Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Day of Travel: Good and Bad

I am now back home in Ohio after a long day of traveling.

Getting to Oslo airport yesterday morning was quick, easy and relatively inexpensive.  My flight from Oslo to Newark was not scheduled to leave until 11:25 A.M.   However I was up and ready to go, and out the door of the hotel shortly after seven.  Fortunately, my hotel was located about a block from the train station.  I wheeled my luggage over to the station, and there I bought a train ticket to go to the airport.  A train leaves every 10 minutes, and one was waiting when I got to the track.  The train is very comfortable, and has racks for suitcases.  It made the 30 mile journey to the airport in about 25 minutes.  The cost of a ticket was around $20 US, surely much cheaper (and quicker) than taking a taxi.

I had some breakfast at the airport, and by 8:30 the United Airlines desk was open.  I checked my suitcase (my one small piece of checked luggage was now bulging with souvenirs and gifts that I had purchased), and I proceded to security.  The line was fairly short, perhaps a five minute wait, and I continued on to the gate.  Unfortunately this is where my opinion of Oslo's airport went downhill.  The departure area for my flight was small and cramped, and uncomfortably hot.  The waiting areas for the gates are partitioned off, and do not open until a half hour before boarding time.  So I sat in the waiting area for another flight that happened to be open, until we were chased out of there.  I then sat at another gate where a plane to the Arctic island of Svalbard was about to leave.  Finally the waiting area for my flight was opened.  The flight was delayed by over a half hour.  I was not worried about making my connection since I had a long layover in Newark.  I just wanted to get out of that stifling terminal!

At last we boarded and took off. Due to strong northern tail winds we made up almost all of the lost time, and arrived in Newark just a couple minutes late.  Although the flight was crowded, it was fairly comfortable.  (I had previously upgraded to an "Economy Plus" seat with more legroom.)  I always find that the time seems to pass more quickly on the flights coming home from Europe than the overnight flights going over.  I watched a movie and a couple episodes of the BBC series of "War and Peace".  (I am currently watching that series at home on Netflix, and I refreshed my memory on what I had already viewed.)  By the time I was done, we were flying over eastern Canada, and the attendants were handing out U.S. customs forms.

I was dreading Newark airport.  The last time that I passed through there, the lines at U.S. Immigration and Customs were horrendously long and slow.  (That is why I had deliberately scheduled a long layover.)  However, they now seem to now have their act together, and the whole process was quick and painless. Going back through security was another story.  Even though I had "TSA Pre", the line was very long.  (I can only imagine what the regular line was like!) The employees were very courteous, but it was obvious that they were slammed.  One of my two carry-ons required hand inspection, and I had to wait a while for them to get to mine.  The problem turned out to be a rock which I had picked up while hiking in the Swiss Alps; I wanted to take home a small piece of my ancestral homeland.  Carrying the rock was permitted, but it had looked suspicious when passing through the scanner.

I still had plenty of time for my flight to Cleveland.  I wanted to use one of the passes I have for the United Club lounge.  However they were not accepting day passes there because of the number of people using the lounge.  That was the first time I ever had that happen.  I think that on future trips to Europe, I will try to avoid Newark.

By 9:00 P.M. (3:00 A.M. Norway time) I was home in Ohio, and today I am feeling rather jet-lagged. 


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