"Oh," we said, "These seats are quite comfy!" We giddily explored the TV screen in the seat backs in front of us, and the remote control, and the cup holders, and noted that we didn't even have to ask for a pillow and a blanket, they were waiting for us on our seat. "This will be just fine!"
Each seat came with a bottle of water, too, and Crystal had read that one way to avoid jet lag was to stay well hydrated, so we had bought bottles of our own in the gifty store near our gate. We would be in great shape. Our seats were directly over the wing, which was by itself bigger than most of the whole airplanes I had ever been on. It was monstrously enormous. We clumped out to our runway, the ridiculous wing bouncing along, listened to safety instructions in Swedish, English and German, and hurled ourselves at the heavens. The Airbus has a neat feature where you can watch the take off from a camera located on the nose of the plane, right on your own personal little TV screen in the seat back ahead of you. That was way cool, though it made me a little dizzy.
Crystal and I talked about whippets, whippets, and more whippets. We talked about Whippet Rescue and the Whippet Health Foundation. We talked about pedigrees. (Crystal knows every pedigree of every whippet on earth, I swear!) We talked genetics and health issues. We talked about puppy mills and Peta and the AKC. We basically solved all the problems of the dog world. I was already missing my dogs, but I was also so glad that Swede William wasn't in the belly of this flying whale. (At one point, I imagined taking him back to Sweden to show. It would have been such grand fun, but I couldn't imagine being brave enough to fly him as 'cargo'.)
A toddler two rows behind us started screaming. We could feel in our own ears why. The mother wasn't so awfully helpful. She screamed back at the child. We were served a delicious dinner. The child screamed through dinner and dessert. We drank our water, plus the free water, plus the water that came with dinner, and asked for more. No jet lag for us! I think we pretended to watch a movie or two, but really we talked the whole time. In between trips to the loo, that is. Maybe we had overdone it on the water. The toddler's screams had not let up, but he was getting hoarse. We felt bad for him.
About six hours into the flight the seats mysteriously got hard. Like a rock, hard. Our generous tushies complained. At the exact moment when we decided to go for a walk around the cabin, the Airbus started bucking like an unbroke mustang and the Captain put on the seat belt sign. He said something in Swedish, and then told us in English that we were bouncing around in hurricane force winds. I think we were between Canada and Greenland. We said we should nap. No deal.
The sun was still up outside the gyrating wing. The attendants brought breakfast, during which we admired our attendant's photos of his ten year old pet pig, and the toddler started to wail again, his voice rested and recovered. His mother said helpful things, like "I'm going to leave you on this plane if you don't stop now," which of course sent the poor child into complete hysterics.
And then we were flying over Sweden. It was so green, like I imagined Ireland would be. It was one thirty in the morning for us, eight-thirty AM Swedish time as we dragged our numb butts of the giant plane. We claimed our luggage and went directly to the money exchange counter. Our dollars are quite pathetic. Last year one dollar would get you twelve Swedish Kroner. We got five point something. We looked with sleep deprived brains at the non-sensical Monopoly money in our hands, and I croaked, "Coffee. I need coffee." We crossed the hall and asked the coffee shop girl for "coffee, please, how much?" "Twenty-seven." I looked at Crystal. "Twenty-seven what?" We had coins and bills and I had no idea what I needed to give the girl, but I needed coffee. So I held out my hands. The girl picked out a twenty Kroner bill and a five Kroner coin and two one Kroner coins, and I looked at Crystal and said, "If a cup of coffee takes that much money, I am in serious deep shit."
We got a shuttle (for one hundred and ninety-nine Kroner each), to our hotel, shared with a lovely couple on their umpteenth visit to Sweden. They told us about tipping and warned us to stay up all day, to minimize the jet lag. "Do not take a nap today. You will regret it." Our hotel let us check in early, and we rode up the scary little elevator (no front elevator door, just a regular door out when you got to your level) to find an absolutely charming room. It was our first hint of how uncivilized America is. The room felt like a guest room in a friend's home. Hardwood floors, white linens, and a spotless tile bathroom. No gross wall-to-wall carpet and dark bedspreads full of God knows what bodily fluids. No air conditioning either, so the window was open, letting in the lovely fresh Swedish air, sweeping in from the park which the hotel faced.
We looked longingly at the beds. NO! We changed into fresh clothes, washed our faces and brushed our teeth and headed out to explore Stockholm.
to be continued...
hug your hounds