Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Euro Tour 2010 part 1: No, Jean-Paul, Hell Is A British Airport



001. Von hier aus.

With less of a stew than last year, I had more planning time and, accordingly, more distribution stuff gathered in, from a whole host of bands. It was good, then, that I could take some time, lie around, and get over to the station nice and easy. Hell, it was probably going to be the last measured, easy leg of the trip.


As the dude behind me said, whatever can go wrong, will. This was after I'd broken my belt buckle, but before the broken-but-might-potentially-survive unit got lost in the X-ray machine. Fortunately, I'm no stranger to improvisation, and the belt is currently holding together. Maybe I'll get a replacement at Heathrow, maybe not till Oslo. In the worst case, all I need is my knife, and the time to destring and restring my boots.

(Belts at Heathrow turned out to be £100 and "go up", and due to various circumstances as will be detailed later, I wasn't able to get ahold of a suitable belt or buckle in Norway either.)


[Heathrow approach]

Inbound, part 1: success. I didn't sleep as much as I needed to, and missed breakfast, but things are still ok. Celtic came back to tie Lyon 2-2, and dinner, before the fits-and-starts sleeping, wasn't complete crap. On to Norway.


British security theater needs punched in the face. I'm not entering the country, cut the shit. Also, this "gate opens" policy of not telling people where the fuck to go until it's nearly too late needs some additional consideration. Still, I'm not broke, breakfast is on order, and I've got time to kill before the next stage.

The effect of this stupid gates policy is to pack tons of people into a single atrium area: people from all over the globe, many of whom are already tired, stressed, or undernourished. A nontrivial number are sick with some minor ailment. When Richard Preston writes about everywhere on the planet being 24 hours from the depths of the rainforest, it's because of poorly-designed, hyperconnected nodes like Heathrow as much as it is about air travel in the first place. Great for the expensive shops, shit for epidemiology. Three more hours till "gate opens" -- not long enough for a nap with this exhaustion load, too long to avoid boredom otherwise.


002. In Norway, planning the next move.

Despite the three-hour layover, by bag is still in fucking Heathrow. I'm raging -- the bands whose stuff is in there will be raginger. Fuck Virgin -- next time, I bite the bullet and fly in direct when there's this much at stake.

Another snag -- no regular buses on Sunday. Fortunately, the shuttle still runs at its stupidly expensive rates. It's probably better to give up after getting the train ticket and not try to see Svert i fjell at all, but I'll still check the master schedules when I get into town. The very last thing I need is to miss my train, be homeless, and have to pay full price tomorrow morning on another ticket. Balls.

So here I am in Norway, land of WAIT IT COSTS **HOW** MUCH AGAIN? Basically, the current practical no-pack experience differs only from the theoretical only in how much gear I'm (not) hauling around. The real aggravations, namely the public transit taking the day off and the astronomical prices, would be present regardless.

003. Some cows, from the bus from the airport into town.

Despite the climate and the North Sea oil industry, some people still try to make a go of agriculture.

004. The fjord over from the airport.

005. Trying to shoot Svert i fjell, too late.

This monument is a calculated disappointment. You see it in the tourguides or in that Headbanger's Journey movie, and it looks like this immense thing, a Stonehenge of swords, 30 meters high out on some windswept island. It's not. It's a fairly normal piece of public statuary, each sword like 5 meters high, on a little turnout by the bay. By all means go and see it if you're in Stavanger, but it's not worth the hike if the buses aren't running.

006. ((not germane))

007. A look into the harbor. Despite the little tinges of "oil town", this is a nice enough place, and will be worth coming back to.

008. Domkirke, backside. Yes, this is what passes for a cathedral here; the climate is not real forgiving on architecture.

009. Main square, around 8 pm, after the Viking Stavanger game finished and the pub emptied. This midnight sun thing is no joke.

Unfortunately, I'm half dead from exhaustion as well; two hours until I can get on the train and go to sleep.

010. Central pond between the train station and the harbor, Stavanger. Nice and peaceful.

On the train now, with some better luck in getting food and finding a working ATM. The obvious implication, in terms of cosmic outcomes, then, is that my pack isn't going to make it to Oslo -- at least not before I hit the ferry. Oh well; maybe the day of rest (more or less) will help on the exhaustion front.

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