First of all, I have to tell you that I am writing this message on my iPhone so please forgive any grammar or spelling.
Today was a "three country" day.
Many of us have done international travel for business or vacation so a day where you
wake up in one country but go to bed in a different country isn't all that rare. However, I think today was my first three
country day as I woke up in Malmö, Sweden and had small breakfast, drove to Copenhagen, Denmark where I had an early lunch,
boarded a plane to Munich, Germany, then drove to Leutkirch, site of the 2015 Jet World Masters where I had, you guessed it, supper.
The day ended with a surprise twist, but I'll get to that in a bit.
Last night, the clerk at the front desk of my hotel had suggested that I park the car on the street behind the hotel. Parking in downtown Malmö is pretty tight, especially around the hotel as there is some construction in process. Luckily, or so I thought, I found a spot and headed up to my room. I discovered this morning that the end of the street was pretty much blocked so to get out I either needed to back up around construction and do a three-point turn, in reverse, onto a busy street in rush hour, or go forward, avoid the cyclists, and drive on the sidewalk. When faced with this sort of decision, I ask myself "What would Andy do?" Well, the car navigated the sidewalk easily. However, I turned the corner and found I was on another tight squeeze of a street, turned again, same, turned again....even worse and this one had a delivery truck and construction vehicle parked on either side of the street. I squeezed through with about an inch on either side of my mirrors. A Ford dually pickup wouldn't fit in Europe.
I made it out of that part of town and enjoyed a picturesque drive through Malmö and onto the highway across the strait to Denmark.
It was a beautiful clear day and I discovered that a wind farm had been installed in the strait.
There were probably about 50 of the big modern windmills (like those at Palm Springs) a couple of miles offshore.
Later, my plane's departure path out of Copenhagen flew over the wind farm and I got a couple of good pics.
Checking in for my flight was fun.
The kiosk computer was in Danish which is not one of the five languages that I speak (English, French, Italian, Visual Basic, and Dirty).
The Danish word for reservation is recognizable in English, so I was off to a good start. Things quickly deteriorated when I inserted my credit card
which was rejected for some unknown reason that was unhelpfully explained on the screen in Danish.
I tried again with the same result. However, I noticed that as the card was being spit out, small flags of the UK, Germany, Sweden, and a few other
countries were momentarily displayed.
It took me another couple of tries with the credit card rejection to press the UK flag before it disappeared and I was rewarded with
"Card not recognized. Insert frequent flyer card".
Ahh, and the rest of the check-in process went smoothly.
Once past security, I saw that Copenhagen airport has an extensive duty free and shopping area.
I had some time to kill before my flight so it seemed like a good time to replace the white dress shirt I forgot in the dryer when I was packing.
I know that these airport shops are pricey, but it was convenient and at least I wouldn't have to search Leutkirch and surrounding towns for a shirt
before the awards banquet.
So I stopped into Hugo Boss, chose a plain white dress shirt with the help of the clerk who measured me since I had no idea of my European size, and all was good.
The clerk rang up the sale in Danish crowns. I have no idea of the exchange rate so I asked him the price in Euros....
$110 Euros (about $120 U.S.).
Wow, the shirt didn't look so convenient now. He then asked if I was a member of, or if I wanted to join The Hugo Boss Experience which is their
customer loyalty program.
Based on what I had seen so far, the Experience involves getting bent over and once was enough for me so I politely declined and headed to the gate.
Right beside my gate was a restaurant where you could get a Carlsburg beer and a foot long hot dog for roughly 1/20th of the price of a shirt.
Seemed like a good deal and Carlsburg is brewed in Denmark so I had beer for brunch and boarded my flight.
I was seated next to a man who noticed my Jet Team USA hat, we got to talking, and I discovered that he was a retired Danish Air Force Pilot who
was taught to fly F-84 Thunderjets by the USAF at Luke Air Force Base, in Phoenix where I live.
We chatted for most of the flight about his flying experiences, life in the military, family, etc. as we were descending into Munich, he asked me
if I'd ever been to Munich before (no) though I added that my grandfather had visited a few times back in 1944 while serving in Bomber Command, but he didn't land.
My seat mate found that hilarious.
We landed and I breezed through the Nothing To Declare line (as expected since they already had my sunblock and toothpaste) and I made my way to the rental car booth.
As we were come ting the paperwork, the agent told me that the car was a Renault (French) and asked if I had recently driven a Renault (no).
He handed over a card about the size of a credit card and explained that I had to put the card in the slot to enable the car to start.
OK, sounds simple enough.
I underestimated the French.
The door hinge and lock mechanism in a Boeing 777 has 17 parts.
The mechanism in a French-designed Airbus A320 has 137 parts.
I should have known better than to trust them with a key card. The card is black, the car interior is black, the car was parked in a dark garage and I couldn't
find the slot anywhere.
I paused, asked myself where would a French engineer put the slot?
.......next to where he puts his Gauloise (really nasty smelling French cigarettes) and I quickly found the slot over the ashtray.
I programmed the GPS and was off the Leutkirch.
The 90 minute drive down on the autobahn was fun as some parts have no speed limit.
In deference to my mother who wasn't impressed with the photos I'd taken while driving in Sweden, I refrained from taking pics while driving on das 'bahn
I arrived at the JWM site to discover preparations in full swing.
The campers were getting their tents and trailers set up in the field behind the "terminal" building while the organizers were having two huge event tents
complete with wood floors and glass/metal doors installed in the field next to the runway.
The U.S. pit area seems large enough and is centrally located in the left tent.
The right tent appears to be for meetings, get togethers, etc. I snapped a few pics and went socializing with the other early arrivals.
I had lunch outside (but just out of the rain) with Ralle from Tailor Made Decals (sponsor of Jet Team USA) and got up to retrieve his team shirt,
hat, coin from my car.
When I returned, I found my seat had been taken but I grabbed another chair that was still dry and squeezed in.
It took a moment, but I recognized my seat-taker as Prince Waldberg von Zeil, the honorary patron of the 2015 JWM, owner of the airport,
most of the land around here, several dozen hospitals, and not to mention owner/resident of the big friggin castle on the hill.
He soon started chatting with me and, as it turns out, he loves to play golf in Phoenix (though I suspect he doesn't play the same public courses that I play).
I later helped the Dutch Team set up their tents.
Ben, the team manager, is camping at the insistance of his new wife Karin, the lovely and charming lady who he proposed to at the 2013 JWM in Switzerland.
Karin loves camping and I was totally impressed with her her tent and camping gear. Casa del Karin is equipped with individual rooms, shelves, cots, lights,
flags, tables, sun shelter, etc.
I'm just amazed that they got it all into the car.
Two smaller tents for other members of the Dutch Jet Team complete the New Amsterdam complex.
Scott and Betsy had arrived earlier in the day but stopped at their apartment to nap before going to McDonalds and dropping by the field.
They even brought me a happy meal which worked as advertised. Jason and Elizabeth had a bit longer a drive as they flew into Franfurt and
drove down and, I'm sure, went to sleep off the jet lag upon their arrival in town.
It was getting late so I headed out to the hotel where the rest of Jet Team USA will be staying. It's only 17 miles away but the drive takes about
a half hour and is a vigorous drive through the countryside and a few towns.
I at 9:30pm to discover the hotel dark and locked up tighter than a convent during Fleet Week. There was a note on the door addressed to me telling me
to ring the bell and Ms Outenhaussen would open the door and give me my key.
Well, my repeated rings went unanswered and my telephone calls to the hotel were dumped to voicemail. On top of that, the Dutch beer I'd consumed earlier
that evening was creating another problem.
Ms Outenhaussen is now officially off my Christmas card list and officially on another of my lists.
That being said, there were still two problems remaining one of which was becoming more urgent. So I headed back to the field where plumbing was
available and the Dutch team solved my other problem.
Marco donated tent space and an air mattress while Karin and Ben had extra blankets.
My gratitude to these wonderful people.
Time for bed,