Friday, February 16, 2007

the travel gods hate me

regular readers of JMWT (kinda like WWJD, but very, very different) know that i heart travel. travel! yay! if i could make travel my boyfriend i kinda might. what with the broadening of horizons, the experience of different cultures, the tasting of different foods, the fumbling over exotic languages, the fascinating grocery stores of other countries, the frequent flyer miles, the experincing of life in a different city/country, etc etc etc... travel and i are totally BFF.

but i think it's fair to say that during this week's business trip to germany, travel got the last laugh. it punched me in the gut, knocked me down, stomped on my face, did a tarantella on my smushed body, [insert hyperbole here]. part of me thinks i i had it coming, when you consider that the fact that i was going to fly for about 24 total hours for a meeting that would last about 6-7 hours at most (yes, "a" meeting, as in ONE SINGULAR MEETING for which i would be flying halfway around the world. the craziness, o how it boggles the mind).

it all started off so normally. roll to my beloved austin airport (beloved because of the ease of travel there), get some breakfast tacos, settle down with a newspaper while i waited for my flight. and then i found out that our flight to newark was delayed because of weather. and that said delay would cause me to miss my connection to munich. fun! much scrambling ensued, many telephone calls were made, many pleas were made with the (very lovely) continental desk staff (who could only do so much because my connection was on a different carrier). i ended up touching down in newark, bolting out the front door to a waiting car service, gunning it to JFK in a very comfy mercedes (whilst talking up the very nice polish driver -- we talked about pets, i think, and casual drug usage amongst his passengers, and the merits of a mercedes benz versus those of a BMW), and making it to JFK in time to board my re-routed flight. this is fun! except not really!

we landed around 10:15 am munich time on wednesday (aka middle-of-the-night austin time... so much for a tuesday night's sleep), and i headed to my hotel to freshen up before the meeting.
meeting went well, yadda yadda yadda, and i finally got to head back to my hotel room to collapse for the night.

thursday morning dawned gray and chilly and i once again headed back to the munchen flughafen (or munich airport for us amurricans). go through one million security checks, etc, and eventually board the MOST UNIQUE PLANE i've ever ridden. it was an old 737, so that wasn't what was weird (although that is probably the smallest plane i've ever taken for transatlantic travel). what was interesting was that the ENTIRE PLANE was first/business class. there were only 11 rows in the entire plane, and we were all first class. i guess lufthansa/united code-share with a company called privat air (first i'd ever heard of them), and this is kind of their shtick. since it was an older 737 they didn't have private entertainment systems, so they passed out personal DVD players instead, and the headphones came with plastic-wrapped ear covers so you didn't have to inherit the mysterious ear diseases of the previous headphone user. i was sufficiently amused. i've flown international business/first before but i've never seen the efforts an airline will go to to make an older airplane feel more premium.

once i got over that part, though, i settled back into my seat for what turned out to be one of the bumpiest flights i've experienced in a long, long time. it felt like the plane was not so much a solid boeing 737 cruising through the air to shuttle its passengers back and forth between countries but actually a paper airplane that had been left to the mercy of the elements. we shuddered, we bolted, we dropped, we jerked, we did everything but fly smoothly. i'm an experienced flier and a little turbulence doesn't really faze me too much (i mean, i don't really like but what can you do) but this was more than just some average transatlantic shakes. my palms were sweating the whole time and i had to focus on breathing normally. again, fun! but not at all! my saving grace was the fact that a) they kept the wine coming and b) there were only two severly rough patches, in the first and last half of the flight. landing was interesting, it almost felt like the plane was drunkenly trying to find its way to the runway (it had good drunken aim though).

i knew i had a long layover in newark, so i ventured into the city to meet the lovely di for some pan-fried dumplings in korea town and some browsing at border's before heading back to newark to make my austin connection. but what a silly idea! why fly home when you've been awake for nearly 24 hours if you can sit in newark airport with a delay instead?! silly me. i didn't end up getting home until nearly 3 a.m. last night and am surprised that i managed to drive myself home in one piece.

and thus ends the LONGEST STORY EVER about a topic that, let's face it, isn't really all that exciting. sorry, people. it was all i had. now i'm going to disappear again to host the lovely erica and show her a rollickin' good time, austin-style.

have a good wknd!


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