I flew back in 24 hours (I’ve been telling myself- actually 25.5), on probably the stupidest itinerary I’ve ever flown, which is up there with flying back on a wing and a prayer (and no money) from Paris in ’95. That’s the one where I was landing in JFK with no idea how I was getting across 2K miles to the West Coast. It all worked out, thanks to some super helpful board of tourism ladies at the airport.
Anyways, this was my dreaded return home. Wake up at 5am (actually only slept a few hours) to take the Stockholm metro to downtown, where I switched to the suburban train to Årlanda, 40 minutes later, check in my bags and have a hilarious conversation with the counter lady. Flying to San Francisco, California, United States, via Copehangen? Whatever. Bags checked to Lufthansa. Or something.
Quick 1-1/2 hour flight, not bad, into Copenhagen. Miss the transfer-checkin-point to Lufthansa flight. Lady at the gate desk helps me out, gives me more baggage slips (supposedly bag is following me), and board the Frankfurt flight.
A quick 1 1/2 flight again! All flights into Frankfurt seem to drop you off in the middle of the tarmac, where you have to bundle up for a 10-second walk outside to a van, a motion-sickness inducing shuttle to an official Customs gate. Again, I miss the transfer-check-in counter (do they exist?) and walk about 2 miles in this “in construction” airport, to flag down someone official looking, he takes me into a seedy Customs office and (as usual) disparages whatever person gave me bad advice. He checks me into the flight to Frankfurt. Bags are routed. Can’t check them through to California, OK. Supposedly I can to Denver. Sure. I don’t believe they will be there, but I play along.
This is the “man flight.” I get a chocolate pretzel and ice tea (no food so far on these little flights). I’m on hour 8 now of my 24 hour day. I’m in the same time zone, luckily. All guys here- all American guys. They are loud, of different races, and they look at me, probably because I’m the only woman. It’s a really crowded flight and I sit next to an annoying East German woman that is a blog post in herself. One little tidbit: she plays with her feet for about an hour during a mealtime. She is also the super-European, sniffing disapprovingly of everything that is Western or American.
10 hours later, 6 time zones later, we land in Denver. “Is this a poor land?” My seatmate asks me. I’m like, uh, Vail, Aspen, Telluride… “I only ski in the Alps.” I’m happy to speed up through the American passport line, where a guy in a cowboy hat expedites things. I wait interminably for my luggage, since it’s customs, etc. and… it’s there! Wow! Hour 18 of 24 hours. Only 6 to go!
Long conversation with my parents in the jetway, I buy $6 lotion (that’s a Swedish price!) because my skin isn’t used to this much airline air. The gate is filling up with women. Unlike the international flight, women fly domestic, or at least from Denver to Portland. I have a really yummy bagel. I’ve been jonesing for bagels. Time passes really quickly in my addled, confused state.
Supposedly my bags will check through, even though it’s different airlines. I arrive in Portland. I’m at 23 of 24 hours. So this is going to be a little longer than expected. 8 time zones later than when I woke up.
There’s definitely something about Portland’s “Terminal A for Awesome” as my friend calls it. It’s got a microbrew, it’s cosy with little wisps of snow and rain outside, I’m sinking my teeth into a huge burger (ah, America!) with a pint of some soft golden amber ale. My flight is in tiny jet, boarding outside, and if only Humphrey Bogart could tilt his hat and say… you’ll be home soon, chicka.
Sat next to a cat-show-judge. “What’s that like?” “Have you seen Best in Show?” Lol. I like her, the sense of humor and bitching about people who “think a broken tail can get you first place!” We land, and I get my luggage! The charming sight of it. Hour -1 in my itinerary, and a truculent cab driver refuses to know where my apt. is even though it’s in the #1 top cab-destination neighborhood in the city. But I mellow out. I’m tired, cab drivers suck as a lot, and I’m almost home! -1.5 hrs later, done.