Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Plane Ride to Norway

I stood in two long lines before I could finally get onboard the plane to Norway. The first line was mostly Norwegians or Swedes. I slipped in behind a Norwegian man, and he gave me a friendly smile and asked, "Oslo?" I said yes, and was quite pleased because although Norwegian, he had that same sort of Swedish face that wishes you every goodness the world can offer, and they are always saying how cold and distant Norwegians can be (think 'nej, nej, nej, nej, nej!'), but this man was being friendly.

Alas, it was very short-lived. I started to talk to him (where in Norway do you live, and what are you doing here - a cruise - and is this your first time in the US), but it finally dawned on me that he was getting annoyed, after all.

Fast-forward a few hours. We were at the gate, and now I was very annoyed because our flight was already delayed by an hour, and I had some very important things to do in Norway before a connecting flight bore me away. Again, it was mostly Scandinavians waiting, but there were some Americans as well. I could pick them out immediately. It was a group of youngsters, either college or high school seniors, being the loudest people in the airport. It wasn't long before I knew every detail of their lives: who was boyfriend/girlfriend, who had a brother, their final destination (Paris), their opinions regarding the French, and how long their Oslo lay-over was.

After an hour delay, we finally formed another long line by the boarding gate, but it went nowhere. As luck would have it, I ended up next to the Americans in the line. At first, I gritted my teeth and wished they'd shut up because I had a fierce head-ache by this time, but then I remembered that Americans are usually loud just because they want to talk to someone! And, just perhaps, end the multi-hour wait in line as newly-minted 'best friends'. All I had to do was look over my shoulder as they complained about the long line, complain along with them, and immediately we were sworn allies. Everyone else was standing quietly, but that didn't stop us!

"Well, for a first experience with Norwegian, this has been hashtag-bad," said one.
"Norwegian sucks," added another.

I pointed carefully at the two men in front of us, and mouthed, "I think they are Norwegian!"

"Oh, it doesn't make a difference! I like the people. Everyone makes fun of them."

By now, the delay had grown to an hour and a half. The loudest of the Americans wandered off to the front of the line to get the scoop. He reported back: "The lady at the front says we're delayed another twenty, thirty minutes. And she tells me this as if it's a good thing. Oh, only twenty more minutes, they're refueling!"

This was thoroughly discussed and complained over, and Norwegian was insulted some more, and then we found more space for insults because the only reason our flight was delayed in the first place was because we'd had to give up our airplane parking spot to Norwegian's flight from the day before, headed to Copenhagen. That flight had been canceled outright, and no one seemed to know why, and its rescheduled departure two hours before our flight to Oslo had caused the hold-up. Even when you asked the Norwegian staff, they just shrugged their shoulders and looked puzzled. Then we complained some more because another of the staff had told us that Oslo's airport is "very big" and we were wondering how we'd catch our connecting flights within the rapidly shrinking window of opportunity.

Finally, one of the Americans said hopefully: "oh, there's a man with an orange vest up front. That usually means something."

"Yeah! Twenty more minutes to wait!"

Then they started placing bets, or maybe they were thinking of bribes. "I'll bet if you gathered 600 Scandinavian dollars and just gave it to them ... and it would end up being like six bucks."

Ten minutes after the "twenty, thirty more minutes" report, they opened the doors and we started boarding the plane.

"These people have no sense of time!" the loudest American couldn't help muttering.

Well, maybe nine hours and some time zone changes later, we did make it safely to Oslo, which is all you can really ask for. Except then, it took forever for our luggage to be delivered to the baggage claim. I just wanted to point that out because Europeans are always turning up their noses about how much better and more efficient their airports are than ours, yet for some reason, while Norwegian fell asleep with our bags, Delta was able to transfer my checked bag from plane to plane during a forty minute lay-over in Atlanta, and you know that Atlanta is the world's busiest. So there.

I'll end with a good note: the train ride from the Oslo airport to central Oslo is gorgeous! It was a rainy, cloudy day, but that didn't stop the view from my train window from being absolutely gorgeous.

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