3 AM; time to get up! I quickly dressed, knocked on Helen’s door, and carried my things upstairs. We discovered that the innkeeper’s wife had laid out an early breakfast for us. The others appeared by ones and twos, murmuring and peering outside; the street was shiny with rain.
We loaded up the van and drove thru wet darkness to Keflavik Airport. We went thru security. The inspectors were suspicious of my little black sling-pack. A lady officer brought it to the counter in front of me and went thru the contents minutely, examining my camera, peering into my wallet and taking my sunglasses out of their case. After a thorough rummaging, she told me that on the scanner my sunglasses in their case had looked like a big knife. They do have steel frames, so it’s an easy mistake. 8) “Paul’s from Australia,” Lance joked.
While we waited for the plane, I learned that Shelley had caught my cold. “It’s a real doozy,” Shelley moaned. I gave her a hug, and the cough drops I had left; “I’m so sorry!”
Unlike Iceland, Sweden was enjoying a partly sunny day. We parted company at Arlanda Airport’s (map) baggage claim, me to the Raddison for two nights and a flight to London, the rest of the gang to the Connect Hotel for one night and a return to Seattle. I had come to like my fellow travelers very much. We’d gotten to know each other thru the adventures Lance organized. They were good company, and I’d come to depend on them to keep me fed, in possession of my possessions and not lost.
I took the yellow Alfa shuttle bus to the Raddison Blu Arlandia, pretty spacey digs for a grubby skier. I checked in and let myself into my room. I flipped on a light switch by the door; nothing happened,. I tried a second switch; still nothing. Stumbling into the dark room to try lamp-switches I reserved for later. Returning to Reception with the plea “My lights won’t come on” would be my last resort. The lights always work in a hotel like this one. I was sure that such a scene would end with me feeling like an idiot.
I examined the entryway. Above the light switches was a small box with a little red light on its front and a slot in its top. I put my key card in the slot; the lights came on. So that’s how it worked. But, no–when I took it out to put it in my pocket, they went out! In, on. So, the card must remain in the slot for the lights to remain on. Thus, no hotel guest can leave lights on when he’s gone. A pretty good system, tho I could foresee complications for a party of two.
I had a sandwich in the bar, and the bartender explained the train system to me. The subway (“Metro”) was just for getting around the city, and it didn’t come out here; that was why I couldn’t find Arlanda Central on the diagram. There was the express train from the airport to downtown, of course. But the commuter train also went downtown, and it cost 200 Kroners less (about $20).
I went upstairs to pack for a jaunt downtown and read more about the trains, but dozed off; so I gave up and took a real nap on the Swedish bed. Now it was too late to go downtown.
But I’d found out that there was a little mall at the airport called Sky City. I went outside to catch the shuttle to Sky City. But then I noticed a Boeing 747 poised strangely atop a knoll across the street. I walked over to investigate.
The hulking jetliner had been converted to a hotel and restaurant, the Jumbo Stay. If you’ve been flying for hours but just can’t get enough of that wonderful feeling of being in a tube-shaped, crowded, tiny-windowed airplane, this is the place for you. Steps lead to the jet intakes, which are now small rooms. A railing encloses a wing, which is furnished with picnic tables. I went up the stairs to the main deck.
A nice little bistro was in the first-class cabin at the front of the plane. The attendant wore a flight officer’s uniform with epaulets. I bought ice cream and explored the hotel further. A corridor ran toward the tail with rooms on each side. The walls were decorated with black-and-white photos of the plane’s interior when it was first acquired; what a mess of dilapidated seats and junked equipment it had been. In the tail were shared bathrooms; not the original aircraft toilets, but good Swedish bathrooms with showers. The spiral steps to the upper deck were roped off. Leaving, I noted that the Jumbo Stay has its own shuttle bus stop, and its own pink bus. A sign on it said, “Wild birds want to fly; takes off!” (More pictures)
At Sky City, I blundered into the terminal thru a side door and found myself in a strange blue-lit elevator lobby at the top of spiral stairs. (Swedes love spiral stairs as much as they do their technologically-advanced showers.) I couldn’t resist exploring them. They led only to parking levels. Upward, they led to “no admittance” signs on office doors. But they looked like a sci-fi movie scene.
Here was my main objective; Apotecgruppen, a drug store. I’d been looking for a pharmacy all week. I asked the pharmacist for advice about a box of painkillers I’d bought in a gas station, that was labeled only in Swedish. They turned out to be similar to Tylenol; good to know. I replenished my bathroom supplies and looked over the rest of the mall. There were the usual gift and clothing stores, a deli, several restaurants and a hotel. I had teriyaki salmon for supper and frozen yogurt for dessert.
There was also a train station with an information counter. I showed the attendant two plastic cards that Brian had mailed to me. He checked them, and said they were empty but I could load them. I put 100 Kroners on a card for a trip downtown.
Tomorrow; the Vasa Museum!