Working on the Train

This morning I am taking a train from Norrköping to Lund. I spent the weekend hanging out with my cousins and am headed back to “real life” (i.e. work). I love traveling in general but especially via trains. I know that this is a minority opinion so why do I love riding the rails? Well I find that a train or an airplane is a great place to get work done. Now obviously not all kinds of work but very specific types of work that I can often put off for more pressing issues.

I tend to procrastinate writing. Somehow the blank page mocks me and at times I hear my computer laughing at me…haha you can’t write…haha….

For me the first step to overcome writing is always just getting something down on the page. I am much better at editing once I have something written. This is exactly what a train or plane ride is perfect for. Just typing directly and not editing much. I have already started a work paper that I need to write. I have written an outline, copied all the common information from old papers, rearranged the information and started writing the new sections the paper needs. I am now in the part of writing where a larger computer with a better mouse (than my 10in/25.4cm computer with its travel mouse). SO with less than 30 min on the train I have achieved the goal I had set for today’s trip…no problem…I am way way behind on my blogging.

With blogging I have head the opposite problem. Something happens and I want to write a post. I set up the post on my smart phone and make a few notes and then save the post under private. Then the post sits there for a long time and I don’t go back and update it, flush it out and finish posting it. So now I have tons of half started posts that see overwhelming. I wonder how many I can get written and flushed out in the 2 more hours on the train today.

 

Extra Note: When we arrived at the next train station and a young woman sat next to me on the train and is editing/responding to reviews on a journal of physiology paper. See all kinds of scientists can use travel time efficiently.

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London’s Calling!

An old friend of mine (we had our first sleep over in 7th grade) was headed to London to march in the New Years Day Parade. We had casually talked about the possibility of me coming to London to meet her. After looking at their group itinerary I decided to go for it. Buying a plane ticket and booking a hotel room in about 2 hrs I am set to head out to London for New Years!

London is calling! Many posts about the trip to come after I get back.

london

4 hrs in Dublin! oh crazy flight schedules…

Like most I bought my plane tickets based on timing and cost. After discussing arrival times with my family in Sweden and deciding that I would stay in Chicago for the first weekend in Nov to say goodbye to some friends I picked the flight that was cheapest and most convenient (also the shortest trip that was not a direct flight). After excitedly forwarding my itinerary to the parents, my aunt in Sweden, and my best friends I got a cute email back from a friend asking what I was going to do in Dublin during my layover.

Now you never want too little time between flights so that you miss your connection but 7.5 hrs is a long time. I began researching what I could do if I left the airport. Note: Dublin airport is a 30min drive from downtown Dublin City. So I found a bus that took you to Dublin or one that took you to a smaller near by town. I hadn’t really decided what to do or if I would even leave the airport but after some encouraging from my neighbor on the plane who told me some no fuss, easy, relaxing places to go I decided to just go for it…4 hours in a new country I had never been to! it is an adventure!

After leaving the airport and easily finding the bus to downtown (aircoach-12€ for round trip), I arrived at Grafton Street (Trinity College stop on the bus). Grafton Street is a famous shopping street and as it was just 10am the stores were beginning to open but there were very few people other than the locals cutting through on their way to downtown. I meandered slowly enjoying the wonderful Christmas window displays (barring the fact it is the first week in November and that the Christmas season is already in full swing is ridiculous, they were very pretty and fun to see) and drooling over all of the amazing shoes in the windows (shoes are my biggest weakness which is difficult because you feel guilty packing more shoes and less underwear when moving around the world ;). I was slowly making my way to St. Stevens Green at the end of Grafton Street which I had been told was really beautiful and very peaceful in the mornings.

Using my powerful deduction skills (i.e., following the local girls with good shoes) I found a cute little local quick coffee shop off the main street with no seating but a long line of locals getting morning commute coffee. With my cappuccino (no foam) I approached St. Stevens Green:

ImageAfter wandering for while I found a bench overlooking a small pond to sit and relax on:

Image and a minute later….Image

INVASION!!! However with no food to share I decided to walk on. I had a wonderful ramble through the park, randomly picking many benches to sit on for a few minutes at time. The best was one I found in the SUN! Warming up from the sun and my coffee, I did some people watching and enjoyed the many shades of green:

ImageAfter thoroughly chilling my self by staying outside and not moving, in my probably inappropriate sweatshirt (all my winter coats are already in Sweden because I was supposed to move 2 months ago), I decided it was time for more coffee and maybe some internet. I tried to find a local cafe with internet but found a Starbucks first and decided that a Gingerbread latte sounded good. Sitting in the warm cafe with a cranberry orange muffin, I logged on to post the two blog posts: one I had finished just before the cab came in Chicago (and not had time to post) and the one I had written at the O’hare airport.

ImageAfter this fortification I headed back out into Dublin…I had decided I wasn’t going to try to go to any museums but just get a feel for the city. I started in the direction of the other major downtown bus pick up and just started wandering, letting myself be pulled in what ever direction I felt like. In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to get a Christmas ornament (I collect things I can make into Christmas ornaments from the places I travel) and maybe even birthday gifts for two of my best friends with birthdays in November. As I wondered of course I got lost but it didn’t feel that way because I had decided to not pre-decide and therefore there were no “wrong” directions…when it got to after noon I decided to look at the little map I had gotten from the bus company (which was missing lots of streets) and begin moving toward the bus stop more directly while looking for a pub for lunch.

Because where else can you eat in Dublin but a pub?

ImageSitting in the upstairs window, looking out onto the corner of O’Connel Street, this Victorian Pub was a great find for lunch. The menu was full of traditional cuisine but the fish and chips caught my eye. I have eaten my french fries with lots of salt and mayo since having them this way on the streets of London in 2002.

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It was an amazing choice! So yummy even the greens salad with homemade spicy mustard vinaigrette was great. With a glass of cider (I couldn’t bring myself to be up for Guinness which I normally love but didn’t sound exciting in my by this time extremely tired state), I ate slowly, savoring the wonderful food and atmosphere. After I caught myself falling asleep at the table I new it was time to head back to the airport.

A quick stop in few shops on O’Connell Street and I found presents for the birthday girls, my Christmas ornament, and a necklace for myself. As I waited to take the bus back to the airport I watched the line of cabbies across the street try to talk airport bus riders into skipping out on the wait for the bus. After I had waited 13 min for the bus I felt compelled to tell the others that the bus was supposed to come every 15 min and it had already been 13. The nice eastern European couple who’s language I had been trying to place as they talked to each other piped in that they just lied to the cabbies and said they had a return ticket already so as not to get bothered 😉 Less than a minute later the bus arrived and the group who had been debating on taking a cab were grateful for our noisiness 😉

A wonderfully relaxing day in Dublin City and one quick bus ride back to airport and no line at security I was on my way to Sweden!

Why does everyone want to tell me their life story?

After a stressful day of wrap up to be ready to move, I had my suitcases packed and was just waiting for the cab to arrive…about 15 min before their scheduled pickup time I began carrying all of my heavy cases down the 3rd floor walk up where a friend was letting me crash. Half way through carrying the cases down, the cab arrived (10 min early).  After loading my cases into the back myself, I got in the cab and felt a huge sense of relief…I was on my way. YAY!

So one advantage of flying on Election Day is not needing to or getting to watch the election coverage and therefore no stressing out about it. I was hoping the traffic to the airport would be light since everyone would be voting or headed home to watch election coverage, but as always it was a bit of a mess in the rain. My cabbie first mentioned something about seeing the president’s motorcade on the freeway earlier and did I know he was in Chicago, which of course I did. Then my cabbie, decided to tell me his life story from his home country of Haiti and the 25 years he had lived in the US, his job history from working at Lowes in Kansas City to a casino in Indiana. I heard all about his experience of racism in this country and his opinions about republican politics and how the US just wants to interfere in other countries. While I agreed with some of what he said…first I wanted a relaxing ride to the airport not to be lectured at about how I should think and feel about politics and religion. Second, what is it about the way I sit on a bus or in a cab that makes people tap me on the shoulder when I am reading a book and listening to music to ask for directions or tell me their life story? This has always been my experience even in big cities like Chicago. I wonder if it will be true in Sweden also? Good way to practice my Swedish?

Update: I wrote the first half of this post while sitting in the Chicago airport…on the plane I met a really sweet Irish expatriate who has lived in Dallas, TX for the past 30 years (my parents live in Austin) who was flying into Dublin to visit her mother. She told me all about her 4 kids. How her husband was the adventurous one and he organized their moving to the US. We talked about world travel and fun things I could do in Dublin for the day. I even taught her how to put her iphone into airplane mode and then how to take it back out again. The older Irish gentleman on the other side of me was disgusted by our friendliness but again once the conversation started I am not always sure how to shut it down. Honestly, she was supper sweet and wished me luck many times.

I think the difference is checking your audience for positive confirmation clues that they are enjoying your conversation. It is never fun to have someone dictate at you but it is nice when you not only make small talk but feel an actual connection with a total stranger.

P.S. If you are making announcements about a major world event while on a plane make sure you are specific and clear what you mean…election updates were all fuzzy till the final one Obama: 274 and counting.