Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I can't believe I am doing it again

I am travelling. I have a very complicated itinerary, with three different airlines, three different train companies, and a variety of tasks. I always have adventures when I travel, such as lost luggage or delayed flights, but this trip takes the prize.

On Monday, I took a plane from Stansted to Finland. Staffan and I had agreed that I would take the train to the airport, but when we came to Cambridge railway station I discovered that I had left my wallet behind. Luckily, Staffan didn't just drop me off, as we usually do, so he drove me home to get the wallet and then drove me to Stansted. We arrived before the train I was supposed to take. As I was digging into my backpack looking for the wallet, I dropped my watch. Luckily, into the bag, so I found it later. But it was a bad start for a trip. Then my good angel Lydia picked me up in Tampere and drove two hours to Åbo, aka Turku. I felt uneasy about it, but then we had two hours of undisturbed chat, catching up. In the evening, there was a litle party at Lydia's.

Yesterday Lydia had planned to take me to an advanced yoga class at seven in the morning, and I had brought my gym outfit, but eventually we decided to skip that. We had a good workshop with three papers circulated in advance, then had lunch, then Lydia took me for a walk, during which I realised how quickly you lose your ability to walk on slippery surfaces. In the evening, I gave a talk for a suprisingly big and alert audience, with some really good questions afterwards. In between I wanted to check my email, but my laptop wouldn't pick up the university internet, and I do not remember my password so I couldn't use another machine. I feel that I have lost control over my travels.

This morning, Lydia continued being an angel and took me to the local airport (a different airline), and I flew to Stockholm, which is always funny because you arrive before you started. As I boarded the airport train, I called Anton, and we met at Stockholms Station for a quick hug and a cup of coffee. Then I realised that I had not printed out the email with the name of the hotel where I was staying. I tried to get online at the station and on the train - for the latter, you apparently have to book it as you book the ticket. So here I was, in Linköping, without a clue about where to go. I looked at the local map and identified three hotels in the vicinity of the station, since I had a vague memory of that email saying that the hotel was 300 meters from the station. I hoped that when I saw the name of the hotel I would recognise it, but I didn't. It's embarrassing to go to a hotel and ask whether I by any chance have a reservation. And if not, could I please use your internet to check my email.

I called Staffan, he switched on my computer, opened my web mail, found the email - and it was one of the three hotels I didn't recognise. Perhaps I have mixed it up with the hotel where I am stying tomorrow. I'll make sure I've checked it before getting on the train.

Five minutes after I installed myself in the room, the phone rang, and I thought it would either be Staffan, to check on me, or my local host, to confirm dinner tonight. But it was the hotel manager. He had by mistake given me a wrong room, a very little room, incompatible with my high status. The guest who was supposed to have this room had already checked into a larger room, the one I was supposed to have. The guy was devastated, although I said I was only staying one night, and a bed and internet connection was all I required. But when he offered me a cup of tea on the house, I didn't say no. It wasn't just a cup of tea, it was a pot of tea, as well as biscuits and chocolate. Why can't hotel managers always make mistakes and compensate them with tea?

To be continued.

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