Saturday, July 06, 2013

Europe Journal 2013, Part 1

8:00 a.m. Travel day. Awake at 5:00 (I hate that! means another 30 hours of no sleep), up at 5:30. Changed the cat litter so my friend Gary won't have to do it for awhile. Had what I laughingly call "breakfast," watched the news. Now into the shower and...Plan to leave here around 10. #76 bus to the Blue Line at Logan Square, then to O'Hare and the check-in fun that undoubtedly awaits there.

9:22 Many of my FB friends...Anthony Bidulka, Kage Alan, Alan Chin, etc. spend a good deal of time flitting casually around the globe. They catch international flights as regularly and casually as most of us catch city busses. They, however, are not two people. I am. And interestingly, though it is usually my Dorien side that most resembles a small boy, but when it comes to travel, I fear it is Roger who has the upper hand. 

Will be checking Chicago's BusTracker system soon to see which #76 bus arrives closest to 10:00. I'm ready. Meet you at the bus stop.

12:02 Thank God for Clear...a portable internet connector! Just arrived at Gate 21C for my 1:05 flight to Newark. Everything went as smoothly as it is possible for it to go given the various paranoias involved in air travel. Should grab a cup of coffee (I brought along a couple packets of my 350-calorie nutritional supplement. Weighed myself before I left the apartment. 147. I'll weigh again when I get home. Expect to lose about 10 pounds.

I don't know if my Clear will work in Newark but we shall see. Later, all.

2:15 Not sure I'll make the connection to Rome or not. Plane held on ground for a long time. Rome flight leaves at 5:15 (boards at 4:45). It is now 3:19 NY time and we just left Chicago. Ah, the thrill! Stay tuned.

2:26 Captain just announced we'll be landing at 5:15...just in time for me to wave bye-bye to the departing Rome flight! Well, this is the stuff of which adventures are made. (Sigh)

5:38 Well, I told you it would be an adventure, and... Left Chicago at 1:15. Well, the plane left the boarding dock at 1:15. We took off around 2:00. We were to land in Newark at 4:40 or thereabouts. My connecting flight to Rome was at 5:15. We landed in Newark at 5:30, just in time, as I predicted, to sniff the exhaust from the departed Rome flight. Went to United's Customer Service counter, to see when I could get another flight to Rome, and to ask where my luggage might be/end up.

Apparently I've led an exemplary life of late, for they put me on a plane headed for Amsterdam, which was boarding as we spoke. I was assured my luggage would make the flight as well. I'll then catch a KLM to Rome, arriving at 11:30 a.m. Rome time...only about 4 hours later than I would have. I will be very careful not to repeat the last KLM fiasco in Amsterdam where they sent me to the wrong gate and I didn't find out about it until 10 minutes before the flight left...from the other end of the airport (Amsterdam has a BIG airport. I made it just as they were closing the doors).

Anyway, we're on our way. Seated across the aisle from not one but two screaming babies with very powerful lungs.

Stay tuned.

9:03 p.m. (seems like 3 a.m.) 200 passengers trying to sleep. 1 screaming baby. 200 passengers wake up. I've never had this experience with babies on a plane before. I've been blessed. (Did I mention it seems very much like 3 a.m.?) Sigh.

11:26 Chicago time, 6:36 Amsterdam time. This whole leg of the journey reminds me strongly of the night I spent in the Milan railroad terminal after missing my Nice-Venice train connection. It is not a memory I cherish. Must try to conserve my computer battery power. I have no connectors, no chargers...all in my suitcase. If my luggage did not get put on this plane and is not in Rome I shall be in deep doo-doo. Well, you will know just by reading a paragraph or two more. For me, as I write this, it's all a mystery. Fun, I guess, if you have a strange idea of fun.

8:11 Amsterdam. Checked main KLM arrival/departure board. They said one thing, my ticket says another. Decided to go with the ticket. Ended up at the same gate I had to race from the far end of the airport to get to just as the plane to Budapest's doors were closing. I have no idea if this the actual gate, and frankly I would not trust KLM any further than I can throw them. Nobody else seems to be here... Not a good sign. Of course no one from KLM anywhere in sight. Going to check now.

10:17. Yep, I had it right. Now winging toward Rome, 40 minutes late—there's been an awful lot of “late” on this trip. Will find out when I arrive if I have a toothbrush and cables and chargers and a change of clothes or not. Got up at 5:30 Wednesday morning, and it's now 3:20 a.m. Thursday Chicago time. I haven't been up 24 hours yet, but it seems a lot longer, and I'm getting a tad tired. Will post something at some point later today one way or the other. If my luggage isn't there, I don't know when I'll be able to post because my computer's battery can't last forever. Well, positive thoughts...positive thoughts!

Having arrived in Rome at around noon, via Amsterdam (read gets better) I went to the baggage area to pick up my luggage. I stood there for one hour. Finally, strongly suspecting it had never made it out of Newark (included in story), I went to the Customer Service desk, where I stood in line for another hour, finally getting to the desk and spending yet another 45 minutes before finally determining that yes, my luggage had made it out of Newark, but it was still in Amsterdam.

So here I am, with only the clothes on my back, literally--though the airline promises to deliver my luggage to the hotel "tonight or maybe in the morning." And so I also have a computer and camera with no way of recharging them

Stay tuned.


Kage Alan said...

I expected you to head into one of their bathrooms, discover a dead body, become the #1 suspect by the police and have to use your years of writing detective novels as training in order to discover the identity of the real culprit, thereby launching you to fame and fortune throughout the international community.

You have to admit that it would make a heck of a story.

Dorien/Roger said...

True, Kage, true. And if I made enough for writing to be a tax writeoff, I just might do it. IF being the operative word.

Anthony Bidulka said...

Great travels Dorien!

One comment - I never 'flit'! :)

Travel well and safe!