Philadelphia to Copenhagen

Philadelphia to Copenhagen

When Norwegian Airlines was having a sale on flights to Europe for $200 in March, we jumped on it. The offered destinations were all Scandinavian (naturally), so we decided the JFK-to-Copenhagen one sounded like the best itinerary, and would allow us to go either north or south in Europe once we decided what to do for the summer. Then as it turned out, we received an offer to housesit in northern Germany for the month of June, and so that settled our direction. We would have some time to kill between our May 24 arrival in Copenhagen, and the start of our housesitting assignment on June 5, so we decided to visit my sister for a week after spending a little time in Denmark.

SEPTA station in Philly

New Jersey. Sorry…

We had been in Philadelphia for our son’s law school graduation, so we were actually leaving from there on Tuesday the 23rd. I probably would have bought a ticket on Amtrak from Philly to NYC (which I had done going the other direction last Spring), but our son suggested (from experience) that since we weren’t in a hurry, we could take regional trains for a lot less. We walked the mile or so from his house to the nearest SEPTA train station (as opposed to having to get a cab to the Amtrak station), and bought our tickets at the counter through to NYC for $51.50 total – less than half of what we would have paid on Amtrak. The SEPTA train went to Trenton, where we quickly walked across the platform to get on the New Jersey Transit train to Penn Station in NYC. From there we got on a Long Island Railroad train to Jamaica, and then the AirTrain to JFK. Four¬†trains in about 4 hours total, but it all went smoothly!

We knew we’d arrive very early (i.e. mid-afternoon) at JFK for our midnight flight, but we figured we could get checked in and then find a bar from which to watch the Penguins in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, but that didn’t really work out as planned. We tried to go through security to get to what we hoped were better restaurant selections than the food court in Terminal 1, but although we weren’t planning to check any bags, the security agent said we had to have our boarding passes stamped to verify that fact. And the Norwegian ticket counter wouldn’t open until 6pm. In fact, it didn’t even exist yet… In its place was the Brussels Airlines counter, which we were told would transform into Norwegian at some point.

So we went upstairs to the food court and had some fairly decent calzones and pizza, though we found we had to move to a different section to drink beer, which caused some consternation on the waiter’s part. Around 4:00 or so we went back downstairs, and took a seat near the Brussels Airlines counter. As soon as the line for an outgoing flight was all taken care of, with (oddly) luggage all left in a row on the floor, the Norwegian Air staff switched out all of the baggage tickets, boarding pass paper in the machines, and signage, and added a little vase of flowers at each station ūüôā

We got in line as soon as they opened it, but unfortunately found that Al’s roller bag was over their carry-on size limit, and my backpack was over their weight limit, so we had to pay $45 each to check our bags. I guess $245 is still a decent price to pay to fly to Europe, though. So, onward through security with our officially stamped boarding passes. Unfortunately, we found that there was really only one restaurant in the gate area, though we walked the length of the whole terminal. We found some seats near a charger, and hung out until 7:30 or so, and then got a seat at “The Local”, where we had some local beer (Brooklyn Lager) and some quite mediocre food, and were unsuccessful in persuading the waiter to ask the management to switch one of the 6 TVs to the hockey game. We also tried at a little snack caf√© near our gate, but the barman was actually adamant that he couldn’t change a channel. So we found seats in a quiet corner and shared a headphone to listen to the game on the Penguins app on Al’s phone – they lost to Ottawa, forcing a Game 7, which we knew would be hard to listen to from Europe :-/

Our flight left on time, and was uneventful, other than a bit annoying to find that the overhead bins were huge, so I don’t understand why we couldn’t carry on our bags that we normally carry on. And also, there was no food or drink available (except for the cup of water the steward deigned to give me because I asked nicely), because I hadn’t pre-purchased the $50 meal plan. But I knew that going in, having flown Norwegian last year – they have nice planes and staff, and very cheap fares, but that’s because everything’s extra. Which is fine by me; we just stocked up on snacks and drinks before boarding.

 

Very Danish-looking airport.

We arrived in Copenhagen around 1:30pm local time (Central European); it was our first time at this airport, and we found it to be a very modern, clean, and friendly airport – not at all a surprise. Except the passport control was a bit chaotic, with the stations opening and closing so everyone who was in line for a station which closed, would need to merge somehow with the next-door line, causing a fair bit of animosity. The more usual system is to have one winding line and the next person in line goes to whichever station is free – much more efficient. So I thought that was a bit odd in a country where otherwise things seemed to be pretty well run.

 

More on Copenhagen and Gedser later…

Sorry for the lack of info…

So it’s now the end of March 2016 and we haven’t written anything new for quite a while.¬† Sorry about that, though we have both been posting to Facebook regularly so have not been totally quiet.¬† I’ll just summarize what’s been going on to date and maybe we’ll fill in details later.

Last posting was about Crick, where we first landed in the UK Midlands.  At the beginning of December 2015 we moved to a house in Husbands Bosworth. It used to be the village blacksmith shop many years ago, was fixed up quite nice and had a full kitchen.  It was nice having additional room and a different village to explore, but was a longer drive for Sandy to work.  We stayed there until we left the UK at the end of February.

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Not our house but best thatched roof in the village!

For the holidays, we went to visit Sandy’s sister in Germany.¬† Stayed for Christmas and New Years.¬† Very nice visit!¬† Hamburg shopping trip with the nieces, Christmas eve mass in a very old church in Lubeck, quite amazing fireworks for New Year’s Eve celebration, and nice walks around the moor.

We took several more trips in the UK. First we went to the Cotswold area where we stayed in a flat right on the local stream (the apartment used to be the village wash house) and enjoyed walking in the countryside and visiting some new pubs! We hiked some on the 100 mile Cotswold Way hiking trail, which eventually ends in Bath on the coast

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In February we went with friends to the Cornwall area for a long weekend.¬† This area is along the southwest coast.¬† It was very stormy during our visit, the waves coming into the harbor at Polperro were quite impressive and the winds were fierce at times.¬† Had a nice high English tea complete with scones and clotted cream in a little shop as we sheltered from the weather.¬† Yumm!¬† I’m thankful that Brett did the driving as some of the roads were so narrow there were cutouts for cars to pass.

Polperro Harbour

Polperro Harbour

Cornwall

Cornwall

We were surprised while having a bite at¬†the Red Lion¬†pub in Sibbertoft to discover the owner, Andrew, was a huge Steelers fan!¬† It was during the playoffs so we had a serious discussion about Big Ben and their chances for going very far.¬† Apparently Andrew doesn’t really like soccer and¬†found American football¬†back in the 70’s, liked the DEFENSE oriented Steelers and has been a fan ever since!

On February 21 we left the UK and traveled back to the US.¬† It was a direct flight from Heathrow to Austin, 11 hours! Sandy had a conference in Austin, TX so that’s where we ended up.¬† Nice to see some warm weather again.¬† Didn’t take me too long to get comfortable driving on the left side of the road again!¬† Austin was having their annual beard competition festival.¬† Interesting to see guys with things woven into their face hair (like cans of beer!) or plaited into a football facemask.¬† Very bizarre!

After the conference we drove down to Houston to visit some friends.  On the way we stopped at Bone Spirits Distillery.  What an interesting experience! Got a tour by the owner and did a sampling.  I found out I really like aged gin, especially in a martini!  We picked up some aged gin and oak-aged bourbon as house gifts.  Needless to say, they both went over very well.

In Houston we did some local sightseeing (Thanks for the Harley shop tour, Alan!) and enjoyed the nice weather.

Texas Drag Bike

Texas Drag Bike

I ended up going to Philadelphia to visit our son and his wife, Sandy went back to Germany for a couple weeks for a visit with her sister and nieces.  I enjoyed the time in Philly, it really does have a lot to offer (said grudgingly by someone who grew up on the other side of the state).  Touring the Yards brewery was fun, as were the Italian Market, GreensGrow, and the Schuylkill River trail. FB_IMG_1458417733168

Schuylkill Trail

Schuylkill Trail

I did try a Philly Cheesesteak from Carvers.  Very tasty.

Philly Cheesesteaks

Philly Cheesesteaks

Once Sandy got back from Germany we borrowed back our car , Bianca (2012 Fiat 500) which the kids had been using, and drove across state to Pittsburgh.  We wanted to take the opportunity to check on our house and say hello to some old friends while in town.  The house appeared to be in fairly good condition so we changed out some clothes from our storage locker, had some needed maintenance done on Bianca, made some surprise visits to a few friends (what fun that was!) and headed back to Philly.

Next stop….sunny Santa Cruz, CA and a visit with our daughter and her husband!