How much this pandemic has changed our habits… I speak about the good ones now. In my case, the habit of going somewhere in the big world every year, for my birthday.
The “big world” for my birthday in 2020 was supposed to be Asia, only the pandemic hit us and right at that time we were all locked in our houses. (You can read here about this and especially about my birthday destinations so far).
What I didn’t write then, thinking that maybe the police would come and take me, was that I ran away from home a little, so that I could feel my birthday too. Even for a few minutes!
I reached the gate of the Mogosoaia Palace. It seemed to me the closest beautiful place to my house. Of course I wasn’t allowed to go there and even less to enter the palace.
From the moment I entered the courtyard of the Palace, I saw some gendarmes and guards of the complex who were a bit shocked to see a living being…
I explained to them that it was my birthday, I gave them some good candy, they wished me all the best and… farewell, so I turned around and left, because they, the poor things, were afraid of being held accountable for letting a fugitive go.
A year later, on my birthday in 2021, I got angry about the pandemic and decided to go straight to… Wuhan, China hihi. At that time that was, without a doubt, the safest destination on the planet!
I didn’t make it. Neither there, nor in any other corner of Asia, as the restrictions still existed, damn it. Too many unknown aspects for me to travel away from home. So I decided to leave on my birthday in the last moment and I said “Italy”!
Not at all simple, considering that Italy was under a red code in the place where I started my birthday vacation – in Venice. About how… unimaginable, shocking, unbelievably Venice looked under that red code, you can read and see what I posted then. I don’t think you’ll ever see Venice like this again!
My birthday caught me in Florence and I enjoyed it as much as I could – walks without a mask, packed food (because the restaurants were only open for deliveries), the privilege of seeing a mega tourist city without tourists.
Okay, and then 2022 came. Things are a bit more relaxed on the planet, so I could dare more than in previous years. I went to one of the places on my wish-list:
THE FAROE ISLANDS
No worries, I told myself. I am in Europe, even if in the middle of the ocean, somewhere between Scotland, Iceland and Norway.
I looked on the MFA website, I saw that the Faroe Islands belong to Denmark, but they ask for a passport, otherwise… nothing. Well, it’s perfect! I put my winter clothes in my suitcase, because it’s still winter there, I stuffed 2 more jars of jam to give them as a gift, plus 2 and a half cartridges of cigarettes that I was going to take to a friend in England (in the EU you can transport up to 4 cartridges, for London I took a risk).
Three flights, man. Bucharest-Amsterdam-Copenhagen-Faroe Islands. This was the best and fastest solution for the period I wanted. Who knows I’m afraid of flying, could give me a prize for the courage to take three planes in a row. I fully deserve it! But you know what? I didn’t have time to be afraid. The connections between the flights were so short that I didn’t even have time to panic!
KLM informs us that the mask is still mandatory on flights. We all comply.
Those with transfers are announced during the first flight what gate to go to as soon as we get off the plane. I’m told I have enough time, not to worry. I have 40 minutes and the gate from which my second flight leaves is close.
No shit!? I had to run, and run fast, on the corridors, on stairs going up and down, turning left or right in a hurry, going from one floor to another… I couldn’t remember the Amsterdam airport to be so big.
I arrived at the boarding gate with my tongue out, when everyone was already there.
The second flight, Amsterdam-Copenhagen, short, just as the transfer: 20 minutes!
I started to worry during the second half of the flight, when no stewardess came to me to tell me what gate to go to, how far it is and so on, and so forth… Two passengers were moved with their hand luggage to the business seats still available. Hm… It was clear to me that they were the ones with a very short connection. They were helped to be closer to the exit, to get off immediately.
I look at my watch and realize that the connection time is running out, and we’re not landing yet. I press the button above – for the first time in my life, since I flew – I ask the first flight attendant who came to me to tell me how to do it, because I have a very short transfer and I would not want to miss the plane. I get shocked when the woman looks at me with sympathy and says: “I don’t think you’ll catch it.”
My blood all got up to my head! Well how can it be??? Why? The airline gives you the tickets knowingly, offering you, as a passenger, guarantee.
I’m starting to get agitated, especially since the woman abandoned me. I don’t give up, I go to the front and ask her to move me to the business area (I’m on the 15th row, close to the emergency exit). She shows me that there is no free seat, she shrugs and tells me again: “sorry, there’s nothing I can do”. I get annoyed, especially when I find out that the two in the front have to catch the same plane to Faroe Islands as me.
I go back to my seat. I’m thinking of going to every person in rows 1-14 and ask the pretty please to let me pass as soon as we can get off the plane. I even make a sentence in my head, but then I give up the idea.
I get so upset that I am treated differently from others in the same situation that I draw the attention of flight attendants to it. I see them talking to each other. The chief of the cabin comes to me and tells me that the only thing she can do is talk to the ground crew and see if the plane can wait for me. The plane takes off in 30 minutes and we’re still up in the air. Not to tell that I have to change the terminal, as I see on the ticket.
All my neighbors see that I’m already irritated. I wouldn’t mind spending, on KLM’s money, one night in Copenhagen, but it’s already getting more complicated – I’m missing my first night’s accommodation, I’m missing my next day’s trip, I’m practically losing from my vacation in the Faroe Islands and I really don’t want that!
We’re landing, we’re still moving. And I keep moving in my seat, impatiently…
The plane stops just 10 minutes before the next one takes off. I jump out of my chair, open the luggage compartment, pull on a bag and my suitcase and the woman’s next to me coat fall on my head. The woman is sincerely scared. In two seconds I’m with my suitcase and my rumpled coat on the aisle and… make way!!!
You’ll be amazed by what I tell you, but with “sorry, please, sorry, I have to catch a flight, sorry, thank you”, absolutely everyone from row 14 down let me through. I didn’t hit anyone, I didn’t step on anyone. The truth is that I didn’t see anyone in a hurry to take their luggage and put it on the aisle, like in our case. Everyone was relaxed.
I don’t even know what nonsense I must have said in English, but I got to the door of the plane in less than 10 seconds! World record, for sure J.
When the cabin chief saw me, she exclaimed in shock: “Did you make it!?!” How much I wanted to tell her… I asked her on my way out: “what gate??”.
At the end of the corridor, a person in a yellow vest was waiting for me. I didn’t get to ask her where the A17 gate I had just found out about was, because she showed me the direction and told me that the plane was waiting for me.
I ran like crazy. I saw in front of me the two who had been privileged. They were running too… Luckily the boarding gate was close to the one I had left. (I don’t know how, as on the ticket it was on another terminal!)
Arriving there fainting like after a marathon, I see the door closed. People calm me down, check my documents, open the door and… I’m on the plane!!! God, it’s like a victory for me! The ribbon was the only thing missing hihi.
The plane is full. Everyone is looking at me. What can I say, I’m such an apparition…
The friendly flight attendants immediately put a glass of water under my nose, give me chocolates and, after breathing a little, I realize that I have entered another world.
A calm, relaxed world, with a neighbor sitting next to me who starts knitting as we take off, with two people in the back row playing macao or something and with… NO MASK on the horizon. Neither for the passengers, nor for the flight attendants!
Yes, no one. I’m on Atlantic Airways, the national airline of the Faroe Islands. Different rules. A different life J.
As soon as I catch my breath, my brain starts to think. I wonder how in God’s name could my big suitcase get from the plane I was on, to this? Hm…
After 3 flights and heart-pumping transfers, here I am, finally, on the land of the Faroe Islands, a destination still undiscovered, with steep cliffs hit by waves, fjords, bird colonies, houses with grass roofs, sheep left free and the list goes on…
From over 20 degrees Celsius and sun in Romania, to 0 degrees and snow in the Faroe Islands.
Their airport, located on Vagar Island, is like a waiting room in a train station of ours, with 2 boarding gates next to each other, a small bar and a duty free shop where… wow, everyone is rushing!
I’ve never seen such a sync when it comes to shopping. “What’s on offer?”, I feel like asking the question in our Romanian DNA. Well, alcohol is given in the first place. That’s what I see the people buying.
I don’t know if any passenger, other than me, left the duty free shop for the luggage lane without having bought anything. Are the prices much lower than in the city? (I was about find out later what the trick was, I’ll tell you in the post about the Islands).
Suitcases come one by one on the small strip. And one by one, people leave. A dog sniffs each one, hoping to find something suspicious.
I’m left alone and my suitcase still doesn’t show up. The luggage lane stops, with some luggage still left on it. Clearly, my suspicion while desperately boarding the No. 3 plane came true: they took me, but not my suitcase…
The dog is happy that he has finished his shift. I’m sad that the adventure begins…
I ask some people in uniform what to do. Calmly, they send me to a counter where, just as calm, a lady tells me: “Oh, it happens frequently. Write to this address and when the suitcase comes tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, we will send it to you”. What?!?! Well, what do I do? I have nothing with me except the laptop and the camera. It’s just that none of these can keep me warm and I cannot use them to brush my teeth…
I leave the airport. In my sneakers, with ankle-length sweatpants. It’s zero degrees outside and it’s snowing.
Even more, a text message informs me that my mobile data is blocked, considering that I have exceeded the limit of 50 euros. I do not understand. I just arrived! Something is wrong, I’m telling myself. I just called Telekom before I left and they told me that the rates are the same as in the EU, with the Faroe Islands belonging to Denmark.
“3 minutes kiss and fly” I see on a sign and I realize that parking is allowed there only as long as you drop someone off. Nice.
There’s no taxi outside, so I’m going through the tunnel in front of me. Very well organized, with this tunnel that has multiple exits to the parking lot, where the cars picking up passengers are waiting.
I see my name on a sign and I stop there. An uncle gets me and two more Faroe people in a taxi. I understand… That’s why I paid only 30 euros for a ride that passes from one island to another, about 50 kilometers: I share a taxi. Nothing unpleasant. Only the driver is driving at 50 km/h J. From time to time he speeds up and we get to… 74. That was the maximum speed. Too bad it was night, otherwise I could have seen the landscape at least.
The weather announced on the display in the hotel lobby makes me tremble both literally and figuratively, so I start writing to the airline people. I explain that, you know, my birthday is coming, I wouldn’t want to be caught in my underwear. The one I was wearing, because the rest is in my suitcase… There I also have my special champagne, there I have, practically, everything I need for the next days and nights. I wrote about my birthday to impress them…
I get a toothbrush and a mini toothpaste from the reception, plus some ear sticks, just in case I didn’t hear right that the suitcase can come in two days. That’s all they have, they cannot help more. The receptionist also kindly tells me that the delayed baggage story is happening on a regular basis. He shows me a suitcase that came from the airport after 2 days. Oh, now I understand what was with the luggage left on the baggage carrousel: it belonged to people who are already staying in the Faroe Islands, who have arrived before their suitcases… Just like me.
The next morning, after a long conversation in which I find out that the suitcase is possible to arrive after two days, I resume the sentimental pressure J. It is all in vain, as they are not going to bring my luggage personally.
I have no choice: I go to the city center, to a small mall, to buy what I need. God, when I see the prices, I almost feel like not combing anymore!!!
I reduce the shopping to the bare minimum: a small deodorant, a brush, water, 3 pairs of socks (they did not sell just one pair) and a T-shirt, as simple as possible. For the T-shirt and the socks I paid… 50 euros!
I receive an email saying that “it is possible” for my suitcase to be on a flight that arrives at noon. I go to the airport with the guide, not having the patience to wait for them to send it to me.
Along with the people who are waiting for their relatives, I am also waiting impatiently. I look and I think I see my suitcase loaded on the stroller. That would be perfect!
An airport employee goes after the suitcase as soon as all the passengers leave (who, yes, have also stopped at the duty free shop to fill their bags…)
My suitcase does not appear, but the lady comes and gets me to the customs officers behind closed doors. Ooops! What have I done??
My heart almost stops, no less, when I see my suitcase open and 4 hands rummaging through it!
“You have cigarettes” – I hear one of the customs officers.
“Yes,” I said, puzzled. I had no stress with the two and a half cartridges. We’re in Europe. I didn’t even think to put them in my hand luggage, to spread them. That was precisely because I knew I was well below the limit.
“The limit is one cartridge!” – the man tells me.
There is no such thing!!!
He shows me the sign on the wall, telling me the simplest thing possible, which makes me the dumbest person ever: The Faroe Islands belong to Denmark, indeed, BUT they are not in the European Union!!!
F&@#*!!! Could I be so stupid? Yes, I could.
I explain to the two men that the cigarettes are not for me, that I don’t even smoke, they are not for anyone on the islands, that I take them to another country. Okay, people understand, but the law is the law. One cartridge, no extra cigarettes. What exceeds this, means taxes and a fine!!!
I am shocked, I try to say something that proves my innocence, and then I venture with a proposal: I leave them all there, at the airport, in a box and take them when I leave. So I don’t get them to the Faroe Islands. What better proof that I’m not smuggling?…
Don’t laugh, the idea doesn’t seem stupid to them, it’s just that… they don’t have such a thing, there is no such possibility. Too bad, I think. I will make a proposition to the Faroese government hihi.
It seems that the customs officers appreciate my sincerity, however, and they make me pay only the taxes, not the fine. Taxes worth 77 euros! Basically, I paid for the cigarettes again.
To comfort me, the older customs officer explains to me that the fine was 3 times the amount! Ta-da!
I’ve been burned with the cigarettes, but I’ve also been burned with my phone, because yes, even the one from the Telekom Romania call center didn’t know that the Faroe Islands are not in the EU. And that’s how I had to close my mobile data after I had already amassed a fat cost from the first hours on the Islands. (To give you an idea, the cost of a minute to Romania is 1.25 euros and one MB, just one, costs 4.76 euros!)
MY B-DAY IN THE FAROE ISLANDS
I can’t wait to tell you what I saw here! I have 3,000 pictures and videos taken in 5 days! Everything, in a wide post, as it is worth it.
Now I’m just telling you that the birthday can be unique, not just because you spend it in the Faroe Islands. The guide I went on a tour with, after learning that I work in TV, took me by surprise to the Faroese television!
The public television and radio are in the same place. KVF.
He said at the entrance that I was a TV “colleague”, on vacation. The fact that they all know each other here allowed me access to both the editorial office and the control room, as well as in their studio.
Okay, I showed them my badge too, I think it mattered a lot hihi.
I had no idea that one of the bosses there had a habit – embracing people. Especially for their birthdays… I explained to him 100 times that I don’t want him to risk his life, that I haven’t been lifted by anyone since childhood and that now this is really not recommended. It looks like the man was stubborn.
Unfortunately, you can’t hide the weight in such a moment… I still have him on my conscience, I hope he didn’t need medical care.
Nothing is being filmed on my birthday. Moreover, I find out that it is a day off for the news department as well. On a Wednesday??? Yes. They do not work on Wednesdays. They don’t even have a news program.
I ask the man what happens if, by chance, there is some breaking news on a Wednesday.
In extreme cases they bring the news, he tells me, but it never seemed to have happened for them to have such an extreme case.
My birthday then went on normally, like a cool vacation day, with walks to unique places. Luckily I had taken some “items” with me that would remind me that I’m having a birthday.
Do you think the adventures ended here? No way! About them… in the next episode, you just have to have a little patience, for me to put then down on paper. I don’t work like Netflix, cannot have the entire series at once J.