Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gothenburg, Reflections

Back in the US....back in the US....back in the USA!

Other than having to leave the hotel for the airport at 0-dark-30 (4:45am CET but made somewhat easier since I got a ride in a Volvo stretch limo!!!) the flights home were uneventful. The flight from G'burg to Munich took about 1.5 hours. I had a 3 hour layover in Munich; which was ample even considering that I had to go through German Immigration (interestingly the Germans stamped my passport each way while the Swedes did not at all). The flight to Charlotte took about 10 hours and fortunately I didn't have any trouble getting through US Immigration and Customs. Then I had a 2 hour drive to get to the house so Don was a tired puppy when he got home.

I am still amazed at the level of service that one gets on a trans-Atlantic flight; or the connecting flight from Munich to Gothenburg for that matter. Alcohol is free on the trans-Atlantic flights and Lufthansa does a very good job of making sure that you have what you want. The meals and snacks served were far superior to what the American public has come to expect on domestic flights as well. Even the "snack" served on the Munich to Gothenburg flight was a very nice sandwich as opposed to a tiny bag of some kind of high carb mix (Lufthansa give you this in preparation for the first round of drinks right after they get to cruising altitude on the trans-Atlantic flights) like we get in the states. My flight 10 years ago on KLM was the same way (we won't go into the disaster that the return flight on Northwest was). And the domestic airlines wonder why they are losing money...

Here are some final pix from the trip. And perhaps not what you'd think I'd be taking pix of. But I am an engineer and new/different things interest me so...

First are a couple of shots of the shower in the hotel room (there was a tub as well). Notice that the "shower curtain" is a curved piece of glass that pivots on the wall. You pull it out for use and push it back out of the way when you are through with the shower.

Standing in front of the spray from the nozzle you don't get a much water on the floor outside the "curtain" as I would have expected. You certainly could if you were messing around, but I didn't have any trouble with it.

Another interesting thing was the control valve for the water, both in the shower and the tub. If I ever build a house I'm going to try and source these. They may be available in the states but I've never seen them before.

The control knob on the left regulates the mount of water coming from the showerhead/faucet.

The control on the right regulates the temperature of the water. There is a preset temperature, but by pushing the red button you can turn the knob and set the temperature to your liking. Once that is done, all you do is turn the water on and off via the left control knob. There is no constant fiddling with the hot and cold controls to get the temperature right. I love it!

And one last thought related to our "airport security" (I guess I can tell this now that I'm home...): while I'd taken my prescription sunglasses with me, I grabbed a pair of clip-on sunglasses out of the console in the truck just in case something happened to the prescription pair. I had both pair in my carry-on backpack. Remember that...

Imagine my surprise when, after going thought security in Charlotte and again in Germany on the way over, I found a live .40 S&W hollow point round in the clip-on sunglasses case! I guess that it slipped into the case when I cleared the chamber as I was changing from hollow points to FMJ rounds in the XD40 and dumped the round into the console for loading back into the clip later. Aside from scaring the hell out of me, now I had the problem of what to do with the round. I'm not going to tell you how I solved the problem but someone, at some point in time, is in for a surprise (there was a piece of sculpture just down the Avenue from the hotel depicting a revolver with the barrel tied into a knot. It was titled "Nonviolence". King Gustav Adolph must be spinning in his grave...).

This just serves to point out that the American public has been fed a line by our Guv'ment in regard to air traffic security. The whole thing is basically a scam, as we are concentrating on things that probably aren't going to be tried again (shoe bombs, explosives in liquids) while what we really need to be doing is what Israel is doing: profiling. I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Left now. But there will come a time when we're going to wish that we hadn't been so PC, mark my words...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Gothenburg, Day 7

6:18pm CET: Everyone seems to leaves work early on Friday so we were turned loose at 3:30. I'm trying to get packed and ready to fly out at 0-dark-30 in the morning. Can you say "Don's going to crash and burn when he gets home" boys and girls? I knew you could....

As I promised yesterday here are the pix I took from the church grounds up on the hill:

The water front.

Ferry coming into port. She's swinging around to back
into the dock. I think this is one of the ones that
goes across to Denmark.

Gothenburg used to be a major ship building facility,
but as my Swedish friends say "Not so much any more."
It is still a major port, as you see a lot of truck
traffic hauling containers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gothenburg, Day 6

6:00 am CET: cloudy again this morning and it looks like it rained during the night. Typical "Gothenburg weather" according to the Swedes.

I'm supposed to tour the Volvo truck plant this morning. Don't know if they will allow cameras in the plant, but I'll try and get some pix if possible.

Update: didn't get any pix at the truck plant but we went up to a church high above the city after work and I got a bunch from there. I'll post them tomorrow because I left the card reader at work....

Gothenburg, Day 5

Up earlier then the last two days this morning, since my colleague needed to be in the office an hour earlier today. Meetings most of the day but this afternoon several of us went to the Volvo Museum and looked around a bit. It's a neat place with a bunch of concept vehicles in it.

The office.

Some of the vehicles in the museum:

Kinda looks like a Chrysler Airflow...

P1800ES, the sport wagon version of the P1800

Simon Templar's (The Saint) P1800

Concept vehicles

Concept vehicle for the C30

Concept vehicle for the XC90

A look at the truck gallery from above

Yes Volvo made tractors too

The Titan, one of the longest produced of Volvo's truck models

European cab-over tractors. And after seeing some of the windy, narrow streets in Gothenburg I can understand why they use cab-overs.

Latest version of the FH16

Interior of the cab-over

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gothenburg, Day 4

7:06 CET and it's a rainy day in G'borg. I'm taking the camera to the office but I don't know if I'll be able to get decent pix. More later.

Update: here's a shot of the skyline from the hotel window.

A word about breakfasts: the term "Continental breakfast" as used by US hotels/motels for what they serve as a "free" breakfast is about as far removed from reality (at least what I've experienced in Sweden) as is The One's grasp of basic economics....

The breakfast buffet in the hotel consists of:
hard boiled eggs; soft boiled eggs; bacon (undercooked to US standards); scrambled eggs (and I'm not sure what they do to them but they are unlike any scrambled eggs that I've ever seen...and not in a good way); fruit (apples, bananas, sliced melon, prunes, grapes); several different kinds of rolls and two or three loaves of bread that you slice yourself; sliced turkey; sliced ham; liver pate; sliced tomatoes; sliced cucumbers; sliced red pepper; brie; cheese; tureens of yogart that you ladle into a bowl and then (if desired) anoint with various things (muesli, bran flakes, corn flakes, nuts, dried apricots); coffee (strong!!); various kinds of tea and juices (apple, grapefruit, orange, tomato).

In short, you can hurt yourself if you have a mind to!

Update: The rain stopped and the sun came out. Here are a few shots that I got on the way back to the hotel. And no I wasn't driving...

The BASF building. Or as I've always heard it called, the "Lipstick" building.

The mall (Nordstan Shopping mall). It's supposed to be the largest in Sweden. Most of what you're seeing is parking deck. The mall itself is not that big compared to almost any American mall.

The Hotel Royal near the city Central Station.

And now let me scare the hell out of you. The numbers in the picture are Kronor/liter....which works out to $5.12/gal. for diesel and $5.57/gal for gasoline at an exchange rate of 1 USD = 7.97305 SEK.

Dinner tonight was Wasa crackers w/liver paste and Wasa crackers w/Laughing Cow cheese and an apple. This was after I stumbled onto an Aussie pub (The Dancing Dingo, owned by an Aussie) whilst on walkabout and had a glass of something that I've forgotten the name of (Edit: Spitfire), but it was good beer! Also some good conversation with the barkeep whilst I was drinking it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Gothenburg, Day 3

No pix today, but I'm taking the camera to the office tomorrow.

General observations:

1) No one makes eye contact over here. It's unreal. And if they do make eye contact and you speak like you would at home (the South), they look at you like you're crazy.

2) Almost everyone wears black or dark clothing. I've seen a few tan jackets but the sports team jackets or colorful windbreakers that people wear in the States are missing. And don't even think about a warmup suit...

3) Lots of people on bicycles.

4) Beer is EXPENSIVE!!! I just paid $8.11 (64 SEK) for a pint o' Guinness!

5) Food is expensive!! I paid $20.16 (159
SEK) for a burger and fries to go with the Guinness. Fortunately the burger was very good and the place had malt vinegar for the fries (or chips since it was a British pub) but geeze!

Edit: this may have been because the pub is next to a fairly expensive hotel, as I've since had another burger, just as good or better, for 119 SEK down in the old part of town. In fact my whole meal last night (200 gram burger and a pint of beer) only cost 173 SEK ($22.45).

6) Of course part of that could be the 25% sales tax on food...

7) And part of the reason for the 25% sales tax is that Sweden is (let's hear it boys and girls) a Socialist country. Cradle to grave health care....except if they are out of the needed which wait.

Why do I point out 4, 5, 6 & 7? Because at the rate we've hurtling down that road, the day of the $20 burger ain't that far off! See

8) Lots of Volvos on the streets. Probably has something to do with having the national headquarters of Volvo Car, Volvo Truck Corp., Volvo Bus and Volvo Parts in town...

9) Lots of Toyota diesel cars on the streets. Especially taxis. Little things about the size of a Yaris.

10) While the Swedes are courteous drivers, for the most part, I'm glad I'm using company transportation from the hotel to the office and back!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Photo Blogging from Gothenburg Sweden, Day 2

9:00 am CET Sunday morning in Sweden. I'm headed out with the camera to get some pix. To quote from a web site, Gothenburg is: "Splendidly set at the Göta Älv river´s outlet to the Atlantic."

The city shield

Statue of Poseidon at the North end of Kungsportsavenuen (”The Avenue”) boulevard with the Gothenburg Art Museum behind.

The Lorensberg Theater just down the Avenue from the statue.

Apartments along the Avenue

They're everywhere!! Also Subway, BurgerKing and 7/11.

Looking down a side street from the Avenue

Articulated city buses

Articulated electric trolleys

Update: 6 pm. It's drizzling rain. I went out around 4 to walk around and get something to eat (Subway) and I'm glad I'm back in the room now. Having a hard time staying awake (jet lag) but I'm trying to so that I'll hopefully sleep tonight. I'm actually looking forward to work tomorrow so I'm with people that I know. I've been in Condition Yellow and Orange every time I've been out today and it's wearing me out.