And home again

I started back fairly early. Our taxi arrived at Sandbjerg Gods to pick us up at about 8:45am and we headed to Sonderborg Lufthavn (airport). We were flying back to Copenhagen on the matte black supercool plane.

  
Totally rockstar.

I flew out with my Norwegian colleagues, but they were able to continue on whereas I had to pick up my bag and check in for the rest of my flights. So I had to leave the security area and go back in. Which ate up some time, at least, as my Heathrow flight wasn’t leaving until the afternoon.

I sat by the windows at the Yo!Sushi restaurant to have lunch. It was a cute multicoloured place with a conveyor belt carrying food around that you chose and ate.

  
It was fairly tasty, though I still prefer the sushi from my favourite place. But I was able to sit there, out of the flow of traffic and chill for a half an hour or so.

Then I stopped at the Starbucks right next door and got a nice warm chai latte, which I received when the barista called “Yenni”. The Danish J.

My gate was published by then so I started heading for gate D102. Which was past passport control. I stamped out of Denmark and was truly on my way home. I found more lovely seats on an upper tier heading towards my gate, but by that point I really needed to charge my phone so I sadly left the quiet, solitary, super comfortable chairs and went in search.

I found my gate and there was a wall outlet right beside a set of chairs near the deserted desk and locked door. It was baffling. There wasn’t a waiting area to speak of really. We were all confused because we could see people downstairs who looked like they were also at our gate. No, they weren’t, actually. We got pre-boarded and sent down to a holding pen. Then the next official lady started to allow us to board, first calling the business class passengers. But she was rushed by all sorts of people in our holding pen.

“Wait, no, you’re not business… Hold on… Ugh, forget it, fine. Go!”

Thus the rudeness of the mob meant that there was no orderly boarding process. I felt badly for her.

The flight from Copenhagen to Heathrow was quick, but we spent at least 20 minutes in a holding pattern waiting for clearance to land. While we were waiting, I took pictures of clouds.

  
And a neighbouring British Airways plane who was flying a bit below us.

When I got into Heathrow, I forgot about going through security again, so I ended up pounding 400mL of water from my bag so that I could keep my bottle. It was very handy for the long flight, to keep me hydrated. Once I got through all the checkpoints, I was face to face with the departures board. And I got a punch in the gut.

18:00 Toronto Delayed to 21:00, gate given at 20:00.

I marched over to the Air Canada Transfer Passengers desk and inquired. Yes, the woman said, I would be missing my last connection to Ottawa. They would provide me with a hotel and vouchers and rebook me on the earliest possible flight the next day.

I was so deflated. My schedule to get home had already been a gigantic slog that was another feat of strength (my trip to Sonderborg had been my first feat of strength that week). To add in an overnight stay in TO just made me want to cry. I wanted to be home.

There was also the possibility that I wouldn’t have clean clothes so I looked among the high end shops for a shirt to wear on the morning flight. The only one that would probably fit was going to cost more than $50 and was a sparkly silver that I knew I’d never wear again. So I risked it and didn’t buy anything.

I stopped in at the World Cafe for dinner and treated myself. As a rule, I don’t drink while flying because I have a hard enough time staying hydrated enough to feel human by the end of my transit. But I had a cider with dinner because, what the hell – I wasn’t going to be flying for three more hours anyway. I also may have had their deep fried mac ‘n cheese ‘n kale balls as an appetizer before a veggie burger topped with grilled haloumi cheese with a side of fries…

  
For the record, I did eat the micro-greens too.

  
Narm.

I bounced around Heathrow, successfully reading some of my book of yoga essays that my friend had given to me as a present during my nine wandering weeks. I had a big peppermint tea. I took off my hiking shoes and stretched a knot in my left calf and let my feet stretch out a bit.

Oh yeah, apparently Heathrow decorates for Christmas before Guy Fawkes Day. I didn’t mention it from my first passage on Tuesday, but…

  
Really, Heathrow? Really??

Don’t get me wrong. They are attractive interpretive trees (another was composed of bias bands looking like sparkle edged ribbons set on diagonals so that they built a tree), but it’s too early.

My gate was published even before 20:00 so I got to hustle to another far flung arm of an airport to wait for boarding of my flight.

  
I thought maybe I was wrong at this point. My footsteps echoed quite pointedly.

But I was right and it didn’t take long before we were rallying together to board. There was a prescreen process where a couple of officials looked at everyone’s passport and boarding pass. I couldn’t help wondering if it was to screen out potential Syrian refugees, because one man seemed to get many more questions than the majority of the white people going through. Hmmmm.

We had a minor mechanical thing that stalled our leaving, having had pushed back from the terminal already, and then just sat there for a while. So we had to taxi to a maintenance station to have maintenance staff reboot something, and then we finally took off, late. At that point there was no hope of me making my connection. So I tried my best to self-care during the flight. Alas, despite my seatmate leaving for the empty three seat row across from us (so she could lie down and sleep), I probably only got about 20 minutes of dozing while lying down across my two seats. I spent most of the 8 hour flight reading or writing in my journal. I would occasionally flip on the map to know where we were in transit.

  
Bye London.

When we touched down in TO, there was a helpful lady standing at the top of some stairs with a package for each of us who missed a connecting flight. We were given our luggage back, and we were given a breakfast voucher (which I forgot to use) and put up in the Crowne Plaza. After waiting for the shuttle bus and then waiting to check in at the hotel, I managed 2.5 hours of sleep in an actual bed (glorious) before I got up, showered, changed into my last outfit I didn’t get to wear (yay clean clothes!) and waited for the shuttle bus back to the airport. The lack of sleep was making me very wobbly.

  
Good morning, Toronto.

Happily, we took off and got to Ottawa quickly. I got choked up as the tyres hit the runway, I was so glad to be home. My husband  was waiting for me at the bottom of the escalator. And then, we went home and slept for three more hours. ;)

And that was my Denmark trip. I have a lot of work to do coming out of this.

The trail less travelled

We restarted our meeting punctually and slogged through the initial part very slowly. We hadn’t made much headway through our document before we stopped for a quick coffee break. We had a lot of work to do and we were all worried that the little outing we were planning after our quick lunch might eat into our productive time.

However we motivated ourselves and got through more of the agenda and our document before lunch. But still, the rest of the document seemed insurmountable and I considered staying back from our walk to help push our work forward. We had realized that many of us were supposed to miss the last scheduled hours of work this morning, because we all had flights to the rest of the world. So we really needed to finish our work by 7:30pm, since that was when our fancier group dinner had been arranged.

But even our co-chairs decided to go for the walk so I joined them. I walked with the forward, faster group, since my colleague and I had explored this route the day before.

  
And we kept following the path along the river. It was a gorgeous day, and we all were wondering at the great warm weather. I found a neat beetle on the path, if they needed any more evidence that I was (am?) a field biologist.

  
He has purple feet!

And then I found a little juvenile frog, who looked like a wood frog to me.

  
I had to zoom in to the maximum to get a halfway decent picture because he was so tiny and he kept running away from the crazy lady on the ground making weird happy sounds at him.

Then we were at our destination – a replica of the Nydam boat. One of the local group members told us about the discovery, all the broken weapons inside the boat, and their theory about why. Apparently the Nydam holy lake contained 5 captures warships, sunk into the lake as an offering to Odin, and the broken collected weapons from those 5 warships as well.

  
The ship in the shelter – they were re-sealing the floor wih tar. It smelled very piney.

  
Inside the boat – there was room enough for 30 oarsmen and 20 additional warriors. They usually fill the bottom of the boat with about 2 tonnes of rocks for ballast but they don’t know if the Angles (it was an Angle/German warship) would have done that. But otherwise the ship isn’t super stable.

  
The interpreter said that they had looked everywhere to find an appropriate tree for the keel beam – it had to be very large and an oak. They finally found one in the forest  nearby the lake and they were able to convince the landowner/farmer to allow them to harvest it for the boat rebuilding.

Because of the local history, the Nydam boat is in a German museum to the south, since they had been a part of Germany for about 60 years. So the landowner/farmer was quite happy to contribute to the rebuilding of their boat. The local group is also continuing to archaeologically excavate the holy lake site (now a field because the lake was filled with detritus over the years).

We headed back to our meeting and were very productive for the rest of the day. I credit the fresh air. We even finished earlier than we anticipated. Then we had some time before our fancy dinner.

  
The dining room of  the manor house.

  
The sitting room we had found in our explorations the night before.

  
The library with many Danish books.

It was a lovely meal and a good time to connect with different colleagues.

Now I’m on my way back to North America. I’ll blog about that tomorrow. :)

  
Danish outlets look so happy/cute.

  
Roses still blooming outside of our meeting place.

Sonderborg

On Wednesday morning, my colleague and I spent a bit of time in the morning exploring the Sonderborg waterfront and the Sonderborg Slot (Palace). It began still pretty foggy out and gradually cleared during the day.  

 
We walked along the waterfront to the marina, watching gulls (potentially silver gulls, according to the information panel for children) crack open common mussels on the promenade. The trees were strong and interestingly shaped and some of them were not identifiable by this North American biologist. We also saw a bigger sea gull dancing on the lawn of one of the marina buildings. He was really just standing in one spot, repeatedly shuffling his feet. We wondered if there was something wrong with him because he didn’t seem to be pecking at anything, just shuffling. Then I suggested he was the marina’s special dancing gull practicing his routine for that night.

  
Then we walked back to the Sonderborg Slot, or palace. It has been a palace for a long while, and you can tell that it has been rebuilt a few times by the mosaic of different bricks and stones. Some of those were due to damage from warfare, and others seem to be renovations. We walked around and explored a ruined tower that had been excavated. Unfortunately a rather deep puddle existed in the tunnel leading to the open room in the tower so we didn’t enter but there were tower stairs that lead down to a locked gate, where we could look in to see how large the tower had been. Sadly, the museum part of  the palace didn’t open until 1pm so we weren’t able to go inside and learn more of the history, since we had to go to our meeting – the whole reason we are in Denmark to begin with! But we did learn about the German bombardment of 1864 when the region came under German control, which ended in 1920 when it reverted back to Denmark.

  
Patchwork brick and stone on the palace

  
The ruined excavated tower

  
The wet tunnel

We walked into a couple of the town’s side streets nearby but then decided to just go to Sandbjerg Gods and to explore the manor grounds there.

  
Really cute houses in Sonderborg.

The taxi ride didn’t take very long and we dropped our stuff in our rooms and went for a walk on the Nydamstien.

 
First we met a curious Highland bull. The electric fence was humming.

  

 We took a well travelled and marked path through the woods, which were predominantly oak, beech and perhaps an ash (not sure which variety). It was actually very mild here so the trees were still turning colours and had most of their leaves. It was fascinating to see the hallmarks of long human habitation in the   area being borne out by some of the patterns of vegetation. We passed many raspberry canes and rose bushes travelling along a field edge, and then came upon a living fence of beech trees.

  
We turned around after we reached a fork in the road (one less travelled) because we anticipated the arrival of more of our colleagues. Which was fine because we were halfway through the 7.7 km circuit.

And then our meeting began in the afternoon, in a quaint building that had once been the farmer’s house who had tended the land for the manor, I surmise. It was really cute.

  

 The front room where we did not have our meeting, but the best picture I took… 

 More to come – we take the road less travelled in the woods and learn some local history.

Getting to Denmark

I left Ottawa at around 10pm on Monday, on the overnight flight to Heathrow. I’m actually not great at sleeping on a plane. Partially it’s sleeping in an uncomfortable position, partially it’s the noise of the engines and other people, and partially it’s sleeping in public. All of these things lead to me not being able to relax enough to actually Sleep.

So for my almost seven hour flight I tried to doze. I propped myself on the wall with my pillow, pulled my hood up, took off my glasses and stowed them safely in my glasses case, and listened to a track of my relaxation music on a constant loop. I kept “waking up” as I slid out of position, as my fidgety seatmate bumped me or brushed against me, or when he spilled his rum and coke on me.

  
So at about this point, as we were rushing towards sunrise, I gave up and just started looking out the window. We were still two hours out from London at this point. I got to say hello to beautiful Ireland again, although I didn’t stop in this time.

  
We flew over the Shannon, and Kilkenny.

And I got to say hi to Holyhead, Wales, where I had taken the ferry.

  
(I think)

Once in Heathrow, I stopped to get breakfast and then I just had to wait. My bag was checked through to Copenhagen and I didn’t need to do any high end shopping, so I tried to read and chill. I watched the United Nations of airplanes parade past the large windows (where I was hoping to have enough light to mess with my body clock – not that it needed help at that moment.) (Or maybe it did.)

  
Ha, said my body. Relaxation means you want to sleep! Initiate shut down sequence!

Yeah, I figured that was a bad idea so I started pacing. I grabbed a green tea and shifted from a warmer area to a cooler area, then just standing, waiting for my  gate to be published so that I could occupy myself just walking there. Forgetting, of course, that they publish your gate at about the exact same time that they start boarding. But I made it.

Then, the clerical error that seemed to be a security threat happened. Someone’s name appeared twice on the passenger manifest, and they were trying to figure out why all the seats were full and it said everyone had checked in but the number of passengers was wrong. Thankfully they didn’t deplane us to start over and someone noticed the duplicate name, half an hour after we were supposed to leave. Luckily, I had a 4 hour layover in Copenhagen anyway so eating a bit into it wasn’t a big deal.

Ah but during the excitement of the delay, I blinked out. I came to realizing that my body had shut down. Damn. My seatmate sympathized because he was also “just coming from North America”. I tried to read on the flight but kept jerking awake in the same paragraph, which ended up making no sense so I had to keep rereading it.

My layover actually didn’t seem so long in Copenhagen because I had dinner at an upscale seeming place – The Sommelier bar and grill. I felt a little bit bad, since I was sitting there all rumpled and sweaty in my yoga pants and hiking shoes… But only a little. Then I was having trouble with the wifi – even more deadly! I couldn’t even keep myself awake with the blue light of my phone! Finally I had a gate to go to so I spent the last hour and a half in an apparently deserted part of the airport trying, again, to read.

  
Finally, 20 minutes after boarding was supposed to start, and 5 minutes after everyone else on the flight showed up, we boarded a really awesome, totally black, jet with immense leg room and flew 30 minutes to Sonderborg. The captain said something (in Danish) to the single flight crewmember, and I presumed that it was something along the lines of “Take your seat, we’re about to land” so I was watching out the window and thought “Oh, wow, we’re flying through the clouds. Huh, we must still be high… Wait, what’s that other light? Oh, there’s the runway. Oh dear god, I hope the pilot sees that…”

And we landed in foggy Sonderborg without  incident. He parked right beside the small airport and we deplaned like rock stars right onto the tarmac. We walked right into the airport, where we waited two seconds in a small living room type area for the ground crew guy to sling our bags from the plane onto a trolley and shove it through the door. I have to say, it was a ton more efficient than Copenhagen. Then I called a taxi (with an automated message in Danish that I was trying to talk to, initially) to take me and my colleague to our hotel. I think he was up for more socializing, since it was only 12:30am in St Petersburg, but it was 4:30pm in Ottawa and I hadn’t slept since I got up at 7:30am on Monday, so I wished him a good night and went to bed.

Next up – adventures in Sonderborg. :)