Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Next Adventure – Day 1

Well, folks, I’m back.  Once again I’m off to Sweden for a week of work.  This time instead of arranging for a week of vacation before my week in Gothenburg, I’ll be working a week and THEN taking a week of vacation.  Variety is the spice of life, eh?  And this time I have my first excursions into the UK to look forward to, with time in both Edinburgh and London.  But until that, we’ve first got this. 

As I write this I’m sitting on a plane.  The same plane I’ve been sitting on for the last 9 hours or so.  Fortunately I’m on the same 1:40pm direct flight from Seattle to Amsterdam that I took last time, so I didn’t have to get up too early.  I’ve never understood why so often when starting a vacation people (myself included) see the need to get up at o’dark early in the morning to get to the airport.  I guess I do it to maximize my vacation time, but one of these years I’ll decide to maximize my sleep and relaxation time instead.  Sadly, sleep and relaxation are rarely the stated goals of my vacations. 

But I digress… the airport was relatively uneventful.  Though it was absolute mayhem at the Delta check-in counter.  I fly Alaska so much that I’m used to their highly efficient “airport of the future” check-in process.  This, however, was nothing like that.  I fail to see the operational logic in having about two dozen self-check-in kiosks, followed by one bag drop counter staffed by approximately 4 agents.  Oh well.  I was pleased by the fact that even though I have no scale to speak of in my house, my suitcase checked in at a modest 45 lbs, to which I immediately exclaimed to the bag check lady “I WIN!” as she amusingly replied “Yes, yes you do.” 

Fortunately, the TSA proved far more efficient, as I had almost a zero wait at the security checkpoint and literally had a whole x-ray screening lane to myself.  Making my way to the gate and sitting around for a while wasn’t so bad. 

The flight has been mostly uneventful.  Now, if I have your attention, I’d like to point out the features of this Airbus A330-300 aircraft.  The plane is equipped with personal entertainment devices in each seat back, stocked with a limited stock of movies that appeared in theatres sometime between 1997 and 2010.  As usual, the entertainment system requires rebooting at least once while inflight, usually just during the climactic part of the film you are watching.  Once we reach cruising altitude, the passenger sitting in front of you will slam his seat back into your legs, thereby allowing comfortable sleep… for him.  While aboard there are 6 lavatories, one located 3 rows in front of you, but you are not allowed to use that one because it’s for the people who paid more to sit in the fancier seats; you must use the one located 18 rows behind you, but please beware of the beverage carts that will always be blocking the aisle.  Enjoy your flight. 

All things considered, with just under an hour left, it’s been a pretty comfortable and uneventful flight.  I managed probably a total of an hour nap, though considering I got on the flight just about 3 hours after I woke up this morning, that’s not so bad.  Usually when traveling on these horrendously long flights, I actually try to convince my body to sleep when it should be time to sleep where I’m going, but that just led to extreme frustration last time where I tried to force myself to sleep even though I wasn’t tired.  So screw that.  I’ll survive. 

Upon landing shortly, I’ll have a 7+ hour layover in Amsterdam where I plan to leave the airport and head into the city and check things out.  (Yes, this was intentional and by design.)  I’ve been to Amsterdam once before, back in the summer of 1997 I believe, so it’ll be interesting to make it back again. 

OK, so fast-forward to the afternoon.  I’m now sitting back in the airport at Amsterdam with about 2 hours until my flight to Gothenburg boards.  I had recalled from my previous trip that there was a nice relaxing place that had comfy chairs and was out of the way… I just couldn’t recall where it was.  So I started exploring and came upon the Airport Park.  I’d make it sound more glamorous, but picture if you will, walls bathed in pictures of people at parks.  A lush green FieldTurf lawn, and fake trees strategically placed throughout.  Oh yeah, did I mention we’re still inside?  Comfortable park benches, bean bags for lounging, and relaxing chairs.  Couple all that with the piped in sounds of birds chirping, and you have an incredibly fake but somehow relaxing atmosphere.  Yet I’m almost certain this is the same area I found back in September that was quaint but not nearly as hokey. 

I did take a nice trip into the city earlier, and wandered the streets and then had lunch.  The Euro sucks by the way… prices look the same as US prices, but the value is about 2/3s.  Not impressive.  But it was a fun excursion anyway. 

Well, I’m finally to Gothenburg and safely in the hotel.  I’m so tired.  I would add pictures to this, but I have zero energy to do so.  Rounding just up to 24 hours with only perhaps 2 hours of sleep.  I think I may just let tomorrow happen and see where things end up.  Unfortunately, I have a very busy day and can’t afford to be tired. 

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