Earlier this year, "ShAnnie" was invited to perform at the corporate sponsored July 4th celebration at the United States Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. Jokingly, "ShAnnie" asked, "Us?" And then quickly replied, "Absolutely!"
Here is a short journal of our trip to Switzerland, 2013...
We were met upon our arrival at the Zurich airport by Herbie. Herbie looks like someone that may have inspired the original sketches for â€œThe Terminatorâ€, although heâ€™s gentle, sweet and funny. He drove us to the Embassy, where we then met Stephen, another gentle and totally awesome guy! Stephen drove us to and around Geneva preparing for our first performance. It was a private party on top of the big glass United Nations building overlooking the city.
Shan and I thought to ourselves, if this is any example of how the tour will pan outâ€¦ we are ready!
Yes, the first performance was lovely, as were the people, leaving us filled with happy emotions.
The next few days would have us traveling and visiting the most incredible spots of Switzerland. The days were filled with friends like our beloved Michel and the kind-hearted Vuignierâ€™s, Rafaello and his absolutely gorgeous Consigli family.
Oh my; there was music, BBQ and other interesting foods, snow covered mountains, glacial waterfalls and streams, cathedrals and castles, there was wine, beer, Calvados, and so much more. We were overloaded with joy!
Thatâ€™s when we met up in Bern with our other dear friend JJ, from the Embassy. He got us settled in at our hotel, the historic Belle Ã‰poque, where we performed another show.
Alex, the manager at the hotel explained that it was the â€œoff seasonâ€, so he wasnâ€™t quite sure about the crowd. And just when we thought it may be a quiet evening, in walked some friends weâ€™ve made over the last few years. Juan Alcantarra (a diplomat of the Dominican Republic) and Madeleine Charlwood (Counsel to the Embassy), and they brought a bunch of new friends with them. We also made friends with a cool couple from Croatia. How did we get to be this lucky?
The next night we performed at Einsteins, where Albert Einstein wrote his theory of relativity! This place was booming with loads of people including friends from the night before. Once againâ€¦ Magic!
Unfortunately, I donâ€™t think any of those ghostly â€œEinstein smartsâ€ rubbed off on Shan or Iâ€¦
Sunday, June 30th, we joined with our free-spirited friend Florence and invited her to the private party we were performing that night. What an evening! Art and Beauty come to mind when explaining what that night was all about. Of course there was music, drink and food, but then there was dancing and even an interpretive display of movements with a sword; Iâ€™m sure thereâ€™s a name for that.
Ultimately, there was laughter and new eternal memories.
The next morning, after breakfast and a walk around Bern with Florence, we had an appointment to meet JJ at the Embassy. He explained that we would be staying at the Ambassadorâ€™s home for the next few days leading up to July 4th.
We simply saidâ€¦ â€œOh ok, if we mustâ€, and had to stop ourselves from sliding down the banister during our tour of the house. I did, however, play a little dungeon master while locking Shan and JJ in the actual dungeon! Whew!
Truly, we were on our best behavior and on the first night chose to sip wine on the balcony as we watched the sun set over the perfect garden.
Shan and I talked about how fortunate we were to be touring Europe again for the third year in a row, and this time performing for the US Embassy in Bern!
This is a chance in a lifetime and we will forever be grateful for the opportunity.
I must say that it was interesting watching the security guards surround and survey the property. I imagined we were high-profile people that needed this type of security. I realized this was not the case because when we left for the day for some shopping or in the evening for dinner at Juan's, we were on our own. It was only when we returned; after showing our passports and then being searched that I could go on pretending again.
We did however, have interviews before the show with some very prominent music industry professionals. That was huge, considering that weâ€™re trying to share our music with the world.
We were on such a high note from the days leading to the event, that when it was time for us to head to the stage we were elated.
We were there to represent Texas, and we feel we did that, but we also represented our family and friends as we carried you in our hearts. You must know that it is because of you and your support that we have been able to grow in a positive way.
After the show, we performed a private VIP concert on the piano for the corporate sponsors of the event. A special thank you to those that sponsored such a magnanimous affair!
Friday, July 5th. Our last day in the Ambassadorâ€™s house, we had lunch prepared by David, the house chef. We enjoyed the scrumptious fried chicken and all the fixings with Herbie and JJ, then we took a train with JJ to meet up with his wife, Marianne in Sion. We enjoyed one more evening with the Vuignierâ€™s and then made the climb to St. Martin. We spent the next two days exploring the colossal mountainsides and spent the nights enjoying delicious food and colorful sunsets.
We asked the Johnsons if we could stay forever, but realized that we needed to get back. I guess if we were there all the time, they wouldnâ€™t have reason to miss us.
Two last events took place on Sunday July 7th. Our very own friend and escort Walter, showed up at the train station. Walter is an amazing musician and even teaches music to the youth in the area schools.
First stop; music brunch at our favorite restaurant in Illiswil, where Michael and Alex make the best Rosti! Shan waited the entire trip to have their Rosti.
Friends showed from all over; even our buddy Hans, who came sporting a â€œShAnnieâ€ t-shirt! You can imagine how this made us feel. Ear to ear with smiles.
We spent one final peaceful evening on the lake in Wholen, where we enjoyed steak, salad, bread, cheese, wine, desert, coffee and camaraderie. So much love and admiration circled the room and we bid everyone farewell that night. Except Walter, who collected us one last time bright and early the next morning. Walter dropped us at the train station on our way for Zurich and eventually back home...
We just want to say thank you to everyone for another wonderful tour.
And a special "Thanks" to Mike Haley, who introduced us four years ago to Michel Vuignier and started this whole thing rolling.
We are FOREVER GRATEFUL...
Annie and Shan