Day 44. Wednesday 26 June.
0439 hrs. An apartment room in Oslo:
‘Are you awake?’
‘Of course I’m bloody awake!’
‘Might as well have a cup of tea then.’
Tram 17 to Oslo Sentrum, outside our front door, departs at 0543 hrs and we’re on it, with 2 minutes to spare. Not alone, but definitely not crowded. D relaxed, T resigned.
Fast train to OSL is similar – no fuss and 3 minutes to spare. This has been so easy – if you except the interrupted sleep! D relaxed, T resigned.
First flight to Helsinki is a short hour or so, and we’re still (barely) human. Then there’s the five hour wait in Helsinki, mercifully shortened by an hour thanks to a time zone change. D relaxed, T zombie. D calculates that this is an 18 hour journey – just to San Francisco airport.
Boarding was slightly weird: passing through a Yes/No questioning (we passed) but there was no check whether our answers were honest. Are you a terrorist? No. Pass. An elderly couple (and really elderly, not elderly like us) were separated: he went into one pen without a problem, she was returned into a security checking area (what did she answer?) and then went pen into another with a gate between them. Eventually resolved and they were reunited.
Boarding was announced and the rush started. What is it about the need to get there first or early? Access to the overhead lockers? Status? The plane won’t leave without you. Saw soething similar today in Union Square.
On board, then a wait for transit passengers delayed. So what was the rush for? D relaxed, T resigned.
The flight was 11 hours, and easy enough, but of course it seemed longer.
D gave up trying to find the train link into the city which had seemed so simple online, and went for a taxi – an unusually uncommunicative driver until close to the hotel when a simple question hit the on switch and then he was full bore. San Francisco (according to him) has a population of only 900,000 or so but is full to bursting with visitors because it is the friendly city, with inter-racial harmony. From there he got on to the Spanish, Chinese and Indian diasporas, the Mexicans fleeing poverty…….and just a passing mention of Trump, unusually neither for or against.
Arrived at Handlery Union Square Hotel at 19.30 hrs – twenty four and a half hours after walking out of our apartment in Oslo. Knackered.
A short walk up and down a couple of those famous hills in search of milk for tea. After the comparative quiet of Oslo, SF was bustling, raucous, slightly tatty. There were conspicuously more beggars and a wide range of unusual characters and races. Traffic boomed , sirens and horns blared, loud music blasted. And the sky was dirty. We took our confused bodies to bed.