Follow me around the world!
Example 1: After a nearly four hours flight, I land at Oslo Airport. After getting my bags back and changing some currency, I head to the airport express, the Flytoget, and start the ride to the center of Oslo. Top speed is about 210 Kms/h so we are supposed to reach the city in 19 minutes. Everything looks clean and accurate and, on the screens, they display information like the train punctuality over the year (99,3%), the customer overall satisfaction (96%) and so on.
We arrive to Oslo Central station and I take
all my belongings. Then I walk for around 400 metres until my hotel, the Clarion Bastion. And only then, when registering, I realize I have forgotten my briefcase on the top shelf inside the train. I feel panic: Inside it, my new work laptop, my digital camera, my passport, both my personal and work phones, around €300 in cash and my business cards for the week…
The front desk agent tells me that, maybe, somebody from staff or another passenger could find it and deliver it to the Flytoget staff. He even calls somewhere (train station or airport) to check but does not get any reply. Then, when I tell him that everything is gone and there is nothing we can do about, he insists again that we should try again on Monday, after 24h, and keeps saying he is pretty sure I will get it back.
On such a great mood, I leave the rest of my stuff in the hotel and walk a little. I am located very close to the impressive Opera House. A beautiful contemporary building with an even more impressive internal design and structure inside.
I go, then, for my first ever Norwegian dinner to discover that, in Oslo, you must be ready to pay more than €50 for a caprese salad, a slice of grilled salmon and a beer. Yes, Oslo is an extremely expensive city. There are only two posibilities in town: expensive and very expesive.
After a good night sleep and a lovely breakfast I am ready to go to my first appointment of the day. I must admit I love breakfast in hotels but, especially, breakfast in Scandinavian hotels: all these variety of pickled herrings, smoked fish, caviar paste… Delicious! They also normally have them in Russian hotels.
Back to business. I have my first meeting of the day. I explained them about my “incident” last night because I cannot offer them any of my business cards. The first reaction, once again, is to tell me that I might get it back “today or tomorrow”. Coming from different people, I start to be surprised and intrigued. One of them, starts to ask me about details: type of briefcase, brand, content, etc. I explained to him and he gets the phone. He calls lost and found at Oslo airport and, in a very calmed and relaxed way he holds a conversation. They speak Norwegian so I do not understand a single word. He does not show any kind of emotion so I do not know what to expect. One of his colleagues shows a little smile but does not say anything to me. Then, he hangs out the phone and, again, almost without any emotion, he says they found my case and everything seems to be inside. I am very surprised to hear that. And extremely happy, of course, but very surprised, which they cannot fully understand. I want to kiss and hug all of them for their help but, thanks God, I can manage my emotions and remember I am in Norway: a sincere thanks and shaking hands is all they need and expect.
After two more meetings, I get on the train to the airport and run to the lost and found office. After describing my briefcase, they come back to me with it. They check that, really, it belongs to me. Time for me to look inside. To my surprise, right there, I find my new work laptop, my digital camera, my passport, both my personal and work phones, the €300 in cash and my business cards.
They do not really understand me, I know. But I am totally astonished.
Example 2: Same week. I land now at Stockholm Arlanda Airport. Again, I changed some currency and take the Arlanda Express, the train to the center of Stockholm. From there, a nice and comfortable walk to the Clarion Sign Hotel.
Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities I have seen and one of my favourites too. Sure, it is not a cheap destination but everything here is harmonious. Architecture is beautiful, food is great, people are stylish (and tall) and beer is cold.
So, after a great and relaxing walk and a delicious dinner at Aquavit Grill, I go to bed. Everything seems good until I wake up around 3 am with a strange pain in my back. This pain starts to be so strong that I cannot lay in bed and only feel some relief when I stand and do not move at all. I spend more than two hours this way and feeling worse and worse so, finally, I ask the Front Desk to get me a taxi and send me to a hospital. It is 5 am and both the front desk agent and the taxi driver are nice and try to help. He brings me to the Karolinska Institutet, one of the biggest hospitals in Stockholm.
To my surprise, the driver does not want to charge me for the ride. He says that I am sick, that I need help and he is ready to help me so. I try to pay but he will not take anything from me. Thank you very much.
I must say, and not because I was not charged, that Stockholm taxis are, by far, the best taxis I have experienced in my whole life. The cars are always good and clean. The drivers speak English and are polite. They will not “show” you the whole city when all you need is a short ride, they are not experts in politics, economy nor sports and you can pay with cash or any credit card.
I enter ER and my first impression is that either I am at the wrong place or it is closed. Nobody there. No people waiting. Nothing. Just a receptionist who speaks to me in Swedish. I say to her that I feel bad and explain my case and she takes all my data. Because I have the European health system card with me, I will be fully serviced. And what a service. In less than five minutes a very pretty Doctor takes care of myslef and diagnoses me with a kidney stone. They administer some strong painkiller which brings me instant relief and, in less than one hour, I have blood and urine tests and an ecography. And a prescription for more of this painkiller, in case I need it. All I have to pay is round €10 for the visit, the same amount that locals pay on their visits.
Right after checking the Swedish health system, time to get back to the hotel. A new taxi and, again, driver do not want to charge me. This time, I do not insist. I say thank you very much and run to my bed.