Thursday, 27 July 2017

Traveling to Germany

I'm composing this on because I'm in Kiel, Germany for the start of the Writing Excuses Retreat 2017 --- a writing conference taking place on a cruise around the Baltic. This post is about getting here; I expect to post more whenever I have Internet access.

I started by taking a taxi to the Via rail station in Kingston. As often happens, the train was late, this time by about 25 minutes.  I had heard you needed to get to the airport 3 hours ahead of when your plane is scheduled to take off, and I shortened that to 2:45 by the official schedule because I didn't want to wait around Trudeau Airport for an extra several hours if I took the earlier train. Then we lost more time waiting for a freight train; when Via was set up they were in a strong bargaining position because CN and CP really wanted to get rid of passenger travel, but the negotiators for Via gave away priority; freight always takes precedence over people. So, 35 minutes late total.

One new experience this trip: I was on train 62, Toronto to Montreal, which was attached to Train 52, Toronto to Ottawa; they separated just before the split in the track. I hadn't known they would do something like that.

Getting boarding passes was tense because my booking number didn't work; the American travel agent had saved me a bunch of money by using 4 different airlines, two each way, and they apparently don't coordinate with each other.  Fortunately the agent at the Swissair counter (for the first flight) was able to help out, and clearing security only took a few minutes. Perhaps the predicted long delays are just for flights to the United States?

The first flight went to Zurich, a new city and new country for me. When we were all boarded the pilot announced "I have good news and bad news. The good news is that with tailwinds the flight will only take six hours and thirty minutes." (it was originally supposed to be over an hour longer). "The bad news is that we can't land in Zurich until after 6am, so we have to wait here for 30 minutes." Too bad they didn't figure that out before we boarded.  With such a (relatively) short flight we had dinner and only about four hours later had a light breakfast; in between it was next to impossible to sleep.  I took a picture when I deplaned at Zurich; I had expected mountains in the distance, but just saw hills. Perhaps there were mountains lost in the mist.

The airport Zurich airport is huge; I suppose it might be the hub for Swissair. We arrived about 6:20 local time, which is 6 hours ahead of Kingston. I had to take light rail from the E wing to the A/B wing; my flight's "gate" just said A/B, and when I got to B, it said "gate will be posted at 7:35"  So I sat in the chairs at the first gate in B wing, and at 7:35 discovered my Germanwings flight to Hamburg was at gate A72, at the far end of the concourse.

This flight was about 90 minutes, and this time I had a hard time staying awake; I kept finding myself bent over forwards waking up from what was likely at most a few minutes' nap.

One of the cruise attendees had started a Google spreadsheet with people's arrival dates and times, so several of us were able to meet up and share the shuttle to Kiel. The journey took about 90 minutes; I managed to stay awake because I've been told that staying awake and exposure to sunlight helps reset your circadian rhythms so you adjust to local daylight.

The Atlantic Hotel is right across the street from where the shuttle stops (at the train station). My room is very nice:

One of my fellow writers is trying to organize a boardgame session before dinner; I'm looking forward to it. Not sure what I'll do in Kiel tomorrow except register in the early afternoon, and maybe go to the guided writing session later in the afternoon.