1999 – JERUSALEM – ISRAEL
This was one of the best Eurovisions in many ways. This was the only time ever I had a direct flight to Eurovision. It was also the shortest flight (every other flight to Eurovision took almost 24 hours with lay overs somewhere) and the only time I could visit without a visa. But I had accommodation problems as the travel agent lied to me. Instead of securing me accommodation close to the venue, I was living in a guest house miles away from the venue. The travel agent said I wanted to stay CLOSE to a bus stop to take me to the venue, but my directive was that I want to stay as close as possible so I could walk there. It took almost an hour travelling by bus to Eurovision every day. Also I was totally away from any official hotels, so I was unable to use their transport and so I had to buy a bus ticket daily. I must say the guest house was out of this world, but totally wrong for me who came to Eurovision and wanted to be close to the venue.
Israel gave me my best accreditation ever – made me HEAD OF DELEGATION of SOUTH AFRICA so for the first and only time, I was allowed backstage to speak to the artists in private. They also produced for me a press card so that I was also able to get a pigeonhole. That year I represented the Portuguese radio station RADIO CIDADE.
Morten had a very special flight to Israel. He was on the same plane with all the artists from the Nordic countries. In the same plane were Selma (Iceland), Van Eijk (Norway), Charlotte (Sweden) and Trine and Michael (Denmark). Finland did not qualify for Jerusalem, so they were not there. Carola Haggkvist was also on the plane.
My flight from Johannesburg landed 3 minutes after the plane with the Nordic delegation. Charlotte Nillson spoke to me while we were waiting to go through customs and asked me what I thought of her song. At that stage there was a big debate about whether to sing in Swedish or English since the change of the language rule. I told Charlotte her song, "Take me to your heaven" would be a winner. More countries did televoting and I just knew for those viewers hearing/seeing the song the first time, this will do well. Patricia Lewis from South Africa covered the song and it sold 100 000 copies for her. She impressed the composers so much that they invited her to Stockholm where they produced a full CD for her.
Ralph Siegel was of course also in Jerusalem with Surpriz and their song Reise nach Jerusalem - kudus'e seyahat - it was exactly 20 years since he had been there with Dschinghis khan.
There were a change in rehearsals - Lithuania was suppose to be last on the first day but due to flying in only the next day (to save money), they swapped with another country which I cannot remember now but think it was Estonia.
Austria had a great promotion - their entry was "Reflection" by Bobby Singer and press people were given a disposable camera to take photo's of Bobby and the person taking the best photo would win a holiday in some Austrian ski resort.
The biggest shock to me was the Friday before the final when the Jewish SUNDAY started and I was stuck 5 kilometers away from my guest house and no public transport and had to walk the distance home. Luckily it was mainly downhill.
Obviously with no transport to go to the venue from the guest house on the Saturday to watch the final from the press center, I stayed in my bed and watched the final on TV.
The entries I like best are
Sweden - Take me to your heaven - Charlotte
Iceland - All out of luck - Selma
Malta - Believe 'n peace - Times three
Portugal - Conc tudo comecou - Rui Bandeira
And some horrors as well
Lithuania - Strazdas - Aisle
United Kingdom - Say it again - Precious
Spain - Lydia - No quiero escuchar