Killing Time in Airports — Travel Notes

I walked from my house to the Rod and Reel at about noon, yesterday grabbed a reuben for lunch, called a cab, took a cab from the Rod to the Atlantic City Bus Terminal, purchased a greyhound ticket to Port Authority, took a shuttle from Port Authority to JFK (got there just in time for my 6:30 departure –- very smooth the Swiss, a fellow in line glanced at my ticket and ushered me to the front of the line). I like Swiss Air. The food was actually good, and the service was excellent (sure it was chicken, but all airlines serve chicken – in a nice sauce with rice brocolli and red peppers with a tasteful Australian wine shiraz/cabernet blend). I was reading an Australian novel at the time, the True History of the Ned Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, which is a great pageturner sort of an Australian Western about a folk hero/bushranger. I also always like it when they bring around those lemon-scented hot towels, and the light breakfast (croissant, banana, raspberry yogurt and croissant) was excellent. The Swiss chocolate at the end of the flight was a little disappointing, in that they had slivers of peanut butter in the chocolate cube, wasn’t that much different from a peanut butter cup. I was expecting something I don’t know sort of darker. But I’m not complaining. The film, Seabiscuit, wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, though it wasn’t great. I enjoyed watching the horses, regardless, and it kind of dovetailed nicely with the novel, in which there’s a great deal of horseriding and horsethieving going on. The highlight of the trip so far was watching the sun rise over the Alps as we began our descent. You could see the peaks well above cloud-cover though it’s quite foggy here on the ground at Zurich International Airport, which is this amazingly well Swiss looking vision of the future, lots of burnished steel and glass, very clean lines, comfortable leather chairs in the waiting area and some kind of vine growing behind the clouded glass of the elevator shaft. Two more flights to go. I’d get a coffee but I don’t have any Swiss currency or Eurodollars. They have wireless but it looks really expensive and requires some kind of card. Hell I don’t know if it’s expensive I have no idea.

An uneventful one hour and thirty-five minute Swiss Air connecting flight from Zurich to Copenhagen — and they don’t offer you anything for free -– not even water. But Copenhagen’s duty free shop is INSANE – it’s this liquor supermarket, cigars, gourmet foodstuffs, this place is more a mall than an airport. I’ve heard that the Norweigans and Finns do most of their sin shopping over here – that sometimes they’ll do a one-day return flight to Copenhagen just to buy cheap liquor. I picked up a half liter of kahlua and a half liter of vodka – I figure we can make White Russians one night this week, after all it’s the closest I’ve ever been to Russia. I think the booze was cheap, I think. Though I really have absolutely no idea what relationship this Danish currency has to real American dollars (other than that the Bush dollar is down, way down, against most Euro monopoly money, thanks Georgie).

Oh, one more thing. Airport security seems surprisingly lax over here. Most people don’t even need to take off their coats, much less their shoes. Nary an invasive strip search did I witness. I saw Danes walk through security fully clothed. They didn’t even ask me to take my laptop out of the bag. And no biometrics whatsoever. Very retro.

I think I’ve been up for like 22 hours now. I’ll probably be pushing 30 by the time I sleep. Thank god my brother gave me that tin of Penguin caffeinated mints. Maybe the Scandinavians will offer me a cup of coffee on the flight to Bergen, although I think this one is even shorter than the last –- ascend, descend. You could practically swim here from Bergen, if the water weren’t so cold.

The Scandinavians did pretty well. Free coffee, orange juice and a copy of the International Herald-Tribune. The coffee was swill, but good effort and plenty of legroom. The best vista by far was at the end of the trip, on the approach into Bergen. We cruised in a slow descent, about 3,500 or so over mountains, fjords, these foresty islands and the city. Bergen is a stunningly beautiful place. And I made it here in one piece and everything. Then a taxi to Jill's flat.

Jill only allowed me a two hour nap and fixed me a traditional Norweigan meal of ravioli and salad. I’m about to fall over, but I did win the first round of Scrabble even in a half-consciousness stupor and if I stay up another couple hours, I’ll be on Bergen time, hopefully.

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