European Vacation My Way! Summer Holidays 2016

luggageWell, the vacation is over, but the memories will last forever. I hope you’ll join me as I recount what was without a doubt the most surprising, stunning, and fantastic vacation ever. I didn’t think much would be able to top last year’s cruise to Alaska, but I was wrong.

So, where did I go? This year, I visited Copenhagen, Denmark, took a cruise up the lower western coast of Norway, spent ten wonderful days in Oslo, Norway, and finished it all off with forty-eight hours in Iceland. That means I’ve visited all five of the Scandinavian countries, having been to Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland, twelve years ago.What was the biggest challenge? Packing, of course. It’s hard to pack the right clothes for a three week vacation with as many variables as that one had! And don’t forget, you have the luggage weight Nazis to deal with. You’d be amazed at how easy it is to get regular clothes to add up to 23 kilos, approximately 50 pounds. And throw in two kilos of peanut butter…

Jolly ToursSo where do I begin? Our vacation was arranged by Jolly Tours here in Cornwall. Julie, our tour director took care of all our travel arrangements and we didn’t have any problems at all! If you want to use a travel agency, I highly recommend using them. They arranged for our pick-up at noon on Saturday, and that’s when one of the longest days of my life started.

The vacation began on May 14th. I know, it seems like a strange time for a summer holiday, but it was still cold here, but if you’re going north, you might as well go while your body’s acclimatized. Actually, we had personal reasons for vacationing in May, and I’ll get to those later on in the blog.

We drove to Ottawa where we boarded a short hop Air Canada flight–barely long enough to polish off a glass of wine! Then we landed in Toronto at Pearson. Why are airports so large? airportThe walk–moving sidewalks and all–from the domestic gates to the international ones seemed interminable, but since our luggage got to go directly, we didn’t have to contend with that. We did have to lug our hand luggage, Rootswhich included a carry-on bag and a Roots backpack. for me. One thing for sure, I was not in good physical condition at that point, but believe me, I am now. That interminable walk through the airport would be a snap.

restaurantWisely, Julie had arranged what we thought was an overlong time between flights, but we learned over the course of the holiday that connections can easily be missed when planes get delayed. So for our four hour wait, we found one of the airports new restaurant bars to serve as a place to spend the time. flowersWe were joined by good friends, Mike and Penny, who’d decided to go on the same cruise we’d chosen.20160514_142005_resized Here’s John enjoying a beer with his dinner. I have to admit, the bars were gorgeous. You ordered from a computer screen and the fresh flowers are a nice touch.

Now, you should know that I’m neither a seasoned traveler nor a good flyer. Visions of fiery crashes usually come to mind when I need to board a plane. Our flight was scheduled to depart at nine and so we boarded at 8:30 pm. Unfortunately, the plane had “mechanical” issues and we sat in the plane at the gate for more thanAir Canada an hour. You can imagine how I felt! I watched two episodes of the Big Bang Theory.  By the time we took off, my nerves were shattered and that first beer was a Godsend–good thing I’d had a few before boarding. it was after ten.

Our plane was one of the newer Air Canada Dreamliners, and while we flew economy, we had more legroom than normal. Unusual in this day and age was the fact that we were fed a complimentary full course meal, wine included, which was actually very good–plastic cutlery and all. I know, almost eleven at night seems like a strange time to eat a meal, but we had a seven hour flight ahead of us and a six hour time difference. Believe me, sleeping on a plane is a lot harder than you would imagine. Planes are loud, even when the passengers aren’t. The plane had two aisles, with nine seats across–three, three, and three. John and I had window and middle seats. We were also conveniently seated near one of the plane’s washrooms, mid plane which made things easier. The lady on the aisle was friendly and didn’t mind being interrupted, aka awakened, so that I could get up and move or go to the bathroom. If you travel a long distance by plane, do invest in compression stocking. They’re the very devil to put on, but when it’s hard to get up and move around, they can be lifesavers.

While we were provided with pillows and blankets, I wasn’t able to really sleep for any length of time. I watched the last Hunger Games movie and played a few mind-numbing games on my Kindle, but soon the plane lights came on.

On a funny note, the plane’s windows didn’t have the usual pull-down shades. Instead, they are electronically darkened. Imagine my surprise when my newly adjusted watch said it was 7:30 am, and looking out my window, it was still dark. Even stranger was the fact that it was light on the other side of the plane. Long story short, I soon realized I had to press a button to let the sun shine in!

The stewardess came around with breakfast–a piece of pound cake, or maybe it was lemon breakfast loaf, juice, and coffee. Breakfast was definitely a failure on the meal meter, and a big disappointment after the delicious dinner we’d been given.

Danish flagBy now, it was almost time to land. The skies were cloudy and it was windy. The landing was a very bumpy one. Copenhagen airport is smaller than Pearson, and I was very grateful to find both a bathroom–even if the toilet paper more closely resembles the tissue i use in gift bags–and find that my luggage had indeed made it to Denmark, too.

And so ends–in a way, the first twenty-four hours of my vacation. Check back next week for my first day in Copenhagen.

 

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