||The three-hour flight was as much fun as the last time I flew back. As I've already written, the sense of loss wasn't so bad because I already know not only that I'm coming back but also when. Just seven weeks. And in that time, between turbo-learning Icelandic and fixing the damned pinball machines, I have to hand over a few hours each day to my employer. Anyway, since I didn't sleep all night (again), I tried to get a nap in the plane.|
The guy sitting next to me was shaking his leg like a dog does his tail the entire flight. IcelandAir in their infinite wisdom decided that a flight on which many people wanted to sleep, a slapstick comedy program would be pretty good. The loud chicken laughs both directly in front of me and behind awakened me after an entire 15 minutes of blissful unconsciousness. The meal was sitting heavy in my stomach and I didn't even eat the uncooked potato bits. And the 20-something girl behind me thought the tray table was a lot of fun to keep opening.
My hiking boot had somehow come undone. I went to relace it and saw that one of the clips had broken. Had this happened yesterday or the day before, I could've gone to 66°North and got the boots I wanted. But, nooooooooooooo. I get to take these 130-eurobuck things back to the store in Munich and the replacement selection there is pretty weak. Ass.
We landed so early that there was time to make the 12:35 SAS/Lufthansa flight to Munich. Unfortunately, they wouldn't take the ticket so I have two hours here in the airport. Big fun. At least the Tuborg Pilsner is good. If you come here, a "medium" is a normal pint/half-litre. Costing DKK 55 (7.33 eurobucks), the 3/4 litre "large" is aptly named. I have two hours, but I think I need to be able to stand if I want them to let me board the plane.
I'm still standing but I'm not boarding the plane. Ninety minutes, three-quarters of a liter of Tuborg, and a couple shots of Gamal Dansk ago, I wasn't allowed to board the almost empty plane to Munich that had been too tight a connection to be booked. Rules about ticket class and such.
With half an hour until boarding I finished my beer and went to the gate counter which was finally manned. I tried my luck again; I had nothing to lose. "Do you have any exit row seats on the flight to Munich?" The woman counterd my question with one of her own: "Would you like to give up your seat?"
"That was going to be my next question."
Overbooked, and how. The deal: 300 eurobucks in LH/SAS vouchers (150 cash value) and an extra leg through Austria and a two-hour wait before flying to Munich and arriving at 6:30 or so instead of 4:00. There's no chance of making it to work at the bar tonight then so that's sorted, and I probably won't make it to the þorrablót either though I've been considering it. I'm pretty soured out.
Since I'm going back to Iceland in a few weeks, these vouchers will come in handy and at this point, I'm not really in a hurry. "Would it be possible to move me up closer to the front of the plane to Vienna?" I asked. "I think we can do that."
||I was seated in 6A in an MD-87 and business class is in the same 2x3 configuration as steerage with about an inch or two of extra legroom. No matter; the plane is half-empty anyway. Instead of the crap-ola I've already moaned about previously, I was served a very scrummy (and very peppery) roast beef on potato salad tray with some fresh bread and Danish blue cheese. And a beer. And no extra charge. Topping it off, the knife was not made of plastic. Because no one will believe this, I took a picture. I guess they figured the turrarists don't fly much between Copenhagen and Vienna.|
The stewardess smiled. Stews all know who's in what seat, whether they're frequent fliers, bumps, upgrades, troublemakers. She knows I was upgraded to this seat and I'm sure thinks I took a picture of my very first business class meal or something like that. I hope doing so won't get me a trip to the wrong part of Cuba for aiding and abetting Teh Terraristas. I also hope it doesn't cause SAS to start using plastic knives.
The stewardess just came over and asked me what else I'd like (nothing) and we started talking for a minute. She asked so I essplained the pic and maybe I talked too much. "You can make a weapon out of ANYthing here." I won't go into detail but I saw her eyes as she asked me how I knew about this. Let's just say I know about improvisation. There is little around that can't be made into a weapon, as I also essplained a couple years ago to the FBI twits who interrogated and searched me. She started smiling again, saw the Iceladndic books and asked if I was really learning the language. No, really? Seriously?
I have only one complaint about this leg of the trip: what do Scandinavians have against cooking potatoes fully? The never seem to manage it in much the same way as the British never manage to pull the vegetables out of the boiling water for at least an hour. The only other minor annoyance was that although the arm of the seat goes up, it won't go all the way between the seats so you really can't stretch out even if the seet next to you is unoccupied. SASPLZFIXKTHX.
Overall I like Scandinavia. I've never had any problems in any airports. The people have always been helpful and polite and not in the sugary, condescending way one might experience in the US. But I was back in Teutonic territory and Austria was a dose of reality. The ticket class written on my rerouting slip (I didn't actually have tickets) was "M" and I was pretty sure that meant steerage. The nice girl at the counter confirmed it but said maybe the Service Desk -- surprisingly nearby -- might be able to sort it.
Maybe they could but they showed no inclination or desire to do so for me. I essplained that I agreed to this bump in exchange for a class upgrade and showed my flight coupon and boarding pass from the last flight. "That's not what's on the slip, sir." Would you call your colleagues in CPH? "No." Dammit. If I'd been able to I would've cursed in Icelandic. Only available to me at the moment were languages they understood in Austria.
Back from the servicing desk, the girl at the ticket counter was talking to her co-workers. I picked up the accents. One was Spanish, one was French, and one was from I forget where (Sweden?) so we played Let's Talk Lots Of Languages. "So you'd prefer English?" I asked her. Yep. She asked how it went. Meh. She did do me a favour and blocked 8B, the middle seat. Small kindnesses are a great help when you're running on fumes.
The guy in seat 8A was really supposed to be in 7A. I found this out when a pretty Chinese girl came over with a ticket for 8A. She's in Munich for ISPO representing a textile manufacturer, but our conversation was limited and we only had an hour. At Munich we got to walk down a stairway and wait in a bus.
|It was a long trek to find my suitcase which had been sitting there for the past couple hours next to the band which wasn't marked with the flight number, but my case is pretty distinctive. As I was walking out control stopped me and as soon as I saw his medallion, I went fishing in my bag for my passport. He asked me where I was coming from. "Iceland, through Copenhagen and just now from Wien, three hours late." I still couldn't find my passport. "Iceland? Go on," he told me and went scoping out his next victim.||
My passport had been in my back pocket.
I still had an hour to go in the S-Bahn and U-Bahn before arriving home. While I don't necessarily want to be back here in Germany, getting home will be a welcome relief from the travelling and lack of sleep. I finally arrived home at 8:30p.m. completely exhausted. I pulled out the stuff that had to go into the fridge and went to scratch the cat. He let me know the extended absence wasn't acceptable despite the neighbour girls coming over but let me make up for it by paying him a lot of attention for the next 15 minutes.
I'd promised to at least stop in when I arrived so I walked the 60m to the bar to say hi to the girls. As I walked in, the place was getting slammed. Dead tired I jumped behind the bar, sent the other girl out and take drink and food orders and helped them get everything back under control. I worked for the next three hours. I'm an idiot.
After things calmed down I stazed to relax and chat a bit with them. I didn't go home. They closed the bar around 2 and we sat talking until 3:15a.m. when FlaG had to go. I was so over-exhausted that sleep just wasn't possible. I got to work on the computer, catching up with Stundin Okkar and Óp and bookmarking more Icelandic language resource sites I'd found.
At about 6:30a.m. I finally felt tired. I slept until 11.
It's been almost five weeks since I've returned. While I've been exchanging mail with some people, I haven't heard from BEIG. I'm disappointed but not that surprised.
Finishing this took almost five weeks; I'm leaving in another two... probably. If I can get hold of Einar to get the apartment. It's very unlikely there will be another diary series for this trip.
I've been trying to get the jukebox manual but haven't heard back from Pink. I probably have to call Gully.
What is it about Icelanders?
Icelanders seem to have a strong feeling of themselves as an "us" but without the adversarial and racist "vs. them" attitude of the Japanese. They're proud of the accomplishments of other Icelanders. They're especially pleased when their national atheletes win competitions which is indeed something of note considering the national pool for any sport is less than 100,000 people.
I noticed a clear example of this "one-ness" during the arrival announcements on the flight in. Announcements are always made in Icelandic, English, and the national language of the flight's starting point, in this case, Danish. In Danish they'd said "Welcome to Keflavík". In English they'd said "Welcome to Keflavík". In Icelandic they'd said "Welcome home".
I understand this is quite common in Japan, too, but in Iceland the xenophobic streak is missing. They don't do business with another Icelander simply because he's "family" if the competition is offering a better deal
This series wasn't quite as exciting as the first, nor was the trip. Sorry. The first trip was a lot of discovery and release; this time was to get a better feel for living in Reykjavík. I still want to move there.
I probably won't be back before the end of July, and I don't expect a third set of diaries from that. There may be an entry or two if I go to the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) and maybe a short series if I do the Great Circle and drive around the entire island, possibly getting into the center with the volcanoes and glaciers. Should the impossible occur, a diary is certainly in order if something happens with BEIG.
Realistically, my next travel series (if I write another) should be one of discovery again. This could happen as soon as I get off my ass and go to Prague for a weekend. Hilarity will probably ensue because I am BadDoggie, and I am an idiot.
Thanks for reading.
1 In Iceland there's a very good chance that the two making a deal are indeed related. Even though the relation may be back a few hundred years, they have documentation. But that on its own won't make or break the deal.
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