home sweet (delicious, welcoming, familiar) home

The night before I was supposed to leave for home I thought I would pamper a bit.  I don’t know why, but I always feel like I should initially look prime when traveling.  Maybe it’s just to compensate for how lousy I will probably be feeling afterwards, because trust me, I don’t travel well.  And, to be honest, my legs and razor were practically strangers by now, and my eyebrows were beginning to act like a second hat to my face.  I went to the shower to begin the arduous process, only to find out the shower was one of those horrible, manual shower heads that you have to constantly be holding, and the water was a chilling temperature.

Mission abort, mission abort.

So instead I went back to my room, read my magazine, and fell asleep.

I had trouble sleeping, but I would imagine this was probably due to the excitement and anticipation of coming home, but also this incredibly ill-timed cold.  After a restless night I got up around 6:30 a.m., no longer able to sleep, and plodded to the bathroom to get ready.  I was out the door just a little bit past seven.

Walking to the train station was interesting.  I did not imagine there would be so many people out this early in the morning.  It was not until I turned my first corner until I saw the first person, or should I say people on the streets of Stockholm.  Taken by surprise, I encountered about thirty Russian tourists walking down the street in a big blob of furry hats.  What they were doing here so early, when it was still dark and no shops were open remains a mystery to me.

The walk to Stockholm Central took about fifteen minutes, and by the time I had neared the downtown area more people were out and about.  What is nice about Stockholm is the fact the bus terminal as well as the train station are not only in the same general area, but right across the street from each other.

I made my way to the luggage lockers and was pleased to find out that it was not going to cost me 130 SEK to retrieve my bags because they had been stored there for less than a day!  I repacked some of my things, and changed my bra awkwardly in a photo booth amidst all the lockers.  What?  I didn’t want to attempt towing all of my bags to the nearest restroom to change.  And fear not, there was a small curtain of protection.

The Arlanda Express is an excellent way to travel from the airport to the city and vice versa.  The tickets only cost 130 SEK for a youth ticket (up to 25 years of age), and the train takes twenty minutes to get to Arlanda.  Unlike the high speed train to Oslo, which only made one stop, the Arlanda Express makes two stops to accommodate for the different terminals.

Unfortunately I arrived at Arlanda long before I was even able to check in, so I had to wait a couple of hours before being able to do this.  Waiting was not an issue for me because my primary goal was just to make sure I could get to the airport in time without any obstacles.

In the meantime, I read the book that I had bought for the plane ride, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and people watched.  People watching in Europe is always a must.  When I was finally able to check in, I handed over my bags to Iceland Air and got my boarding passes.  Another surprise occurred when I was not charged an overweight fee for my largest and most sinister bag, which weighed a grand thirteen pounds over the weight restriction.  Again, a mystery.

Since I had checked in at the earliest possible time, I once again had time to kill.  By this time however, my attention span was nearing that of a raisin and all I was wanting was to board the plane and be on my merry way.  I bought some food, and watched some television in Swedish.  Och nej, det är inte rimligt (and no, it did not make sense).

The flight to Iceland was a little over three hours, and luckily Icelandair has a wide selection of IFE (in flight entertainment) options including around fifty movies to choose from, television episodes, children’s programs, music, and other things.  I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 for the majority of the ride.

Harry Potter is always a good idea.

My connection in Iceland was only an hour long, and once again I wanted to give myself enough time for things like food and finding the gate.  You bet I was the first one off the plane.

In Iceland we had to go through border patrol, and I got a stamp on my passport!  Finally!  I do find this irritating to an extent however, because I didn’t even spend time in Iceland like I did in other countries.

It was alarming to see how small the plane was that we would be taking trans-oceanic – only three seats per side of the aisle.  And of course, I was in the very last row.  Let me repeat, I was in the very last row.

The flight from Iceland to Denver was just over seven hours long.  For some reason I had thought it was eight hours, but was glad to find out it was only seven because there were some extensive delays in Iceland with boarding the plane and taking off.  By the way, I should mention that three international flights were all supposed to be leaving at the same time from this small, crowded hallway of the KFL airport.  The flights were to Denver, Seattle, and Boston, and for the hundreds of people waiting in this space, there were seats for less than half of us.  Needless to say it was a sea of chaos.

One thing that irked me about Icelandair was the fact they did not provide dinner on an international flight.  They did have food for sale, but it was expensive, as is usually the case with all airlines and airports.  I ended up ordering a chicken dish, and later some oatmeal, which was enough to take the edge off of my hunger.

During the flight I was not able to get comfortable, what with constantly being bombarded with people wanting to use the restroom and the rough turbulence the back of the plane always experiences.  I watched half of about three movies as some old TV episodes of Glee and Modern Family.

In Denver I had to go through customs, retrieve my bags, and recheck my bags for my last flight to Salt Lake City.  The process was smooth and I didn’t encounter any issues with convincing border patrol I was not bringing any exotic birds, questionable meat products, or fungi into my country.

Denver airport is one of the easiest airports to get around in, or maybe I was just happy to see all the signs in English.  I found my gate, then got some coffee and fruit.  While I waited for the departure I was able to call my mom and talk to her for a bit, and re-lace some boots, a very productive use of my time.

In Denver it also took some time to board the plane because apparently the flight was overweight and the airline was trying to ensure there would not be any unnecessary issues.  The flight to Salt Lake was just about an hour long, and I was finally able to zonk out for a power nap.

At this point it felt amazing to be so close to home.  I met my parents down at baggage claim and was overjoyed to see both them and Berri.  Even though it took close to an hour to get my bags I was just happy to be back, out Europe and out of the air, feet planted firmly on United States soil.

Finally.

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