Monday, September 27, 2010

And then...

After days of next to no sleep, last night I finally got 10 straight blissful hours in dreamland. Between Miss M’s jetlag and my own, sleep has been hard to come by since we arrived. Throw in a night of Oktoberfest debauchery for good measure (the post on that one is on its way I promise), and you have one seriously exhausted me. Barely able to function let alone write intelligent and witty blog posts.

But today I am feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed and eager to begin documenting our adventures. In order to begin recounting our outs-and-abouts thus far, I must first recount the marathon it took to get here.

Our journey started out right on track. We arrived, checked in and were through security by 4:30 am, immediately followed by a much needed visit to Starbucks.

Had I only known what the travel gods had in store for me, I would have asked for a triple shot in my White Chocolate Mocha.

Our flight from PDX to Salt Lake City felt like a dream. Madeline’s eyes grew wide with wonder as our plane left the ground. Sitting on my lap in our window seat she babbled away excitedly as the cars and houses grew very small and the clouds flew past. In this age where travel by air is no longer the modern marvel it used to be, seeing her delight and awe was inspiring. Reminding me of a time when I used to find air travel exciting and new. Soon after we reached our cruising altitude, she grew very still on my lap. Our early start had finally gotten the better of her and she’d fallen fast asleep. She slept the remainder of the two hour flight.

And that ladies and gentlemen is the end of the idyllic, fairytale portion of this tale. Please prepare yourselves, cause from here on out things get messy!

Very shortly after arriving at Salt Lake City International Airport, all hell broke loose. While sitting happily at our gate, the one announcement most dreaded by all travelers was made. Our flight was delayed.

Having a connection time in Atlanta of a mere 50 minutes, this delay was a big BIG problem. After what felt like forever, but was actually only about 5 or 10 minutes we got the final verdict. Due to a hydraulic leak, our flight was cancelled.

F@#K!!!!!!

Cue instant panic and pandemonium. As everyone around me wiped out cell phones and clamored to get in line, another announcement was made that headquarters would be automatically rebooking each passenger for a new flight. Oh, did I mention this was a full flight?

Yup… good times.

Following the desk attendant’s simple instructions, I walked across the concourse, scanned our old boarding pass and received two meal vouchers and a new itinerary. So much for the food vouchers, our new itinerary had us on a flight departing for Newark in about 3 minutes!

This is when Hollywood would cut to the scene of Madeline and I making a mad dash through the airport in order to make our flight, right?

Save it. I promise that scene will make an appearance later in this tale.

Thanks to a stroke of much needed luck the gate for our Newark flight was a mere twenty feet from where I stood, and Miss M and I were rapidly boarded. Five hours later we landed in Newark, a bit tired and seriously hungry, but all in all not too much the worse for wear.

According to our new itinerary we had two hours til our next flight to Charles De Gaulle, so priority number one was to find some food. Since I was travelling with a toddler, McDonalds was the order of the day. A piece of cake to locate in an airport, right?

WRONG!!

What I really needed to keep the Munchkin fat and happy was some Chicken McNuggets, what I ended up with was some sort of weird cheesy flatbread thingy, with a sweet type of sauce on it that no self respecting almost 2 year old would deign to put in their mouth. I had packed a ton of nibbles that Miss M normally can’t get enough of, but of course wanted nothing to do with at this point. So…

Cue the mini Oreos.



Not the most nutritious lunch there ever was and maybe not the most brilliant choice when you are about to be stuck in a flying tin can for 6 hours, but hey sometimes you just gotta do, what you gotta do.

With my toddler once again sweet and happy, we made our way over to the gate to get our new boarding cards. We still had at least 20 minutes til our flight was scheduled to board, so I figured we had lots of time to have new cards issued. I mean our original cards only took about 5 minutes to issue, so this couldn’t be that much harder, right?

WRONG AGAIN!

Because Madeline was travelling as a lap baby during this trip, she needed to have paper tickets issued. Of course the tickets we originally received in the mail several weeks before our journey began were now useless, so new tickets needed to be issued. Apparently infant tickets are NOT easy to issue.

So, we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Eventually the plane was fully boarded, except for us. We were still waiting for the Munchkin’s new paper tickets. Luckily, our gate was right in front of where the planes take off. Miss M was pleased as punch to watch and announce with a point and a “Mama! Mama! Mama! Pane!” as each plane took to the skies.



Finally, with paper ticket in hand, the attendants hustled us on board. The reward for our wait…

One pair of “Preference” seats. The most coveted, spacious, and awesome of all seats with the exception of Business and First Class. Our seats had a ton of leg room and were located on the plane’s bulkhead, meaning there was no one in front of us. Plus, the most amazing of all attendants on the planet, was sure to book our “preference” seat with an empty seat next to it. For the next 6 hours it was like Madeline and I were ensconced in our own little private space. Very nice.

The HUGE downside… because we waited so long to board, my stroller could not be gate checked and had to go in the hold with all the other luggage, to be collected at our final destination, Dusseldorf.

So when we arrived in Paris, I was without stroller. Of all the times throughout the whole trip when I REALLY needed my stroller, this airport was it! With Miss M. strapped onto my front in the Ergo Carrier and both our carry-on bags strapped to my back I walked as fast as I could, huffing and puffing to the transfer desk to get my final set of boarding passes. My connection time in Paris was extremely short, so in an effort to cut down on wasted time, I shoved the important tickets and things they had issued me in my back pocket, for easy access.

This move was almost my complete undoing.

I arrived at the transfer desk sweating like crazy, completely exhausted from the long flight and almost run from my arrival gate, carrying about 45 pounds, only to reach into my back pocket and find NOTHING! My tickets had fallen out.

Near to tears at this point I walked/ran back the way I had come scanning the ground for my tickets. About a ¼ of the way back the way I had already walked, I found the tickets. Walk/run again, back to the transfer desk to stand in line, to wait for my boarding passes.

And wait, and wait, and wait.

By this point I am near to hysterics. All I want is to make this flight. It’s the last one! A mere 55 minutes and I would be on the ground in Dusseldorf. My long day would be over!

FINALLY!! I got up to the desk; the attendant issued my boarding passes and told me my flight was boarding at 9:05. “What time is it now?” I kindly asked. “Oh My!” she responded, “It’s 9:05 now.” “How far do I have to my gate?” I asked. “Oh not far at all,” she responded.

Okay, I think maybe the European definition of “not that far” and the North American definition are TOTALLY different.

Cut to the “race through the airport” scene I promised above. I hustled as fast as I was physically possible with my load, through security checks, up escalators, down moving walkways, declaring “Excuse moi!” the whole way until at LONG last we arrived at our departure gate.

This is when we were told, the plane was delayed and to take a seat as they were not boarding yet.

Yup, the powers that be love me THAT much!

Should I also mention that we then boarded a bus that took us to our plane, that was located right back in the same location the plane I had just disembarked and run halfway across the airport from, was parked?

*sigh*

Approximately 55 minutes later, we landed in Dusseldorf. I think I could have kissed the tarmac. After a brief visit with the lost luggage department…

What? You actually thought after all of that my luggage would have made it with me? Ya, sure. Not likely.

Anyway, after visiting lost luggage we excited out into Germany were my Dad was waiting to greet us. He took this picture…



He made sure we were standing in front of the lost and found sign. After everything, it seemed entirely appropriate.

And now you know why it has taken this long to get my feet under me again.

Glad to be in Deutschland. Until next time,

Mandy:)

3 comments:

glennmacneil said...

And U can say in all honesty that she still had a smile on her face HOOOORAH\\\\\\\\\\\ \military \brat training at its best

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, sounds like one hell of a trip. Glad you made it though safe and sound! Enjoy the holiday, I am sure you guys will have a blast!!

Nicole

Jessica Kane said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!! The. Best. Post. Ever. I was dying laughing out-loud in the office, even my boss was like, what's so funny? I was like, you HAVE to read this blog!! Since every has toddlers around here, they would completely empathise.

I freakin' love you girls and am SO glad I made you blog ;).

I can NOT wait to hear more!!!

*to madeline* i gonnnaa gettt youuuuuuuuu--eeeeeeek!!!

xoox
aunty jess

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