Departure Day was Tuesday the 10th of March. I would soon depart from sunny and warm Sarasota then Orlando for the North Countries, Norway and Sweden, on the other side of the pond.
The plan was to leave in the afternoon. Make the two-hour drive from Sarasota to Orlando, take in a movie, then have dinner, then a short drive to Orlando International Airport. This enable me to avoid almost all of the driving at night. The drive went off without a hitch. The GPS navigated perfectly to 9101 International Drive where I had chosen to see The Second Best Marigold Hotel movie at the Regal Theater. Review will be posted separately. I then had dinner at the Copper Canyon Grille.
Off to the airport. The North Parking Lot (The Blue Lot) is the first long-term parking lot you come to and is the closest to Terminal A. Short walk to the van and minutes later I’m at the check-in counter of Norwegian Air. The process was flawless and after I had waited for the lines to thin out a bit, I passed through security, with a minimum amount of stress (Are you sure you don’t have anything in your pockets? Back out and come through again.) it was about 9:15 PM. only an hour and a half before boarding at 10:45. Take off was scheduled for 11:30 PM.
The 787 Dreamliner is a pretty large plane and the flight was completely booked and filled. I had Row 8 Seat G – an aisle seat – in the second row just behind the Business Class seats. While not spacious, I had ample room considering I am just under 6’4″,
The cabin crew was almost entirely Thai, This crew worked a triangle of long hauls – Bangkok to Oslo, then Oslo to Orlando and back.The service was excellent as was the entertainments provided. Individual screens all operated via touchscreen on an Android Platform. No need for a bulky and awkward controller. Movies, TV, Games, and Music all available. I had to buy the audio earpods for $3 US dollars but I get to keep them, One might also use the same system to turn on the reading light, call for the cabin attendant, or order from the snack bar. I had opted for the flight with meals and that meant a hot dinner, then later a wake up meal. While no one is a fan of airline food the chicken with mushrooms came with green beans and a tasty pumpkin squash as a side, plus a salad and a dessert, and it was very good.
Well the best news is that at 11:31 PM,we pulled away from the gate, and 10 minutes later we were in the air. We were lucky enough to have tail winds most of the way. The route was to fly over the Eastern Atlantic states passing Charlotte NC, Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. With the favoring winds we were over Hartford, CT in about two hours. Next came a lengthy stretch of Canada’s Eastern Provinces before heading over the North Atlantic.passing south of Greenland then Iceland, then north of the UK before making land fall over Bergen, Norway. We glided in to Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport in just under 8 hours.
I had only one person ahead of me at Passport Control, an advantage of sitting closer to the front of the plane, so that went quickly. I had only a computer bag with me which carried a laptop and a tablet and headphones, plus the necessary cables and wires. Don’t forget to buy a European wall socket converter ( it has two pins rather than the American two blades) – one which handles the American plug and enables it to plug in. My suitcase had been checked in at Orlando to go straight through to Stockholm. But I had to go through a softer security check, in Oslo, which was easy enough . Take off your coat, take the laptop out of the bag.
I had a little wait for the flight from Oslo to Stockholm. This flight gathered in one of those, no frills waiting rooms, downstairs at tarmac level. The Norwegian Air crew arrived when expected, but there was a problem. The crew van, which would drive them out to the plane – where ever it was, was late. They stood on the tarmac for about 10 minutes before it showed up. Not a good sign.
Our bus to the plane, wherever it was, arrived promptly and we got shuttled out to the plane. Just lucky it wasn’t raining. We eventually backed away but then the Captain announced that there was an electric malfunction. We would have to return then wait for the technical folks to come out and have a look. We might be facing a minor repair or we might be facing having to offload from the plane than re-board another plane.
Fortunately, the problem was easily repaired. We took off only 45 minutes after the scheduled departure. The flight was about 45 minutes to Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. No immigration or customs, and no passport control upon entering Sweden from Norway, since I had already been through this in Oslo.
Of course there was some luck in play regarding this flight. Norwegian air pilots had been on strike. The strike was settled on the same day I flew to Oslo (with the red-eye from Orlando which left on the 10th, arrived in Oslo on the 11th. That day, 160 domestic flights (within Norway) had been cancelled.
Arlanda is about 28 kilometers north of Stockholm. At the airport I was able to exchange US Dollars for Swedish Kr. $200 US$ yielded about 1606 Swedish Kr. I was also able to buy a ticket for the Arlanda Express train to Stockholm, and buy a 72 hour travel card which would be good for unlimited travel on all subway trains (called T-Bana), trams and city buses.
The Arlanda Express Train (see photo on top – obviously not the one I was on – whisks you into town (to Stockholm Central Station) in 19 minutes. If you are a solo traveler you pay full fare, or half that if you are a senior – but if you are with your family, or traveling in a group, the individual fares are discounted.
I had one task remaining at Stockholm Central Station. I had to buy a sim-card for my unlocked HTC phone. The least expensive was a Comviq Card which would be good for 7 days with some internet, some data, and some phone calls. It was 45 Kr plus more to have them install and activate the card. I don’t speak Swedish so reading the instructions which were likely to call a number and code in a pin would have been problematic. All told this was all done in about 6 minutes. You will find the ubiquitous Pressbyrán stores throughout Stockholm – at the airport, train stations, and bus stations. They are kind of like a convenience store but seem to be a cut above a Seven-11. And they sell the sim-cards.
Now I was ready to head to the apartment which was located in Sodermalm – the equivalent of Stockholm’s Brooklyn. My instructions were to take the T-Bana Red line (actually the T-14 train in the direction of Fruangen and exit the train at Midsommerkransen – about 8 minutes from Stockholm Central. From the Midsommerkransen platform to the apartment on Telebruksvagen (Street) was about 4 minutes.
I punched in the door code, walked up just one flight of stairs – and greeted my host. That was how I got from Sarasota on Florida’s west coast to a nice apartment in Stockholm, Sweden. Getting there – this time – was fun. Nevertheless, I was exhausted from my Sleepless Tuesday night.
After dinner, at the SvenskaHamburgerKotet – which means Swedish Hamburger Kitchen – and looks more like a pub than a burger house,
which is only a six-minute walk from the apartment, I crawled into bed at 9:45 PM and didn’t get out of bed until 8:45 Thursday morning.
PS: I used Rick Steve’s book Stockholm plenty before I left, and again while in Stockholm.