The Longest Day of the Year

I knew my travel day was going to be long, because I have seen a map and understand the distance/time relationship between Portland and Copenhagen; but, 20 hours is a lot longer than it sounds.

I have known-traveler status and pre-check on my trips so I got to the airport about an hour before my flight from Portland to LAX. What I hadn’t counted on was Alaska requiring me to see a desk agent instead of using a kiosk to get my boarding pass, nor the long-ass line waiting for the desk agents. I put on my best puppy dog eyes and apologized to the desk agent about skipping into the first class line but could she do me a favor? And, in fact, she could.

I whizzed through security and got to my gate just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. On the flight to LA I ordered coffee. I figured my best bet for fighting jet lag in Copenhagen was to try and sleep very little on the flight and then when I got to Denmark at 22:00 I’d be ready for bed. I am really thankful that airlines serve coffee at drinkable temperature, that way it burned less when three seconds after my coffee was served I spilled it all over myself, my carry-on and my neighbor. My second cup managed to get mostly in my mouth.

LAX is now in my top 3 of worst airports ever. When I got off my plane there was no gate agent and the departures board did not list my flight to Heathrow. My boarding pass had no information about what gate I was at because I had gotten it way before there was a gate assignment. I wandered around looking completely lost for about 15 minutes before finding a gate agent. As I approached the counter the window behind him glared sun right into my eyes and I was blinded. I blinked for a second, opened my eyes and the gate agent, like an oasis in a Bugs Bunny desert, disappeared. I turned around to see where he’d gone. I looked behind the counter to see if he’d ducked out of sight. I turned 360 degrees again and there he was. It was like Alaskan Airlines had hired David Blaine to help me find my connecting flight.

He sent me to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which was approximately in San Diego. I got my steps for an entire month at LAX, and got to my gate just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. When life gives you lemons, do yoga. I went through a yoga routine from my new favorite yoga app, Daily Yoga – turns out yesterday was International Yoga day, so it was appropriate. Also, I was in LA – so, really….

I snuggled into my plane seat, turned on some podcasts and played stupid games on my phone until about midnight. Then I watched the new Triple X movie – Vin Diesel is my new boyfriend, sorry Andrew. Then I watched Jack Reacher. This may be controversial, but I love Tom Cruise. The movie was totally mediocre, but Tom Cruise – he’s a good actor. In fact, other than Eyes Wide Shut, I cannot think of a movie he is in that I have seen that I did not enjoy. I totally want to hate him because he’s a Scientologist and a nut-job (redundant, I know), but, I can’t. He’s really good at his job.

I got three hours of sleep on my flight and it was early evening in London. Normally, Heathrow is the worst – it, in fact, is also in the top three of my “the worst” airports. Maybe because my expectations were so low, maybe because I was tired and not feeling super feisty, or probably because my departing flight was in the same terminal as my arrival flight, I had a breezy time getting through customs and getting a salad and coffee just in time for my flight to be delayed by an hour. For those of you math wizards at home, you would think that 3 one-hour delays would mean my 20 hour flying day was 23. However, you are not taking into account that airlines lie about how long flights take so that they can make up time in these cases, and all told my arrival was only 30 minutes later than I had expected.

For those of you comedy nerds at home, yes, that is the third beat – which meant it was funny instead of frustrating.

I got to my gate to board my final flight to Copenhagen and felt like I was in the Redwood Forest. Every single person getting ready to board was at least two heads taller than me, and blonde. It got me a little excited in a way because I just assumed that the seats in the plane would have more room, I assumed wrong. Those poor Danes, if I’m uncomfortable on a plane, they have to be in agony.

I got through customs rapidly, got in a cab and headed to my AirBnB. I asked my taxi driver, “What is one food I have to have while in Copenhagen?”

“Shwarma.”

“I’m sorry, I must be having trouble understanding your accent, it sounded like you said shwarma, like the Middle Eastern dish.”

“Yes, shwarma.”

Then he proceeded to tell me all of his favorite shwarma places near my AirBnB – common theme: they are all called “[someone’s name] Shwarma House”. To be fair, when I walked around this morning, I could not actually walk a block without seeing a shwarma or kabob place.

My AirBnB is on the 6th floor of a 5 story walk up – they don’t count the first floor landing. I settled in after chatting with the landlord. I asked him how to pronounce Copenhagen (is it cope-in-HAY-ggin or cope-en-HAH-ggen?). He laughed at me immediately and said that either one is fine, but that it is coop-en-HAWen. He walked me around the very spacious apartment, then showed me the bathroom which is a closet sized shower with a toilet inside – very efficient.

I slept in until 4:30 AM, when I realized I hadn’t eaten since my LAX salad. It’s also when I realized that while I am excited about this adventure, I am a little overwhelmed. I want to do a lot of things; but, I am in a strange place alone and have not yet learned to navigate it all. I think today if I make it to the gym and the grocery store and don’t go to sleep until night time, I am going to count it as a win.

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