Sunday, 22 March 2020

DoubleTree Hotel (Portland, Oregon)

On Friday I was up early to prepare for my flight to London Heathrow. The flight was at 11:30 but I needed to eat breakfast, shower and shave, finish packing, check out of the hotel, take a taxi to the Queen Street station in Glasgow to catch train that will deliver me to the Edinburgh Haymarket station and from there to the Edinburgh airport. I kept thinking “one step at a time” and eventually I found myself resting in my Heathrow Hilton room.

I was able to have a good hour nap, and that was about the best sleep I would have for the next 36 hours. Later, I was able to contact someone in Portland who has a rental in the John Ross where I want to live. My friend Scott had sent me the floor plan and a few pictures of the apartment as well. A little small but has a great view of the Willamette River. I will meet the owner Monday afternoon and review the lease. I also contacted a local company that builds furniture that converts from a desk to a queen-sized bed. In between all of this I secured a U.S. phone number that I can use with my Viber app. Also ate dinner in a restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel.

I did get a little more sleep that evening but I didn’t feel rested. I woke in time to talk with the apartment owner, but this was at 2:30 a.m. I tried to sleep a little more but didn’t have any luck. I was able to book a flight from NYC to Portland for Sunday. By then I knew it would be impossible to get any more sleep before it was time to get up in time for my early flight to Kefvlavik, Iceland. My taxi would be waiting for me at 4:30. The hotel concierge thought I should be at Heathrow three hours before my flight, but I had a hunch the airport wouldn’t be that busy. I was right.

Once I arrived in Kefflavik, where I would have nearly a six hour wait, I decided to take a taxi into town and have lunch in a local restaurant. This turned out to be an excellent idea. I walked in before the restaurant was open for lunch and sat next to the restaurant owner and a couple of his friends. We had a great time talking about travel, politics, of course, the impact of the coronavirus. I ordered fish and chips and found myself stuffed when I finished. Would have loved to take a nap.

While at the restaurant I completed the online application as part of the leasing process for the new apartment. Also posted to FB and IG as well. I was there for three hours. The restaurant called a taxi to take me back to the airport. On the way to the airport the driver informed me that they were not supposed to drive people from the airport who were in transit and not residents of Iceland. He was gracious and said he would take me to the airport.

I still had more time to kill so I spoke with my brother, checked my account balances then took a quick peak at the financial market daily performance. Because my investments were so conservative I’m still in fairly good shape. Just will have to wait for the market to improve, which it will.

I was not looking forward to being on a plane for over six hours. I hope that I have enough activities to keep me busy. When I walked onto the plane I almost forgot that I upgraded my seat to have more leg room. That was a very good idea. Also, this second flight was not even a third full. The first flight might have been around 20% full. The affects of the virus on air travel were very evident. We are some of the last Americans returning to the U.S. I spoke with a couple who were visiting Iceland and cut their vacation short. They had seen the writing on the wall and decided to quickly return to the U.S. or they might get trapped in Iceland for the next few weeks.  

The cost of a taxi from JFK to the hotel, a five minute ride away, was $30. Welcome to New York! The hotel had seen better days but I didn’t care I was so tired. An interesting change to my morning breakfast was that they required that I use a takeaway container and take my breakfast to my room, which was okay.

The taxi to LaGuardia on Sunday morning went well. The taxi driver was nice enough to point out some of the interesting sites along the way and we had a good conversation. This fare was $40. But I got to the airport in good time and made my flight to Minneapolis, my layover city. I had it planned where I could break down my trip across the U.S. in two segments. NYC to Minneapolis and Minneapolis to Portland. All was going well until my flight to Portland was cancelled. The alternative was a flight to Seattle and another to Portland. This worked out though but when I got to Portland I learned my suitcase was still on its way from Minneapolis. I wasn’t surprised.

From the airport I took the Max tram’s red line to the hotel and checked in. Once I got to my room (was given a junior suite) I tried to take a nap but it wasn’t happening. I decided to return to the airport later to retrieve my suitcase. In the meantime I ventured out to see where I could buy some food. I eventually found a Safeway that had some sandwiches. I saw very few people on the streets and those I did see were on drugs, drunk, or a combination of the three.

Rather than take public transportation to the airport I called for an Uber. Once there I was pleasantly surprised that the woman who helped me earlier at lost baggage area knew my name. She retrieved my suitcase and I was on my way back to the hotel.

By now it was getting late this Sunday evening and I was dead tired. I sort of unpacked, ate dinner and recharged my phone and laptop using a power plug converter I bought at the airport. Tonight I expect to get more sleep so I’m ready on Monday to sign my lease. I also want to go furniture shopping later.

Earlier I started to make my project plan that contains all of the activities I need to do over the next month or so. It is turning out to be an extensive list. In the meantime I will not be updating my travel log. Perhaps I’ll write an update next week. One of the items on my plan is to write a trip summary, but that will happen after I’ve had time to process my being back in the U.S. It was nice to receive many notes welcoming me back to the U.S. from Facebook friends and family. Too bad I won’t see them for the next couple of weeks, which is fine. I’ve got a lot to do during this time, if I’m able to, since most everything is shut down.

As I often say, “We shall see.”

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