Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Flying to Sweden

On July 11th, 1977, the Sabena flight with destination Copenhagen and Stockholm left on time. As the check-in clerk had already mentioned, there were only 12 passengers for the first part of the flight. In those days, I still loved flying and I particularly enjoyed take-offs and landings. Since 9/11 I feel less comfortable about taking a plane. As far as I can remember I haven’t been on one since 1995. Not because I’m too scared, but simply because over the last 20 years I’ve mostly travelled to France, which doesn’t really require flying.

Brussels – Copenhagen takes about 50 minutes; just enough time to have a coffee and a sandwich. The stewardess having little on their hands with only 12 passengers to attend, willingly chatted with those who wanted to. I learned that more passengers were expected to board the plane during the stop-over in Copenhagen. This made me slightly nervous, as it meant that I might have to give up my seat for the flight from Copenhagen to Stockholm, as I was holding a free ticket.

When the plane landed, everybody had to get off, even the passengers for Stockholm. I was one of the three people who were travelling all the way. The nine others had Copenhagen as their destination. We were asked to wait in the transit zone. After ten minutes or so, we saw a large crowd walking up to the boarding gate. I silently hoped and prayed that there would still be room for me on that plane. I didn’t want to get stuck in Copenhagen, on standby, waiting for the next plane to Stockholm.

When boarding started, I inconspicuously slipped into the queue … When it was my turn, the gate officer gave my boarding pass a quick glance. I held my breath … “Okay.” he said, handing me back my pass. On the plane I quickly returned to the seat I had occupied earlier. The plane filled up rapidly and I still feared that some one would come up to me and claim my seat. It was only after the stewardess had firmly closed the doors and the plane had started taxiing, that I was able to relax.

Almost there ... Arlanda and Stockholm are somewhere down there.
Photo: google images

The second part of the flight took approximately one hour and ten minutes, during which drinks and nibbles were served. We were flying high above the clouds and it was only when the plane started its descent, breaking through the cloud deck that I caught my first glimpse of Sweden. We were flying over large forests of fir trees. Occasionally I saw a clearing were several roads seemed to come together. Not much later the “Fasten seatbelts” light flashed on and the plane started its slow descent towards Arlanda airport. Arlanda is the official name of Stockholm’s National airport.

The plane landed exactly on time. I was beginning to feel a bit nervous. I hadn’t seen Mats since 1974, when we were both 17 and silly teenagers. Now we were 20 and both responsible young adults. I was nervous about meeting his parents too.

I walked through customs and saw Mats waiting behind the barrier. He hadn’t changed a bit. As soon as he saw me, he hurried towards me and gave me a big hug. He took my suitcase from me and gallantly carried it to his little red car. He told me it was actually his mother’s, but that she had lend it to him to pick me up at the airport. Little did I know then that, during the next two weeks, we would travel over 3000 km in the little red car …



Nadege said...

I have only been to Finland so I can't wait to find out about Sweden.

ladybird said...

Nadege, Finland is said to be very beautiful too; 'the land of a thousand lakes' I believe it is called?!