Thursday, October 13, 2011

In Transit

This is quickly becoming a traveling blog, as I am becoming more and more of an on-the-road employee.  The latest trip?  Bydgoszcz, Poland.  (Sounds like "bid gosch").  And getting here was just as complicated as figuring out a language with minimal vowels.  Here's the itinerary:

5:45am (PST): Leave apartment for airport, making sure to empty garbage, unplug most electronics/appliances, and lock up
6:15am (PST): Check in and get through security.  Seattle loves its Starbucks, and I love SeaTac for a coffee spot in every terminal.
7:15am (PST): Visit a Hudson News stand to buy Kleenex, cough drops, and water.  The cashier hands me some Emergen-C when I pay.  Also, I have a Chinese cold.  It's like a regular cold, except I caught it on the way home from China last week.
8:00am (PST): Board my first flight to Chicago.  It's a completely full flight, and I trade my last-row-aisle seat for the last-row-middle-seat so that my Professional Rolling Briefcase (PRB) can fit under the seat in front of me.  Have I mentioned that you should always carry-on?  I have four flights (five airport visits) planned, and the last thing I want is to lose luggage.
10:00am (PST): Midflight.  My nose stops running.  It's a nice break from a constant leaky faucet.
1:45pm (CST): Land in Chicago.  Leave my ears up in the air.  Or take some clouds down with me.  Either way, my ears refuse to acknowledge the new altitude.
2:00pm (CST): Change terminals.  Experience unpleasant flashbacks of the night I spent in O'Hare on the way home from London.  Be mildly impressed that O'Hare has ice cream (that's how I judge airports, you see.  It's surprising the number that don't offer ice cream).  Go through security again.  Discover that there is no food or ice cream on the other side.  Buy Gardettos and water and DayQuil (did I mention that I have a cold?).
4:30pm (CST): Board my long flight to London Heathrow.  It too is a completely full flight.  I have a window seat, which is nice, but it means bugging not one but two people when nature calls.
7:00pm (CST): Food is served.  I break my boycott on airplane food to nibble at lasagna, a roll, salad, and banana cake.  My nose is constantly running (unlike me, who is definitely out of shape).
9:00pm (CST): I overcome my inability to sleep on a plane, only to wake up feeling crappy.  Yes, actually crappy.  My stomach is rolling and I'm not sure which end is going to lose it.  I manage to calm my stomach down and doze off again.
6:20am (BST): Land in London Heathrow.  It's still dark outside.  My ears are still floating somewhere over Chicago.
7:00am (BST): Get through customs and discover that my next flight is not out of Terminal 5.  Also discover that transit between terminals is extremely slow.  You have to catch the express train into Paddington (which only leaves every 15 minutes) and take it to Terminals 1-3.  If you want to get to Terminal 4, that's another train from London Heathrow Central.
8:15am (BST): Find the check-in counter for LOT Polish Airlines.  It's tucked in an annex called K.  Change middle seat for an aisle seat.  Go through security for the third time with both bags.
8:30am (BST): Walk around mini-London while waiting for the gate number to be announced.  Poke head into Pret, Harrods, Hamley's, and a cheap touristy souvenirs store.  Find the restrooms, as the stomach is starting to complain again.
9:00am (BST): Decide that it might be a good idea to eat some soup.
9:10am (BST): Decide that the soup was a bad idea.
9:30am (BST): Visit restroom again.  Empty stomach contents.  Decide never to eat again.
10:10am (BST): Gate is finally announced.  Join the throng to Gate 20 and wait some more.  Ears are still over Chicago.  Nose is still running like crazy.  Trying to minimize my symptoms so not to freak out fellow passengers.  Even though I'm sure I'm going to die some unpleasant death in the middle of Europe.  Alone.
10:30am (BST): Take off for Warsaw.  Actually fall asleep on plane.  Wake up to my ears making the most wonderful popping noise.  My noise is clear and dry.  I'm having a mental party while simultaneously refusing snacks.
2:00pm (CEST): Land in Warsaw.  The ears decide to stay behind again.  Damn them.
2:15pm (CEST): Make my way through security for the fourth time.  My PRB sets off alarms and security wants to hand search it.  After careful examination, my never-been-used set of allen wrenches is deemed "dangerous," confiscated, and thrown away.  This is the seventh airport on three continents that I've taken them through, and this is the very first time they've caused any sort of alarm.  I wonder how the Poles put together Ikea furniture.
3:45pm (CEST): Board a tiny prop plane to Bydgoszcz.  Both bags are too big to carry on and are gate-checked.  I sit in seat 5B.  There are three seats per row, and probably no more than 10 rows.
4:45pm (CEST): Land in Bydgosxcz.  Find taxi.
5:15pm (CEST): Arrive in hotel and revel in free wifi, something that hasn't been available since I left Seattle.

Okay, math problem: who can tell me how long my journey was?  That's right.  From door to door, it was 27.5 hours.  And I got to my destination feeling like I was never going to get out of bed.

But you know what?  Sleep is amazing.  It has healing powers like you wouldn't believe.  My ears came back overnight, my nose has stopped running, and I feel like a normal person again.  Let's hope this continues.

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