Saturday, August 18, 2012

"In An Airplane Above The Archipelago"

It took just under 24 hours of travel time to get to Uppsala. It really did feel like it. I got bored on the plane somewhere over Ontario so the rest of the flight was spent taking thirty minute micronaps and jolting upright. I had the window seat which is nice for the view and having a wall to sleep on but it is incredibly claustrophobic.  Just like on my flight to Seoul my attention span was non-existent. So I watched every Family Guy episode the entertainment station had. Seriously that is the only show they should have on airplanes, the plot doesn’t matter and you only need half of your brain to processes the jokes. 

Heathrow is insanely large and confusing. After getting off the plane we had to walk for a good quarter mile in a windowless hallway never knowing when we would be able to sit. The terminals are separated and the only way to travel between them is with buses, so you’d better be damn sure which terminal you need to be in before you get on the bus. When I finally did get to through security and into the right terminal I was greeted with a giant mall catering to all earthly luxuries. Since I didn’t feel like buying an eight hundred dollar bottle of whiskey or a twelve hundred dollar suit I just bought a seven dollar latte from Starbucks and waited for my connecting flight to Stockholm.   

On the flight to Stockholm I continued my micronaps from the first flight. I am pretty sure I am classically conditioned to sleep on flights now. I did wake up right as we started to fly over the coast of Sweden. The view from the plane gave a great perspective of the landscape of the Swedish coastline. Bodies of water seemed to warp in and out of the mainland with small islands dotted intermittently.  I could see small villages connecting in a web of roads to much larger towns that surrounded bays and inlets of water. As I looked out at the countryside the fact that I would be living in a completely different country really set in.  

The plane landed in Arlanda airport ahead of schedule. Customs was a breeze, I just showed them the print out confirmation that my residency permit was approved and that I would be receiving it in Sweden. I felt a little uncomfortable only having a printed out PDF that said I was allowed to enter the country for a year, but they said it was fine and within two minutes I was going to get my baggage. I still had to figure out where the train station was and how to get a ticket. I asked the helpful people at the tourism desk and they sold me the ticket right there. The station is actually underneath the airport. To get into the station I had to place the ticket which I bought in one machine then I was given another ticket which I had to swipe at the gates.  Since everything was in Swedish it took me a few minutes of standing around with my ticket in my hand looking confused before the attendant told me what to do.

The station was refreshingly cool. I could finally breathe in cool air from a natural source.  It reminded me of the lava tubes in Jeju, a massively tunnel with cool air. The station was also completely silent. I had gotten used to the constant sounds of travel; the chatter of hundreds of people in different languages, the announcements in the airport and the ever present dull roar of the airplane. In the Arlanda train station the silence was only punctured every ten minutes to announce the trains. It was peaceful.
The actual train ride only took about 20 minutes. The trains are impeccably clean and comfortable. The style of the interior reminds me more of BART than Amtrak, but with less urine stains. Once we got into Uppsala I went directly to where I knew the hostel was. I had already scoped out the block long route on Google Street View so I knew exactly where to go. I guess that kind of ruined the mystery of what I was looking for but also it made it so I could go right to bed without any accidental detours. I had a single hostel room booked and it was basically a large closet with a bathroom. I didn’t really mind I just grabbed the bare essentials from my suitcase and went straight to bed.  I was relieved I was finally in Uppsala but I knew the next day would be a long one. 

The song from where I got the title of this post.

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