Friday, December 19, 2008

6 Countries in 3 Days

So for those of you that like reading about my travels and exploits, I have decided to go the blog route rather than sending group emails. So remember to check back every couple of days to see what I am doing this side of the Atlantic!

So I started this latest trip on December 15th with my Aerlingus flight to Dublin, Ireland. I said a (slightly teary) goodbye to Dad after he dropped my off at the security line and began the great schlepp. I made it to the gate, and soon after I did, I was paged at the counter. The woman asked me if I had a return ticket to the States booked, which, of course, I didn't, seeing as I will now be living in Belgium. I explained that I would be getting married over here (legally) and showed her my paperwork. She accepted it, and explained that she was required to ask due to regulations. Fine, I explained myself, no problem. Soon after that, I boarded the flight and started chatting with my neighbors (2 seats away, a little boy of about 4 and his mother). Sometime during this conversation, a flight attendant comes over to me with a plastic cup of champagne, saying she heard I was getting married! Well, I thought, this is a great start to the journey! It was even better that she brought me another just before takeoff!

So, having started the journey well, I settled in with my book, my water, and my personal entertainment system. I watched Pinneapple Express, an episode of Fawlty Towers, one of Sex and the City, etc. The flight went by remarkably quickly, and I found myself thinking, maybe travel isn't so stressful! But I still had a while to go...

Upon arrival in Dublin, I breezed through security without even having to show my paperwork (much to my surprise), and settled in to wait for Miguel to arrive. He snuck up on me and gave me a big hug and we were off to the airport Starbucks! (The same Starbucks where my purse was stolen back in February.) That Starbucks was to become my home for the next 11 hours. I ate, I slept (short naps), I read, etc. 19 hours into my trip, it was time to head to the gate where flight number 2 would be leaving to go to Brussels!

Of course, that flight was delayed. We finally boarded, and made it there in an hour and a half. Then began the trials of strength, endurance and love as Miguel and I struggled with sleep deprivation, copious amounts of luggage and stairs. Just think, 2 people + ~200lbs. of luggage + 1 train + 1 taxi + 4 flights of stairs... all that =STRESS AND PAIN. Still, we managed, Miguel doing most of the schlepping. At this point it was 11pm local time, we still had to have the neighbor, Natalie, up to talk about cat-sitting and then find dinner. Sleep didn't happen until around 2am Brussels time.

10am, I am forced out of my glorious sleeping to get up, have breakfast and run errands. Groceries had to be bought for lunch, chocolates had to be bought and shipped, things needed to be delivered to Miguel's office, we had to pack for Tenerife, etc. etc. etc. Finally, we were finished and ready to leave! Of course, halfwat to the metro station, I realized I hadn't packed my camera, and had to run back to the appartment, up the 4 flights of stairs, search through the still unpacked luggage and find it, then run back. I eventually made it, gasping and sweaty, to the train station, where we made our train to Holland with no trouble. Holland? You ask. Keep reading...

So once in Nijmegen (the oldest city in Holland) we were picked up by Miguel's mom (Bernadette) and her husband (Nick) and were ferried back to Groesbeck where they live. We were given tea and food and were told we would be leaving for Dusseldorf (where our next flight was to leave at 6am) at about 12am. Mind you, Dusseldorf is about a 20 minute drive from Groesbeck, meaning another long stretch in an airport. It was no use arguing with Nick about the time we would be dropped off, we were stuck. So we leave, right on schedule.

We arrived at the airport grounds which were once used as an American military base during WWII, and finally to Airport Weeze. What a strange airport it was! A huge empty space, the few chairs that were there were already taken up by other passengers already camping out. The stairs going to the second level were blocked off, and there was loud music coming from the bar upstairs. After Nick and Berna left, we wandered for a bit, then decided to see if the lift was working, which it was, so we could check out the "forbidden" upstairs. There was no one up there really, save for the people having the party at the bar. We found some seats, and settled in for a long night. It's a good thing we didn't try to sleep, because every few minutes, the drunk party-goers would take over the PA system and make fake announcements, sing jingle bells, etc. It was a very bizarre experience. Finally, at around 4am we ventured downstairs to get checked in and get rid of some of our baggage. We then proceeded to the gate (a very short walk) and got some cards to pass the time. Shortly thereafter, we boarded the Ryanair flight amidst the stampede of other travellers, and prepared for a long uncomfortable flight.

4 1/2 hours. On a ryanair flight. After staying up all night. With non-reclining seats. And no leg room. Bad. Horrible. Miserable. I was exhausted, feeling claustrophobic, exhausted, feeling a little panic-y, and exhausted. Despite the horrible sleepiness, I could not sleep. It was far too uncomfortable. Several times I thought I would cry. Especially when the kid in the row behind us started throwing up. But no, somehow I remained conscious (if catatonic) for the entire flight.

And then of course, after landing in Tenerife and getting our bags, we had a 45 minute bus ride followed by a 15 minute ride in the car before arriving. It was cloudy and a little rainy. (Of course, the 1 place it's always sunny and warm is cloudy and rainy when I get there. Of course.) After that was over (I slept through most of the bus ride), we greeted Anke (Miguel's dad's wife), got some food, and I went to get a shower. Little did I know, the shower downstairs where Miguel and I were staying doesn't really get hot water. It was warm, I thought it would heat up, so I got in. No. Halfway through shampooing, it got colder. And colder. I turned off the water and asked Miguel. He said to try Anke's shower. Same problem. I then went to shower number 3, which worked well, though I remained chilled. After the shower fiasco, it was SERIOUSLY time for a nap.

4 hours later...

The rest of the night was spent watching Meet the Spartans (300 spoof) and eating pizza. Miguel's Dad, Anke and Andre (their son) were all so nice and fun to be around, despite my exhaustion. I couldn't understand too much when they lapsed into Spanish, it will help when I get over my jetlag.

So when I finally got to bed last night, I went right to sleep, of course, then, to wake up at 3am, wide awake. I read for several hours, and when sleep still wouldn't come, I resorted to tylenol PM which sufficiently knocked me out til 12.

So there you have it. 6 countries (USA, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Spain) in 3 days. All on very little sleep. But I'm alive, being taken care of, and that's that. Sorry for the super-long post, I hope you find it entertaining... Please, feel free to email me ( I have internet and I want to hear from people!

Happy Holidays everyone!!