I woke up several times in the night and had to look at the clock each time to see it wasn’t time to get up. The back of my calf itched. I sleepily wondered if there were bed bugs. I decided to check for them in the morning. The alarm on my travel clock rang before the wake up call came. I waited for the wake up call before stepping into the shower. I decided the bed bug scare was silly. Suddenly the flat screen tv awoke from its several day slumber and its alarm started ringing. That was the wake up call. Touching the screen would not make it stop. I finally found the switch to turn off the TV. When I entered the room five days earlier I had to unplug it to get it to leave me alone.
As usual there was no one in the breakfast room when I entered. I had eaten a bunch of the tiny croissants with coffee and juice and watermelon when a woman came into the room. I assumed she was the person I’d share the taxi with. She soon left. I then got up to see what time it was. It was just past 6:45 and the taxi was there. Checking out of the hotel took no time at all. There wasn’t even a question about phone calls or the mini bar. It had been a time at Grand Hotel Tammer and a wonderful time at the Tampere Film Festival.
I talked with the woman during the half hour ride to the airport. She had attended the festival because her boyfriend had something to do with it. She lived in Riga. She had grown up there while it was still part of the Soviet Union. I found that very interesting. She spoke Russian, Latvian and Danish and worked as a translater. She had two kids, a five year old boy and a seven year old girl. I told her about my three grand kids. She found it astounding that most Americans didn’t have passports. She found it more astounding that, technically at least, you aren’t required to carry ID on you as a United States citizen.
At the counter I checked through the bag and was told that I could not carry on both the computer bag and the back pack. The counter woman suggested I have the woman carry one on. She assumed we were traveling together. Instead I put the coach bag and computer inside the backpack and stuffed the dirty clothes in after. I couldn’t get all of Karsten’s 8mm films in, they had been bought on ebay and delivered to me to be ferried to Kiel, so I put them into various pockets of my overcoat. It made me rattle when I walked. Obviously the key to smuggling contraband is to disguise it as 8mm film. At security I realized I should have gone through first before consolidating my bags. I had to take the computer out of the bag to have it go through the scanner. Past security there was a duty free shop and news stand. They didn’t have the Trib. I then remembered there was a rack of give and take books near the ticket counter. I left my bags on a chair, clearly a violation of many announcements over airport loudspeakers, and went back through security. I picked a Henry Rollins Reader from the few titles that were in English.
On the plane I took a seat among the many empties toward the front. Why can’t all flights be like that? I discovered that Henry Rollins was a punk rock musician who also wrote. I didn’t find his writing of any interest. I finished Housekeeping and then started reading it again to get some details from the beginning straight. It really was an excellent and unusual book. The stewardesses wore fitted jackets that buttoned up the front and matching tight knee length skirts with kick pleats in the back. They made me think of Mammy Yokum in L’ll Abner comics.
As we neared Riga we flew over more pack ice with some passages through it and some open sea beyond. There was no turbulance. The landing was smooth and the taxi-ing was free of bumps. We got off the plane and into a shuttle bus. There would be three hours before my next flight. I walked into the station and after finding my gate number went looking for a Starbucks and the International Herald Tribune. I found neither. Oh, I did find the Saturday Trib still on the rack. I went into a book shop and bought The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. It was marked 2.29. It actually cost 4 Euros. That is because Latvia still uses its own coin of the realm. I went back to where I had found a place to write on Wednesday. It was not deserted but I did find a seat and a plug. I wrote this report as the area filled up, emptied out, and filled up and emptied out again. The announcements were in Latvian and then English and finally in Russian.
I went to the gate and waited there until boarding time. I didn’t bother stuffing the computer into the backpack. I saw that the one carry on bag rule was being ignored by just about everyone waiting to board. I noticed I was the only one there not wearing blue jeans. This flight was closer to full than the previous one. I had an aisle seat about half way back. I closed my eyes and sort of slept during the entire hour and a half flight.
My bag was one of the first onto the baggage carousel. Why can’t all flights be like that? While waiting for the belt to start moving I changed forty Euros into Danish Kroner. I thought I would have two hours in Copenhagen and figured on finding the Trib and something to eat. I walked through nothing to declare and to the train station. I got my rail pass activated and a plan to get me to Kiel. My train to Kobenhavn H (the central train station) was leaving immediately. I had just fifteen minutes there before boarding the train to Flensburg. I didn’t find the Trib. In fact I didn’t find the newsstand. Where it and the bookstore had once stood there was now a Seven Eleven.
On the nice Danish train there was free wifi. In first class there was also free coffee, bottled water, crackers and mandarin oranges. I worked on the report for the final day of the festival. I also checked emails and got the Times up and the Washington Monthly. I worked the Green Tortoise bus and the Emtpy Space Theater into the report. I had it ready to post and lost the wifi and then lost most of the pictures I’d added. Then I had to get off the train and move to a forward car in order to get to Flensburg. I didn’t want to close the computer and possibly again lose my work so I carried it open with the two strap bags on one shoulder and dragging the roller bag. On the platform it was drizzling. I figured the computer could stand a little drizzle. I got seated again in first class and got the wifi back. I then got all the pictures back and went to post the report and again lost wifi. Before I could get it posted the train ran out of range of the signal. At least I could then read the Washington Monthly which was a scroll page as opposed to the Times click on the stories page.
At Flensburg I just missed the train to Kiel that would have got me there just past seven. Instead I had an hour to kill. In America I probably could have found free wifi. That is still a ways off in Europe. If I’d felt really ambitious I could have hoofed it into town and used a computer in the library to post my report. Instead I went into the cafe and had a great big bratworst. I was really hungry. I’d done a whole lot of running around since my curtailed breakfast at 6:00am.
The next train was a no frills German local train. It had a tiny first class area whose only attribute was it usually would be found empty. The trip to Kiel would be just over an hour. It always surprises me to walk through the modern train station at Kiel. The project to complete it had taken years. For year after year I had trudged though the construction mess on muddy plywood paths between temporary plywood walls . At Kiel I was met by Elisabeth Saggau. She had the key for Karsten’s flat. I had done the English subtitles for her documentary A Synagogue For Bad Segeberg. The premiere will be in Kiel on March 27. I’ll be there.
Karsten had left heat on in the flat. I finally got my report posted. It had been a long day. I went to sleep with no thoughts of bed bugs.