SAS Economy Extra ClassSAS Pillows, IKEA baby!

I departed for Stockholm-Arlanda airport at approximately 6am Swedish time, for my 10am flight. I wanted to make sure that I was well within the timeframe for getting there, and with my connections and such it ended up all working okay. The flight I booked was via Chicago O’Hare to Buffalo, where my mother would come to fetch me, and take me back to Toronto. The airport was lovely and we waited in the North American lounge, with all the others, and since I was in a class above the normal coach, the flight was super comfortable and went off without a hitch. I watched films and slept as much as I could, and then waited at the airport for my conenction.

Chicago O'Hare AirportChicago O'Hare Airport

Arriving at Chicago resulted in culture shock, and the clear and obvious way that Americans are somewhat interestingly attractive, but at the same time grossly obese. I can see why though. They are allowed to buy so much for so little amount of money, and take all of their stuff on the plane, so more or less all the time they are pigging out. I noticed this while waiting at the stressful United Express concourse, for my flight. Nothing but paniced attendants, and people going to random little places in the North-East. I took some photos, was on my way while sharing a seating with a morbidly obese man in the first row. I wanted to shoot myself in the face, especially reflecting over the “standby” concepts that the Americans travel with, and see a connection with hijacking of planes, and allowing people without tickets through security.

Buffalo - Niagra Falls BorderBuffalo - Niagra Falls Border

Once I arrived in Buffalo, my mother was lost and since she neglects to have a mobile phone she couldn’t be contacted and it took her 1 hour to find me in a small airport. We got in the car and with the help of GPS made it back to the border where we waited at least 2 hours to get across the border. Truly horrible. The photos reflect this difference in time, and how horrible it is to just sit around and have nothing to do or say, while trying to get back home. We arrived home at 00.30, and I had to be up for 6am the next morning for my first day of work; how lovely.

Arlanda Airport

What happens when one embarks on a travel past the Gulf of Bothnia? Well they arrive in either Finland, Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania; the former is the destination of choice. After chilling awhile in Uppsala and having some “interesting” times (in other words dramamatic) I woke myself up early one morning to get to the airport in Arlanda. Having showered and took my time, of course I ended up being late to the train station for the Upptåget, and subsequently fearing that I would eventually miss my check in (once again) and it would all go to hell. Turns out to make matter worse, the train only goes once per hour instead of twice or three times because it was Ascention day. Damn you Jesus, or whatever we are celebrating.

So I arrived at Arlanda, after having bought an incorrect ticket and blah blah blah, and ran to the auto-check in. Turns out it only takes like 5 seconds to do it all so I chilled in Duty-Free and eyed some things that I may or may not take back to Canada / USA.

Helsinki-Vantaa AirportOulu streets, in Koskela

So I arrived to the terminals and we waited, and then we got to Helsinki and as proposed, I had a lunch-date with Tobias, in other words the nearly-famous friend of mine who was the Swedish Language YLE commentator this year in Moscow, in other words Eurovision! Go team him; so we chatted and I ate the first meal of the week (basically) and then I got lost finding the domestic terminal. Tobson warned me that it wouldn’t take long, and low and behold the security check took less than 2 minutes (no joking at all). There were 10 people working at the domestic FInland terminal, and I was the sole person there, only one in the terminal for the next hour. Serves me right for being ahead of schedule, bwhaha!

Darude Concert, OuluOulu dancing

Anyways, I got into Oulu in the afternoon and, despite massive crowds from all the flights from Helsinki and baggage left overs, I found my host and we got on the bus. Awkward handshake, Finnish style, for the person for whom I would give my life. Despite all that we got on the bus and headed into Oulu-proper, or Koskela, where he lives, for a party. Shower, dressed, organisation, and we were off to Jenni and a group of new friends I call the “Oulu Groupies” to celebrate the ascention of some saint, or son of God, and more importantly a concert of Darude!

If you don’t know who Darude is, then you can either inform yourself, or drop dead right there. He’s a DJ that released a highly popularised remix-song called Sandstorm. Everyone knows it, just they don’t know who did it! Tragic for them because it’s real class! We went to Jenni’s, we got a little tipsy, and everyone’s English improved greatly after the shy-awkward stage. I chilled with the funny and chatty Noora, and Katariina (who spoke near-perfect English!), and of course my host, Elina, the stunning Jaako, the flower-pretty Jenni, and her gorgeous friend Jennika, and of course the boyfriends, charming Niko, and Juha-Matti. I either named everyone or possibly forgot Katariina’s boyfriend’s name. It’s difficult to remember damnit. Also, props to Finns for producing very tasty sugary cider (way better than the French kind!).

We sang some Eurovision songs and chatted about who was hot and who was not, bwahha, and then we went downtown with the full 10pm sunlight, to the lovely disco-club Odessa, a Finnish chain with places all over the country. We chilled in, coat-checked, and then got-a-dancin’ to the sort of lame DJ. It was lame for about 30 minutes, and then the most amazing things happened.

Darude, performing

We were dancing, and someone bumped into me and I just shrugged it off (having lived in France and being used to it), and then Jennika brought it to my attention that it was Darude that bumped into me. I nearly fell over, and then took a look around and loved how Scandinavians are all about space. They throw their bags in the centre, and they dance like they are crazy. Even Jaako was dancing!

The crowd thickened, and Darude started to play. We were in the middle, and slowly and surely we made our way up to the front where we were rocking with the best of them. The “concert” was absolutly amazing, and then since we were in Oulu and it’s Finland, and basically have 5 million people in the entire country, stars are very accessible. People started gathering for autographs and to talk to him, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon, and I’m glad I did. I got some photos, and then spoke with him. He was surprised that I was in Oulu and even more surprised that I was going back to Toronto in a week. He asked for my name, gave me his e-mail address and info and asked me to contact him so that he could get me on the VIP list in Toronto at the Courthouse. Oh yes, that’s true and I’m awesome. Go me! I just about died, and hugged everyone around me cause it’s like the first time I ever met someone famous, at least internationally!

Oulu, at early hours of the morning

The night ended after a few hours, and we went to get some pizza while the sun was still up (as it doesn’t set), and we got chatted up by some drunk people and walked the 5km home to his flat. We slept like rocks, clearly. It was one of the greater days of my life!

Well I’ve departed Caen for good, and after nearly two weeks of packing all of my stuff into suitcases, throwing a bunch of it out, and giving a bunch of it to needy people I’ve managed to put my life into one oversized suitcase, and a tennis bag. It’s all heavy as fuck and since I’ve decided to come to Sweden for a few weeks before going back to Canada, I had to bring everything with me. My flight leaves for Buffalo on May 31st and well it will be a sad moment of course!

In any case, since Caen is a pain in the ass to get from for flights going out of Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris I left the night before to visit Marie before leaving la France again. I got there, no problems but of course it was a bitch with my internet services, and the metro was rush hour so I wanted to shoot myself in the face. The night was okay and we talked a lot and watched Desperate Housewives before I left at 7:15 the next morning, during rush hour again. The metro was packed and with my luggage it was a pain.

Aéroport Charles de GaulleAéroport Charles de Gaulle

I made it to Opéra to take the RossiyBus to the airport, and I got nervouse becasue it was taking a lot longer than I thought and I was sort of late. Upon paniced arrival at the airport it was all okay since all flights were delayed due to fog, go me! I checked my luggage and it turned out to be 24kg (only 4kg over w00t!) and then got something to eat and talked with this half-French, half-Swedish family. The woman came from Upper Normandy and was really impressed with the fact that I spoke French so well (and quickly). Ha! I bid them adieu and went to my gate where they seemed to not speak French at all (funny that). The delays created the absoute worst situation ever. All these gates with flights going to Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, Talinn, Helsinki all with delays and thus there were no seats left. There were people piled on the floors and on the windows; it was creepy. I grabbed a paper and chilled for awhile. The flight was long but lovely considering the lovely staff at SAS, who’s names were Marie, Bengt Holm, and unknown older woman. They were flirty and their outfits were far too tight. I’ve decided to grow my hair out to be like Bengt’s, as it was lovely.

Arlanda AirportArlanda Airport, Peter Jöback

I arrived at Arlanda and immediately felt like home, and the signs welcome us. Welcome to Stockholm, welcome home! The airport was empty except for our Boeign 747 flight, and as you can see nobody is around, and nothing was going on. Mr. Happy made a triumphant return, taking a photo with Peter Jöback, my teasingly apparent twin (according to Daniel). Do you see the resemblance? In any case, I took a photo and everyone else was laughing at me and were amused by my crazyness. I’m glad that the Swedes can take it so lovely, especially after a flight that featured the woman across from me having a panic attack during takeoff and landing. I’d like also to thank the people on my flight for not clapping, as obviously the pilots know what they are doing!

Arlanda AirportArlanda C

I got into the airport, got my train ticket for the Upplands Lokalträffik, Upptåget, which for those that aren’t swedophone, it’s the commuter train from Uppsala Väsby to Gävle. Itw as comfy and modern, but the terminal for waiting was quite cold! I got into Uppsala with my luggage and made it to meet Arash and take my luggage to his nation, which is basically a student organisation like fraternaties but are completly informal and fun! Turns out that I’m awesome and know so many people that nobody cares cause I’m awesome! So I’m back in the dorms, and into a really nice flat which is a bit cramped. I met Henrik, the flatmate, and the others that were around, and since I arrived on a Thursday it’s the waffle and soup day, so I helped serve that and brushed up on my Swedish, which had gone unused for awhile.

Stockholm.07

So we ran over to the train station and I decided to take the train cause we were short on time, and I ran there and said goodbye to Daniel my favourite friend from Stockholm to whom it’s the second time I was lucky enough to hang out with! I ran from the terminal into the building because I was really short for time at this point, and I ran to the KLM area to sign in and so the panic began.

She asked me what flight I was on, I said to Amsterdam in 45 minutes. She said “What?? Are you crazy?” And I said of course I wasn’t and that I was here within the 40 minute window allowed for checking in. She told me that she had to call someone to see if they could take my luggage; and she was on the phone for 10 minutes waiting so they couldn’t take my luggage and therefore denied my boarding. I looked at her and asked if she was serious. It was her fault that it took so long, and there wasn’t even anyone in the terminal. She told me to vacate the area and to go over to the lineup across the hall to get a new ticket.

I was livid, I called Tony told him and sent an sms to Daniel letting him know. I figured I’d have to stay over another night, but we’d see. I waited for 2 hours in the line because a woman was arguging with the nice Swedish man, and when I got up there I presented him with the facts and there wasn’t anything that I could do to get to Paris, Frankfurt, Strasbourg, Geneva, Basel, Zürich or anywhere close to Strasbourg, so I went over to sit down and be stressed. It was all such a huge problem because I had to get home before Thursday and it’s going to be Wednesday when I get home now, so that I can move out of my flat on time. And then figure out where I was going to go or how to get home. I was scared.

I went over to the internet terminal and the machine was broken. The good looking Russian guy that was working on the computers came over to try to unjam the machine but it took 20 minutes and he eventually gave me 400:- worth of internet time, it was awesome. So I looked all afternoon for flights and how I could get home. Cheapest thing I could find for the next day was about 500€ and leaving in the morning. I said fine, bought it with my credit card and managed to get it all in the with my low credit; and then had to sleep at the airport again. I sat around for awhile reading and then I went to this italian resteraunt in the terminal to see the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

I walked in and ordered my stuff and sat down and then these two younger women were laughing and pointing at this family. There were about 100 people in the entire terminal so it was soo quiet and empty with the sun hovering still at 20.00. I looked over and what I thought to be a man was with two children coming to sit down. Now what the guy was wearing was wow. I had to cough up what I was chewing because I was so flustered. He had on this sleeveless top that was fishnet, going halfway through his middrift, and then a jock-strap looking pair of underwear that were visible above the jeans line because his jeans were below his pelvic bone exposing, well quite a lot. After he turned around, the jock-strap like band went around and a single tiny string went down below his bum, so I was thinking, wow with nothing in the front connecting, and only a string in the back what the hell is this guy wearing?

I thought to myself, poor kids, and they didn’t seem phased. But they were at an airport so I was just confused. Was he a drunk man with children? Was he a go-go boy who was grossly overweight and hairy? Was he a transvestite? Was he a transexual? Quite frankly I thought it was a woman when I looked at him because he had very effeminate eyes and chin, but it was a man forsure; especially with the body hair. I didn’t know what to say and laughed to myself the whole time hoping to never see anything so disgusting again in my life.

And so I went to lay down on the benches, I went through about 50 pages of Form i Fokus doing my grammar before my pencil ran out. I had to go and steal a pen from the cleaning lady when she wasn’t looking in the terminal building, I felt horrible but I needed something to write with as everything was closed. I layed down and watched a film on the lappy and then fell asleep with my stuff sprawled out. The view around 22.00 is available in the photo above as seen when I was falling asleep. I feel so comfortable and safe in Arlanda airport that I didn’t even hold onto my luggage, it was just laying there with my shoes and stuff off whilst I slept.

Flight was at 6am the next morning so I was up at 4am finding the Norwegian guy beside me huddling around his things. The Norwegians are always so weird; but it’s funny. The lineup was so long I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but I got my luggage through and the lineup for security was ridiculus. It was about 1’000 people minimum, so the wait was awhile. This guy was coming around seeing boarding passes and telling people to go over to the other one for later flights but it went quicker than I thought it would. I made it just in time as they were calling for final call as I walked up to the gate, right inside of security. I was thinking to myself; why is Arlanda always so bad to me? That’s two missed flights and therefore a sign. Sweden is telling me not to leave, and I really shouldn’t have!

Flight to Amsterdam was fine, but EVERYONE had connecting flights and was in a rush because some people had to have luggage offloaded having not made the flight (lucky me). The woman next to me was going to Cape Town, I was jealous. And so I ran to make my connection and all was fine and KLM took care of me. I was terribly bitter about paying 500€ though but I had to get home damnit! Turns out Air France overcharged me anyways so I have to sort that out.

I packed all the next hours and my room was nearly ready to move out the next day, one day early. Midsommar in Sweden was amazing, and I swear I’m taking that sign to heart. I’m moving there somehow someday soon, I just need to find someone Swedish to marry me to make it easier first.

Any takers? Or even someone I can co-habitate with for 2 years? I’ll love you forever and ever; and I swear I’m clean and house-trained!

97462285654be85249f931ddfd59da555480cd1374f7b806f9f8eb4580509ce1a54e5abeb8a3381106cfe38928eb9cdfa679

With my Christmas vacation winding down and finally heading back to Strasbourg I was happy to wake up with the sun somewhat shining with the wind blowing against the window. The previous night I had realized that there was a rain storm, but I didn’t actually realize the result of what it did until I got the newspaper at the train staion. I came to the train station and the ticket machine wouldn’t let me buy a ticket, so I was sort of confused as to why, so I bought one for a later train and would try to pass it off for the train that was arriving. We had to make a transfer in Alvesta first, because there were some problems on the line or something. I didn’t realize until I got to Alvesta that there was a hurricane in Sweden for the first time in manyyears named “Per”. So my connecting train to Stockholm was delayed and I had wait another hour, finally we got on the train and it was crazy with tons of people. I couldn’t figure out why there were so many, but it turned out that because of the hurricane all of the early morning trains had been cancelled and this was the only one coming from Malmö. I found my seat and we took off bound for Stockholm.

The train went about 20 minutes from Alvesta when we had to stop, and the train conductor wouldn’t tell anyone what was going on. After some minutes waiting on the track in the middle of nowhere, they came on the system saying that we would be stopped since some stations lost power and they can’t get a singal for whether or not they could continue the train. So the X2000 superfast train was stopped ‘5 minutes.’ Everyone started to get on their mobiles, and I raelized that this was getting dangerously close to me missing my flight back to Beauvais. After another 20 minutes they told us that they would be continuing on, but just ast they said that the power in the train cut off and the wind picked up. It turned out that we were stuck in the hurricane in Småland and we had to wait it out until it had finished. Panic didn’t happen but most people were stressed out and the woman beside me was rude and didn’t want to stop talking on the phone. From what I could understand in her conversations she was a gymnastics coach and was heading to Stockholm for a competition. So hours later, they start to bring around information about the tiny little town that was about 1.5km away from us, since we were stopped in the middle of nowhere. Who has ever heard of Moheda?

So people started to leave the train in hopes to get some food. I stook tight because I was afraid if I left, then I wouldn’t make it back to the train in time for it to leave; and what a naïve thing to think as well! So I waited it out with these two girls across from me giggling and trying to get to sleep, to no avail. A few hours later, I realized that I wasn’t going to make my flight back to France, and didn’t panic becasue I knew there wasn’t anyting I could do. Suddenly a man that I recognized from my car came into the car and started to yell that there was an express bus going from Växjö to Stockholm that was leaving in 20 minutes at the cost of 700:- which is an excessive amount in my opinion. While everyone paniced to leave and get taxies to the bus station a bunch of us stayed behind, mostly because I had no money or didn’t want to spend it on that. It turned out better for us to not gone, because the bus never went and the people that left were stranded in a bus-station that closed. So we waited, and suddenly it started to get cold. I changed my clothes and put on more layers to keep warm, and a woman brough around candles that she bought since we were completely in the dark.

About 8 hours after we left Alvesta the conductors that remained came around and took our names and telling us that we would be taken back to Växjö by bus and put into hotels until a solution could be made. Now we had already waited 8 hours, my flight had gone already, and I really just wanted to be indoors somewhere so we had to wait another 2 hours for the busses to come for us. They then evacuated us from the train and we had to walk 1.5km to the closest fence opening where the busses waited for us. There were 3 busses to bring all of us, and after we loaded on we set off from Växjö, the place I left several hours before. Who knew that I would be going backwards in my travels?

The woman that I sat next to was from Linköping and was very friendly wondering why I was in Sweden and why I spoke Swedish and everything, so it made good conversation. The odd time we turned a corner the bus freaked out becasue trees the size of houses were on the road blocking the way, so we had to maneuver around them to our dismay. We finally arrived back in windy Växjö, and they checked us in the hotel. They ran out of single rooms so we had to pair up and I saw the two younger girls that I saw before I quickly asked them if it was alright if I shared a room with them and they were very happy too. I mostly went to ask them because I saw this older Arab guy talking to them and making them feel uncomfortable, and I wanted to save them, so in the end as I later found out I was their hero! We got into our room and made introductions, as they were Frida and Madicken and they were both from Växjö.

Nässjö.01

They were really kind and we hit it off great. They were heading to Stockholm so that they could get a plane to Luleå where they would do a stage for several weeks, so they had a lot of luggage and they were so excited to hear that I just came from there. We never stopped talking, and it was hillarious to be with some people that I got along with. We explored the town and got some food before everything closed then came back and watched TV. We went to sleep and were woken up by a phone call from Frida’s mom which informed us that busses were coming to take us to Nässjö to get a train to Stockholm. In a huge panic we got our stuff together and headed down for the busses, which was a fiasco since many people were frustrated and wanted to go to many places. We jumped on and were on our way for a few hours by bus to the closest train station that was still functioning in the region. It turns out that Nässjö is in Dalarna I think and it took longer than we had expected. There were crews on the road everywhere cutting up the massive trees that were put down by the hurricane. I have never seen distruction like this in my life, and it was kind of scary since I wasn’t sure we would even get to Stockholm.
We parked ourselves down and chatted and read the news, several deaths, and lots of people out of power, and finally our train came. We piled on and they put the stranded ones in one car. It turns out that we were the only train from the South that was going into Stockholm, and everywhere else people were stuck. Thanks to SJ and their wonderful crew, we managed to get to Stockholm after stops in Mjölby, Linköping, and Norrköping. Frida and Madicken were famished so we got some food and they had prearranged their flight to Luleå for changing, so they had to head to Aralanda, and I thought I would be going to Nyköping. We said our goodbyes and exchanged e-mails and said that we would once meet again. It was really nice to meet some random people in a crisis and click so well and turn a bad situation into something good
!

I set off to check flights, and nobody would let me book anything since it was too last minute to leave the day of. I took the phone numbers down and tried to dial them, and my mobile had no minutes on it so I was ‘ed. I bought a phone card in hopes that I could call the numbers but they were all ones unavailable so I was in a panic, I checked the normal airlines from Arlanda and the only flight leaving Stockholm to Continental Europe was going to Pairs through Copenhagen in exactly 2 hours. I tried to book it with my VISA but it wouldn’t accept it, and therefore was in a huge problem. I paniced and called my mom to get her to help me, but of course she was in a meeting so I had to tell her company it was an emergency and an overseas call. I ran back and booked my ticket and I have to say that I never ran so fast to the train station to get to the airport. I took the 20 minute train to Arlanda and ran through securty and got my tickets. When I got through everything they were boarding last minute, so I was the last person on the plane with 10 minutes to spare. I was so happy to be on the plane and headed back to somewhere normal.

After an hour we were in Copenhagen (against my desire), and the connection in 45 minutes so I walked around. Dirty airport and gross everything. I was no impressed at all. So we boarded and headed to Paris, Charles-de-Gaulle. Before I continue please mind the cursing that will follow, but there are no other ways to express the situation. Charles-de-Gaulle is fucking messed up! Never ever fly there if you don’t have to ever in your life because it’s the most confusing airport known to mankind. We arrived in Pairs just before midnight, and I had no way to get to the trainstation (which would have been closed anways) so I resigned myself to the fact I would have to sleep in the airport (again). The difference this time is that Paris isn’t safe like Stockholm, and the homeless sleep in the airpot. So I parked myself in a chair and tried to get to sleep but couldn’t since the creepy people kept walking around. There was a Polish girl that kept waving at me, and then I went over to her to ask her if I could share the bench with her, since I didn’t want to sleep near the homless and she said in these exact words “Sure, but don’t talk to me – I’m trying to sleep.”

I was too paranoid and tired to care, so I went to sleep and it was the worst sleep I’ve ever had in my life, but I got through it somehow. I woke up at about 5am when the busses started to run and I now had to maneuver my way through Paris rush-hour traffic. The woman at the information booth wasn’t kind at all and vaugely told me what I needed to know. I had to take a bus to another terminal and then take a train into Paris. Sadly everything at 5am is closed so I had to wait an hour for the ticket counter to open up. It ended up costing me 8€ to get into Paris which I was not happy about. I got on the train which was packed with Parisians going into the city and got off at Gare de Nord to transfer in the metro to Gare de l’Est. I was paranoid with all the creepy people at the first station, but I got to my destination and nearly got caught leaving in the automatic machines, but I finally got to the train station. I had bought a ticket previously, but it was useless so I had to buy another and couldn’t find the office. Finally when I did the guy at the desk was the most pleasant person in Paris I had ever met, we even had a little conversation at 6am in the morning while nobody else was there. I think he was hitting on me, but I didn’t care since I just wanted to get home.

They were putting us on the TGV (Train de Grande Vitesse) to Nancy and then to Strasbourg on slow train, so I had to find the right track. The train was about 1km down the platform so I nearly missed it, but I got on it and slept for the next 5 hours. After my arrival in Strasbourg everything looked different and I found my way back (after getting lost) to Gallia. I will be happy to inform anyone who is wondering that I even showed up to my class, despite being ‘jetlegged’ and tired from the traveling. I was not impressed about having to buy a last minute ticket for 500€, but we do what we have to do to get home. Otherwise I would have been screwed even more because the same hurricane that hit Sweden arrived to France the night after I arrived. If I didn’t get on the flight, I never would have made it back for another 5 days, so thank god for being rash.

What did I learn?
1) Never fly to Paris again
2) Never plan train trips ahead of time
3) Be more European and do things at the last minute
4) Buy more credits on phone for emergency before leaving

All in all I was happy to be back to familiar setting and have the ability to charge my phone. I can’t live without a mobile phone anymore, just in case of emergencies, which I couldn’t even use becasue of damned foreign restrictions. Not impressed, but oh well. Lessons learned, despite arriving back to Strasbourg two days late!