Sleepless in Anaheim

Woke up after only three hours of sleep. I tried to fall back asleep, but only succeeded half way. My body seemed to sleep, but my brain didn’t; I lay in bed listening to the even breathing, my own, wondering if this was the way my laptop felt when I put it to sleep when in truth it didn’t and sort of overheated instead. For two hours I tried, then finally gave up on sleep. After all, it was 5:30PM back home, not at all time to sleep (um, yet…). Damn jetlag!

They say everything is bigger in the States. I had yet to see for my own eyes, since this is my first trip to this continent. And yes. Everything is. Starting with the airports with their shuttles and such, and coffee mugs and wheelchairs (I saw more wheelchairs at the Chicago O’Hare airport than on any airport ever before) and ending with, say, our car and the hotel rooms. Seriously! I have two king? queen? jack? -whatever-double-sized beds in my room! For me, myself and I and my ego. Maybe we all fit ;) And the car? Ok, can thank my colleague for that, but hey, a Yukon XL GMC for the three of us traveling together!

We started our journey yesterday; around 11 in the morning we went to the airport at Helsinki. Or Vantaa of course, but anyhow. I changed some cash, we answered all those questions, checked in and went through security. And decided to have a bottle of champagne for the four of us (as we encountered a friend of my colleague on the way there). So strawberries and champagne it was, but as we were about to go have a bite of something real before the 9,5h flight, we were already summoned to the gate. So off we went, through another security check, I got some water and m&m’s and roasted nuts from the taxfree, and then to the gate.

The nine hour flight, plus an hour or so of delay before takeoff, went surprisingly fast. The airplane was a stingy one to be flying such long over the Atlantic flights, if you ask me, but despite being a bit crammed, I managed to survive the first flight without major pain, or ass or legs or anything (including my head, unfortunately) falling asleep. Approaching Chicago we circled over Lake Michigan for a good while before being allowed to land. And yes, as I already knew, even the lakes are bigger in the U.S. And the surface was like the underside of aluminum foil, glistening in matt silver. What’s with that? Otherwise the nature was much like at home, forests of lush trees with flecks of foliage here and there. And the weather rainy.

At Chicago O’Hare we were faced with the immigration desks. I’m kinda glad I’ve already got my fingerprints back on my right hand (after burning the three forefingers at Tinos); the guy behind the desk didn’t exactly look like one I would have liked to start explaining why I lack prints on the other hand. Anyway, after grunting some questions anyway, of course, he stamped me forward and we went for our luggage. Another security check, baggage drop for the connecting flight to LA, air shuttle (on rails) to terminal 3 and we were good to have some dinner.

We ate some chinese and salad at the fast food area before proceeding to our gates. One of us was flying the 45min. later flight to LA than me and my colleague, except that as it turned out, our flight was late, and our companion made it to LA first. Slightly. By the time I was on that second plane, I was pretty damn tired. Our flight was already almost an hour late for boarding, and still we sat in the plane for what seemed like forever before the plane took off. I dozed off somewhere before the runway and missed take off completely, so when I woke up, startled by the irritating bursts of laughter that went on behind us for the whole four hours of flying, I was at first wondering why we still were just taxiing, like, wasn’t it supposed to be an airplane, not a bus?! Until I realized that we were, in fact, airborne, and almost half way into the flight.

That four hours was a pain, already. My butt was constantly asleep, I couldn’t find a good position, I fell in and out of sleep, irritated by that couple watching some comedy series on the row right behind us, and having no sense of courtesy or, I dunno, anything around them! I mean, it was the only sound besides the humming of the jet engines (which I at some point of drousiness thought had gone out and was building a panic attack until I swallowed and noticed that it was simply my ears had been clogged) – the whole planefull of people was trying to sleep and those darn insensitive morons were laughing out loud like they were alone in their own living room. Yep, the nearly 20 hours of traveling at that point had worn out all tolerance.

In LA we got our luggage and stepped out to a lukewarm evening, the temperature still somewhere around 20C though it was past 10PM here. At home it was already dawn, so no wonder my brain kept telling me all the time it was morning and I was craving for some coffee. So when we got to the car rental, in a shuttle, I got a coffee from the Starbucks coffee machine and stepped out to the warm California evening to enjoy my morning, um, evening! coffee and a smoke while the guys took care of getting our huge-ass automobile. As soon as they figured out where the gear shift stick was (an auto-shift of course, but you still got to get it to reverse and drive from park ;) ), we came driving to Anaheim. It was about midnight by that time, and the freeways were still teeming with cars.

While it did seem on the way here that the city (or its surroundings) never sleeps, the hotel Starbucks was in fact closed, so we asked the gal at the reception desk instructions to the nearest 7-Eleven. We were sort of hungry. Just around the corner, she said. But I guess we took a wrong turn at the corner, for we didn’t find the 7-Eleven. So we decided on the always-open Denny’s and had a late night “snack” (yep, the food is bigger here too…) there. I mean, it was just about lunch time back home!

And now it’s morning here, finally. Three hours was all the sleep my confused brain granted me. Now I’m sitting in my oversized bed, wiriting a longer story about a trip over the Atlantic than no one will ever care to read, and sipping water that costs 6 bucks per liter, for it was the only bottled water available (we need to find that 7-Eleven today and get some decently priced water). The sky’s clear outside and the temperature estimate for the day is around 30C. Not bad. Maybe I’ll take a shower, go to the Starbucks donwstairs for a coffee and take my camera for an initial walk while waiting for the guys to wake up too.

[Pics from the trip]

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