I’m sitting at gate 14 at LAX, an hour early, thanks to my new TSA Pre Check status getting me through security in 5 minutes. (If you have $100 and a lot of patience you can get Pre Check status through most airlines by signing up for the GOES trusted traveler program.)
I’m leaving LA for NYC a day late thanks to an arctic storm dumping 14 inches of snow on the city. It was the first time in my travel history that I had a flight canceled. It could have been a disaster, because I have a non-refundable flight to Norway from NYC tomorrow on a totally separate airline booking. Thankfully I gave myself a 2 day layover in NYC when I booked my flights. Now I only have a 24 hr layover. I should still have enough time to explore the city a little and see some friends thankfully. It will be fun to see the city covered in a few feet of fresh snow!
Tomorrow it’s off to Europe for 2 months! One of the scariest things about this is that I decided to pack lighter than I’ve ever packed in my life. I’m only bringing one carryon bag and a backpack. I’m practicing the Tim Ferris approach to traveling. In trips past one of the most annoying and frustrating aspects was waiting for my checked bag with baited breath at the baggage claim (in Haiti and Africa they basically throw your bag in a pile on the street) and then schlepping it around cities in taxis, buses, trains, metros, up and down thousands of stairs, down icy roads for miles searching for my hostel, and so on. I’ve finally taken the leap to ultra-light packing, leaving even my trusted straightener and favorite jacket at home. I also have only 1 pair of shoes – the ones I’m wearing. It will be interesting to try to find a place to do my laundry every week. Also I suspect I will be buying some extra winter clothes. I bought a collapsable duffle bag just in case I come home with more than what I brought with me.
Apart from the sheer joy of traveling, I have another purpose for this trip: I’m starting filming for a documentary I’ve been planning out for years. I’ll be launching a website in the next few weeks outlining the progress of the documentary and I’ll eventually be launching a kickstarter campaign for it as well. I’m so thrilled to finally be working on this project that I’ve had in development for so long!
I made it to Norway! After a beautiful sunrise takeoff in LA, a snowy landing in Milwaukee over a partially frozen lake Michigan, a sunset landing at LaGuardia, a fun bus and subway ride to midtown Manhattan followed by a 7 block walk with my bags in the sloshy, muddy 2ft of snow the city just got, hangs with a friend in Soho, a good night’s sleep at a friend’s apartment, working a bit then going to B&H photo to buy a GoPro, hopping on the F train to Brooklyn to visit a friend before my flight out of JFK, the F train closing due to a power outage followed by a series of different trains to try and get to the same place around the outage, giving up on the quest to find a working train and waiting for a bus in the 0 degree F temperatures for 30 minutes only to cave and book my first Uber ride, making it to my friends place, having a few glasses of wine and talking about all good things and then catching a taxi to JFK, talking to a nice Danish girl at the gate with cool steampunk pants, and getting the seat right at the boarding door so I had tons of legroom!
I didn’t sleep on the plane. I never do. We landed 7.5 hours later after flying over some crazy tundra, some of which was so snowy and undeveloped it blended in with the clouds above it.
The Oslo airport was the most stress-free airport I have ever been through. I was out of immigration and customs and into the train station just 10 minutes after landing. I got on a super comfy train to the city center, saw some gorgeous scenery, then walked outside the train station to the streets of Oslo. I found my tram and took it north to where I am staying. It’s a great apartment that feels a lot like one in Nashville. After dropping off my bags I took to the freezing streets to find some food. I walked for a few blocks before finding a cute little pizza place. I asked if they accepted credit cards and they said yes! Uekreka! Norway is famous for being one of the priciest countries in the world, yet I got an 12″ pizza for 100nok, or about $12. It was so hot that I was able to walk 5 blocks back to my apartment in the windy snowing conditions and it was still warm. I split it with my friend KJ while we listened to Icelandic music. Now I’m sitting here, writing this, trying not to fall asleep before 8pm local time so I don’t have any jet lag tomorrow.
That’s it for now — check back for more adventures!