Feeling quite proud of myself, and rather tech savvy, after having checked-in via the Delta App on my Samsung Tablet, I proceeded to curbside check-in, attempting to not look too confused at this new procedure. As soon as everything was checked, and silently praying that my bag would mysteriously reach my destination from the curb side of the airport I proceeded to security.
Now security is one of the best places to people watch, it seems to bring out the best and worst in people. For some reason the security system as SeaTac appeared to be more of a cluster-fu..dge than normal, almost as if they were in the middle of construction somewhere. All lines seemed to merge and no one line seemed to have a direct route. Add to that about 8 wheelchairs attempting to squeeze through hundreds of already exasperated passengers and it begins to border on a comedy.
The large Indian family saying farewell to parents and grandparents, walking along the outside as they are pushed in wheelchairs through the crowd. Tears in eyes as a son shouts out “Be Brave Mammi!”. Then you see the Tibetan nun, the deep burgundy color of her robes giving away her origin, calmly meandering her way through at peace with the whole process. And finally the old gentleman trying to extricate his laptop to the exasperation of other passengers who finally just push past him.
All this culminates into the final step, what I like to call the TSA carnival ride. Step in, feet apart, arms above your head and “weeeeee” as the scanner scans you. I always feel like I should get a sticker or a snapshot as a memorabilia and have never understood why folks get so indignant at being shown as an amorphous blob on a screen.
Finally making it to the gate with over an hour to spare, I swung by Duty Free to purchase the requested Gin. Now, having never purchased alcohol in Duty Free before I afraid it would be confiscated, since I pass through Amsterdam on my way to Norway, I went over to one of the store attendants, a lovely gentleman possibly from China. When asked if it was ok he replied with:
“No problem! We put it zippy bag”
“I am sorry, a what?”
“Zippy bag, we put it zippy bag”
Or something to that extent, I decided since I understood the first part of “No Problem” I would go with that.
At checkout they placed it in a sealed bag and I had to pick it up as I boarded the plane. So I think it kind of made sense.
Please Remain Seated!
Waiting in the gate area it was very warm, possibly an issue with the circulation system, this ultimately made passengers more fidgety than usual, and with the added benefit of the flight being overbooked, by around 20 seats.
You have got to love it when the airline does this. So of course everyone without a seat lined up, the desk agents repeated over and over again, “please remain seated, we are working on the issue and will call you up as soon as we have resolved it, please remain seated. Anyone willing to give up your ticket, please come and see us, otherwise, again, please remain seated.”
Of course, everyone kept standing in line.
As they were about to board the announcement came through that the plane was “Too Hot!” so they could not board us and to please remain seated. The result 90% of the passengers lined up. I was terribly bemused at the whole thing, watching as passengers got frustrated standing in line when they should just remain seated.
On a side note the exciting experience of Taco Bell from the previous evening seemed to be losing it’s grip as I merrily chomped on pepto chewables.
When Sleep Eludes You….
The plane was packed beyond packed, there was no free seat anywhere… and an unhappy child 2 rows in front of me. This flight was going to be fantastic (please note the sarcasm).
Since it is virtually impossible for me to sleep on planes unless I have at least 2 seats, preferably 3 (allowing me to stretch out), I decided to attempt to take a half tablet of my muscle relaxant that I use when my shoulder acts up.
Dinner was served and I requested pasta, they had to fetch it, after nibbling on the salad, the cold hard roll and the cracker, I asked again, they had forgotten, pasta received and opened…pasta quickly closed!
Certain a movie would help loll me to sleep I put on my noise canceling headphones (that I purchased in Istanbul for a tenth of the price) and flipped to Godzilla. Perhaps a high action movie with sci-fi undertones was a bad idea…
Then I tried Malificent, the whimsical retake on sleeping beauty, I was so entranced with the movie that I barely blinked.
No Sleep!….maybe I should have taken a whole pill?
Then there was a call for medical assistance, I considered but decided to wait and see if they had help. Being a vet nurse means I can only do so much and I hoped they didn’t ask me to check for a fever…But luckily they had a doctor and 3 RNs answer the call.
Still No Sleep!
Perhaps a light hearted kids movies? How to Train Your Dragon 2, brilliant!
Begin to drift off slightly, the bliss of oblivion within reach… and so too was my butt apparently, as my seat mate attempted to tuck in her blanket mid snore, she ultimately attempted to tuck my butt in at the same time! Awake!
Oh bugger it, I give up! Grab a coffee and play Majong on the plane game station till we land.
Due to the medical emergency, my assessment was possible heart attack from the few glimpses I got, we were granted priority landing.
The flight attendants assured us the gentleman would be ok.
I must say that Schipol International Airport is quite delightful. Easy to manoeuvre about and joy of all joys… an outside area where you can breathe the fresh air… as long as you are upwind of the smokers. But for those of us already 12hrs + in airport air, anything resembling fresh was worth it.
The Final Leg
Eventually it was time to meander to the gate and await boarding. Feeling utterly exhausted I politely asked the gate agent if there was a free row so I could sleep, politeness always seems to help and by the time the plane left the ground I was strapped into a middle seat of 3 and passing out while attempting to ignore a section of the buckle digging into my side.
After a refreshing 45min catnap, I awoke to a wonderful flight attendant handing me coffee and a funky Dutch cookie, two wafers glued together with caramel… heaven to a long haul traveler. As I was correctly trained in cookie and coffee etiquette by my parents I broke it in half and…. DUNKED!
The flight attendant was so delighted she exclaimed “That’s the only way to eat them, but then one is never enough!” and promptly got me another one. I think I am in love with Dutch flight attendants as I was handed a third before leaving.
Journey to Voss
Leaving Airport World, at least for a few days, I discovered I had received a dose of exceptional traveler luck. My bag was one of the first, then I was just able to jump on the bus that was leaving for downtown Bergen, after a short walk I managed to get on a train leaving in 5min (a whole hour earlier than expected), I nodded off now and then and when I finally arrived at the platform, the first person I asked to borrow his phone ended up being a mate of mine and I was promptly handed an exceptionally strong cup of coffee (he was from Spain and apparently the stronger the better is their motto).