Ice Planet Hoth

The white noise and vibration during the takeoff phase of an aircraft always puts me to sleep. It was my hope that I’d stay that way for a significant portion of the flight to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, The Machine That Goes Ping does so at 10,000 feet, when it’s arbitrarily okay to operate portable electronic devices. As I started to nod off again, the pilot interrupts with “Today we’ll be flying over the unpopulated part of Canada, but you won’t see anything because it’s dark out” yatta yatta yatta. Then they serve something. And the glowing display of the plane’s position relative to the route will be on the bright ice sheets of soon to be green Greenland. I didn’t sleep at all.

Man of the Year – With Walken, Black and Williams, I had lofty expectations of an oddball comedy. Instead, it was a Grisham-like story, with not enough Walken. The funniest part during the “debate” was seeing both big party candidates utter the same, vague pleasantries, not answering the question.
Flushed Away – This was a stinker, whose villains were far more interesting than the main characters. “Le Frog,” voiced by Jean Reno, played on French stereotypes:

Le Frog: We leave immediately!Henchfrog: What about supper?

Le Frog: We leave in five hours!

X-Men: The Last Stand – Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen were also in this one, but comparatively, it was better. Lots of CGI, not much plot.

In between napping attempts, I added another several inches to my scarf. When it was too dark to keep knitting (and my eyes too tired to focus), I availed myself of the in-flight entertainment system, trouncing the computer at Reversi before watching three movies. In the spirit of Mitch, my one-minute reviews are to the right.

The connection from Schiphol’s Center for Capitalism terminal, where Northwest lands, to KLM’s City Hopper, rivaled any intra-airline escapade in Chicago O’Hare or Dallas/Ft-Worth. The waiting area is especially unpleasant because of the multilingual airline announcements, all of the form:

(In the passenger’s destination’s language)
Oh freddled gruntbuggly, thy micturations are to me. As plurdled gabbleblotchits, on a lurgid bee.
(Then, repeated in English)
Passenger Jeltz, Flight 101 to Vogonia. You are delaying the flight. Immediate boarding please. We will proceed to offload your luggage.

While it’s better than the “Don’t accept packages from stragers. Don’t leave your vehicle unattended. Don’t don’t don’t” offered in US airports, there are too many passengers and flights exhibiting this problem for personalized, multilingual announcements. Or maybe I was just punchy.

KLM’s “CityHopper” fleet is comprised of ageing Fokkers parked like cars in a mall. A bus ferried us from the terminal to the steps up to the plane. Many of my fellow passengers were sporting the Austrian ski team colors, on their way to a competition in Ar. They were surprisingly un-rowdy.

Trondheim’s uses its old terminal building for the international terminal, and it’s missing amenities like jetways… but it does have a “Duty Free” shop. So many people went this direction, I thought it was some official customs requirement., but, as it turns out, there was very little customs presence in the airport. In fact, I just walked out of the airport with my bag and took the shuttle bus into town.

Make no mistake, I am expecting The Spanish Inquisition when I return to the U.S.:
US Customs agent: I see you were in Amsterdam
Me: Yes, just connecting through from Trondheim
Agent: But there’s no stamp on your passport.
Me: There was no one to stamp it.
Agent: What kind of bong did you buy in Amsterdam?

Random observations:

  • The streets are very icy, but I have not seen any vehicles with snow chains. Seattle would be paralyzed in this weather.
  • Diagonal cross-walking is permitted. This saves so much time.
  • Trondheim is a very expensive place. A litre of gas is 10.92 (or about $7.05/gallon). A liter of milk is 10.30Kr, yogurt 12.00Kr, and bag of muesli 23.00Kr. The in-room dinner special (hamburger, fries, beer and a pay-per-view movie): 245.00Kr. All prices include a 14% VAT.
  • There are 6.2-ish Norwegian Kroner (NOK) to a US Dollar. I was worried Trondheim’s airport wouldn’t have a currency vendor (it didn’t) and exchanged a little bit of money in Amsterdam. The dual conversion fees (to Euros then again for Kroner — what a scam) resulted in an effective 5NOK to the dollar rate. Luckily it wasn’t much. If I need more, I’ll use the ATM in town.
  • There are coins for 1, 5, 10, and 20 NOK. The 1Kr and 5Kr coins have holes in them, just like Danish kroner.
  • Norwegian breakfasts are very heavy on meats and cheeses. Fruits are hard to find – which makes sense this close to the arctic circle.
  • The city is well wired for internet.
  • There are no Starbucks in Norway. There are a Burger King’s and a McDonald next to each other in the mall around the town center.
  • The city/country appears to close on Sundays. Many businesses list their hours on the front of the store as X-Y (Z-A), which is understood to mean open from X-Y mandag (Monday) through fredag (Friday), and (Z-A) on lørdag (Saturday), respectively.
  • The shuttle to the airport leaves at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. That’s gonna hurt.

6 thoughts on “Ice Planet Hoth”

  1. My advice: buy some cheese in the airport on the way back through Schipol. Then no one will ask what kind of bong you bought while you were in A’dam. 😉 At least…they never ask me.

    As for Norweign breakfast…you haven’t lived until you’ve been hung over, sick, and had cramps (unlikely for you) all at once and you’ve had to watch a Norweign eat kippers at 6am. No experience like it.

  2. Yeah, what woodstock said. The food courts at Schipol are, as you know, more than excellent (especially that Argentine steakhouse). And yeah, Scandanavia makes Japan look cheap, but daaaang NO sounds even more expensive than DK.

  3. Oh, yes, it’s more expensive than DK. (Thanks for the lead on the Argentine steakhouse – I’ll need something to eat during my four hour layover.)

    And as for the kippers, Woodstock, I’ve been lucky not to endure either end of that. The yogurt fixins are pretty good, as are the boiled potatoes with paprikia (or maybe it’s chili sauce).

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