Saturday, May 05, 2007

Flight to Copenhagen

So the trip to Copenhagen started with a delay. Apparently British Airways plane we were on had a hard landing on arrival and that mandated a series of technical reviews. These were completed and we left about an hour late. I was hoping we’d make up the time in the air because I had a very tight connection to Copenhagen in Heathrow.

The flight itself was OK, not great. British Airways was fine, but I had expected something a bit more. Anyway, my overhead light didn’t work, which was inauspicious. I managed to redirect the light from the middle seat (I’m on the aisle) so I can read and do some grading. There’s no one in the middle seat and the guy at the window was sound asleep for most of the flight. I was hoping to get through much of my grading but didn’t count on being sleepy (it was an overnight flight after all and one tends to get sleepy around midnight). So I napped a bit after the dinner service (vegetarian, and actually a quite nice pasta) and when I awoke everyone else was in major transatlantic sleep mode and not a single overhead reading light was on in my section of the cabin. This made it difficult to turn on my light to work, and I didn’t want to bother my row mate. So ended up trying to rest though it was hard to get comfortable. The noise reduction headset was really nice. It cuts out most of the background roar of the engines so you can actually hear what you’re listening to with greater clarity, and it just makes things a bit calmer.

We’re now set to arrive at 20 till 2 in the afternoon. My flight is at 2:20 though the gate is supposed to close at 2:10 or earlier. We land on time, and then taxi and taxi and then sit and sit and sit as we wait to cross a busy runway. And then taxi and taxi and taxi. Then there’s a plane just backing out of our gate which has to start up its engines etc. Waiting. Waiting. We pull in to the gate, everyone piles into the aisles and it’s a traffic jam to get out. A flight attendant assures me that I should have plenty of time since we’re at terminal 4 and that’s where my connection is. It’s 2:00 when I get off the plane, tuck my very heavy oversized and overstuffed briefcase under my arm (lots of papers and books, this thing is HEAVY) and start running. And run and run and run down hall after hall after hall. After a while it starts getting funny as you turn a corner and there’s another 100 yard hallway with no end in sight. By 2:15 I run into…a security screening, since all passengers have to be rescreened before entering the terminal. A security guy hears my plea about my connection and tells me to head to the front of the line. I do, send everything through the X-ray, and wait as the screener argues with the person in front of me about where his receipt is for his duty free. Grab my stuff, don’t even bother to put my shoes on but carry them, out into terminal 4—and my flight’s not on the monitors. I flag down a BA rep who assures me that either it’s up there and I just didn’t see it or I missed it and that she is currently assisting this other customer find a coffee shop or something urgent. So I find a BA helpdesk and they locate the gate information for me, which gives me hope (it’s 2:21) and one last sprint down to the gate. And it’s gone.

I walk all the way back down the concourse and they put me on the next flight (very efficient and friendly, which was nice). I call Elise to have her email Soren, who’s supposed to be meeting me, that I’m on a later flight (I had her email him before I left Phoenix about the delay, and I realize I don’t have his phone number with me). Purchase some water and a street map of Copenhagen and wait for the next flight.

Flight to Copenhagen was relatively short (1:40 about) and pleasant. Got some grading done. Land in Copenhagen, passport control is jokey (“Where are you going to?” “Here,” I say. “Copenhagen?” “Yes” “And are you staying forever?” “No, just until Friday.” “First time here?” “Yes” Then I get the stamp in my passport. “Have a good stay”)

Which brings up as an aside my favorite story about going through passport control. I was flying into Toronto to present a paper and the passport guy asked me what my area was. I said Media Studies. He smiled and said, “You’re in McLuhan country now.”

Anyway I make my way to baggage, wondering if I’ll ever see my luggage after all this. And one of my bags comes off the conveyor. Head over to the baggage people’s office and they recognize my name from a list they just got: my hanging bag’s still in Heathrow and will be sent on later that day or in the morning. Par for the course, at this point. I finally exit into the Copenhagen airport (supposedly rated as one of the world’s finest, and I liked the wood floors, but the rest seemed just like all the other mall/airports I’ve ever been in, but by then I wasn’t in the mood to be appreciative of much). Soren of course is no longer there since it’s now 7:30 in the evening, much later than my original arrival and a long while after even when my new flight landed. So I take a train in to Copenhagen central station (making sure I don’t get on the train to either Malmo, Sweden—which would be fun sometime, just not today—or the Danish hinterlands) and then an expensive taxi into the hotel (more expensive since the guy couldn’t find the hotel and had to look it up from a GPS map thingy from the address I gave him.)

Checked in to the very nice Opera hotel; desk staff was quite friendly. Soren had left his number. I called him and we set up to meet Sunday to walk around Copenhagen and then meet up with other folks from the seminar in Christiania for dinner. Wandered out of the hotel, past the touristy restaurants on the very scenic Nyhaven canal, none of which grabbed me, and into a little Chinese restaurant around the corner from the hotel. Back to the hotel to sleep. Quite a number of game shows and reality TV shows on TV (including American Idol, and also Deal or No Deal with a Danish host and contestant). Read a bit of Deleuze’s book on Nietzsche.

So I’m glad to finally be here. Looking forward to seeing something of Copenhagen and then the three intense days in the Deleuze seminar.

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