How It All Started

On July 10, the new EU regulations regarding border control were announced. It was already expected that the US would be banned from entering Europe. When we talked with Boris about it the next day, about the fact that for many countries, the doors are now open, I asked him whether he checked for details at the Finnish Border Control site and whether I should check, and he said – no, it will be just one more reason for me to be sad.

So I didn’t, but on Tuesday, July 14, I decided to check it, and to my surprise and amazement, I found out that some restrictions were relaxed. The website said that now not only families of EU citizens can visit, but also families of Finnish permanent residents can visit. I emailed Boris immediately, and Wednesday morning, we talked, and he asked whether I am coming next week.

Continue reading “How It All Started”

Traveling Back to Helsinki from Cyprus

The last day of the conference was very busy. There were lots of interesting talks during all the four sessions. I was attending all the SE sessions and had tones of productive conversations. Since we had a very early flight onFriday, we decided against exploring the city one more time and had dinner at the hotel. 

Friday was exhausting. We had to get up at 4 AM, and the cab arrived to pick us up at 5-15. It takes a whole hour to reach the airport, and our flight was at 8 AM. 

An interesting thing happened at the airport. At some point, we heard an announcement that “the accident occured” in the building, and that everybody has to leave immediately. The announcement was repeated multiple times, and … nothing happened!!!

Another funny thing was at the entrance to the passport control lines. Remember I mentioned that there lots of Russian tourists in Cyprus? There were two directions signs, one – “EU ad CH passports” and another – “All other passports.” They were repeated in English, Greek, and Russian, and for the latter one the sing said: “Русские паспорта,” which means “Russian passports.” By the way, in Athens, a tourist from China try to go to the first of these two lines, because she thought that CH means “China.” 🙂 :):)

The flight back was exhausting, we had two connections, in Athens and in Munich. The first one was not bad, we had plenty of time, I even shopped for souvenirs and bought some Greek wine for Vlad.

Actually, after being in Cyprus for five days, I somehow started to miss Greece. We were walking along the aport in search of our gate, and the exits to the city were visible on the left. I asked Boris: can we step outside for just a brief moment? I want to be in Greece! SO we did. It was crisp outside, but sunny, and I saw the mountains :). And I thought I need to come to Greece again :). 

It was 7-30 PM when we came back home in Helsinki, so it was a very long day! 

I Am In The Slow Mode For A Week, And Air Travel Surprises

Boris came on Wednesday, and this will be the last time before October when we are going to see each other in person. As usual, the adjustment from living solo to living together, even temporarily, is hard. This time especially, since I was unusually stressed with all the things going at work and in my professional life in general. I didn’t have time to adjust to the slower pace mentally. Our velocity of living is very different, and each time we are making an effort to reconcile these differences at least for a short time.

From Wednesday to the next Wednesday, I will have no volunteering activities, and I took one day work from home and one and a half days off. We shall see how it goes.

There was one funny thing about his arrival. O’Hare International Airport (ORD) has four terminals: 1,2,3 and 5 (do not ask me why :)). Terminal 5 is international, no matter which airline you take, the passport control and customs are located in Terminal 5. It usually always takes time to get out of it due to the long lines, even if you do not have the checked baggage. With the flight arrival time of 3-45PM, we agreed that I would leave work at about 3 PM. The CTA Blue Line, which goes to ORD is a little bit unpredictable, like the whole CTA in general, so although the stop is very close to my office, it could take from 35 to 50 min to get to ORD. Plus, Terminal 5 is the furthest from the CTA stop, so it’s a separate journey. Plus, the inner airport transit is still under construction, and there are shuttle buses between terminals, which also adds time. With all these calculations in mind, we agreed on the meeting time 3 PM and our usual meeting point. Since we both have vision disabilities, having a default meeting point helps a lot.

That was the first time he had a connection in Dublin, and I was watching the live updates on his flight. BTW, Google always knows what flight I am looking for, so I do not even need to type the number. It showed the arrival time slightly earlier than on the schedule (3-33 PM), and I decided to leave 5 minutes earlier, although we both know that this time does not mean anything. Some airlines report arrival at the point of the aircraft touching the ground, and there can be 10-15 min of cruising afterward.

I was on the CTA when Boris called, and he almost never calls the phone, because it is way more expensive than a video call. I was trying to tell him that I am still on the CTA, but then I’ve realized that he was telling me that he is on Terminal 3. And after he said so, I’ve realized that that’s what arrival information was telling me, but I chose not to believe it :).

After all, it saved us tons of time, because when I arrived, he called me again and said that he was already by the CTA station. But I was curious to find out what happened. Turned out that as he put it, “The US is expanding its borders.” If you ever traveled by air from Canada to the US, you know that the US border control is taking place in the airport in Ottawa or where else your flight starts. So when you are boarding, you are already on the US territory. The same thing happened in Dublin, and he didn’t realize that it was an actual border control, except he was puzzled by the additional security checkpoint. He only looked into his passport when it was announced that the arrival will be in Terminal 3 :). It ended up being very convenient, and now we know why the connection was three hours long!