September 8th 2006
I am thinking about all that could happen in the next 48 hours. I know this will be something full of happenings and emotions. I pack my baggage, hope I didn’t forget anything and then take the tube to the station. I wait for Marko in the waiting-room and take a hot chocolate at the coffee machine. Thirty seconds later the machine starts emitting fluids anywhere! Broken down! But hey, it wasn’t me, okay? Fifteen minutes to go, Marko is late. I know he’s been in town for a few hours, he just wanted to “dash” to Feltrinelli; that worried me indeed for it takes a long time to go that way, and to miss our train means to miss our flight! Luckily Marko arrives at last, and flashes me with his camera straight away, how cool, isn’t it? So we jump on our High Velocity Train and start discussing about the strictly confidential fan-club staff plans for Genève… yeah, we have been listening to music all the time.
Rome - Ciampino Airport
We don’t have much time, so when the train stops we hurry to the underground and then take the bus to the Ciampino airport. While we are queuing to check-in, a man leaves a bag near us and then runs away… A bomb attack??? A policeman comes immediately and takes away the explosive bag. We’d take any risk for Lene! Anyway, we finally check-in and pass the metal-detector controls. Strange, after this we are checked our passports again; I ask to the policeman "Excuse me, so do I have to show my passport again?", he says "Do you think I’m just a decoration?" Marko laughs and tells me to note down every thing happening. We haven’t left Italy yet, but my notebook already says: "Bomb airport - Policeman decoration". A nice start, indeed! I need to refill my mobile phone with cash… I need some cash too but there are no automatic tellers here around… There’s a man playing with her daughter, carrying her on the trolley, full-speed sharp bend and subsequent girl flight included. It’s time for us to catch our flight. When we take off it’s dark outside, and the vision we get from the window of the airplane is an amazing sight of the city lights.
We land in Switzerland at 10:05 PM. I immediately call Amélie - we are meeting this evening - and wait for Marko’s luggage to be unloaded from the plane. I have only my carry-on luggage. I find 5 cents on the ground. I finally get some cash from an automatic teller and grasp a precious train timetables directory. We go straight to the airport station, we arrive 7 minutes later in the central railway station. To Have your first contact with a new city in the night is strange, you can’t figure it as you would during the day, but that’s not a problem to us, we quickly get on a tram to the hostel. Unfortunately we are getting later and later for the appointment with Amélie, also because of the long check-in in the hostel. It’s a little bit funny, I’m talking with the guy at the hostel reception in French, Marko is talking in German
First meeting with the Frenches
Back to the station then. We finally meet Amélie and Syl from the lenemarlin.fr staff and Indira, a friend of theirs from Genève. It takes just a few to get over the first embarrassment: we chat a bit and go to a very nice pub nearby, spending there the rest of the evening. They are very nice, they seem more worried than us about the meeting with Lene - I and Marko act like old-time fans who know the ropes, definitely sure that it will be unforgettable and so on… We discuss then about the "bise", that is whether it’s more appropriate to greet with a kiss or with a handshake. Then it gets late and we go to sleep. Before getting back to the hostel though, I and Marko try to find something to eat, because we’ve had only a beer tonight and had no dinner at all, but all we manage to find is slightly more than a chocolate bar. When we go to sleep the clock says 1 AM. It’s damn hard to lie down in our beds - the room is dark, with other three people sleeping in it, now you figure out how is it to find the bed, arrange the sheets, understand who’s sleeping with you, etc. Day 1 was tiring, day 2 will be even more!
September 9th 2006
Today is The Day. We don’t know exactly what will happen, we need to find out when the first meeting with Lene will be, when to meet the Frenches, how to meet with all the other Italians arriving in Genève… I also have to get my ticket for the show, because I didn’t receive it by mail. The hostel has almost no more rooms available, there are people from every continent. Breakfast quite sucks. It’s not as cold as we thought. We spend the morning just walking by, taking some photos - "Could you take us a photo please?" - "Yes" - "Oh, you’re Italian too!" - "Sì, sì" - how typical! I receive a message from Domle, who is travelling by car together with Alexxx, Blasto, Tiziano and Koletz… they are driving southwards (yahoo!). We get some help at the tourist information office, buy the daily tickets and then GO! Destinasjon Arena! The Arena is where the Miss Switzerland show will take place, it’s near the airport. When we arrive they’re preparing the red carpet. There are very few people around, so we take advantage of this and enter - the doors are open. Surprisingly, we reach the studio and take an unauthorized look at the stage. Before someone kicks us out though, we decide to get out of the Arena by ourselves.
We know that the hotel where the after-show party will take place is nearby, we guess that’s where Lene is staying too. Even though we have no official information about it, we guess that the place we need to learn more about is the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The road on foot to the hotel from the Arena is awkward, there are roadworks, but we manage anyway to find the right way: it runs along the Arena building, then goes up some stairs, runs out of the Expo, goes down other stairs and finally passes under a subway. The Crowne Plaza is a big 5-star hotel. I and Marko enter the main hall cautiously and take a seat on a couch. Might Lene be here? We wait a moment, then I go and take a look at the ground floor where they are preparing everything for the very VIPish party tonight. We eventually send a message to Alistair "We’re down here at the hotel". It’s a big risk because we don’t know if they are here at this moment, we don’t even know if they are staying in this hotel. But here’s Alistair coming: we’ve taken the right decision. We talk a bit with him to know more about what’s going to happen this afternoon and what’s planned for the meeting this evening. He tells us that Lene will go to the Arena at 2 PM to rehearse (that is, less than two hours from now!). About this evening, "we will see".
First meeting with Lene
We thank and say goodbye to Alistair, then we rush back to the city centre to welcome the first group of Italians: Marcy, Cri, Luke and Speedfight. They all run to the hostel to check-in, and then we get back to the Arena, waiting for Lene. Message to Domle & Co: "Hurry up! Lene’s rehearsing at 2 PM". Suddenly Marko faces his little tragedy: he’s lost his camera! On the train? At the hotel? I try to recollect, but it’s useless. All is frantic. As we are waiting for Lene to arrive, we bump into the security guys who stop us. A car is coming… here’s Lene!!! We wave to her, she waves back! We follow the car, but she has to go and rehearse, we’ll meet her later… how great to see her again! Message form Domle & Co: "We’re nearly there" - it’s a matter of minutes now!
In the meantime, other international fans have arrived: here’s Steffen, Swiss fan and director of the official website for the Swiss charts, and Ronald, head of the Dutch fans, with a friend of him. So we have a mission: to enter the Arena! This time it’s more difficult - garrisons are attentive. We patrol the outside boundary of the Arena, finding at last a little close unattended door. What shall we do? Shall we try to open it or be good?
Of course, try to open it - that’s what I do, and all of a sudden Lene is there on the stage! Yes, the door is quite far from the stage, but we can clearly see and hear Lene together with Lovebugs. I let the others in and we find ourselves in this little dark corner of the Arena watching Lene! Sometimes somebody passes by (mostly other artists heading to the dressing rooms), but fortunately nobody throws us out and so we hear a full double performance of "Avalon", the song Lene and Lovebugs are singing tonight. Happy, glad, enthusiastic we exit and wait for Lene. When she arrives we all get crazy: she’s smiling and happy to see us. Notices immediately the historical t-shirt worn by Luke saying "Tromsø". Message from Domle & Co: "We’re in the parking lot". Lene starts talking with us, then Lovebugs join us. I talk a bit with Stefen, my contact in the last months, he’s very happy to see us too. So we laugh, we have a good time, talk a bit about the scheduled football match against the French fans. Then Lene goes away, but Alistair invites us all to the hotel for a drink!
Afternoon drink with Lene
We go to the hotel on foot and come across Domle & Co. - they just lost the very first meeting with Lene today! They are lucky enough though, they’re here for the second one. The Frenches did not manage to reach us at the Arena because of some hitches, so I keep them updated and tell them to join us at the hotel. At 4 PM we arrive at the Crowne Plaza and we take some seats at the bar. The Frenches send me a message: they’re almost desperate because they can’t find the hotel, so I walk back again to the Arena and lead them here. It’s a good group, they’re nice, it won’t take much time to make friends with them. When we finally get back to the hotel, the others are having a drink already.
Then Lene comes too and gets the party started! I enjoy a lot this moment, Lene’s smiles, the happiness I can see in everybody. It’s such a nice, relaxed moment. Photographer Blasto starts "torturing" Lene with his shootings, but destiny will fool him later today… Lene takes some pictures too, and chats with us – These are the most difficult moments to tell. I hope the pictures and the videos will convey to you the actual atmosphere as good as it was. After a while Lene says good-bye; we stay there at the bar, having our beers - apparently offered by Alistair. There’s a problem though, the waiters ask us to pay the bill! I finally convince them that Mr. Alistair is offering the drink, so I write his name in their PC, and charge the bill to his account… I mean, he said so!
We leave the hotel at 5 PM, we go and welcome the last group from Milan: Nemo, Len and lenefan. The ticket collector on the train believes my ticket is not valid, but I explain in my perfect (!) French that it’s unquestionably valid and I even scold him, so that he has to surrender. Then we run to the hostel to check them in, but at 6 PM my stomach says it’s time to swallow something solid. I convince a group of hungries having something to eat at McDonald’s, even though we must hurry up and be at the Arena by 8 PM. That’s why we actually take away all the sandwiches, cokes and whatever to the hostel - Nemo has a problem here, he has two super-big-extra-mac and extra-large chips.
Back again to the hostel, we change our dresses at Clark-Kent-speed and get prepared for the evening. We rush to the station and reach the Arena. When we get there, the rest of the audience is inside already. Luckily doors are still open, I go to the box-office to pick up my ticket:
Zuzzy - Excuse me, I need to collect my ticket.
Girl - What's your name?
Zuzzy - Guerra, starting with G
Girl - I have nobody on the list starting with G
Zuzzy getting panicky - Try with A, Alessandro
Girl - I'm sorry, nobody starting with A either. I can't do anything for you, I'm sorry
Zuzzy last attempt - Try search by L, Lene.it
Girl - Here it is!
I seize the envelope and enter. But… the girls are still outside! And the guys by car are not here yet! And they’re closing the doors! And the show is about to start! That is, panic strikes again, I try to call Koletz and Domle. I try many times, but it’s pointless. Just as the guys are closing the doors, Koletz and the others arrive at last, so we can all enter. Naturally, we’re here for Lene, when it’s her turn we welcome her performance with yells and warm support, helped by the people around us. Those three minutes run fast, then the rest of the show flows. After the end, I linger by the stage together with Blasto and a few others to feel that trendy and smart atmosphere. Message from Alistair: we’ll meet after midnight at the hotel. It’s 10:40 PM, so we don’t have to hurry.
The Meeting with Lene
After the show, the hotel becomes the crossroad for all the models, presenters, misses: they're all here at the most exclusive party in Switzerland. We, a large international noisy group of young people, are here too, ready to share the emotions of a special meeting. We're sitting and waiting on the couches in the main hall. The waiting ends as Lene arrives by taxi at the Crowne Plaza - she's been having dinner out. It's half past midnight, The Meeting begins. .
Again, I'm afraid words cannot express what this has been, luckily we've got pictures and videos that can help me.
There were many crucial moments during the meeting. One of them was the present to Uncle Alistair, the Norbury's Beer - followed by successions of laughs by the Uncle, then by Lene, then by make-up woman Linda. Another very intense one was the present to Lene, "A star to our Star", unbelievably intense and moving Lene spends a lot of time with us, going sometimes back and forth.
The laughs, the autographs, the glances, the group feeling, the friendship, the true affection, the awareness of being part of a permanent moment, the tears. And many thoughts to all those who cannot be here now, the will to transfer all these feelings to you all, to make you live them, the hope we will be more and more time after time. And the wish for staying there, even when the Frenches say it's time to go to bed. The wish for staying to stay with Lene some more time. When she is about to go and have some sleep we're still here. We say good-bye to her, we say good-bye to her staff. Alistair asks us how we'll get back to the hostel. Our answer is simply that we haven't thought about it at all. It's time to say goodnight, time for us to get back to the hostel. It's 4 AM. We walk to the airport, check for some buses but there aren't, so we take a taxi. At 5 AM we are in our rooms, planning a last surprise for Lene, to go and say good-bye to her at the airport this morning. However, sleeping two hours and then getting back to the airport is too much even for crazy people like us, so we fall asleep. Happy.
September 10th 2006
If you have been patient enough to keep reading until here, take note that there will be no more meetings with Lene from now on during this journey. But you know, the best of a fanclub is the "extra". We have planned a football match France-Italy, replay of the World Cup final, but unfortunately and surprisingly we cannot find a ball, so the match is cancelled.
We spend the morning in the park, just lying on the grass, wasting time, playing giant chess (Marko defeats Sylvain and Italy is still champion!). Then we say goodbye to the Frenches, all very nice people. Denis in particular is a very funny guy, well-known for his exclamations in Italian, German, English… Only Marko and I are still here when it gets dark, the others have taken their trains or cars back home to Italy. Marko decides hazardously to have a "real" "Naples" "pizza" at the "Il Fornello Napoletano". When we ask who speaks our language, everybody claims to be Italian, but it's evident they're all pretending.
The evidence is the taste of their pizza… Moreover, a take-away pizza cannot cost 18 Francs (11 Euros!). Well, after all two guys from Naples in a pizzeria in Genève should not expect anymore, but it's funny anyway. The moment of the bill is remarkable too: we have 17 Francs, but the intransigent girl does want the last coin, so Marko settles with 50 Eurocents and 50 Pesetas found in the airport! Then we pack our baggage and go to the station for the last time, and Marko takes his train to Salerno.
It takes a lot for me to get back home, my flight is three hours late. I spend the night in the airport, I'm the first to check-in in the morning. I arrive home at 2 PM. Tired, exhausted but happy! I would do this 1,000 times again! Thanks to Lene, thanks to all those who were there and those who weren't there physically, but surely were there in their mind, with their heart. Thank you all… and see you next time!
More than 3,000 words still are not enough to tell lots of other things that happened through the journey. Domle's it's my sisters, the picture of me with Miss Switzerland Christa Rigozzi, the collection of the show hosts' papers, Len arguing with a Swiss woman, Blasto's camera breaking down at the crucial point, Blasto taking the only out-of-focus "Me-and-Lene" picture, Blasto standing always in field of my pictures, Blasto… , Nemo's roses, the elegance and beauty of the Lene.it girls, the Uncle's boohs, Nivea's gadgets, room 505, so many memories… all in two days! It's Lene's magic… as always…