-Julia Child (As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto)
I have arrived! In some way, it seems miraculous to me that this trip has happened--that it is happening as I type. This past week in Berkeley, I basically felt a mix of emotions: fatigue, agitation, worry; how was I going to manage everything? Amazingly, things fell into place (as they often do) and, despite waiting to pack until the very last minute, I think I managed to bring everything I needed. At the very least, I stocked my Kindle with the essentials: Agatha Christie mysteries, some classics, The Tiger's Wife, pdfs of important documents and, as a last minute whim, the collection of letters I quoted above. And, although Lufthansa in-flight entertainment was nothing short of amazing (I finally saw both The Artist and, unashamedly, Breaking Dawn: Part I) I was happy to read about a project that came together despite a lot of naysayers and after many years of tedious, yet enjoyable work. Plus, during the 45 minutes I actually did sleep on the 10 hour flight, I at least had the pleasure of dreaming I was a piece of veal floating in the most heavenly cream sauce imaginable--you know, rather than feeling like I was a packed sardine in an itsy-bitsy tin, i.e. the equivalent of flying economy class.
When I got off the plane in Frankfurt, I was greeted with skies that were no sunnier than those I had left in Berkeley. In fact, there were several rude awakenings in store for my exhausted body: going through customs only to have to go back through security (I at least admired the German attempts at "serving with a smile," which beats the rigidity of the TSA, an organization I would happily see stripped of all government funding). I then felt my inner-scrappy, -feisty, -cranky traveler emerging as a German woman cut me in line in the restroom. I vowed to beat her to the next available stall (Childish of me? Yes. Childish seeming to a me that had barely slept? Not in the least.), but then, as two available stalls opened--one behind me and one behind her--she ran for my stall and pushed me out of the way. I mouthed an extremely dirty expression at her, but only because I knew she wouldn't notice. We had, after all, established that I was, at least to her, invisible. Fortunately, however, I was about to stumble upon a ray of sunshine:
Complimentary coffee and tea, courtesy of Lufthansa for its passengers. It was nice to see that this service was provided for all passengers, rather than just for those who have access to some courtesy lounge. Despite the draw of my most beloved of beverages, I went the route of herbal tea--if only so I could get some much needed rest on the flight to Helsinki. Fast forward several hours and, after a lovely meal of bread with rice porridge (Karelian pasties), fruit and Finnish ice cream (I don't know how they make it so light and airy--it's like a creamy marshmallow, but I love it), I passed out. About 11 hours later, I woke only to the sun shining through the window. We had a lovely breakfast and then set out into the cold, but pleasantly sunny day.
The rest of the day was honestly one of the nicest and most relaxing Saturdays I've had in a long time. There was no chapter to worry about writing, no need to concern myself with the thought of packing or a long journey...No meetings to worry about. I just needed to avoid the ice, stay on my feet and take some photos.
We passed the sea, which, as it's about 3 C (38 F) here (it was a warm day; when my friend met me at the airport yesterday, she told me spring was almost here since so much of the snow was melting), is frozen. Some Russians (surprise, surprise) were fishing.