Thursday, November 21, 2013

TBT: Adventures in Trans Atlantic Travel

I was trying to come up with something to post today and the throw back Thursday photos on FB got me thinking that I could come up with some random story from days gone by. Combine that with thoughts of my upcoming trip to Europe (more on that later) and inspiration struck!

I've been to Europe twice - a whirlwind 10 days in Spain, France and Italy the summer before my freshman year in high school and a return trip to Italy for two weeks during college. Both times my travel over was smooth sailing, um, or flying, but the return trips were less than perfect.

1992: After spending 10 days traveling with a group of fellow introductory spanish students and a friend's mom as my chaperone I was ready to go home. The last few days of an otherwise great trip were already a little bumpy, with my migraine medicine making me super sun sensitive and way too much time outdoors turning me into a splotchy mess. It also didn't do it's job and I missed out on most of Madrid, trying to sleep off a headache it should have prevented. So, as we were loading the bus to head home I was certainly anxious to be on our way. So anxious that I missed the bottom, exterior step and landed on the sidewalk, spraining my ankle. After being yelled at by my teacher (WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!?!) they decided there wasn't time to have it checked out, so I hobbled through the airport for our flight to Heathrow. When we landed there for a lengthy layover I was taken to the infirmary where they told me I needed to go to the hospital for x-rays. Now, my layover wasn't that lengthy and I knew that leaving the airport would mean missing my flight home. I got up and walked again, trying to not wince from the pain and said I'd be fine. They didn't believe me, but did agree to let me go home.

I was escorted onto the plane in a wheel chair, and they called my parents to let them know I'd be coming off that way as well. Initially they had me sitting in an aisle seat, with my leg propped on the armrest of the person in front of me. I honestly don't recall if that was a person from my group or a stranger, but either way no need to feel too bad for them as that just didn't work well at all. Shortly after take off they came up with an alternate solution so I could still be propped up to minimize the swelling - they moved me to the flight attendant "jump seat" in the back and propped people's carry one bags under my leg. And that's how I sat, all the way from Heathrow back to Dulles.

Completely and totally unpleasant way to fly the friendly skies!

1999: My grand return to Italy was for a two and a half week trip for a college class. It was awesome! Until the flight home. First of all, we were handed blue books and a sheet of essay questions for our final exam upon boarding the plane. Due by the time we landed. Second, there were delays landing in London due to fog and we circled the airport for ages. We had a pretty short connection time and my professors were positive we were going to miss our flight and they were in a panic. We RACED through the airport, only to find that of course, the outgoing flight was also delayed by fog. Once we finally were able to board the flight home there was another fog delay, of nearly an hour. Then there was a mechanical delay. Finally, close to two hours after we boarded one of the flight attendants came over the intercom and said, in her lovely British accent, "Well folks, the engine has probably been fixed so we'll be taking off in about 15 minutes."


My classmates and I looked at each other in shock. Did she really just say what we thought she said? The engine has PROBABLY been fixed?!? And you are going to fly us over the Atlantic now? While we write essays for a final exam?!?!

Luckily the engine really was fixed and we made it home exhausted, but otherwise no worse for the wear.

Still, I am hoping that third time's a charm and my upcoming European adventure ends with a much calmer trip home!

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