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O’DAY’S TRAVEL WOES #5: A Suspiciously Perfect Trip

September, 1993:

September was full of travel adventure. I presented The Psychology Of Management at the NAB’s Radio Convention in Dallas. Big deal, so he went to Texas.

Okay, how’s this for an itinerary:

On a Monday in late September, I flew from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, where I changed planes and continued on to Stockholm. In Stockholm, I changed planes (and airlines) again for a flight to Kristianstad, Sweden, where I arrived Tuesday night.

On Wednesday I conducted an air talent seminar for Sven Linderoth and Radio Kristianstad. That night Sven drove me to the airport, and I flew back to Stockholm.

On Thursday, I conducted an air talent seminar for Anne Chaabane and Swedish Local & National Radio.

On Friday I conducted my How To Create Maximum Impact Radio Advertising seminar for Scandinavia’s largest advertising agency, ARE Annonsbyrå. (My hosts were Gaute Hanssen — who had attended an earlier seminar of mine in Stockholm — and his Managing Director, Harald Ullman.)

Friday night I flew to London, where on the following day I conducted an air talent seminar for presenters from throughout the U.K. The seminar was organized and produced by Lin Glover (ably assisted by Amanda McAllister).

Sunday was comparatively tame; I travelled but did not perform. I flew from London to Amsterdam and prepared for four days of seminars there.

On Monday I conducted an air talent seminar in Utrecht, for Ben Groenendijk and ROOS, Holland’s public radio service. (Ben organized all of the Utrecht seminars, which were attended by radio professionals from throughout The Netherlands.)

Tuesday: Seminar for Dutch program directors.

Wednesday: Talked to journalism students in the morning, then drove 45 minutes or so to Amsterdam, where I delivered the keynote speech at the 3rd Dutch Broadcast Congress that afternoon, then returned to Utrecht.

Thursday: Commercial copywriting for radio & ad agency people.

And then I rested?

No, after the last Dutch seminar I was driven back to the airport in Amsterdam and got on a plane to Milan, Italy.

Friday: Air talent seminar seminar for RTL, Italy’s second largest national radio station.

Saturday: Commercial copywriting seminar for RTL.

Sunday morning: Caught a VERY early flight to Amsterdam, then connected back home to Los Angeles.

For those keeping score at home, that’s nine flights in five countries on three airlines taking me to 11 seminars/speeches in 14 days.

So….How was it?

Like clockwork. I couldn’t believe it. Not only did I not miss a single connection, I even got on an earlier one (more on that in a moment).

Here’s what little I remember of those two weeks:

I spent most of my flight to Amsterdam (on the way to Sweden) practicing saying “thank you” in Dutch. (Phonetically, it’s “Dahn-koo-vel.”)

One advantage European airports have over North American airports is shorter minimum connecting times. I arrived in Stockholm — a very friendly airport — on a KLM flight, collected my luggage and brought it to an SAS window for the connecting flight to Kristianstad. The agent looked at my ticket, noticed my flight wouldn’t leave for another two hours, and asked, “Would you like me to put you on a flight that leaves for Kristianstad in ten minutes?”

Having begun my trip many hours earlier in America, my answer was an eager “yes.”

Ah, but a problem. My host, Sven Linderoth, would be picking me up at the airport in Kristianstad. How would I get word to him of the schedule change?

Pulling out a few Swedish coins from a previous trip, I cautiously approached a pay telephone. I could not figure out how to use it….and my plane was leaving within minutes.

I found a sympathetic Swede who showed me how to use the device and even tried to explain how to place a long-distance call. Somehow I succeeded in calling Directory Assistance and, miraculously, on my second attempt I managed to reach Radio Kristianstad and advise Sven of the change.

Kristianstad Sweden

Kristianstad is a picture postcard of a Swedish town. It’s named after a Danish king — Christian IV — who visited the town only once, for a week. During that week, he laid out plans for the entire city.

Kristianstad was conceived as a fortress city, with only two entrances. From the center of the town, you can see both of the gates. The entire city was surrounded by a huge wall which, regrettably, the town fathers decided to tear down at the turn of the 20th Century. (Can you imagine what an incredible sight that 30-foot wall would be if left intact today?)

Christian IV Hotel Kristianstad

I stayed at the Christian IV Hotel, a very gracious and impressive building. (It used to be a bank.) My most indelible memory of that hotel is the music: In the hallways and in the elevators, 24 hours a day, they played Frank Sinatra songs.

Kristianstad was so beautiful that it seemed like a crime to leave just 24 hours after my arrival. I’ve hoped to return on a business/vacation trip ever since.

Remember I said the airport in Stockholm is friendly? It’s the only airport I’ve seen where the bathrooms are stocked with drinking cups…a very nice, unexpected little touch. (Have you ever tried to take vitamins or Dramamine with the aid of a water fountain?)

Oh, before we leave Sweden: My first Swedish lunch, back in May, was in the cafeteria of Swedish National Radio. What did I eat? Seafood? Meatballs?

Nope. I had the day’s special: enchiladas. On this return trip, I couldn’t help but order my now traditional “Swedish” meal.

Swedish Food

I am, however, pleased to report — from another dining experience while in Stockholm — that Swedish meatballs are a lot tastier than the stuff we eat in the States.

On the plane to England from Stockholm, I learned from a newspaper that Alan Ayckbourn had a new play running in London. This was hardly surprising; he’s the world’s most successful English-language playwright. He also happens to be my favorite. I mentioned this to Amanda McAllister, and she managed to secure a couple of tickets for the performance following the seminar.

The play was, of course, very good….I assume. I was so exhausted from the seminar that it took a tremendous effort for me not to fall asleep. But I was quite excited, nonetheless, to see my 10th or 12th Ayckbourn play.

Next Week: My September adventure continues, as I “went through my back” in Holland. (Ask a Dutch friend to translate.)

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  • Mark Bystrom September 26, 2008, 8:37 am

    Dan,

    Your attention to detail and sense of humor always make these “Travel Woes” an interesting read–I hope you’ll continue sharing them with us!

    Sweden is where my ancestors are from and I’ve always wanted to visit there someday. I don’t have any experience with international travel, but it’s good to know there are still plenty of helpful Swedes willing to assist a traveler when needed.

    Thanks also for the beautiful pictures!

    Mark Bystrom

  • Dan O’Day September 26, 2008, 4:38 pm

    Thanks, Mark.

    Sweden is my favorite country.(No offense to other 33 I’ve worked in. They’re my second-favorite country.) Whenever I’m there, I feel as though I’m home.

    Hope you get to visit your distant relatives there one day.