Trip update

Last time I wrote here, the trip was only a few hours old.  I’m in Malmo now, having spent three days in Tromso (with two nights of aurora events), a couple of days in Copenhagen (with 7 hours in LEGOLand).  There will be plenty of photos from that day and the Northern Lights.

With no computer, it would be challenging to sort through hundreds of photos, upload the choice ones, and link them in this blog.  For now, I think I’m doing well enough with sharing them on Facebook (plus the adventures of Pop Vinyl Elsa).  The post-trip blogs will have more detail and photos.

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Midnight munchies

I’ve been up for about 31 hours now, and it’s just past midnight.  There may be aurora visible in Tromso, but I’m not about to venture far from the hotel after midnight in an unfamiliar city.  I’ll probably sleep soon, but hunger calls.  Back in Pisa, I found a kebab shop open late that hit the spot.

In Scandinavia, 7-11 stores are prevalent, clean, and open all the time.  Think if Starbucks in the US were open 24/7 and didn’t have as many locations.  Decent hot food for a budget price is always appealing. US$8 for a calzone is tempting, but while walking a few blocks radius around the hotel, I found a kebab shop.  Had to do it, maybe I’m starting a new tradition.  You tell me if you think this is worth US$15.  Keep in mind the only food you’ve had in the last 24 hours is airport (pricey) and airplane (least offensive options) food.

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Also, I discovered that my hotel room bathroom has a heated floor.

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Airport issues

Instead of having a seat at the pointy end of the A380, I got an aisle seat over the shakey wing of a noisier Boeing 747, that had the community television monitors over the aisles.  They decided to show a 2+ hour film (X-Men: Days of Future Past) with 80 minutes left in the flight.  The good thing was the empty middle seat next to me.

In Frankfurt, I was able to spend some of my remaining Euros (from Italy) on snacks, drinks, and a souvenir for a lucky person.  During boarding to Oslo, my pass would not work.  Going back to the desk, I was told that someone cancelled my boarding pass.  I was quickly rebooked into another aisle seat over the wing, losing my window seat at the pointy end, again (it’s quieter and more stable there).

In Oslo, I have to transfer from the international to domestic terminal, which means clearing customs (no passport stamp😯) and going back through security, which means I can’t bring the drinks I had bought in Frankfurt.  Drinking 1L of room temperature soda in 10 minutes isn’t that fun (nor would throwing them away).

Now I wait 5 hours for my last flight to Tromso.  I ask about changing flights and am told it would cost US$210 to be on a flight 2 hours earlier.  No thanks.  I originally booked the later flight in case I missed the 80 minute connection in Frankfurt on Lufthansa, which as you now know wasn’t a problem as itinerary changes gave me a 2 hour layover in Frankfurt where passport control took 11 seconds.

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Strikes are no fun for anyone

Yesterday, I found out during a work break when I  received a text message that my FRA-OSL flight was cancelled with no more information.  No email or phone call.  Found out there was a daylong strike affecting all Lufthansa flights in continental Europe.  Spent both breaks plus lunch on hold trying to get another flight out of Frankfurt to make another connection in Oslo.  Eventually had to drive to the airport at 10pm to try to fix it in person.  I was able to get rebooked onto a code share flight to make my second connection, but it only left me one hour in Frankfurt (if there were no delays). 

This morning, I wake up to another text from Lufthansa that my SFO-FRA flight was cancelled.  Good thing I woke up earlier than planned, as I spent another hour with busy signals and on hold with LH, until I gave up and called United (as I booked through them anyway).  Ten minutes later I had another rebooked flight that left earlier, but fortunately gave me a longer layover in Frankfurt.  I had to leave quickly to get to the airport and check in, since my online account doesn’t get updated fast enough to allow check-in and print a boarding pass.  I also had to ask my guided tour in Tromso if I could switch to the next days tour in case rebooked flights could not get there in time.

Good: I should still be able to travel on time.

Bad: I lost the flight on an A380

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So, travel next week. Yay.

This will be a 16 day trip through Scandinavia.  That makes three trips to Europe in 3.5 years, each time with a different phone.  Primary purpose is to witness blazing aurora in person.  Last time, I got a tiny blur.  It was enough to cross off the list, but I want better, and there is still more to do and see in that region.  Unfortunately, the current job doesn’t provide as much disposable income as the last one, so this one includes more budget measures – overnight travel on train and ferry, to save on hotel and airfare, possible couchsurfing, and fewer museums.  These are some expensive countries.

Planned stops along this trip are Tromsø, Copenhagen, Billund, Malmö, Oslo, and Bergen (no London :-().  Airport stops are Frankfurt and Newark.  Airlines involved are Lufthansa, Norwegian, Scandinavian Air, and United.  The usual promise of frequent updates and photo posts will apply and probably be ignored in favor of the slightly more convenient social network sharing.

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An occamage of razors

I prefer not to bring an electric razor when I fly.  It adds weight and might need recharging.  The last part isn’t a big deal with international plug adapters, but the lighter one can travel, the better.  Unfortunately, that means using disposable products.  I still have 3 Gillette Sensor cartridges (with TWO blades) from a 5-pack I bought half a lifetime ago (in college).  I guess I’ll bring those on my next overseas trip (to Scandinavia), hoping I can get two shaves out of each.

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Kevin’s Eleven: Best Public Transport

Now that I have used more than eleven public transportation systems, let’s make a list.  Public transport includes bus, subway, and train/rail.  I may not have used some of them extensively, it may have only been a couple of trips, but when you’re starved for content, you make do.  The rankings are based on my needs.
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