Monday, January 10, 2011

Constructing Amusement (in Airports) 2010/2011 - a review of the last little while

So. It's been a journey, channeling a boomerang and winging myself from living in Delft, Netherlands, to Vancouver, Canada for Christmas, and then to living in Graz, Austria.

Admittedly it was difficult to wrest myself from the comforting holiday cheer of friends and family in my hometown of Vancouver BC, but here I am, despite some pretty 'amazing' events, mostly to do with airport drama. Here is the link to my flickr set called "Dramatic flying."

Yes, I too was caught in the European airport debacle of December 2010. The Netherlands was slammed with a bout of snow that crippled its train system just enough to make getting to Schiphol from Delft a little more than interesting, and once at the airport the cascade of fail delayed or canceled flights and I did not make my connection in Frankfurt.

Once in Frankfurt, as covered by BBC World News, airports were shutting down altogether and the thought of not getting home for Christmas was a scary reality I was not willing to entertain at the time. After lining up for hours and making friends along the way, I managed to get waitlisted for the next flight to Vancouver and put up in Rüsselsheim just outside of Frankfurt for the night in order to try again the next morning. The next day, I lucked out and was able to get on the flight to Vancouver and arrive only 24 hrs later than planned. Lucky compared to others who had to camp out for 3-5 days or more during that time.

The two weeks in Vancouver were great. Hitting the ground running, I was meeting with colleagues at SFU the day after arriving, looking only a -little- insane. The rest of the time was seeing the friends and family I could leading up to Christmas and New Year... not to mention pigging out on some serious Vancouver food!

And then it was time to leave. Little did I know the adventure was just beginning (again). Commence airport jargon: Right out of YVR, the flight was delayed by more than an hour on the tarmac. So I missed my connection to FRA by a few minutes in YYZ. Pretty brutal. So I got rerouted and placed on a flight to MUC 1.5 hrs later. Kudos to the YYZ crew. Then after landing in MUC, had to clear passport control and hoof it make a connection to GRZ. Didn't have a ticket printed for that one, so that took more time and so another couple and I were the last ones being bussed to the little plane destined for Graz. The climax of the journey was that this little plane landed (the important thing) but then the cabin started filling with blue smoke because something had caught fire! We all evacuated onto the tarmac relatively calmly, while the fire engines, polizei etc came around. Wasn't exactly the welcome wagon I was hoping for in Graz but at least no one was hurt.

And then, well... considering all the events, my luggage didn't have time to catch up with me so it arrived 24 hrs later. Not bad in hindsight but you can imagine at the time I was quite beside myself. ;)

The rest of the week in Graz was comparatively easy! The first week of January in Austria is taken up with New Year's and Epiphany so the city has only really gotten going today. I have been settling in with all the 'housekeeping issues,' getting to know the Institute where I will be spending the next 3 months, and getting my bearings with the rest of the city. People in general here are disarmingly friendly and always willing to help. Things are organized and logistics are pretty easy to wrap one's head around. It's as though people believe your time is valuable here and they try not to waste it. How refreshing is that?

Things are off to a good start and I think I will like it here. As I mentioned to some, it is not lost on me that securing the time and space to write and reflect (in an intellectually stimulating environment no less) is indeed a privilege. And thus commences the second chapter of my "European (dissertation) finishing school."

Here's to a smooth, productive, and ~efficient~ New Year for all!

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