Friday, June 30, 2017

A Loooooooong Travel Day Home to Camarillo, California


Thursday, 29 June, 2017:

Excited by our flight home to California this morning, we were both up early to shower and check the weight of all four
of our pieces of luggage one more time.

Our two check-in bags were just a hair under the allowed 20 kilos limit but the two carry-on pieces were going to be close on the 10 kilos limit.

At Los Angeles last April, both of my bags were weighed.

That was the first time that I can recall my carry-on being weighed before a flight and it was way overweight back in April. Thus I had to pay a $60 fine for the four extra kilos I was taking with me then on my Norwegian Airlines flight.

After making some hard decisions on what to take and what to leave behind, all of our bags met the required kilos limit.

We were ready!

A big TACK SÅ MYCKET/THANK YOU to the ever reliable Jesper Douhan who picked us up at the house and drove us to Arlanda Airport. 

We were at Stockholm's international airport by 8:00 a.m., a full three hours and 45 minutes early for our non-stop flight to Los Angeles.

As you know, it is recommended that passengers arrive at the airport at least three hours before international flights. We wanted to be there extra early to weigh our bags one more time on the official airport scales and have time for any re-sorting if it was needed.

In only took us about ten minutes to do some minor re-packing to get the four bags all under the maximum weight limits.

We were ready to go and the bag check-in line was short.

Norwegian Airlines flight DY7087
HERE WE COME!

That's when my cell phone beeped
with this information

Our 11:45 a.m. flight takeoff time had been delayed a full FOUR HOURS AND FORTY-FIVE MINUTES!

That meant that we had about eight hours and 30 minutes to get intimately acquainted with all of Stockholm's beautiful Arlanda Airport.

This really should not have surprised us too much as my flight on Norwegian Air last April was about two hours and 15 minutes late.

Laurie's initial Norwegian Air experience last May involved arriving in Stockholm about an hour and 45 minutes tardy.

Norwegian Air: 
"Europe's NEVER On-Time Budget Airline"

To make us feel better, they
gave us two Meal Vouchers
worth 150 Swedish krona each

Once we got through the Security Lines in a timely fashion, we found a restaurant and ordered 299 Swedish krona's worth of food for lunch.

I felt better, but we needed more.

Time to hit one of the airport's booksellers.

This one looked good to me

Laurie wanted this one
after I told her good things
about author Peter May

So, we found two comfortable chairs, plopped down and began to read and/or surf the web for the rest of the day.

Finally it was time!

Not so fast, it was 4:30 p.m. and we had not even started the boarding process yet.

We finally were allowed to board quickly and pushed away from the gate at 5:04 p.m., five hours and 19 minutes later than scheduled.

The 11 hour flight itself was actually quite smooth and comfortable.

Finally, . . .

We were home not only
in Los Angeles but . . .

 In the UNITED STATES
of AMERICA too!

And not one photo of President Trump anywhere we looked.

Son Michael and grandson Jacob picked us up at LAX. It was GREAT to see them both.

In keeping with the theme of the day, the drive home that should only take an hour took over two hours.

Oh how I have missed Los Angeles traffic.

One more tradition to take care of before arriving at home.

 Dinner at Camarillo Cronies!

On all nine of our previous EuroBall experiences, we have eaten our breakfast at Cronies before flying to Europe. On the previous eight returns we had dinner at Cronies too.

Make that nine dinners now as the tradition continued in full force tonight with a solid meal for all of us..

 Souvenirs from two months
in Sweden, Estonia, Finland,
Latvia and Spain

Reading Is FUNdamental

As I said, we had a lot of time
to kill today and reading this
book helped a lot

I learned a lot about this fascinating subject at the Arlanda Airport and on the Norwegian Airlines flight today.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Packing Day in Upplands-Väsby, Our Last Full Day in Sweden


Wednesday, 28 June, 2017:

It was our last full day in Sweden before departing for California Thursday morning via Norwegian Air from Stockholm's Arlanda Airport.

That translated into a day of washing, sorting, deciding what to leave behind, what to take take home and a final goodbye dinner.

 Always a treat to use the
communal laundry

Our first stop after the 
laundry was the Stadsmission

The Stadsmission is a charity based organization that resells any and all donated items.

Our sorting was done so we headed down to their Väsby Centrum location to donate to their cause.

They are now selling all sorts of large shoes and XXL shirts and shorts.

I had one last book to return to
the Upplands-Väsby Public Library

 Laurie loves the flower displays
throughout Upplands-Väsby

 Thistles

By the late afternoon we were pretty much packed and ready.

Our only problem was the scale at our house went 100% wacky today so we were not sure how much our bags weighed.

We were concerned because Norwegian Air has tougher luggage requirements that most international carriers.

Our two checked bags can only weigh 20 kilos/44 pounds  each, while our two carry-on bags can only weigh 10 kilos/22 pounds each.

We think that we are close on all four counts.

Finally, we were invited for a final dinner at the home of Lotta and Jesper Douhan.

Dinner with these two wonderful people in their home is always a treat!

Lotta painted her
"Three Wise Men"
a few years ago

Wait, weren't there four wise men in the original story?

With Lotta and Jesper
after a great salmon dinner

The strawberry-rhubarb crumble for dessert was amazing!

We have so much to thank them for, they have been great friends during our two month stays in Sweden the last two Springs.

They even gave us one last piece of assistant in our preparations for our return flight . . .

An accurate, hand held
luggage scale

Our luggage will be good to go in the morning as it turns out.

Tack Så Mycket
Lotta and Jesper!

Reading Is FUNdamental!

He calls himself
"The Legend"?

The book was a good, fast moving adventure novel with Nazis to boot.

I liked it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Travel Day #1 of the Week: Palmanova, Spain to Upplands-Väsby, Sweden


Tuesday, 27 June, 2017:

The last few days of our EuroBall IX experience are upon us.

But before we discuss Exit week, let me touch on two things that happened yesterday on our excursion to the Cuevas del Drach.

First, on the bus ride to the caves, two 20-something British men sat behind us. We heard one of them complain that "All the signs around here are in Spanish."

Really, and in a civilized country like Spain no less.

The other note of interest occurred on the bus ride back to Palmanova as we passed near the Cathedral in Palma de Mallorca. We approached the Cathedral from the side opposite from where we visited the other day.

That is when we saw this unusual sight . . .

. . . an American football helmet
sculpture in Palma de Mallorca?

But why?

Maybe because . . .

In 2014, the local American football team, the Mallorca Voltors, were the undefeated National Champions of Spain's Serie B (Division II).

Could it be a tribute to that remarkable season?

I don't know for sure but I would like it to be true.

Now let's go on to discuss today's first of two Travel Days this week. 

Our week in  sunny, hot
Mallorca was done

The small village of Palmanova, about 20 minutes from Palma de Mallorca, was a GREAT place to just relax and watch the world go by.

We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our week in the Balearic Island of Mallorca!

But, it was time to
return to Sweden

We will have Wednesday to say our final goodbyes and prepare for the trip home to California on Thursday morning.

 Laurie looked relaxed
as wee waited for our ride
to the airport

 At the entry to the Palma de
Mallorca Airport's Duty Free Store

I love Toblerone too!

Our flight to Stockholm
on Tui Air was on time

 One last look at the sunny
island of Mallorca

The three hour and 45 minute flight was another smooth one.

Once we landed at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport, we decided to take the train home to Upplands-Väsby.

Problem once we got
to the train platform

P.A. Announcer: "Until further notice, all train traffic to and from Stockholm has been shut down due to problems at Stockholm Central train station."

Oh, joy!

After about a 30 minute delay, we were finally able to board a train home.

Safely back in Aiki and Janne's home again, all was right in our world again.

Mike D'Antuono Puts Me in Touch with My Inner Arne Saknussemm


Monday, 26 June, 2017:

Spelunking is the exploration of caves.

But I digress . . .

 Laurie at the Bar Bolero
for breakfast this morning

We have stopped in here every morning save one for a cafe con leche and either a tostada de tomate or a tostada de mantequilla to start our day.

What is of note in this picture is not Laurie but . . .

. . . these same three booze hounds
who are pounding down beer
and/or shots every morning
at the Bar Bolero while we dine
at 7:30 a.m.

We were slated to board a recliner bus for an excursion to the Cuevas del Drach or Dragon's Caves located on Mallorca's east coast.

Our friend Mike D'Antuono said that a visit to these caves was a must and I trust his advice explicitly!

Before arriving at the Cuevas del Drach, our tour guide Carmen had us hit a few other spots on the east coast.

Carmen was interesting character in and of herself having a Greek Father, a Romanian Mother and speaking six languages.

Jive was not one of them.

Her first stop was to show us a spot called Cala Mandia.

Cala Mandia's AMAZING water

Incredible aqua blue

We loved it here

Next stop was the old fishing
village of Porto Cristo

Carmen said this was a good place
for lunch in Porto Cristo

We had to check it out

Laurie liked the homage
to Cervantes' Don Quixote

 Carmen was RIGHT!

A tapas lunch in Spain was a good call.

The original mermaid statue
here was destroyed after the
Spanish Civil War

This new one was erected in 1988 on the city's promenade to celebrate the Centennial of the founding of the village of Porto Cristo.

Porto Cristo's beach
looked inviting

 Gentlemen,
White is IN this season!

We had some time to kill before reboarding our bus for our scheduled 2:00 p.m. tour of the Cuevas del Drach, so Laurie decided to try something totally different.

 A 20 minute foot bath in
what looked like piranha infested
waters to me

She was lucky and lived
to tell about it

The fish simply exfoliated her feet by gnawing on her. 

 Finally we arrived

The earliest known mention of these caves was in a document dating from 1338 A.D.

They were extensively explored by a German named M.F. Will in 1880. In 1896, E.A. Martel, a Frenchman, discovered the cave we would visit today.

It would be an amazing trip, a Journey to the Center of the Earth you might say. 

Stalactites hang from the ceiling
of caves like these in this photo

Stalactites come in different
shapes and sizes

The long one on the left is a
stalagmite

Stalagmites form on the floors of caves due to drips falling from the stalactites.

Minerals added color to the caves

Lake Martel is a huge underground
lake about 170 meters long

FINALLY I SAW THEM!

The three marks of left by Jules Verne's 16th-century Icelandic alchemist, Arne Saknussemm in his 1864 sci-fi adventure book Journey to the Center of the Earth.

At least I think that they were his marks left to guide us deeper into the earth's bowels.

 More of Lake Martel

At the end of our tour, a four piece band plays a 12 minute classical music concert while being rowed in a relatively small boat on Lake Martel.

It was quite a show but photos/videos were not allowed and I follow the rules in a country noted for its Spanish Inquisition.

After the tour of the Cuevas del Drach were finished we made another, thankfully short, stop on the way home to Palmanova . . .

. . . the Majorica Pearl Store

I accepted the financial bloodbath in the name of our 46th wedding anniversary coming up in just three weeks.

All in all, it was another spectacular day, thanks again to Mike D'Antuono for the suggestion.

Back by Platja Palmanova
after dinner

We were still looking
for some dessert

FOUND IT!

My dream for us this week in
Mallorca was to have a relaxing
week together in the Spanish sun

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Still . . .

This red bag from the Majorica Pearl Store meant damage,
lots of damage . . .

But if it makes Laurie happy, it's worth it.

She puts up with a lot if you think about it.