I headed upstairs where I had been informed earlier I would be issued a bed, sheets, a warm meal, and a harmonica. I had to go through security, again, but seemed to be the sole human in a sea of gates housed in a massive terminal of closed businesses. It was 10pm, or 22:00, at that point. After exploring a few minutes, I found my way to a section of the terminal where I noticed cots cordoned off by cubicle-like dividers. I sat down and met my cell-mates.
Chris and his wife, who was already sleeping in her cube, had arrived two days prior from the UK to visit their grandchildren and was denied entry for the same reason I had been - no UK citizens are allowed access unless on essential business…like furniture assembly, you understand. They were supposed to fly out yesterday morning having spent one night in the airport, but were pulled from the plane after buckling in on orders by the captain that their paperwork was out of order to return to the UK. A fight between Swedish border agents and the plane’s pilot ensued, before the Swedish government employee backed down, and escorted my new friend and his bride off the plane. Try again tomorrow, was his simple response. I began to think that a simple return to London may not be so easy. He was gracious to share his Thai Cup of Noodles with me - I hadn’t eaten since the last country’s airport. Where am I? What time is it?
Another gal came and sat down to join our group. She hailed from Germany, and had some story about not being allowed to finish her red wine. Phillip, from the Czech Republic had been denied entry because the text message of a negative COVID test didn’t pass muster with Swedish requirements. What band of misfits had I joined? Would we have to tunnel our way out of here and escape to Mexico?
In talking to my new friends, the idea was born that if I could just get back to London and then book a one-way flight into an EU country where US citizens were not locked out (France, Germany, Spain, etc), then I could fly from that country, after clearing customs, into Sweden. This glitch in the system might work, given that the ban on US/UK visitors related to the origin of flight not origin of nationality. If I could get into another EU country, Sweden would have to accept me thereafter. And so, through a quick search of flights before turning in, I found that a flight out of Sweden on my original British Airlines would put me back in London around 9am. I could catch an AirFrance flight to Paris, landing around 11:30, and then fly direct from Paris back to Stockholm, landing at 18:45. If the plan works, I could be unpacking my duffel in 12 hours from now, back here, after a quick tour of the continent. Take that Vanderbilt.
So, I’ll try to catch some more sleep. Just need to get up in time to figure out my passport, luggage, get on the 7:20 flight out of here back to the Queensland, to try again, this time by way of France. Embarkation…part deux.
Good night for now. Time stamp: 4:11am.
Checking in again. It’s now 6:35am. To enhance the thrill, like Carmen Sandiego and John Grisham had a love child, I’ll keep you posted, in real time.
I couldn’t sleep, so hopped out of bed at around 5am. I remember on my last trip to Europe, 21 years ago, that the restrooms on this side of the pond emit a powerful foul smell. I’m not sure if it’s a plumbing issue on this continent, or they’ve yet to discover Kohler Wisconsin, but every trip to the leu is one I regret. That said, I doused myself in the advertised fresh water of a Swedish lake (name I could never pronounce nor spell) and emerged an exhausted but hopeful prisoner.
The general store in the terminal was open, so I purchased a yogurt and some coffee. Europe must like chunky yogurt, because my Yoplait had the texture of cottage cheese, but following a dehydrated meal from Indo-China last night, it tasted like heaven.
I walked down to Border Control and was greeted immediately by a cheerful man who immediately recognized the name “Zimmerman”. I had earned a little reputation, perhaps being the lone American they had the pleasure of capturing. In any case, the guy was super nice, confirmed that I was on the early flight back to London, and most importantly, acknowledged my hypothesis that a flight through Paris back to Stockholm would allow me access back to Sweden on the technicality that I cleared customs into the EU in a county that accepted me. Thank you Eisenhower for helping out the Francs 80 years ago. They haven’t forgotten our generosity.
So, now, I have two one-way tickets on Air France. The first from London to Paris, an hour after I land. The second from Paris back to Stockholm. If all flights go well, and please God cross your fingers, I’ll be Ubering to my hotel downtown Stockholm in 12 hours.
The ticket counter just opened, so I need to go claim my passport, make sure my luggage arrived last night and is back on this plane. Details details.
We're the Zimmerman Family!
Home Base | Denver, CO
A family of six that
LOVES to sail !
Follow our crew (Royce, Tara, Avery, Charley, Nora & Ruby)
as we blog our sailing adventures
Set Sail 4.22.23 | Las Palmas - Across the Atlantic - Island of Antigua
Set Sail 9.22.21 | Sweden - Germany -
Set Sail 7.18.19 | Newport, RI -
Martha's Vineyard, MA -
Nantucket, MA -
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