The Long Haul + Short Hop:
We arrived in one piece at the Austin Airport. I’m proud of that, and it’s saying something! Things were a bit tense, stressful and down to the wire despite my best efforts to be prepared. There were just too many things to do. However, our actual departure was smooth, effortless and dare I say, enjoyable. I made a pact with myself that I would not lose patience with Lincoln for the entire trip. I am happy to report I was the model of patience. Victory is mine! We’ll see how the rest of the trip plays out- small goals, baby steps.
When preparing for the trip, I spoke to Lincoln at length about only packing what he would be able to carry himself. I said multiple times that we are each responsible for our own bags, and I didn’t want him complaining about his heavy bag if he decided to pack all of his books, stuffed animals, toys, clothes, hats & shoes. He saw the error of his ways and modified his wishes accordingly. I had no idea of the long-lasting effect of my words. Upon arriving at the airport, I asked Lincoln if he wanted help with his (heavy) backpack – his response – no mom, we all haul our own stuff. A proud mama moment. He repeated that phrase a few times along the way and almost always carried his own gear.
We flew British Airways and opted for the upgraded economy seats, called World Traveler Plus. The upgrade was minimal – not like moving into business or first, but I believe it was worth it. A couple of things to note: You can’t select your seats in advance without paying another upgrade fee. You can change your assigned seats 24hrs prior to departure for free. The seats have more legroom and space and the section is smaller – only like 6-10 rows. There are footrests, full bar service, electrical outlets, noise canceling headphones, pillows, blankets, eye mask, toothbrush, earplugs & socks. We were assigned bulkhead seats with no one in front of us but also no place to store bags in front of us. It was also difficult to have what we needed overhead the whole time. Plus, for some reason, sleeping was more challenging than usual. Lincoln slept a bit, Tipton less, Bryan less and me not at all. However, I did get to watch 2.5 movies mostly uninterrupted – a rare treat!
We landed in London to sideways rain. We had to take a bus from the Tarmac to the terminal. In the rain. With bags and kids. Not ideal but not terrible. I’ve had worse. We have to go through passport control and then security again. We were told we needed to check our bags as they were too big and shouldn’t have been allowed on the previous flight either. I really had grand ideas of carrying on bags for the big flights, but we got our bags in Sweden, so no worries. However, Security in London was difficult. They didn’t like our clear plastic toiletry bags (only Tipton’s was in play at this point as the rest we were able to slip into the bags we were required to check. They made her take everything out and put it into another plastic bag. Then one of the guys spent a very long time looking at her toothpaste. Also, all of the smaller electronics (Kindles, IPads, and Nooks) had to be taken out and put into separate bins. Then Lincoln & Tipton set off the metal detectors and had to be patted down and tested for explosives. Still, no harm done, no flights missed, no items confiscated. We moved onto the next phase.
We had about a 2hr layover before our 2.5 hrs flight to Stockholm. We snacked and refreshed and headed to the gate. The short hop was delayed due to the driving rain, but we still made the trip in about 2hrs due to a fantastic tailwind. We arrived, passed through passport control, collected our bags and were lucky enough that customs was closed. Caught a Taxi and headed to the hotel. An hour later we finally arrived!
We are staying at Scandic Hotel Malmen. It is centrally located, has a restaurant & bar and has clean rooms. The breakfast is included with the room rate and is amazing – complete with plenty of specific, gluten -free options. The rooms are small, but sufficient and we have what we need. The kids and bathroom are in one room, and then we have a small separate room off of that room. Wifi is free throughout the hotel and both rooms have a TV surprisingly – complete with the ability to connect via HDMI cables to your devices.
We strolled around a bit and then headed back to the hotel for dinner on the first night – exhausted and ready for bed.
On a side note, I think I should mention I put together a binder of relevant information for our trip: Itinerary, vouchers, planes, trains & automobile details, contact sheets, credit card and passport copies, insurance information, etc. It is incredibly helpful to have it all in one place!
Tomorrow we hit the town and catch some of the sites. Up next…Stockholm