November 10, 2005 — Ever feel like you’re stuffed into a sardine can?

That’s what it feels like right now… I’m 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean in an IcelandAir jet and there is so little room I can barely open my laptop to write this.  

To add to the joy, we had “Ilsa, she-wolf of the SS” directing people when the plane was loading.  You’d try to get your things in the overhead bin quickly and this sharp Scandanavian/Germanic voice would snap: “Stand out of zee aisle sso zat otherss may pass!” – scary!

Even so, dinner was actually quite good.  It said on the box “A taste of Iceland”, so I expected some Atlantic salmon or some such thing.   NO! – breaded chicken breast on curried rice!   I didn’t know that curry was a staple in Iceland, did you?

Now imagine for a second that you’re in charge of IcelandAir’s menu:  let’s see, hundreds of people all squeezed into their cattle pens, stuck there for more than three hours – what can we do to liven things up??   YES – give them curry!!!  That will certainly keep them busy.   If you didn’t behave, perhaps they’d up the ante to Bush’s pork and beans…

I had actually been looking forward to my flight home.  When I took Scandinavian Airlines eastward over the Atlantic, they were wonderful!.  Even in economy class the leg room was good, the seats were comfortable, the staff was friendly, and the food was, er… non-flagellant.

My employer had sent me to Stockholm in Sweden for two weeks to work with some nice people at Ericsson (the Swedish version of Nortel, with the only difference being they’re still in business).  

The work was interesting and the people were friendly and accommodating.  But, as you might expect, the most interesting parts of the trip were away from the workplace.  

When I arrived at my hotel, the young lady there taught me that “hello” in Swedish is “Hej”, pronounced “Hey”.  I confess that Hej was the only Swedish word I learned when I was there… 

I didn’t get to see too much of the city until my second-last day.  We worked till 5 most nights and it started getting dark around 3:30, so there wasn’t much light left to sightsee by. 

Fortunately, on the Thursday of the seconed week, we needed to work at one of their other buildings.  The Ericsson fellow took me for an impromptu whirlwind tour around the town and even stopped a couple of times to let me take pictures.

Stockholm is built over several islands in an archipelago so there’s lots of waterways, boats, and old-style colorful buildings to photograph.  The place is a visual smorgasbord.  

Because of the early sunset, the light gets that wonderful golden tinge by mid afternoon.  It lends the pictures a warmth even though they also seem to capture the Scandanavian chill… 

Update:   Despite how nasty the IcelandAir plane is, Iceland is absolutely spectacular.   

The plane’s window on the approach to Rejkyavik airport was filled with snow-covered mountains and icy canyons.   The rugged and windswept shoreline was as spectacular as the rocky, barren plains formed from old volcanic flows.   It’s like no other place I’ve ever seen.   

When we landed for our short layover, I immediately rushed into the shop to see what information I could find about tourism — but there wasn’t much.  Even so, I made up my mind very quickly to save my pennies and go back to Iceland sometime with my camera. 

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