All roads, whether it is in life or on the road, take you somewhere. We choose that somewhere to be different, unusual, and hopefully exciting. As tourists, we have traveled them all. Short getaways and straight 10 hour flights. We’ve taken trips that took planes, trains, and automobiles and 36 hours to get there. Was it worth it? You betcha!
There was the time we went to Brasov, Romania, a city in the Transylvanian region, it literally took that and then some. Two planes, two trains, and an uphill mile and a half walk to our hotel in the old square by the Black Church. It wasn’t easy getting there, but what a fantastic trip it turned out to be. Nothing that’s worth anything is gonna be easy. That is what makes the reward so sweet.
Leaving LAX is never smooth sailing but you prep for that. You know that you will have to spend time finding parking that works for you. Then there are the never ending lines. The ticket line, check in your baggage line, and go through the security line before you finally can move on to find your gate. Don’t worry, when you get there you will probably find another line to get on the plane. By now you deserve a celebratory drink and stress rest. You have made it …. well at least to the airport for now. It takes time so make sure you always give yourself plenty. Foreign airports are sometimes a little intimidating by their hustle and unfamiliar layouts. We always take the time to explore. A lot of people will tell you that if you have seen one airport you have seen them all, but I don’t think that is true. Just by looking around at the main hubs you will see the diversity of the local travelers rushing off to their gates. Airport shops, as much as they are overpriced, still hold some surprises amongst the typical ‘last minute catch the tourist gifts’. Or just unique stores like Hello Kitty in Taipei, Taiwan or a beer stein shop in Munich, Germany. As well as you just might run into some café or snack shop that offers local beer or not your everyday sandwich, quiche, or pizza.
There is also the personnel of the different airlines. Kat and I like to compare their uniforms to the ones worn by our local airlines staff. The arrival boards, information booth, advertisers on the walls, and the décor is all under scrutiny of not only our eyes, but all passers by. Then there is the center piece. Seems to me that every airport shoots for that wow effect. While waiting for our flight in Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, we had nothing but time to take in and admire their center piece. Called The Churning of the Milk Ocean, it is a spectacular Hindu statue that is impressive in size and layout. What was a Hindu statue doing in Buddhist country airport is still mind boggling to me, but hey I’m not here to solve the worlds mysteries, I’m just here to pass on my observations and experiences.
Now, we have flown a variety of airplanes and airlines. Some were a good experience, some not so much. We are always looking for a deal and since we are not people of high means, we are almost always in the economy. We perpetually tell people to research and stay on top of things. You get out what you put into it. We do put emphasis on that aspect, so sometimes we get sweet deals on seat selection and upgrades. Other times just being nice pays off. Like the time when British Airways cancelled our flight 5 hours prior to departure and moved us to a Delta flight an hour earlier (remember give yourself plenty of time). Well for us it was a mad dash to the airport. We had upgraded seats on BA so when we got there, we explained nicely to Delta what happened and they happily moved us to business class. Ahhhh, good times good times.
You’ve made it to your seat. You put your carry-on in overhead compartment and sit down, seat on one side of you is empty and you’re hoping it will stay that way. As soon as you realize that your hopes and dreams were squashed and the seat next to you gets its occupant, you settle in. Gonna be a long flight so you’re tapping away at the screen in search of a show or a movie that you have not seen yet. In my case, I consider this my movie theater since I never go to one, but planes usually have new releases. Kitty Kat normally nods off in 20…. I can hardly sleep, so movie time for me. About 2 hours into the flight, the staff brings out the meal trays.
So, you got your mystery meal and now you’re fighting to keep it all on the tray. Good luck. Feeling like an elephant in a studio apartment, you hack away with plastic knife and fork, and in between the excuse me and pardons you manage to take it in. Well at least the edible stuff. Most meals are not bad, some are interesting and some …. well you get my drift. Get your wine people. It’s good for your digestion and it helps get that ever elusive sleep. After meal time the planes dim the lights and you got a wonderful 6 hours or so of boredom. If you are one of the lucky souls that can fall asleep in a tin can I envy you. If your seat is an aisle seat where passing people bump into or middle seat where you need to get up every half hour for Mr. Weakbladder or just plain big like me, good luck.
Assuming that you managed to snooze for a few hours, the crew will likely pass out some grub and food about 2 hours before landing. Thank you for small miracles. Coming in for a landing you can always tell who is from here and who is not. Those that are not, will try to get their first peek of their destination with excitement.
Quality of landing depends on experience of your pilot, size of the plane, and weather conditions. We had smooth landings like butter where you didn’t even feel it and a few a little rough and sideways. Any landing that you can walk away from is a good landing. After successful touch down you will be taxiing for a bit. Again, depends on the size of the airport. Sometimes they won’t even use that hamster tube walkway and just dump you on the tarmac. No sweat thou, there will be busses there to take you to the terminal. Getting off the plane, feeling like jack in the box popping out of a can, you’re full of anticipation since you are somewhere other than home. As much as you’d love to just get out skipping away, lets not forget our suitcases. Looking at the luggage claim carousel, you do your typical prayer to baggage gods that yours got here in one piece and somehow did not end up in a country far, far away. Minutes later, with a big smile on your face, you are marching towards that stamp in the passport that you always wanted.
Finding your way to your accommodations will be covered next time. If you managed to stay with me to the end I would like to thank you and please feel free to comment.
Now pack and get out there!