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The journey begins

January 8, 2012

This is best divided into sections

PRE FLIGHT

Before leaving I did things that I won’t get to do for a long time. I indulged in the awesome food the folks make and played my PS3. After that I hung out with GF. She started playing Bioshock, in retrospect it probably wasn’t the best idea for me to suggest to her a game whose initial scene is a huge plane crash. Jokes aside, she did like it, and that makes me happy (I knew she would). The trip to the airport was emotional, but uneventful. Luckily, the security lines at the airport at home were very small.

FIRST FLIGHT

I still had my “I’m going to screw up, something bad’s going to happen” anxieties, like I always seem to when I begin a flight. GF wasn’t there to calm me down this time, but I could retreat inside of my mind and there she was. While I miss her physical presence, she is always with me and she helps out so much. The plane itself was one of those small “carry on baggage needs to be tagged” planes, but my carry ons were a backpack and a laptop case, which were small enough to even fit in THOSE overheads. The backpack as my carry on is the best decision I made about this trip planning thing (I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but that definitely wasn’t one of them). The flight took about 3 hours. I got that “numb hand” feeling I tend to get in a plane that small. It was neat seeing the NY skyline as we got close to Newark. It was overcast the entire time. While I wanted to look down and see what things look like below, it was kind of cool to see the clouds from above. Last major NY plane I was on I got a wing-window seat, so I couldn’t see below unless we banked (I got a wing seat EVERY FLIGHT THIS TIME TOO except for one. It wasn’t as bad here though). Also, the last time I hit the skies I was…rather hung over. It seems so much easier to do this clean. Also, as an aside, people say babies are the worst on a plane, but angry couples yelling at each other and their kids (I’m talking “shut up or I’ll smack you” yelling) is just as bad IMO.

NEWARK

Newark is a larger airport. That meant going to a different sub-building and doing the security thing all over again. Thing is, after the first flight, they never asked for my drivers license again. They always were asking about my Passport. I asked one TSA agent if he needed to see my license after he scrutinized my passport, he said no. Anyways, how I got from Terminal A to Terminal B (B is apparently where they have the international flights) is kind of cool. It was an in-house monorail I got to ride. On my flight back, I am going from Terminal B to Terminal A in that same airport (I deliberately chose a flight with the same stops, although that time it will be a much longer wait). The plane arrived at Sunset. I made my last call and OL post with my phone I will until I get back to the US and lift the seasonal hold on my phone plan.

FLIGHT 2

This jet was MUCH bigger then anything I had ever been on. Much more sophisticated to. It wasn’t full at all. I got an entire middle row to myself. Good thing too, because I used it to sleep on the flight. This flight had a little TV screen that we could watch movies or play “easy mode tetris” on (you’d understand if you tried it). The lunch they served was decent (I needed the food, so it worked out well). I eventually conked out. When I first attempted to sleep, the ETA map had just reached the Atlantic ocean (first it went North through Canada and seemed to go by route-of-city rather then the most direct route, which kind of baffles me. I assume it’s for Air Traffic Control reasons). When I woke up, we had just began to fly over England. I assume that was 3 hours of sleep (3 VERY NECESSARY HOURS). There was free beer during the initial meal. I would normally jump all over that, but I needed to sleep, and I don’t want booze in my system when I do that (my usual rule is I don’t fall asleep until I’m sober. It’s better for everyone that way). The flight got to Coppenhagen airport 40 minutes ahead of Schedule.

COPPENHAGEN

This was a weird airport. I arrived a bit before sunrise. I’ve never seen one quite like it. The gates were in the middle and it was kind of a strip mall all around it. It wasn’t just the usual food places and book stores either. To the diagonal front-left of the bench I was resting on there was a lingerie shop. I wanted to get some stuff, but I didn’t have any Euros. I did some calculation and the “shit’s expensive here” flag once again flies high. Oh yeah, I had to go through Airport security AGAIN. It was mostly the same, but Danish security didn’t require the surrender of my shoes. Oh yeah, it was REALLY foggy here too. When we were taken to the plane, we were taken to a bus after our boarding passes were scanned and we were bussed to the plane (the bus was mostly standing only too).

FLIGHT 3

This reminded me a lot of the time I flew from Rochester to La Guardia (only “in reverse” in this case). The plane was very small and the flight was about an hour. This time the skies were mostly clear, so I could see what went on below me. Not much else to tell really except for the fact that they offer…different meals (I rather liked the melon yogurt). My memory is thin here because I was a bit exhausted from all the flying.

KRISTIANSAND AIRPORT

This is a relatively small airport. I just went through customs and claimed nothing (I didn’t even know you were allowed to take stuff you buy at the airport between flights until now. I always just thought that Security’s rules about things like liquids were ironclad even then). While I was tempted to get some Danish wine for Newyears (it was being sold at Coppenhagen), I didn’t know how things worked so I didn’t want to test anything in case my credit and/or debit cards failed (I found out later that they both work here. Score one for me :D). I was waiting for the bus but it NEVER CAME. This city takes New Years Eve seriously (think Xmas in smaller towns in the US). The buses don’t run today (well, the local ones do, but the airport is technically out of town). Two nice older women whom I was waiting with ordered a cab and we split it 3 ways

HOTEL CHECK IN

The comfort Inn in Kristiansand has WEIRD mechanisms. You have this ID card you hold near a scanner. It beeps and you have to QUICKLY do an appointed task once the green light flickers. This is required for EVERYTHING. You need it to use the elevator, you need it to unlock your room, etc. Heck, even IN your room, you can’t get any electricity unless you stick your appointed card in the right slot (this took me…a while to figure out). Also, Norway wall sockets are WEIRD. The plug method is simple enough (2 large circular prongs), but the wall sockets don’t give that “impression.” This is another thing that deceived me. Things were all right after I figured things out. I thought it was a European weird power management thing, but instead it is just a “tight security of this hotel” thing.

REMAINDER OF NEW YEARS EVE

I was told by the person staffing the hotel that no places are going to be open on New Years Eve. For the most part, he was right, and it got worse as the day went on. I did find a decent pizza place. The “shit’s expensive here” card is played again (a medium pizza and a small coke for 152 NOK? (about $26)). It wasn’t bad pizza here. The people here are surprisingly nice and chatty. I’m told that people get that impression from folks in Omaha when they come from a larger city. Guess it’s that effect one more level down. Downtown Kristiansand is like the [Omaha’s] old market with an obviously European flavor to it. That being said, despite the fact that I could find a 7-11 (no really, I could), I couldn’t find anywhere where I could by a 6 pack of beer and take it back to my hotel room for New Years Eve. Thinking of asking the guy who runs my Hotel. An interesting aside, the auto ads (from google searches or other sites) are all Norwegian sites I have never heard of. Even that pr0n ad that pretends to be a chat-window of some random girl wanting to have sex with you is now in Norwegian.

——–

I was feeling nervous and…off. I was afraid I was going to have a HUGE case of culture shock (I still might). I’m someone who relies on the familiar, and while I am competent in unknown situations, I draw upon what I know (well, we all do). Familiarity and understanding of the environment are things that comfort and reassure me when things go wrong. Speaking of which, nobody I personally know is here either, which is something of a first for me (I always had at least one person I could refer to. Either if something went wrong or to simply bounce ideas off of). However, writing this makes me feel better already. For all the crazy misadventures that happened RIGHT OUT THE [insert cuss words here] GATE, I got through them and have already started to establish that sense of knowledge and understanding of my new environment. Part of it was making several trips downtown to get a feel for the lay of the land (I figure if I’m going to be here for a while, it’s best to get to know what’s where, and this is the perfect time). The other part was seeing what I have already overcome here in the space of roughly a day. I’m hoping this confidence and feeling of solid understanding continues, as I have several trials ahead of me.

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From → Differences, Flights

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