Saturday, August 25, 2007

Checking in

Checking in for the first time from Sweden. (So if there were any doubts, you can see that we made it safely.)

The first day was a long one, of course, with all that flying. To people with more experience flying, it's probably mostly a dull necessity, but it's still a rare enough occurrence for me to be worth describing (though I'll try to keep it brief. . . maybe ).

First leg of the trip: from Mobile's airport to Memphis.
  • Donald and I were sitting apart, but at least this way we both had window seats. I wasn't sure I wanted a window, at first, but it didn't take long to make up my mind. If you must be up in the air that way, you might as well take advantage of it! ;o)
  • As usual with life's events, the anticipation was much more potent than the real thing. That seems to prove true for the good as well as the bad, but in this case, it was a relief.
  • I noticed (and Donald also later commented on) some interesting swirls of green on the ground below us, as we approached Memphis. It was a bit startling to remember/realize that the carpet of green was trees-- not crops or grass. The trees were surrounded by what looked like fields of crops. I'm not sure why the trees were left in that unusual swirling pattern. . .
  • Also saw: winding rivers, lakes and ponds, fields, roads, the familiar patchwork effect that cultivated land has when viewed from above, clouds, etc.
  • The lazy drifting of the clouds is misleading. Not even drifting, really. The clouds seem to be suspended in midair, quite still, while we are merely drifting sleepily among them.
  • Flying through the clouds, on the other hand, seemed to usually result in some bumps. All in my imagination? A coincidence? Or true? I don't know.
  • The steep banking makes me a bit uncomfortable. Somehow it feels safer when you aren't tilting around like that.
  • Take-off and landing are still the most exciting parts of the flight. Is it true that they're more dangerous than the rest? Even if so, they're the best part. Everything else is pretty dull, and I think I feel safer then than when we hit turbulence in the middle of the flight.
  • 98F in Memphis. Probably even hotter than it was at home. Certainly no cooler.
Second leg of the trip: from Memphis to Amsterdam.
  • Such a long, long flight. And impossible to really sleep sitting up like that, too. (For both of us, at least, and many others seemed unable to sleep, either.)
  • Not much turbulence, at least. Just a few bumpy moments.
  • It's fairly torturous, being so tired, yet unable to sleep. The dimmed lights only make matters worse, I think, as they tantalize you into thinking that maybe you can sleep. ;o)
  • This was our first flight with the new personal screen system (a screen on the back of each seat, and you can select from a group of movies, music, games, etc.) Donald watched three movies, and I none. ;o) I didn't feel like watching anything, so I just listened to music and tried to let my eyes get some rest, even if my brain couldn't have much.
  • There was a lady sitting a couple of seats away from Donald who sounded so much like Aunt Charlotte that I might have thought that's who it was, if I hadn't seen her. ;o) Behind us was a couple with a baby. It was crying at first, and I thought things I probably shouldn't have thought ;o), but fortunately, it was quiet most of the time. (Well, I actually thought the bad things when its mother was coughing so hard that I felt it on the back of my head. Argh! Cover your mouth when you cough, woman!) I heard the mother saying this was the baby's fifth time across the Atlantic (poor thing!) and that this time they were bound for Saudi Arabia!! No thanks. I've no desire to take a baby on that long of a trip. . . Nor to go myself, for that matter!
  • After arriving in Amsterdam, we had to walk through the airport and go through a checkpoint (get out passports, have luggage scanned, etc.) to get to our final flight. Amsterdam's airport is interesting to walk through. It's so busy with so many people, and everywhere you turn, you see a different type of person, hear a different language being spoken.
  • As we had to be bussed out to our plane, we got to feel the Dutch air for a few moments. It was decidedly cooler than at home. With overcast skies, it was-- dare I say it?-- even cool. But after we boarded our flight, Donald told me that the two Swedish men sitting near us on the bus had been discussing how hot it was.
Final leg of the trip: Amsterdam to Gothenburg.
  • Our flight (or was it the plane itself?) was called a "KLM Cityhopper". (KLM is the airline, Dutch.) "Cityhopper" just sounds funny to me. . . Imagine the body of a plane attached to the back of a large grasshopper, hopping us across puddles. . .
  • We saw a wind farm out in the waters off the coast of Denmark. It was a strange sight-- a square-shaped grid of wind turbines cropping up out of the ocean. If it was that odd to see it from so far above, I can only imagine what it'd be like to see from nearby. Those things are pretty big, I think.
  • We saw some of Denmark, too, as we flew over it. Near the coast, there was a small town with a spiderweb effect of land partitions branching off in all directions. Very pretty. I wished I had the camera out to photograph it, but it wasn't very convenient timing. Most of the time it was too cloudy to see much, anyway.
  • Based on the unusual shape of the shoreline (and the map we had with us, with the flight marked out), we were able to spot our exact location. Blåvand was the "pointy" coast we passed over.
  • The engines on this plane kept making weird changes in sounds-- revving up, going quiet. I prefer the plane I'm on to choose one sound and keep to it. They should be as unobtrusive as possible. I like to think as little as possible about the fact that my life depends on those things!
  • Coming in to land at Gothenburg, we were treated to beautiful scenery. Lots of boats along the waterways-- lots of orange-tiled roofs-- lots and lots of pristine lakes surrounded by forests and charming homesteads. Some of the lakes even had tiny islands. There was fairly thick cloud cover, and the gradual unveiling of the landscape, framed by wispy white shreds, made it appear even more fresh and hidden from the rest of the world. Of course, soon there were less orderly houses and busy roads to bring one back to reality!
When we finally arrived in Gothenburg, we soon found Thorbjörn and Jocke (hope I spelled that right), who'd come to pick us up, and were on our way to Säffle. It wasn't as cool as we'd expected, but perhaps it's a bad idea to say anything about heat to those of you still enduring the sweltering 90s and three-digit heat indexes of the South. ;o)

I'll write more and post more photos another time. For now, I need to go get ready for our next adventure. ;o) I hope you're all doing well, back at home! :o)


Gwen said...

Glad to hear that you made it safely to Sweden and are having a wonderful time. We all really enjoyed seeing the pictures, and look forward to more.

Everything and everyone here at home is doing fine. Molly & Daisy send you lots of kisses. :-)

Michael said...

It's good to hear that everyone's ok back at home. :o)