Monday, December 26, 2005

A Merry Christmas

As some of you may recall I tend to do a write up of trips as I head home on the flight. This time is no different than previous times, however there is one big difference in that I will be able to post this one while I'm still in flight. The flight I'm on right now actually has internet access while flying. According to the advertisement thingy in the seat in front of me SAS is the first airline in the world to offer this. Either way, it's the coolest thing ever.

I'm just on my way back to the States after having made a quick visit home to surprise my parents on Christmas. I left from Los Angeles on the 21:st (Worst birthday ever) and am now going home on the 26:th.

The trip back home to Sweden turned out to be a real nightmare experience. I arrived at the airport a little bit less than 2 hours before the flight was supposed to leave which I though was ample time to check in. Especially since I had no luggage (I wonder how many travel from LAX to Europe with only a cabin bag).

First of all the shuttle driver from the long term parking lets me off on the wrong terminal. I was supposed to go to terminal 7, he left me off on terminal 4. If you know LAX you know it is layed out in a horse shoe shape so terminal 4 is actually as far from terminal 7 as you can possibly get.

After being moved from line to line a couple of times I end up in the longest one at least in that terminal. I pretty soon realized that there was no way in hell that I was going to make my flight. At one point there was one person servicing the check-in counter for a line of several hundred people. It ended up taking two and a half hours until I finally made it up to the check-in counter. At that time my plane had already departed 30 minutes ago. It was a strangely serene feeling to stand in the line and simply know that there is no way in hell you will make your flight. I didn't feel stressed out at all after I realized it.

After a quick check that there was no way that I would be able to catch up to my connecting flight out of Newark they had to delegate me to line number 2 at the ticketing desk. This one was nowhere near as long though so that probably only took 30 minutes to get to the counter. After hearing some discouraging mutterings from the person on the other side of the counter like "Let's see if there is anything tomorrrow...", they actually found me a flight that would take me through LAX-Wahington-Munich-Stockholm. Perfect I thought, and I would only end up in Stockholm a couple of hours later than originally intended. The only problem was that when I left the counter with my new ticket I had 10 minutes to go through security and get to the gate. The gate turned out to be around a mile away and after I managed to convince security to let me jump the line a mad dash ensued.

As I arrive to the gate a flight attendant ushers me immediately onto the jet way, but as I get halfway out it I can see them close the door to the aircraft. I kid you not, another 5 seconds and I would have made but no such luck. After this the one attendant left on my side of the gate started trying to find me another way home and managed to find a flight going LAX-Chicago-Frankfurt-Stockholm. But unfortunately before she was completely done with this ticket she had to leave and she said that I should talk to someone at gate 71A (Or that's what I thought at least). She didn't in any way indicate to me that I was in a hurry so I started walking back through the walkways I had ran through minutes earlier. At gate 71A there is nobody there, but there is a service desk right next to it so I start standing in line there for them to help me. As I stand there I hear someone calling for me on the PA that I should go to gate 71A again, and now there is someone there.

The person there has no idea why I had been called to that desk though and after going through my increasing stack of tickets and boarding cards she deduced that I should go to gate 70A, not 71A. Unfortunately by now that gate was empty and the airplane had just departed from there too. Downtrodden I resort to go back to the service desk I was standing in line at before and she actually manages to find another flight to Chicago so I can catch my connection to Frankfurt. Unfortunately it is only a stand-by seat, but by this time I was willing to clutch at any straw they were willing to extend me. And I actually managed to get on that flight to get to Chicago and from there to Frankfurt.

In Frankfurt I had for some reason gotten a 5 hour wait for the next flight even though there is a flight that leaves in about 1.5h. I set out trying to change my ticket and after having been passed around a couple of times I end up once again at the United Airlines ticketing desk. One of the first things I ask is if they can also check me in if I have no luggage but unfortunately that was not possible since it was for a flight operated by a different airline. They do manage to change my ticket though for the sooner flight, but by the time they start getting ready (I can see my tickets being printed out) I only have 45 minutes left before the flight leaves, and I still have the problem of checking in (The check in line in Frankfurt looked just as bad the one in LAX, but I hoped that I could find the people I had harassed earlier and be able to skip the line).

But then all of a sudden the nice women helping me with my tickets asks me for my passport. I was a bit perplexed since I didn't think you needed that to just get your tickets, especially traveling within the EU. After she gets the passport she just wanders off... She is gone at least 5 minutes (Which to me seemed at least like an hour and I can see me going back and needing to do this again just to get back to the flight I was originally on). But lo and behold when she returns it turns out she had wandered off and checked me in. I could almost have kissed her right there.

After managed to get through a very crowded security check in I actually made the flight and in the end I landed in Stockholm at around 2:30pm which was only about 8 hours later than I was supposed to have been there. And with the party that I was going to with a bunch of people not starting until 7 I actually managed to get a couple of hours sleep in at Johansson's before we went out and hit the town until 4:30 in the morning (Ending it with a thin-bread-roll).

The day after I went home to my parents and after having waited a little bit more than an hour for them to return from shopping managed to completely surprise them by just ringing the doorbell and saying hello. I don't think I've ever seen them as surprised as when they saw who rang the doorbell.

After this I spent a few pretty uneventful days just hanging out with my parents and some more friends that happened to be in Karlskoga at the time.

This morning I got up at 3:30am and took to the car and ended up driving for 3 hours through a blizzard to get to Arlanda in ample time for my flight (I wasn't about to miss it again after what I went through on the way here). In the end I was at the checkin counter almost 4 hours before the flight was to depart and off course there was no line at all so I just had to sit there for 3 hours in the end. At least I got to get some tax free shopping done. Which leads to me sitting here demonstrating the completely awesome features available when flying SAS. Hope you have all had a Merry Christmas and wish you all a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Getting ready for christmas

And to get in the mood here are the pictures from the now annual Laguna Beach christmas party.

Thanks everybody for a great night. It was a huge success (So great that the cops even came by and gave us a visit somewhere around 1am).

Today I'm ending with a quote that I made up myself a couple of days ago at another christmas party (With much better food than I provided).

"I generally dislike people from continents starting with the letter A"

Merry Christmas people!

Friday, December 9, 2005

Stuck in Chicago

Here is a quick update on what I've been up to the last month or so. I'm writing this from a hotel room that I'm pretty much snowed into in a suburb of Chicago where I have been spending the week helping people at the Quest office here. The entire week it has been below 0 (Fahrenheit, which is ~ -15 Celsius). It has been a nice reminder of one of the main big reasons why living in southern California is so nice. It is a little bit depressing because it's been so cold that I don't feel the slightest inclination to go into Chicago and check the town out. I'm sure I'll be back soon and the weather will be better so I'll just leave that till next time (I know I'm pathetic).

A couple of weeks ago I went bungee jumping from "the bridge to nowhere". It was a pretty fun all day event in where you actually have to hike for 2 hours to get to a bridge over a canyon which literally goes from one side of the cliff to the other. There is no road on either side of the bridge. Apparently a failed road construction from the thirties. All the rest of the remnants of the road has been washed away by floods since then. I have yet to get a copy of the pictures that were taken during the jump, but it was as last time I did it one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I've ever had (Beats parashoot jumping hands down). This time also in difference to last time in New Zeeland I did three jumps instead of just one. I definitely recommend it to anybody who likes a rush.

After that I went to Mammoth Mountain for skiing over thanksgiving. Unfortunately the weather sort of sucked in that there wasn't nearly enough snow and not much of the mountain was open for skiing so I left there a little disappointed, even though skiing is always fun. It was nowhere near the awesome experience I had when I was there last year. Just goes to show you not to rush these things. Next year I will no to wait a little bit later in the season before I go.

In conclusion I've also met a new girlfriend. Her name is Kaitlin, and she has just recently moved to LA from Tulsa. You can see a picture here, and she is also in a lot of the pictures in this folder of the photo album.

That's it for the updates now. I'm just preparing for a new hopefully yearly Christmas party that will take place this saturday assuming that I manage to leave Chicago with this blizzard currently going on. I'm leaving with a quote as I often do, this time from an unknown source.

"Which age would you be if you didn't know how old you were"