Well, they were set up and ready for us and everything worked. I’m much happier about this now.
We were offered a tour of a museum (one that I toured last year) but only Keith, David and I went over for the tour. It was really great. Lots of relics from World War I, II and the Korean War. Every time our guide (an older gentleman with quite a history in the U.S. Military) would refer to France, he’d say “Back when the French would fight”! Pretty cute.
I stopped by the base exchange to purchase some items that I needed to be carrying around in my purse for the others (tums. Cough drops, breath mints, etc.). Got up to the cash register to pay and realized that my wallet was still in the safe in my room in Seoul.
The show was again in a gymnasium and the sound was very difficult to “control”. But it sounded 100 times better than the other night. The crowd was small but enthusiastic and the Ponies gave another fabulous show. We got to spend a little time after the show visiting with my friends at that Camp. The SMA called me up on stage after the show to tell everyone about Stars for Stripes and what I’m doing. So sweet but very embarrassing. I’m much better backstage telling everyone else what to do on stage! J
The autograph session was held in a nightclub on the base. I was against this because in the past, the people asking for the autographs are not the ones who attended the show. We lose a lot of people when it takes an hour to pack up after the show and get over to the club to sign. I always like for the people in the audience to get an autograph. But, there was a pretty good crowd still there and the Ponies signed for about an hour. A soldier came up to me in the autograph line and asked if I remembered him. He looked familiar but I had to have some clues. He was the soldier who drove Danni Leigh and Chalee Tennison around and helped us load in our production equipment at Camp Victory, Iraq in July, 2004! Can’t believe he remembered me.
Bus rides back to the hotel are always much quicker because we don’t have any traffic at night. Friday is a “day off” (or shop ‘til you drop day) and I’m taking everyone out to dinner at a Thai restaurant tomorrow night. Was hoping my friend who is on the SecDef tour could join us but don’t think she is going to have any “free” time!
DAY 5 – OCTOBER 21ST:
ood thing today is “gym” day. It’s raining outside. How could it rain on my shopping day and Keith’s golf day?
Answered emails for a couple of hours and then hit Itaewon for shopping. I didn’t find a lot of the things on my list but still have some time. BUT, the “boys” have out-shopped me. It is SOOOO funny. Happens every time. Several of them are already plotting how they can come back over here with some other artist. They have had custom designed clothes made, purchased luggage to get the things home in, watches bags, kimonos, shoes…you name it, they’ve bought it. And they are like kids at Christmas comparing the “deals” they got and the “undercover tactics” they had to use to make some of the purchases. I did find several items on my list and actually ordered some “embroidered items for Christmas for several people.
It turned REALLY cold after the rain stopped! I took everyone out to dinner at a fabulous Thai restaurant. We had Beth (Air Force Communications Specialist), Brandon (Army Protocol) and his girlfriend Christie (English teacher), Matt (Army Blackhawk pilot) and Jason (Army Artillery) who found the restaurant and joined us for dinner. We really had a great time. Went to a little bar after dinner and Heidi was offended that I have not had ONE drink with her on this trip. So, I had two – yes, two – Butterscotch Nipples. We took some great photos and video.
Have to get up really early tomorrow morning. We are getting to take a tour of the new Natural History Museum that will open next week, thanks to my friend General Sargeant. Then we take the train down to Camp Walker for our performance tomorrow night.
Day 6 – October 22nd:
I had a feeling all “8” people who signed up to go to the museum wouldn’t make it because some of them stayed out very late. Only 3 people (including me) went for the tour. Protocol picked us up at the hotel and took us over to the General’s house. I haven’t seen him since we were in Iraq in April with Charlie Daniels and had only met his wife once in Nashville. We all convoyed over to the new museum – only the van we came in “died” and we had to ride with the others. The wife of the Ambassador to New Zealand and several other people were in our “party”. The museum is fabulous. I’ve been watching them build it since 1997! It won’t officially open until next week, so this was a special treat just for us. We only had a little over one hour that we could spend there and would have loved to have stayed longer and looked at all the exhibits. Maybe when I come back in February!
I was walking through one of the exhibit halls listening to our “guide” when Ira came up and starting sniffing me. Then he burst out laughing. He said that Beth made the comment that she smelled waffles and wondered if there was a bakery in the building. Ira said he told her he smelled it, too. Then he remembered my perfume. I wear cream brulee and it smells like fresh baked cookies. So he solved the mystery of the bakery aroma.
We went back to the hotel and grabbed our gear for the show tonight. Took the bullet train to Daegu. It travels at 210 mph and only took us 1 ½ hours to get there as opposed to 5-6 hours on the bus. That’s how we traveled last December with the Bellamys and it was awesome. Except for the “smells”. Not only do all the Koreans smell like garlic because of the Kimchee that they eat, but they bring foul smelling food on the train with them and eat it. One of the musicians said he sat with his shirt pulled up over his nose the entire trip.
We are at Camp Walker tonight and I have lots of friends here – including a General that Chely “picked up” in the Narita airport 2 years ago. He’s such a sweet man and his wife and two sons are here with him. His son is the one who sang the Korean National Anthem for us at Mark Wills and Jolie’s concert last May. I was going to have him open the show for us but he’s away at a Scout function this weekend.
They are performing in the gym again but it is packed this time and a very enthusiastic crowd. We will have to cut the autograph session short because we have to take the last train out of here at 10 pm.
Met with General McHale but his oldest son was away on a Scout Camping trip so he didn’t get to sing the Korean National Anthem for us. The show was ROCKIN’ – probably the best audience we’ve had this entire trip. The gym was packed and Trick Pony really gave them a high energy show. I was walking backstage and looked up just in time to see Ira straddle his stand-up bass guitar. Everyone else in the band was doubled over with laughter. Evidently when he “spun” it this time, it got away from him and just kept spinning and circling him. He was chasing it and trying to grab it and finally just jumped on top of it to stop the momentum. Great ending to the song! J
We had to rush the autograph session – which I hate – but we had to get to the train station before the last train left. Made it with plenty of time to spare and I bought some chestnuts to share with everyone. Only no one but Brad would eat one. And then he spit his out in his hand and said, “those things aren’t very good!”. I was thinking that they weren’t great, but certainly not bad enough to spit out. Then someone asked him if he removed the shell before he ate it. Nope. He thought it was a CHOCOLATE DROP and chewed it up shell and all. Like I said, I have laughed so much this trip that my throat is sore and I’m losing my voice.
Got back to the hotel a little before 1 am. Our show tomorrow is at the Camp in Yongsan so everyone can sleep in and still have time to run down to Itaewon and shop a little before going to the base.
Day 7 – October 23rd:
Got up and jogged my 5 miles this morning. My throat is a LOT better. Think I just need to “rest” my voice and stop laughing so much.
Went down to Itaewon to pick up some things I had ordered and try to purchase some of the “last minute” items I needed. Ran into our Protocol Officer and his wife and showed them where to buy the best watches. Then back to the hotel to try and “sort and pack”.
Keith knocked on my door just as I was getting ready to get into the shower. Also had my hair up in curlers, so there was no way I was going to let him in. Told him to come back in 10 minutes. He just needed to use my computer to check the sports scores.
We went over for the performance and had a little “meet and greet” backstage prior to the performance. There were more Generals at this event than I’ve ever seen at a show. While it was way cool to have them all attend, the crowd was still “light”. I just don’t know what we can do to get the word out. There really needs to be some changes made and an “advertising plan” put into place for future shows.
After the show, everyone was invited to my friend’s house (General Sargeant and his wife) for drinks and pizza. I KNEW this would be the highlight of the tour for everyone and I was not disappointed. He brought out his best scotch and cigars. And, you won’t believe this, but I smoked a cigar…actually TWO cigars. One was big and fat and the other was slim and “sweet”. I have never in my life even smoked a cigarette but I found out that with cigars, you don’t have to inhale (which I could never do). The skinny, sweet one was great but gave me a buzz much worse than any alcohol could ever do. I thought Ira was going to have to do the “Fireman’s Throw” to get me back to the hotel. And, I even learned how to “flick” my ashes. I did, however, manage to burn General Sargeant TWICE (I think) while trying to keep the darn thing lit.
General Sargeant gave everyone one of his coins which was really awesome. We gathered everyone around for a “group photo” and I took the first one. Right in the middle of the photo, someone (I won’t mention any names but it is the same person who doesn’t know that you have to take the shells off the chestnuts!)….hmmmm….how can I put this….made a loud noise and it wasn’t with his mouth! Pretty much “cleared the set”! Then we all were laughing so hard that I couldn’t get the picture taken.
We came back to the hotel and Keith, Ira, Heidi and I were in the hallway laughing and talking. Dustin came down and said he could hear us all the way up on the 9th floor so we all went to our rooms before we got kicked out of the hotel.
I have no idea what I have typed and I am now going to bed because I feel like I just drank a pint of grain alcohol! J
DAY 8 – OCTOBER 24TH:
Up early to get to the gym. We have to go to the base today to have our purchases packed and shipped and turn in our cell phones. I don’t know what I would have done without this cell phone this time.
Then we go to the DMZ for our tour. I’m really excited about this part of the trip because we get to meet the small contingency of Swiss and Swedes who are stationed there as well and get this – they are going to cook us dinner! Oh, I was informed that I did not drink two Butterscotch Nipples – they are called “buttery nipples”.
Last night when we went to the General’s house for drinks, I had to stay behind and get our van driver’s cell phone number so I could call him to come back and pick us up. Tim was also late getting to the door and when we tried to go in, we found that the door was locked. We knocked and knocked and rang the bell and no one came. I went to the back gate but couldn’t get in it either so I started yelling for Steve. No one heard me. It was COLD outside and we decided that if Tim gave me a leg up, I could hop over the fence and maybe get someone’s attention. We tried one last time to ring the bell and this time, Steve’s wife heard us and let us in. It was a bit humbling to realize no one had even realized I wasn’t there! J
They have this great “patio” area that is enclosed and then they had built a fire outside. We had all taken our shoes off to go into the house, so my feet were pretty much frozen the entire time we were there. But we all had such a good time.
We went to the base to have our packages packed and shipped. I dropped mine off and went to see General Sargeant’s office. So much fun looking through the things on his wall because some of them were from his Wolf Pack days and the Iraq trips that we took over there. Went back to the Post Office to meet up with everyone and then I was going to turn in everyone’s cell phone. I couldn’t find the box and charger for Keith’s and when I asked him where it was, he got this “deer caught in the headlights look” on his face. He had taken it to the “Pack and Wrap” store and laid it on the counter but told them NOT to pack it. They packed it and he had about 5 boxes of things he was getting ready to ship. The packing guy said he put it in a big box but we found a small box almost the same size and luckily when we opened it, it was the right one!
Got everything shipped and made a quick stop in Itaewon to pick up some luggage tags that Heidi had made for her guys. She was passing them out when she came to “Bartt’s” tag and they had printed “BRATT” on them. We loved it.
We had an Air Force protocol officer meet us to ride up to the DMZ with us. He brought his two teenage sons with him and one of them is a drummer. Trick Pony’s drummer convinced him to let his son skip school and go to our show with us tomorrow – a special treat for him, I’m sure!
Arrived at the DMZ and for once, we were allowed to perform. There were about 25 soldiers there and it was such a really great thing to do for them. Make a quick stop in the DMZ gift shop and I bought Brad a t-shirt because today is his birthday. Then we had our briefing and left on the usual DMZ tour. But this one was anything but “usual”. We were allowed to walk between the buildings and stand on a concrete strip that separates North and South Korea and have our photos taken. We were also allowed to stop and take photos of the “axe murder” tree and the Bridge of No Return. Never been allowed to do any of those things before and it’s simply because General Sargeant arranged it.
The next part was the BEST of all. We went to visit the Swiss and Swedes who are stationed there. It is a VERY small contingency and we had one Swede and 3 Swiss attend. I got to talk to them about the festivals that I produce in their countries and they promised to come when they get back home. We had cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at their “club” and then went to their dining hall for dinner. The meal was excellent. The Ponies were ecstatic because it was food like we have back home. Said it was the best meal they have had since they left Nashville. They brought out the chef and his kitchen helpers and we thanked everyone. I sat with the General from Switzerland and he is a fascinating man. Hope we can go back and visit with them again in February when I come back with Diamond Rio. This visit was, again, compliments of General Sargeant. Boy, am I ever indebted to him!!!
Got back to the hotel early but I had to PACK and answer email. It’s 1:30 am and I need to go to bed soon. Just know I’m leaving out a lot of wonderful things that happened today, but I’ll put them in the next report!
DAY 9 – OCTOBER 25TH:
Now I know what I forgot to put in yesterday’s report. The soldier who was giving us our DMZ briefing and tour was awesome. He was making the speech about the fact that we had just entered the Demilitarized Zone and said, “Now would be a good time to reach under your seats and pull your interceptor vests and put them on.” He never changed his tone of voice and I just sat there looking at him while everyone else started looking under their seats. When he burst out laughing, they KNEW they had been had.
Got up for my last jog in Korea this trip. Horrible place to jog. Wonder I didn’t get killed by a motorist. Showered, answered a few email, drank a pot of coffee and went to the lobby to meet the Generals staff and give them some cds and take photos. It’s sad to be leaving but happy to know I’ll be back in February when it will be FREEZING!
We took the bus to Osan and shopped for a couple of hours but almost everything was closed. I didn’t know that the shops close on Tuesdays! My favorite bag shop was closed. But I managed to find a few items anyway J
We are playing at Camp Humphreys tonight – “The Hump”. This is the camp where the Bellamys performed on New Year’s Eve last year. At that time, the Commander was an Italian and he issued an order that no one could bring alcohol into the show room. Absolutely KILLED our attendance. I went to the base exchange and food court to see if there were any posters up advertising the show. NOTHING. Also asked several people I saw if they were coming to the show and they asked “What show?” Something has got to change.
This venue has a built in stage and the only way to get into the dressing rooms are to walk across the front of the stage. Not an ideal situation but we can make anything work. When the show started, there were probably only 30 people in the audience. So embarrassing. But as the group played, more people came in. We probably had 100 total but should have had 300-500 easy. So many of the Camps will use the excuse that “the soldiers are out in the field”. Doesn’t fly with me. I SEE how many people are outside walking around! It’s hard enough to get an artist to go overseas to perform for our troops but it doesn’t help my “cause” any when no one comes to see them perform.
Regardless, Trick Pony knocked their socks off. Everyone who went to the show was coming up to me afterwards asking when they could come back.
We went over to a club/restaurant to eat dinner after the show. I had purchased a couple of bottles of champagne for our “last show toast” and asked the restaurant if we could bring it in. They argued with me at first and then finally said, “Okay. But you cannot open it until after 9:30 pm.” It was 9:10 pm at the time. I could not figure out why in the world they had this rule. Then one of the group tried to order a beer and the waitress would not serve them! We had to go find the restaurant manager and he didn’t have a clue why they would be saying this either. He went behind the counter and had a chat with the staff then brought us wine glasses and our champagne.
It has been such a wonderful, fun tour with this group. I hate to see it end. And, I hate to think that I’m flying to Norway tomorrow. Ouch!
DAY 10 – OCTOBER 26TH:
Two hours of sleep, but I can sleep on the plane. Felt so sorry for Heidi. She had sent out laundry twice and had marked “overnight service” on the sheet. She didn’t read the information about a 100% surcharge for “overnight service” and was charged about $500 for this. Nothing I could do since the information was printed in English on the form. Not a happy ending to the tour for her! About 30 minutes into the bus ride to the airport, one of the guys announced that he had left his airline ticket at the hotel. Fortunately, a different guy had told me last night that he had packed it in a box and shipped it home! He later found it where the maid had put it in his desk drawer. But, I had already checked and found out that they were all on e-tickets. So, another crisis diverted.
No problem checking in. We got to check in as a group and it went very smooth. Didn’t even have to pay for excess which was AMAZING. I sent one of my bags home with one of the guys so I wouldn’t have to carry it around Norway all weekend. After I got everyone checked in and sent them towards their gate, I had to walk the length of the airport to check in with KLM. Then, through security and immigration and into the Lounge to leave my bags. Found out that I had been booked in a bulkhead seat for the 12 hour flight to Amsterdam, even though there were plenty of seats that were not bulkhead. Got that corrected and then I hiked to the other end of the airport again to tell everyone goodbye. Really, really sad to be leaving them but looking forward to reconnecting in NYC in a couple of weeks during the CMA Awards.
I’m on a double-decker but for some reason, am in the bottom section instead of the top. But, it’s fine! Really nice man from the U.K. sitting next to me and we’ve had a “lovely chat”. He gave me a beautiful parchment bookmark with the Egyptian alphabet on it. When they served lunch, guess what they included – a packet of KIMCHEE! Everyone in Trick Pony tried it last night at the restaurant and had the same reaction I had when I tried it – YUCK!! The entire population of Korea smells like garlic and now our airplane smells the same way. Nice. Had about a 2 hour layover in Amsterdam and got some emails answered. LOVELY to have cell phone service again.
Got on the flight to Oslo and guess what…I was in that horrible bulkhead seat that sticks out into the aisle. The one where every passenger getting on the plane hits me in the face with either their bag or their butt. I do not know why I always get that seat. Checked my return and they had me in it going back but got that changed!
When I landed in Oslo, there was about 2 feet of snow on the ground. My driver said it snowed yesterday. Everything is VERY WELL coordinated for this event. He met me at the airport, had food for me in the van and even had a comforter and pillow so I could sleep on the 1 ½ hour drive to the hotel in Lillehammer. It was HEAVEN. He gave me a packet with all my credentials and room key when I arrived. I have a beautiful view out my window – a winter wonderland. Probably all I’ll see of it is out my window since I don’t have any clothing for “snow”. At least the performances are in the lower level of the hotel. But, I sure would like to see Lillehammer while I’m here.
It’s almost 3 am. Going to bed soon, I hope.