Yesterday we arrived in Sweden, but not after 24 hours of travel. In all it took us through four airports, three flights, and two car rides. The trip was anything but easy.
We began by loading the cars with the 23 suitcases/boxes of science stuff into two vans. I had previously stayed up all but 1 hour the night before to make sure I could sleep on the 7hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Much of the packing was a blur and I faintly remember the experience.
After taking a group photo (missing Kellen whom was late to the packing party) and then fitting everyone into the two vans, we were on our way to the Boston airport. Alison Hobbie, one of the mentors, forgot her suitcase at home but it was all good in the end as her daughter met us along the way to get it to her.
The real trouble began when we were checking luggage. Each person had to check an extra piece of luggage that contained materials for our research. Unfortunately the micro-plate reader, which was a new instrument and essential for Natalie and my own research, was too heavy to be checked as a normal bag. The ladies working for the airport told us there was nothing we could do to send it at that time.
Lucky for us the microplate reader was in a case, and when the case was removed it was under the maximum weight limit. So after removing it and then bubble wrapping it we were good to go!
But wait! The difficulties of the Boston Airport were not over yet. Everyone but myself had standby on their ticket rather than a seat number. It was questionable whether we would get on the plane or not and to make matters worse we were going through security as the plane was boarding. In the end everyone got a seat.
Seven or so hours later we landed in Frankfurt, Germany. Because previously people had been on standby no one but myself had there next two flight tickets. We retrieved these from the kiosk, with some difficulty and waited for our next flight to Stockholm.
Arriving next in Stockholm, we picked up our many cases of luggage and went to recheck them onto our next flight to Kiruna. In line, Jessica found that the box holding the drone had been smashed. And by smashed I mean it looked like it had been run over by a truck or someone had taken a sludge hammer to it. The drone on the inside was also damaged; it was warped and bent with one wing broken. Everyone was shocked at how poorly the drone had been handled.
Complaints were made with the airline and the drone was removed from the case to prevent further destruction. There was nothing further we could do at the time other than continue on with our travels.
We boarded the plane to Kiruna and arrived in less than two hours. Retrieving our luggage was fairly painless. Nate and AJ, two participants of last year’s NERU, were waiting at the airport to help transport luggage. Somehow we magically fit everything and everyone into the four cars.
Everyone was completely exhausted, hungry, and dirty at this point but the trip was not quite done yet. In Kiruna, we went to a store called the Coop where we proceeded to buy groceries…it was hectic. With both our luggage and the groceries in the car, we were packed like sardines.
We drove another hour and a half to the research station and for those who were awake, the view was amazing. Finally, after 24hours of travel we had arrived at the research station. Although it was possibly the longest 24hours of my life, in the end it was all worth it. Just look at that view!