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Back to the US… again

So it has been a while since my last blog post. I’ve kept busy with my political organization, as well as planning our family trip to Portland, OR and Seattle, WA over Easter. But now I’m back in Norway and intend to stay here for a while. Until I fly somewhere else next month πŸ™‚

Flying to Portland was awesome. I was upgraded on all flights except from the last flight coming back to Kristiansand from Copenhagen. Which I’d say is a pretty good deal. One flight in coach, that I can take πŸ˜‰

Our flights were
March 25, 2013
WF262 Kristiansand-Copenhagen, Dash 8 Q400 (Business class, seat 07A)
SK943 Copenhagen-Chicago, Airbus A330-300 (Economy extra, seat 18H)

March 26, 2013
UA1585 Chicago-Portland,OR, Boeing B737-900 (EconomyPlus, seat 08A)

April 2, 2013
UA640 Portland-Chicago, Boeing 757-200 (EconomyPlus, seat 07D)
SK944 Chicago-Copenhagen, Airbus A340-300 (Business class, seat 04A)

April 3, 2013
WF277 Copenhagen-Kristiansand, Dash 8 Q400 (Economy, seat 11A)

My parents got upgraded to business class as well on SK944 from Chicago to Copenhagen and we all felt very awake and fresh as we landed in Copenhagen.

In Oregon we had a great time. We visited Salem, the state capital, drove to Seaside, drank locally brewed beers, drove around the Olympia national park, took the ferry from Kingston, WA to Edmonds, WA. Drove to Seattle. Got a little lost in the city of one-way streets but with me reading the map and navigating we got back on track. My family and I also had dinner with Karlene Petitt and her husband. We visited the Boeing Assembly Building, which is the largest building in the world by volume. The Museum of Flight on Boeing Field was also visited. I met up with a Boeing engineer who will come to Norway and work this summer, at the Museum of Flight. We had a lot of fun looking at the exhibits.

Getting our cravings for aviation satisfied for a while, we headed south to Portland via the I-5. Before the sun set, we visited the Multnomah falls. Beautiful place!
We stayed the last two nights in Portland, where we “kept it weird” πŸ™‚ Tuesday, I met up with Alesa and had coffee before I headed to the airport.

We left Portland for Chicago and via Copenhagen, SAS took us safely home Wednesday afternoon.
See you soon again, America πŸ™‚

– Cecilie

Mileage Run

Sometimes frequent flyers are a few miles short of re-qualifying for their elite status. This was the case for me this time, but with a trip to Frankfurt, I secured my EBG (SAS Eurobonus Gold) status for another year, until December 2015 πŸ™‚

“A mileage run is a trip for the sole purpose of earning frequent-flier miles; a trip to absolutely anywhere at all assuming that the fare is cheap enough so that the miles balance out the cost”

Source
So I decided to purchase a youth fare with SAS to Frankfurt. My routing was like this, Sunday, February 17, 2013:

KRS-CPH-FRA-CPH-KRS

The big bonus; I got to ride the MD82 CPH-FRA-CPH which is an aircraft type SAS is getting rid of within the year and replacing it with the newer and more fuel efficient A320NEOs and 737-800s. I will sure miss the quietness in the first few rows of that aircraft.

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SE-DIK (MD-82) parked in FRA, ready for the flight back to CPH.

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The flight attendants thought I was nuts when they saw me board the same plane back to Copenhagen after barely 50 minutes on the ground in Frankfurt. They recognized me as I boarded and greeted me by name and said they wondered who Ms Larsen was, who was on SK675 and would also be on SK676 back to CPH. When I sat down in my seat, 07A (same seat I had on the way down) two of the flight attendants came over to me and asked questions about mileage running. Apparently, they had never heard of such a thing before.

During the inflight service, the purser apologized to me that she couldn’t remember if I wanted milk and sugar with my tea. πŸ˜‰

Thank you SAS, good flight, good service, and a renewed EBG-status πŸ™‚

Florida – getting there

Getting to Florida is kind of a long haul for me. My trip started Saturday, January 12 with a train ride from Arendal to Oslo, where I checked in to the Radisson Blu Oslo Airport Hotel which is literally as close to the airport terminal as you can get. Very conveniently located hotel. Grabbed a pizza from the airport and headed to bed.

Next morning, Sunday January 13, started early in the A.M. People next door were playing music very loudly. At 4am I could not sleep anymore and decided to start to get ready, though my flight wasn’t until 11 am and I didn’t plan to go over to the airport until 9. Well, no rush, and after getting ready, I went down to grab some breakfast. A lot of flight crews stay at this hotel, and I saw many first officers and captains eating breakfast before a long day at work. One day….

I headed over to the airport terminal to check in. United had representatives checking passports and ESTAs separately from check-in/ bag drop. United Premier Access Priority tags were put on the two bags I checked in, and I was handed boarding passes for both my flight to Newark and my connecting flight to Orlando. Security was a breeze, as I had access to the dedicated Fast Track security lane.

A funny thing I have to mentioned, it really wasn’t too funny until I returned to Norway, but I met a girl I went to high school with at the airport in Oslo. She was headed to Tenerife with some friends. More on that later, though πŸ˜‰

After passing through security, I walked through the duty free shop, took the stairs up one level and entered the SAS Scandinavian/Business lounge. In my humble opinion, it is a good lounge with a decent selection of food, drinks and after 0100 pm also liquors (stupid Norwegian laws lol)

OSL lounge

View from the Star Alliance Gold/First class lounge in Oslo. Looking towards the domestic pier of OSL.

Scheduled departure time was set to 11.15a and boarding started around 10.30a. Today’s flight to Newark, United flight 39, would be operated by the Boeing 757-200 (ex-CO) registration N57111 (Ship #3111) – a fifty-seven first delivered to Continental in 1994. I quickly located my seat on row 22, which really isn’t the 22nd row, because United is trying to standardize exit rows as 20 and 21. So my row was the first row after the exit row, and also the first row in economy class. The seats in front are 45 Economy Plus seats and 16 international BusinessFirst lie flat seats.There are a total of 108 seats in (wh)Y.

N57111 - ready to go to Newark as UA39

N57111 – ready to go to Newark as UA39. Love the sound of those Rolls Royce engines spooling up for take off.

Being Star Gold and flying United, I’m in boarding group 2. Group 1 is people with special assistance, military and Global Services (the top tier within United’s Mileage Plus program, by invitation only) , as well as First class.Β  Group 2 is business class passengers, United Plat’s and Gold and Star Alliance Gold. I was one of the first ones onboard in the economy cabin and I found my aisle seat and got seated. I figured the flight would be very full, judged by the quick glance I got of the boarding waiting area, and the seats surely filled up. Eventually a guy approached my row and told me he had the window seat. I got up and let him get to his seat. When “boarding completed” was announced, the middle seat between us was not taken. I think it was the only seat not taken in the economy cabin. Intentional or not from the gate agent, it is certainly something I value a lot when flying long international flights in economy/whY.

Well, once comfortably seated, the International Service Manager (a really funny guy) announced that he hoped Newark was in our travel plans, as this flight was a non-stop service to Newark Liberty International Airport. He said we would push back from the gate early, after the fan blades in the engines had been defrosted (freezing fog in Oslo this morning) and we then would head over to de-ice before take off.

Uh. Or not. Approaching the scheduled departure time, we were still at the gate. Turned out the cargo had been loaded too far aft in the cargo compartment, and that they had to move some of it to the front. An operation that took close to 25 minutes. Alright, once the cargo was in the right place, we were ready to go. We pushed back, stopped, then the Engine #2 started. I was anticipating the start of Engine #1.. Which never came. Then #2 spooled down and the Captain announced they couldn’t start #1. Sort of an issue when you want to cross the Atlantic.

Back to the gate, a mechanic got on board, did his magic, left, and we pushed again. This time both engines started and we could set off to the west!

Take off was interesting. I noticed they spooled the engines, with brakes applied, a lot more than usual. I’m sure it had something to do with the engine #1 not starting properly and the Captain would make sure that everything was running smoothly.

Once in the air, 90 minutes late, we were served meal number one. I got the chicken. I don’t trust the beef option on board airplanes.

Chicken

Chicken

I watched “The Campaign”, listened to music and read a little. When we approached the Labrador Strait, we encountered some mild turbulence that pretty much lasted for the remainder of the flight. It was so bumpy at times I had a hard time holding my book straight so I could read lol.

IMG_0581

Legroom back in whY :P

Legroom back in whY πŸ˜›

We landed 50 minutes late in EWR, I hurried out of the airplane and ran towards the immigration hall in Terminal C. To my big surprise, it was EMPTY, making the process a lot better. And I still had a chance to catch my connecting flight down to Orlando in.. Well, 1 hour. After a few questions, my passport got its stamp and I could head down stairs for the baggage claim. The bags took forever, I must have waited close to 20 minutes before any bags showed up on the belt. Luckily my two bags were among the first bags (Note to self: priority tags in EWR have worked 3/3 times) and I got through customs and to the baggage re-check area. I literally just dropped my bags on the floor by a United employee and ran to the nearest security check point. Having Premier Access with United this Sunday afternoon was not really a benefit, as the P.A lane in security was sooo long. I think only Star Golds flew out of EWR that day lol.
Well, I got through, got scanned by the TSA and started the looong stroll to my gate. In the other end of the terminal. Great.

I made it to the gate just as they announced the gate was closing. The gate agent asked me if I was the passenger connecting from Oslo, which I confirmed. I asked her if my bags would make it on the flight, which she assured me they would. I thanked her, scanned my boarding pass and got on the plane.

The flight to Orlando, UA1262, was operated by the Boeing 737-900 N37408 (Ship #3708)
It was delivered to Continental back in 2001.
The plane was almost empty back in whY and the flight attendant said I could just pick any seat. I originally had 22F, but there was a guy in 22D so I decided not to bother him and took 23F and had the entire row for my self.

On the ground in EWR, just pushed back from the gate and ready to go to Orlando.

On the ground in EWR, just pushed back from the gate and ready to go to Orlando. And I see a familiar face (tail)

After departure I snapped some photos of an awesome sunset and fell asleep.

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On approach to MCO

On approach to MCO

We landed on RWY18L and taxiied to the gate. Once off the airplane and inside the terminal I got on the free Wifi to check emails, and then headed to baggage claim where my bags were not the first to get on the baggage belt. Business as usual in MCO with the priority tags.

The SIXT shuttle picked me up from the terminal and drove me to the off-airport location SIXT has in Orlando. It’s only a 5 minute ride but still. There was a family onboard the shuttle as well. They were Danish πŸ˜› and arrived with Lufthansa from Frankfurt. I thought that was a long wait at MCO before they got to the car rental shuttle. Lufthansa lands around 0500p and this shuttle ride was around 0800p. Hm..

Once at the car rental place, I got the keys for my rental car for the week, a Hyundai Elantra. Not as powerful as the Sonata I rented in November, but still a good, little car for me.

I decided to stay off the Interstate this late at night (I had been up for almost 24 hours, with minimal sleep on the flight down to MCO) and drove the backroads up to Lake Mary and my hotel there. The Homewood Suites by Hilton.

IMG_0605

Home, sweet home πŸ™‚

I got a take-out burger from a nearby restaurant and headed to bed. A long journey was over. A good one, but a little stressful in EWR with short connection due to the delay out of Oslo.

IMG_0606

More to come on my biennial flight review and time building later!

– Cecilie

Confessions of a Frequent Flyer

At the end of the year, I feel it is appropriate to sum up my year, with regards to travels and flying.

Near the end of 2011, I set a goal for myself “I will fly each month of the year” – a goal that seemed impossible at first, but as the year progressed, it turned out I wasn’t far from my goal at all.

Well, the goal was actually spoiled in January already, when I didn’t fly at all. But how did the rest of the year turn out for me?

C172

Preflighting N96557 (C172)

As a grand total, I had 40 flights (+ 1 General Aviation (GA) flight in a Cessna Skyhawk 172SP), flying more than 79 000 km (49 000 mi.) A total “air time” of 122 hours (or more than 5 days straight) on board an airplane, I’m happy with what I got to see and do.

February

I had to go to Florida to keep my Instrument Rating current, and my mom decided to come with me. Or rather, it is impossible to rent a car or get a hotel room unless you’re 21 or older. So my mom was my chauffeur and buddy for this trip.

Our itinerary was Kristiansand (KRS) – Oslo (OSL) – Munich (MUC) – New York (JFK) – Tampa (TPA) – Boston (BOS) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Oslo (OSL) – Kristiansand (KRS) and was flown with a mix of Scandinavian Airlines, Lufthansa and jetBlue.

With regards to frequent flyer miles for my SAS Eurobonus card, this trip was a disaster. Economy class (booking class K) with Lufthansa only gave me 25% of the flown miles, you don’t earn miles on domestic flights in Norway and jetBlue was definitely out of the equation, even though they have an interline agreement with Lufthansa. So I ended up with a total of 2500 points/miles for the entire trip. But I won’t complain too much, it was a cheap fare.

That being said, Lufthansa was “as expected” on the transatlantic legs, and intra-european they were decent. We were lucky to get a refurbished A321 from OSL to MUC, the “NEK” (die Neue Europa Kabine = the new Europe Cabin)

The A321 NEK The seats are VERY slim, but for a 2 hour flight it worked out OK.

The A321 NEK
The seats are VERY slim, but for a 2 hour flight it worked out OK.
The colors used are a bit boring, if you ask me though. Throw in some blue or yellow!

A 3-class (First, Business and Economy) A340-300 brought us from MUC to JFK, where we exited the airplane extremely early, thanks to our seats being on the first row of economy, right behind business class. That only means one thing when arriving in America – NO line in immigration. We were through in a split second.

An Airbus 320 from jetBlue awaited us in JFK, and took us down to Tampa, and back to Boston 2 weeks later. I was happy with the on board product that jetBlue offers, especially the Direct TV. It was free, from what I remember, which is better than what you get on United where it’s only free for a little while.

Jetblue

The jetBlue A320 parked in Tampa, getting ready for the flight up to Boston

In Boston, we boarded the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747-400, this individual being built in 1989! Old lady.

GVIIY meets DABTB

Cecilie 747

Smart-me: During check-in, I asked for a window seat for me and an aisle seat for my mom. Turned out no one wanted the middle seat between us, so we had plenty of space to actually get some sleep.

No personal entertainment system on this old lady. Which I really didn't care about, the scheduled BLOCK time (brakes off to brakes on) was an amazing 5hrs55min - I don't think I have ever crossed the Atlantic THAT fast before!

No personal entertainment system on this old lady. Which I really didn’t care about, the scheduled BLOCK time (brakes off to brakes on) was an amazing 5hrs55min – I don’t think I have ever crossed the Atlantic THAT fast before!

March

Well, technically, the return trip from Florida was in March too, but it was part of a trip that started in February so I’ll leave it like that.

The week after I came home from Florida, it was time to get going again. This time to Seattle!

My itinerary was like this: Oslo (OSL) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Seattle (SEA) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Oslo (OSL) – Kristiansand (KRS)

The flights OSL-FRA-OSL-KRS were all operated by SAS, and the flights to and from Frankfurt were in business class. Now, intra-european business class is nothing fancy, you get a blocked middle seat, giving you more space, and a hot meal. That’s really it. But it was a fun experience nonetheless. From Frankfurt to Seattle and back, I had the pleasure of flying in business class with Lufthansa on their A330-300.
I had a great seat, I was served good food and got plenty of rest in the comfortable seat (though it doesn’t recline 180 degrees)

LH-J-1

3301

White table cloth before meal service began! I definitely approve this way of traveling πŸ™‚

3302

My longest, to date, flight. 5100 miles one way. Block time of close to 11 hours. But it was worth it!

seattle

I had 26 hours in Seattle.. The first thing I wanted to see was the first location of Starbucks. This is where it all began!

space needle

I went to the top of the Space Needle, too! Breathtaking views from up there.

seattle2

Aaaand, I got to meet the Dreamliner! What an awesome experience!

Upon returning to Frankfurt from Seattle, I had access to the Lufthansa Welcome Lounge, for a well-needed shower!

Upon returning to Frankfurt from Seattle, I had access to the Lufthansa Welcome Lounge, for a well-needed shower!

Frequent flyer-wise, this trip was a bargain! For 10 000 NOK (approx 1800 USD) I got a round trip in business class, 11 000 miles traveled. Since the fare was booked in the booking class Z with Lufthansa, they give you 200% of the miles flown, leaving me with 22 000 frequent flyer miles and hitting the SAS Eurobonus (and Star Alliance) Silver tier. My frequent flyer card changed its color for the first time in my life. But this was just the beginning…

April

No travels in April, unfortunately 😦

May

Washington D.C!

Scandinavian Airlines all the way! Kristiansand (KRS) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Washington DC (IAD) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Kristiansand (KRS) for a weekend was the perfect get-away.

A mix of the Dash 8 Q400 and the A340-300 took me to the American capital and back. The weekend in DC was incredibly warm, and I tried my best to fill it with interesting stuff to see. Arlington National Cemetery, the White House, a tour of the US Capitol, the US Holocaust museum, the Smithsonian Air and Space museum, the Museum of Natural History, eating sushi at the best sushi restaurant in DC (supposedly, and it really was amazing), Washington Memorial, WWII memorial, eating strawberries on a bench on Lafayette Square.. It was just perfect, in every way πŸ™‚

Some photos of my trip to D.C can be found HERE

On the return leg of my trip, I decided to spend some miles on an upgrade from economy to economy extra, which was well worth the price of 10000 miles. I got a better seat and a better meal.

I cashed in 10000 miles on this trip, including the Silver status bonus of an extra 15% on flights operated by SAS (or Blue1 or WiderΓΈe)

June

June was a good month when it came to flying. It started with a mileage run to Madrid. A mileage run is a set of flights you take, and the sole purpose is to collect miles. My route was Kristiansand (KRS) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Madrid (MAD) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Kristiansand (KRS)

Madrid

Yes, I did a day trip to Madrid.

In security in Kristiansand, I handed my boarding card to the security agent who said “Wow, that’s a lot of flights” – without further questions I headed to Madrid via Copenhagen on the Dash 8 Q400 and then the MD82.

Upon disembarking the MD82 in Madrid, I said good bye to the flight and cabin crew, like any other civilized passenger would do. Little did they know that I would board the same aircraft with the same crew in about 30 minutes.

More on the Madrid-trip can be found HERE

This itinerary left me with 5750 frequent flyer miles, a good pay for a day’s work if you ask me πŸ™‚

But June isn’t over yet. Later in the month I visited my friend Ryan in England. My flights were:
Kristiansand (KRS) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Manchester (MAN) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Kristiansand (KRS) on the Dash 8 Q400, MD82, A319 and Dash 8 Q400 respectively.

I had a wonderful few days in Yorkshire filled with airplane spotting at MAN, eating breakfast next to the Concorde, visiting many historical sites, drinking multiple (I think I stopped counting after the 4th….) JΓ€ger bombs with my buddy Ricky and just having a great time!

A few words on my England trip and some photos as well, can be found in THIS blog from June.

Upon landing back in KRS, I had earned 2300 frequent flyer miles, which was enough to get SAS Eurobonus (Star Alliance) Gold status!

July

It was time to travel again! This time to one of my favorite cities, Berlin. I have a friend who lives there so visiting her is something I really enjoy as well.

This was the first time I would travel as a SAS Gold member, and therefore I booked long connections in Copenhagen, just to enjoy the airport lounges a little more.

My itinerary was like this: Kristiansand (KRS) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Berlin-Tegel (TXL) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Kristiansand (KRS)

As usual, the flights between KRS and CPH were operated by the Dash 8 Q400.

Dash 8 Q400

Dash 8 Q400

On the flight from Copenhagen to Berlin I was upgraded from economy to business class. My first trip with SAS after I became gold, and I get an upgrade! How awesome is that!? Seated in row 4 on the MD82, I could barely hear the engines spool up during take off or during climb out. So quite up front. I’ve heard MD80-pilots say they are honestly concerned if the engines are really running during flight. There is no way they can tell by just listening. I don’t blame them, those aircrafts are so comfortable to travel with.

Berlin was wonderful as always, and it was great to spend some time there with my friend.

The trip gave me 3750 frequent flyer miles.

August

As a treat for my self for my birthday, I booked a trip to Frankfurt (FRA) airport, with a night’s stay at the Hilton Frankfurt Airport. You can read more about my trip to Frankfurt HERE , HERE and HERE

My itinerary for this trip was Kristiansand (KRS) – Oslo (OSL) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Copenhagen (CPH) – Kristiansand (KRS)

I was actually upgraded to economy extra on the return from FRA to CPH, which was a nice touch from SAS. πŸ™‚

3125 miles for this trip.

September

Nothing….

October

Nada…

November

NEW YORK AND FLORIDA!

I have written about this trip HERE but I will give you a summary of my trip here:

KRS-OSL 737 Economy class
OSL-EWR A330 Economy class

EWR-CLT A320 Economy class

CLT-MCO B762 First Class

MCO-EWR B737 Economy class

EWR-CPH A330 Economy class

CPH-KRS Dash 8 Q400 Economy class

12325 points for this trip which puts me in a good position for renewing my gold status with SAS in 2013.

December

Nothing…

So, there you go, my flying year 2012. It has been a remarkable year and I can’t wait to get started on my travels for 2013.

Wishing you all a prosperous, healthy and aviation-filled New Year!

Best wishes
Cecilie

Reunited (and united) with family and friends in the Empire State

As mentioned in the previous update on my blog, dated November 6, me and my brother traveled south to Florida instead of visiting family in the states of New Jersey and New York due to the storm Sandy. We had a great time down south, enjoying the nice weather, great local food and visiting friends. Friday November 9th, it was time to head up north.

After a wonderful few days in the Sunshine State, it was time to say goodbye for now. We returned our rental car the night before our flight, and got to our hotel where we repacked everything (my brother is crazy when it comes to shopping!) and got to bed early. Wake up was set to 03.20 am…

0600am-flights should be banned. But until that law goes into effect, we had one of those to catch from MCO to EWR.

We got to MCO, checked in, in the United Premier Access lane (we do have some benefits as frequent flyers) and got all our 4 (!) bags checked in to our destination, Newark, free of charge. I thought we only were entitled to 3 free checked bags with United, but I wasn’t going to argue with them.

MCO is the most typical vacation destination I can think of. Even when we landed in MCO a few days earlier, they welcomed us to Disney World, even though that was not anywhere near where we had planned on going. A typical vacation destination means tons of families traveling with oversized carry-ons, kids, toys +++ That creates this huge line in security, but we went to the premier access line for security because of my frequent flyer gold status and we were through the check within minutes. Nice touch and something my brother appreciated (he does not have any status with any airline but enjoyed the same benefits as I did when travelling with me)

MCO is nothing fancy, but an OK airport to go through in my opinion. It has a good layout and is easy to navigate. Not plenty of places to grab something to eat in the morning, but that’s that..

0530 am and it was time to board the 737 bound for Newark-EWR. Flight was OK but I was sick with the cold and my ears kept popping all the way to Newark which was a pain, but I survived. Never had that happen to me before though, so rather unusual.

Climbing out from MCO RWY36R enroute EWR

We arrived on-time in Newark and after disembarking the airplane we headed straight for baggage claim where our bags were already on the conveyor belt when we arrived! The priority tags apparently work on EWR (as opposed to MCO where our priority tagged bags were almost the last ones on the belt)

When we had picked up our bags we saw two of my mom’s cousins, Karen and Roberta, coming to meet us! Wonderful to see them both again! We headed for the car where we started our drive to their home in Jefferson, New Jersey. It was about an hour drive and when we got to their house we were greeted by Karen’s husband, Tommy. All very nice people! We played a little with my cousin Annie’s, 3-year-old son before my other cousin, Molly showed up! We had lunch together, and Tommy made the most wonderful hamburgers with salad. We had homemade chicken soup and cakes as well. We didn’t leave the house hungry, that’s for sure πŸ™‚

Later in the evening we went to eat at the restaurant where Karen works. Molly, my brother and I then headed to Morristown which is on the way to Newark where we had a hotel reservation for the night. In Morristown we met up with Molly’s cousin, Kristi. Me and Kristi, however, are not related, because I’m related with Molly via my grandmother who was Molly’s grandfather Andy’s first cousin, while Kristi and Molly are related through Molly’s grandmother, who married Andy. Family relations are easier to figure out when you have a family tree to look at haha.

In Morristown we had a few drinks before we headed to Hilton Newark Airport.

The Hilton Newark Airport property is OK for an airport hotel. Rooms were rather spacious and we had a “great view” of the Budweiser factory near the airport. I’m HHonors Gold, and therefore had the option to choose between 1000 extra points or free breakfast. I opted for the latter. They had a small gym that me and my brother went to in the morning the next day. We upgraded our breakfast for $4 per person (the free breakfast voucher was only for continental breakfast, for $4 extra we got the full buffet)
Parking was $12 overnight which is nothing compared to what we had to pay for at the Hilton New York (more on that later..)

Around 11 am we headed for the city. New York City.

Crossing under the Hudson River via the Lincoln Tunnel, rolling down the window of Molly’s car and look up at those crazy, big, huge, tall buildings. It was breathtaking, to say the least. A sky scraper in Norway is a building that has more than 6 floors. You can only imagine how entering New York City was quite the experience for me!

We parked the car in the hotel garage, after navigating NYC’s endless “One way”-roads. Molly did a great job πŸ™‚

Our hotel room wasn’t ready yet, but we left our baggage on a trolley and stored it at the hotel, and decided to start touring the city without checking in. We headed for the nearest subway station where we got a 7-day unlimited pass for $29. Our first destination was Brooklyn and the Bay Ridge area. Before we could get there, we had to change the subway twice because they suddenly announced “next station – last stop” and we hadn’t even gotten to Lower Manhattan yet! But we made it. After disembarking the subway on 4th Ave 77th St in Brooklyn, we walked down 4th to 80th St where we found the current location for the church where my great grandmother was baptized in 1912.

Our Saviours Lutheran Church in Brooklyn
Established in 1866 on Manhattan, moved to Henry Street in Brooklyn later in the century, moved to the current location in the 1930s.

We then walked up 3rd avenue to 69th street where we found this little deli

You can read more about the Nordic Deli store here

We were thinking of having lunch at the deli, but lack of sitting areas brought us across the street to a sushi restaurant were we had delicious sushi πŸ™‚

After eating food with sticks we headed to 59th Street via subway. We walked a couple of blocks until we got to where we wanted, on 59th Street between 7th and 8th Ave.

59th Street Lutheran Brethren Church. The exact church my grandmother, who passed away last year on 9/11, was baptized in 1930.

After a little look of the church building we noticed a guy sitting on the steps of what looked like an apartment in conjunction with the church. He asked “Are you from Norway?” Yes we are, we replied. (In retrospect, we were the only people with blonde hair and blue eyes around, making the guessing simple for him, since the other people around were Chinese.) Turned out the guy was the Youth Pastor in the church and that his heritage traced back to a town here in Norway, not too far away from my home, either! He showed us around, told us the history of the church and the area, how Brooklyn was THE place to be for Norwegian Americans, and how it has slowly turned in to a more Asian district of New York. Until the 1980s they had church services in Norwegian, while now they have it in English and Chinese.
We got to go inside and have a look as well!

After the tour of the church we took the subway to Times Square for some photos. On our way from the subway and to Times Square, we grabbed some coffee from Starbucks. Their Chai Latte is superb, if you ask me. Perfectly spiced and sweet.

My brother, Molly and me.
Photo compliments of random tourist πŸ™‚

Photo compliments of Molly πŸ™‚

Tested the panorama function on my iPhone. Turned out pretty cool, don’t you think?

Time to get going back to the hotel and check in. Changed to some different clothing and we were ready for what this Saturday night had in store for us. My brother went to a party at the Alex hotel with our neighbor from Norway who is in the Navy and was in NYC for Veterans Day. Molly and I thought we were going to a restaurant near the hotel, but when we met up with Karlene down in the hotel lobby, it turned out we were picked up by Jeremy and Natan in a white limousine and driven out on Long Island to Natan’s house for the Flight For Control book event! Sushi in the shape of an airplane, magic and great friends made this a wonderful Saturday night I will remember for a very long time!

I’d like to thank Natan’s family for having us that night. Very nice people who even opened their home during the storm Sandy for those who were out of power and water.

Limo on our way back to the Hilton New York hotel, too!

Sunday morning we had breakfast together with Karlene before she had to non-rev back to Seattle from JFK. Molly, my brother and I then headed to Grand Central station to meet up with some cousins on my grandfather’s side. I have never met them before, but I’ve met their uncles and aunts in Norway, and visited one of their aunts in Florida many times.

We got on the subway and went down to Ground Zero. We wanted to go into the 9/11 memorial, and was told it would be about an hour wait. That 1 hour turned into 2 hours, but we spent the time in line getting to know each other, some time passed by rather quickly.

Kinda dark, but it’s me, my brother and Molly in front of the Freedom Tower, which is actually designed by a Norwegian design company.

Once inside the 9/11 memorial, I couldn’t really (and still can’t) fathom how many people actually lost their lives that horrifying day, and how many families have been directly affected by the twin terror attacks. The memorial itself was peaceful, in a sense, with falling water, grass areas, trees, almost like a nice little park. Though that exact area was so very far from peaceful as you can imagine, September 11, 11 years ago.

My brother and I together with our cousin Meaghan

After the memorial, we went to a local burger restaurant and had lunch. I ordered a beer (Stella Artois, for the history records) but to my big dissapointment, I wasn’t asked to show I.D. Great, and I waited 21 years for this?

After the burgeres were consumed, we walked to Wall Street and took a subway up to Rockefeller Center where we had tickets to visit Top of the Rock, the top of Rockefeller center, located on the 67th-69th floors.

Jens-Christian, me, Mary, Kevin, Molly & Meaghan on the Top of the Rock, Empire State building is seen behind us.

After taking the elevator down again, it was almost time for my cousins from upstate NY to head home. We got cupcakes from the Magnolia Bakery and then Molly, JC and I decided to purchase tickets for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular from a guy on a street corner. We said our good-byes to our cousins from upstate and got into the Radio City Music Hall.

The show was amazing, and so was my company and the drinks from the Delta 360 Sky Lounge too! Delta Air Lines, along with Chase and Norwegian Cruise Lines, are this year’s Christmas Spectacular sponsors.

We got dinner from a trolley outside the hotel, really good food to be honest! Then we went to bed, our legs tired from all the walking!

Next morning, we headed to Central Park after breakfast to go for a walk in the park. When we saw a horse carriage, we decided to rest our legs for a little while, while taking the horse carriage around Central Park!

After that, we went to the Museum of Modern Art where the famous painting “The Scream” is on display this fall and winter. Painted by the Norwegian painter Edward Munch.

It was getting close to noon and time for lunch. My brother loves the ribs at Hard Rock Cafe, so the to the HRC we went! Nice restaurant right on Times Square. After a delicious meal we headed back to the hotel in a yellow taxi, packed our stuff (we requested a late check-out which was granted earlier that morning) and headed for the car. The price for parking the car for two days in the garage was $142. Can you believe that?

Traffic jam down 9th Ave on our way to EWR, and the planned 20-minute ride took 1 hour and 20 minutes. 17 miles. But we made it in time to check in and off we went through the priority lane for security (once again, I love the frequent flyer gold benefits) and to the SAS Business lounge for some snack and drinks before boarding.

The flight home was rather uneventful, but we had a 7 hour layover in Copenhagen, which was spent sleeping in a sleeping chair. Nice. I also took a shower in the lounge which is probably the best feeling in the world after a night crossing the Atlantic in an economy class seat.

Sunrise before touching down in Copenhagen after the flight from Newark (Airbus 330-300)

It was an amazing trip, and I’d like to send a special thanks to my cousin Molly who organized everything for us! Too bad the plans were shortened but we just have to come back another time!

Reuniting with Molly and her family, reuniting with my friend Karlene, finally uniting with my family from Upstate New York and pilot friends from New York – it was an honor!

Can’t wait to see you all again – SOON!

Cecilie

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