Do you remember the video from the mid-80s? Robert Palmer, dressed in a white shirt, tie, black pants and singing in front of a band of four women who have their hair severely pulled back, a mask of makeup that contrasts with their bright lipstick. Little did we know that the ladies from the band were working a flight from Copenhagen to Helsinki. Or maybe their daughters. Or granddaughters.
This is a travel day; we have our first flight since we arrived in Berlin five and a half weeks ago. We don’t miss flying on planes at all–matter of fact, the airplane has become our least favorite means of transportation, but it does get us over the long distances. The alternative to get to Finland is 40 some hours. So we will suffer. We leave from Barcelona airport at 0800 which means we are up at 5am, in our cab at 0545 and at Terminal 2 by 0610. The surprise of the day is our cab driver; he is a dude from Pakistan who has been living in Barcelona for 14 years and driving cab. He lives with his brother in an apartment close to our hotel and starts his day with a ride from the hotel. Weird factoid–he pays for his brother’s portion of the rent. Because, he said, that is his duty as an older brother. Note to my brother…that ain’t happening! His car was spotless. He English was excellent. It was the quickest, easiest ride we had in a cab.
We squirrel around looking for the Norwegian Air Lines (Motto: Cheap but fast) ticket counter gates and eventually find the three computers crammed in a corner. The process is painless–we decide to check our three bags so we don’t have to mess with them, understanding that Jan will invariably lose her bag and have to walk around Finland in dirty underwear. It apparently bothers her. AJ and I? Notsomuch.
Through security (it is a breeze) then we grab some coffee, breakfast and are on our first plane which leaves right on time. We are in Copenhagen a couple hours later and now we have a four hour wait for our connecting flight. We wander through the airport, surf the internet and then go to grab lunch. We head off to a burger place, sit down and look at the menu and find that the prices are in jujubes. Or skittles. Or jermanjees. Or some other weird thing called Krone. We google the exchange rate and it is something like 6:1 krone:dollar. Interesting. We do NOT, however, take the logical next step and look at the prices on the menu, do some simple division and figure out the actual cost for lunch in, say, dollars. Which is why when I whip out the credit card to pay and sign the receipt, I realize we have paid over $100 for two burgers, a salad and a glass of wine. To add insult to injury, these weren’t even the best burgers we had on the trip!
We head to our gate to relax from the shock of the bill and notice that our flight has been delayed a half hour. Then an hour. Then 90 minutes. The dude at the counter has no idea what is happening–he keeps looking out the window at the runway as if a plane will mysteriously appear. A plane finally does show up and it has zero markings. It looks like it just came off the production line, or more likely, just pulled out of the ‘retirement’ stash of planes. Turns out to be the second; it is an older plane that has absolutely ZERO legroom.
But to keep it fun, we have the aforementioned women from the Robert Palmer video. Hair pulled back. Garish lipstick. Looks of disdain and disinterest. Which they kept up the entire flight until we touch down in Finland. Helsinki. Where it is fall. Or spring. Or some other season that is not summer because it is definitely not hot.
We have an airbnb someplace downtown and we decide to catch a cab. I have the address on my phone to show to the cab driver–there is no way I can say it correctly. 35 minutes (and forty euros) later we are in our new place.