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I am in Aberdeen, Scotland. I don’t quite know what to expect as they have said that kilts will be worn and we’ll be piped in by a piper named Fergus.

Had a funny moment yesterday when going down to our bank to get Euros and Pounds. I asked for Scottish Pounds, but was told that they did not have any and I’d have to use British Pounds. I replied that this would likely be OK, but that I may have to fight for it in certain pubs. At that moment, an elderly woman turned to me and said “You’re going to Scotland then?” in a wonderful Scottish accent. We spent the next 30 minutes talking and it turns out her family is from Aberdeen proper. We talked about her children, one of whom just got back from Iraq after a tour with the Air National Guard and what Aberdeen is like. It was a wonderful discussion and I was most appreciative of this lovely woman who represented Scotland well.

As for the trip, I took off for an early flight out of SLC this morning and had a nice surprise as Delta upgraded me to first class from SLC to ATL. Thanks Delta! Though I was a bit disappointed as I was initially told that my flight from ATL to CDG would have seat power on it when it did not, so I could only work for about five hours until the battery on the MacBook Air ran out of juice somewhere over the North Atlantic with over three more hours to go in the flight. I had to console myself with a little sleep next to a college student from ASU who was on her first trip to Europe and was *very* excited about it. Also, Delta… come on man, when a passenger in coach asks for the whole can of soda on an international, trans-Atlantic flight, *give it to them*…

During the flight when not working, there were a couple of times that I looked out the window and was treated to a few interesting sights. One of which was huge flames as we flew over oil platforms off the Grand Banks that lit up the night sky as they burned off excess gas. It was incredibly bright even from 35,000 feet. I took a couple of photos, but they simply do not do justice to how impressive the sight was. Though one has to wonder about all of the gas that is being burned off. Why not repackage it and ship it off? We have to be talking about many millions of dollars in gas being simply burned off into the atmosphere.

Upon arrival in Paris, I found somewhat surprisingly that arrival early in the morning at Charles de Gaulle before all the employees and police show up allows one to transit in and out of the airport at will without having to pass through passport control. I don’t suppose this is a terribly big deal, given other border transit issues, but if one looks at the amount of money being spent on passport control and border access issues, one might suspect that the French police would be a bit more careful about that. Charles de Gaulle was strangely quiet that early with people sleeping on the floor in between the terminals and not a vendor in sight to find coffee.

Other issues, since the Air France business lounge apparently does not recognize Delta customers (even though they are partners), I had to use the standard pay access Internet access which was exorbitantly expensive at 10 Euro per hour via Wi-Fi (especially painful given that the dollar is at an all time low against the Euro). The more disturbing thing however was the constant exposure to people coughing and hacking and almost nobody is covering their mouths. It also did not help that I was watching The Invasion (an Invasion of The Body Snatchers remake, itself a remake of the original 1956 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers) rented from iTunes while waiting for my flight to Aberdeen.

The flight from CDG to ABZ went rather smoothly on a wonderful aircraft, the Embraer 190. Customs in Aberdeen was a bit of a hassle as the woman in customs delayed me about 15 minutes while asking question after question. The strategy was either just being clueless, making assumption after incorrect assumption in an absurd display of bravado or attempting to catch a sleepy, unsuspecting passenger in some perceived deception. When the inspector could not find anything worthy of suspicion, she disappeared with my passport for five minutes before returning with more attitude, finally stamping my passport admitting me to Scotland. Not the best introduction to Scotland, but perhaps she was simply not a fan of the US.

Categories: Travel.

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