Nineteen Pounds

by Eli Hodapp

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What’s turning into a yearly ritual of me spending a ton of time in Europe is starting again with a flight this afternoon out to Marseille, France. I’m flying KLM, which I haven’t flown before, but was able to upgrade my seat to a “Comfort Select” or whatever that means, so that’s cool. I’m flying in a massive plane with a small second level full of seats in the front which is where I wanted to sit, but unfortunately the only thing available was middle seats. Allegedly, the seats down below are the same, so, whatever. Maybe next time.

Hanging out in international terminals is awesome as it’s always so interesting watching the kind of people who gather as you get closer and closer to boarding time. Today’s flight has a stopover in Amsterdam, which seems to be a huge hub for KLM. So, today’s crowd is an especially odd mix as this is just the first stop for many peoples’ much larger journeys. I stood in line behind a trio of women who are on their way to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and in front of a guy who is on his way home to Dubai.

Also spotted in line is the typical “first time leaving the country” traveller, which are always especially interesting to watch especially as I think back to how ridiculously nervous I was about my first trip abroad to Paris. You over-pack, go crazy segregating things into various ziplock bags and other convoluted organizing systems to make sure you have everything. I’ve been there, it’s nerve wracking. This time around I’ve packed particularly light, really only bringing my MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad mini, and the bare load out of cables and chargers to keep them going.

I’ll be in Europe until February 3rd, but only have clothes to make it until the 29th without coming up with some sort of laundry solution. Realizing just how nice your typical European laundromat is was sort of liberating from a packing perspective, as you don’t need to get neurotic about daily allotments of underwear and instead just pack as much as you’ll reasonably need before you have time to do laundry. This has my suitcase at a record-breaking low of 19lbs for me- A massive change from a few years ago where I’d anguish over which full sized bath product to leave behind to be under the 50lb limit.

So, the rest of my itinerary is as follows:

I’ll be on KLM flight 612 to Amsterdam. After a brief layover I’m flying an Air France code share as KLM flight 2037 which should have me on the ground in France sometime around 11:30 AM local time tomorrow. From there, I’m staying at the Radisson Blu which not only seems to be insanely nice but also looks out over Vieux Port which as I understand it has been an important port in the region since 6th Century BC. Thinking of the scale of the timeline of that specific piece of water is incredible.

I’ll be participating in the International Mobile Gaming Awards in Marseille, go to a few dinners, then fly out to Amsterdam super early via another Air France codeshare KLM flight 2036. I should arrive around 9:00 AM local time which is probably going to be way too early to check into my hotel, the Hotel Alfa Plantage. I’ve got an ultra-barebones room there which is fine by me as I don’t plan on spending much time in my actual hotel.

I’m leaving Amsterdam on the morning of the following Wednesday the 30th, and heading to Copenhagen via SAS flight 552 before hopping aboard Iceland Air flight 631 to Reykjavik, Iceland. Assuming all goes as planned, I’ll be there 3:30 in the afternoon where I’ll meet up with Jared and the rest of the people there for some kind of arranged transport to our hotel, the Center Hotel Arnarhvoll. I’ll be in Reykjavik for a few days attending the Paradox Convention with other American journalists until I finally fly home on February 3rd. My first flight is Iceland Air 630, followed by a brief layover in Boston before connecting with American Airlines flight 1081 which should land at O’Hare at 9:40 PM.

Not quite as crazy as last year’s month in Barcelona, but still a pretty good adventure.