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Wednesday, February 13, 2019 8 comments

Midweek Moments - Misc :)


So. Now the travel craziness is over - for awhile - I'm gunning to get back to a bit of normalcy, and so here's some Midweek Moments (from the last two weeks:)

Dodgy duck version of Abbey Road (or should I say - Lake?)

Personally, I'd choose another logo for the stores at Helsinki airport...

And off he climbs... will he make it?

Good to see the local council cleans the area's graffiti on a timely basis!

This mansion - on the beach side - is completely gutted/empty. What happened?

Happy sigh...

Where there is a hill, there's a way...

And of course, there's always one that wants the best view...

No idea what to caption this... "Sunset-ty pine tress?"

Drove up a hill to watch a sunset. #Peaceful.

"Of course I made it, Papa!"
Friday, February 8, 2019 6 comments

Journey to see Home Part 3: Golly! What Could go Wrong?


Never thought I'd write a third post about one simple (kinda) trip, but hey, it's my first trilogy!

[Ed. Note (snort excluded for brevity) - Tolkien has nothing to fear.]

Look it's simple: I'm travel cursed.

After this drops, I'm off to buy a necklace of garlic paste; a plastic virginity Maria statue; a fat budda from anudda mudda thing, and anything else the Dollar Store has to stave away the evilness preventing me travelling from A to B in peace. Here's what happened...

It was a dark, stormy night... Well, it was 9 a.m., the hotel blackout curtains were pulled tight and the storm was the toilet flushing. But, still. It coulda been...

Anyway, I immediately jumped out of bed, about 10 minutes later, and checked if the boys wanted breakfast? All muttered or snored in the negative, so I let them sleep in. This was a free/extra day for us, so I didn't mind. Normally, I drop them at school by 8:30 a.m., but they were off that day, and my flight wasn't until 10:40 p.m.

Leaving the hotel, we grabbed food on the go (a fancy way of saying "McDonald's") and had a fun few hours at a local park. They skipped the super-safe playground and joined some other kids getting all dirty and messy in the adjacent wood. (I loved it!) [Ed. Note: Whoa. Weird font change. I don't know how to correct it. I'm not really an editor...]

Who needs a plastic slide when I can search for a wooden sword?

#1 Son found a (partial?) set of deer antlers, which made his day. An instant warrior/anthropologist, he scrounged around looking for more antlery stuff, while simultaneously holding the smooth antlers up and roaring to bring out his inner Viking.

Antlers, no socks and damp, cold sand. Happy boys!

I dropped them off in the late afternoon and headed to the airport. Using my loving, lovely lounge card, I sat with delight in the Turkish Airlines lounge, testing various ethnic foods and drinks (for quality control purposes only.)

Sadly, on that first leg to London, I was in a "regular" plane, and yup, I was still in the back.

Sadly, this is not a Jumbo Jet.

Eight (13 with the time change) hours later, I was back in Old Blighty for the first time in what felt like many, many days. I checked the board. Five hours before my connection. Wow...

A very small alarm bell rang in my head, but I snoozed it. Probably just jet lag and the consumption of several mini bottles of red wine surreptitiously handed over by a passing crew member from the back of the drinks cart in the middle of the night. As you do.

(The back row rocks.)

With so much time, why not get the hell out of Dodge.co.uk and explore? Windsor was "only down the road," said someone in a blue jacket with a name tag, so it had to be like, true. Google search time. With so much regal history, surely I'd find a Red Lion or a King's Head.

I spent the next 20-25 minutes trying to log on to the "free" wifi hotspot; first with my phone, then my laptop. Nada. Not even a sausage.

*"Golly," I said.

(*The boys may read this one day. Naturally, I can't say fuck.)

Thus, I decided to leave the airport, jump in a black cab, do sightly things, head back and Bob would be my uncle. However, about to go through passport control, the snooze button popped up a second time and I stopped for a long moment.

Nah, I'll hang out here. It'll be safer. What if I get into a traffic accident or something? I mean it's me we're talking about...

Feeling all-grown up and stuff, I trundled instead to the nearest free lounge, but my entrance was stalled for a few minutes by the Keeper of the Free Food, who grilled me and made it clear I must leave after my 3-hour time limit, ("but I could let you stay for an extra 25 minutes if it's not too busy...") It was so confusing. I wanted to leave... but free wine beats whining at all costs.

And there I was a few minutes later, eating an English sausage (the wifi owed me one) and having a drink, when I released my fork onto the plate, and said golly again.

...Why do I have a five-hour window between flights?

I'm not supposed to have a five-hour window, it's only supposed to be a 2.5 hour window, according to my calculations and the slip of paper in my shirt pocket. (It's amazing how fast my mind processes information...)

So, after being admonished about not staying later than 3 hours (with possibly a 25-minute grace period, if the Lord of the Drinks decreed so with a wave of his single-use napkin) I instead vanquished myself after 10 minutes and legged it to a British Airways counter.

"My-original-flight-was-at-13:15-but-the-machine-spat-out-a-boarding-card-with-a-15:40-flight-which-gets-me-into-Stockholm-15-minutes-before-my-next-flight-and-if-you-only-knew-the-drama-between-me-and-Stockholm-last-week-I-can't-go-there-again," I mentioned -- offhandedly.

The chap looked at me, then his screen, and then back at me.

"This is quite strange. You said you had no issues checking in? And, your flight landed on time?"

"Actually, I can go there again, I mean I have to go there, right, so I can go home, but not like this. Huh...?"

I caught up with his questions, leaving my whirling mind to play with itself for a moment. (It tickled.)

"Yes, it's very strange, but, haven't you read the third sentence? I'm travel cursed! That's why I'm here. And, no, no issues. Yes, the flight landed on time."


Various keyboard-clacking moments later, he nodded as a colleague glanced over his shoulder. Another noise was made, but my new ticket to the old, original flight was handed over.

And I wanted to go sight-seeing in Windsor...

(All together now.... "Bloody hell, Koopmans!")

Back in the lounge, I waved my new boarding card at Dr. No and told him (in my head 'cos I didn't want to get kicked out) that I didn't want to stay in his stinking lounge for 3 hours anyway.

[My mate, Eddie's, Note: Please, allow me to apologize for this writer being such a shit, short-post poster.]

(We return you now to this regularly scheduled post, which will hopefully finish sometime in the next 17 years...)

Landing and spending a couple of hours in Stockholm was (this time) a wonderful experience. It was -11c and I loved every second of the half-minute I spent outside.

My View in Stockholm. It's snowing. Again.

The only issue was an hour delay, which made me think for a millisecond, "pfffft, I could so have gone to Windsor," but I shushed that away and was very happy to land in Malaga, even at 1 a.m. local.

This is not Malaga.

As I had a 7 a.m. appointment in the area, I'd booked an airport hotel for the night and confirmed a late check-in. A taxi would cost 20 euros, (+/- 5 billion dollars in my jet lagged currency-exchanged-mind.) I called the front desk and asked about a shuttle. No surprise there wasn't, but what he said next made me laugh. (If it doesn't kill you, it makes you drinker, er, I mean stronger, right?)

"Ah yes, Mr. Koospman, we have a small problem with your room," he said, sounding suspiciously like Basil Fawlty.

"Dude, what problem? I know I'm late, but I called and emailed you."

"Yes, well there's been water damage in your room, and we had to cancel your reservation."

"And no one thought to let me know? I'm about to spend 5 billion dollars on a taxi."

"No, no. We have made a new reservation on your behalf at a neighboring airport hotel."

He gave me the name, and I waited two minutes so he could call the hotel, explain they'd golly-ed up and needed a room. Stat.

"Hi, I'm the guy with the water leaked room."

"Yes, Mr. Cooperman. Everything is ready and we'll see you soon."

And, the new room/hotel was fine!

Which gives me a chance to finish this travel trilogy by saying to my boys that everything I went through these last couple of weeks was so completely worth it.

Sons, when you do read this, know I'd do it (or have done it!) again in a heartbeat. Anything so we can spend lots more time together and go on some more silly, fun, driving-Papa-mad fieldtrips.

(Just hope I don't have to go to Stockholm or London first :)

#3 Son impersonating how I felt when I got home.

Friday, February 1, 2019 12 comments

Journey to see the Boys - Part 2


If you read Part 1 last Friday, the good news is that “what happened next” was quite Koopmans-y normal, except for one, unexpected bucket list check-marking event.

[We return you now to the moment when our intrepid (and dashingly handsome, at least to himself) traveler clicked Publish on the first of his 2-part, Irish trilogy.]

The writerly adrenaline bled out of me like a broken vodka bottle in a laptop bag. I wanted to sleep in the lovely dark, empty bar (wouldn’t have been the first time.) Instead I headed upstairs to the swanky level. Knowing the lounge wouldn’t open until 05:00 (another two hours,) I found a bank of five plugs dotted along a long table. With no one else around, I spread my stuff out like a German tourist hogging the pool chairs and recharged everything at once. It was terribly obnoxious, but kinda fun, too. Of course, if anyone had come along, I would have stacked all my shit on top of each other in one tiny corner and apologized profusely. As I do.

As the lounge opened, I joined the maddening crowd of six people ahead of me (didn’t they have homes to go to?) and wandered around the breakfast buff. (Too small to be called a “buffet.”) As I am a cultural genius, (when in Helsinki, do as the Finlandish do, I say,) I asked for a Danish, but got a blank look. I tried the local warm bread with cold stuff (meat? cheese?) in the middle. The bread-thing, however, smelled like my socks after 24 hours travelling (I compared). I fell back on a couple of recognizable croissants and headed for the gate.

There was another lounge over there (I love my dodgy free-lounge card) and working off the premise that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, (but nowhere does it say “p.m.,”) I had a beer at 05:50, and as Katy Perry says, I liked it.

At the British Airways counter, I asked to switch from window to aisle and I landed the same row, too! Which seemed amazing, until I discovered I had the whole row anyway. Not wasting this minor miracle, I pulled a Philly cream cheese and spread myself over the three seats for the next 4 hours.

Once at Heathrow, I had 2.5 hours to get from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5, and after last night’s Swedish drama, I researched (imagine that) how to get there. I had a trek to trot but made it as boarding began for the flight to IAD. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy—and then I looked outside the window...

A Jumbo Jet.

FINALLY, I get to fly in a Jumbo. It's one of my favorite never-flown (until now:) airplanes, (I mean, it’s not as if you book online and add the filter, "Must be a Jumbo." This 747-400 series was gorgeous, and I didn’t care where I sat. (With seat 55G, I hoped that business class was really, really, really long, but helass pinda kaas, not a chance.)

I had the last seat.

Of the last row. (But I didn't care!)

Something symbolic about that methinks... troublemakers to the back?

Finally, after 42 hours door-to-door, I made it to the hotel, alongside 3 excited, arguing, talking-over-each-other boys.

For some reason I wasn’t tired anymore.

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