Monday, July 4, 2016

Why We Travel

Right now I am sitting in our super old….. 14th Century old.  Like before Christopher Columbus old.  Like I can’t imagine how many people lived and died in this place old.  But I am sitting here wondering, why oh why oh why did I get myself into this????

You see, I’m sure this will be a wonderful experience.  I am determined to make so.  But right now.  Dude.  I would give my right kidney to be back home in my comfortable house in my comfortable bed.  Speaking of kidneys…………… We’ll start there.  You see on Monday Jason took his huge dental school national board test.  It’s an 8 hour test.  It’s a big deal.  And of course this year, they decided too many people have passed in the past and they need to make it harder.  Anyway, so until Monday I was pretty much a single parent trying to survive until Jason got finished.  I was so excited for him to finish so we could have a few days to rest, relax, and enjoy each other before I left with my parents for Italy on Friday. 
Of course that was too easy.  Tuesday Jason had an awful pain that could only mean one thing…. Kidney stones.  After our ER visit Tuesday night we figured it would pass and everything could go on.  Nope.  When I left Friday morning he was still in insane amounts of pain and debating what to do.  We’ll come back to that.

So Friday morning my parents, Brad, and I left for the Vegas airport.  We got there 3 hours early because it’s an international flight and a holiday weekend.  Of course as soon as we got there and waved Jason goodbye we found out our flight was delayed and we had 8 hours to kill in the Vegas airport.  We made the best of it.  It actually really wasn’t that bad.  The airline had given us $105 worth of food vouchers so we went on a restaurant tour of the Vegas airport.

And I really really really lucked out.  It was almost a full flight but they were able to leave the seat next to me empty.  So I took my carseat on the plane and Brad had his own seat.  Honestly that first 10.5 hour flight from Vegas to Frankfurt was the most pleasant international flight I’ve ever had.  Brad was an absolute champion.   He slept almost the entire flight.  I had a windowseat with only Brad on my row so it was a dream.  Well…. I mean let’s be honest, international flights are never a dream in the economy seats.  But it wasn’t that bad.

I was super excited with how well this trip was going…………
Well except the fact that we had a connecting flight to Florence that we were worried we were going to miss.  We landed at 3:15 and our next flight was scheduled to take off at 5.  That’d be perfect except we had no idea how long it’d take to get through customs and the Frankfurt airport is pretty large.  Anyway, we thought we could do it. 
Then we got off the plane and realized that my stroller was no where to be found.  (Usually when you check something at the gate, it is returned to you, at the gate.)  But sure enough it was not.  It was going to baggage claim.  This is where the problems started.  You see our checked luggage was getting on our flight to Florence (Or so we thought) and to go to baggage claim would mean having to go back through security.  And we figured we didn’t have time for that.  So that was when we made our big mistake.  We split up.  I went to find my stroller and my mom and dad went to find the plane. 

Just to imagine I was carrying Brad in his car seat carrying my heavy backpack searching for this stroller.  I went down to baggage claim and of course it didn’t come.  After standing there watching all the luggage get picked up, finally I asked a fellow passenger that had a stroller on the plane.  This sweet family informed me check items were in another room…. Ugh.

So I got my stroller, car seat, backpack, and Brad and I ran as fast as I could through Frankfurt airport to try and make it to my plane.  Of course that mean going up and down 3 different flights of stairs.  (No time for elevators – if they even existed)) So I took Brad in the carseat out of the stroller, folded up the strolled and carried all the items up and down every set of stairs.  I made it through security ran to what I thought was our gate to be told it was in a completely different terminal.  I mean this is so much like Home Alone I had to laugh.  Anyway, long story short sweaty as can be I made it to the gate.  I sighed relief until I looked around and my parents were nowhere to be found.  I hadn’t shown my mom how to use the airport wifi yet so of course she wasn’t answering her phone.  I didn’t know what to do.  Do I get on the plane?  Should I wait?  Finally I decided I should go without them. 

I had the address to our apartment but knew nothing else.  And I had no idea how to get in once I got there.  I finally got a hold of my mom long enough to hear they didn’t make it to the plane and they would be coming on a later flight.

There was one other small problem.  I had Brad and my boarding pass but for some reason Brad was attached to my mom.  So Brad’s boarding pass said my mom’s name.  I didn’t think it was that big of deal.  I even spoke to the people about where Brad’s carseat and stroller would be located when I got off the plane in Florence. 

Well as we were sitting waiting to leave the terminal I looked outside and my stroller and carseat were still sitting on the cart.  I told the flight attendant.  I watched them take my stroller and put it in but then put the carseat back in the cart.  I got told the flight attendant.  She radioed them and said they couldn’t bring the carseat because it had my mom’s name on the checked baggage ticket. Ugh.
So we took off.  I had no idea how what I was going to do when I got to Florence.  I thought maybe I’d just wait at the airport for my parents.  It was only an hour flight down to Florence.  As we came into land I was loving all the vineyards and villas.  It was insanely beautiful.  I was excited as we came into Florence and I could see the Duomo.  I was taking pictures when we were about to land when all of the sudden the pilot pulled up. 

He kept flying and finally came over the intercom and said we couldn’t land in Florence so we were being rerouted 1.5 hours away from Florence to Bologna.  And this is where the fun really began.

So we landed in Bologna, I had my heavy backpack on my back and Brad in a carrier in the front.  The next 2 hours were a completely blur.  Remember at this point I had been traveling for 27 hours.  So obviously this was an unplanned landing.  So we all got off the plane in the rain ran into the airport and waited.  Of course I had no idea where my stroller was.  And I had no idea how much of our luggage would be getting off this plane.  It could just be my stroller (remember my car seat wasn’t put on the plane) or it could be the stroller and 3 checked bags we brought totally 140 lbs worth of suitcases. 

So we wait at the baggage claim.  Another flight came in on that baggage carasol and nothing of ours.  So we waited.  Me standing there with Brad on my front and my backpack on my back.  NO freaking clue where we are.  No freaking clue how I am going to get to Florence.  And No freaking clue where I was going once I got to Florence.

And this is where I started to really meet and get to know all the most wonderful people you can imagine.  First, a family of grandparents, 3 children and their spouses, and their 3 grandkids from Santa Monica were there and took me under their wing.  The grandma was the nicest lady.  She told me when we got our luggage they are hiring 2 vans to come pick them up and they would take me to Florence.  The nicest people ever!

I met a darling family of 5 from Denmark.  I sat by the wife and the kids on the plane.  So so so nice.  Then there was the couple from Baltimore with a baby a few weeks older than Brad.  The sweet family from New Zealand.  The list went on and on.  So many nice wonderful people. 
But the luggage never came.  So eventually we heard someone come on over the loud speaker and we thought said, “Your luggage has been taken out to the coach.  Come out and load the buses to take you back to Florence airport.”

So 100 people gathered up what things they did have and walked outside in the rain searching for our bus.  No bus to be found.  And no luggage.  We wandered.  We walked up to every bus we could find asking if it was our bus.

Finally we found someone who knew what was going on.  I guess we weren’t supposed to leave the baggage claim.  So after another huge fiasco where they paraded us 100 passengers at 1I 0 PM after 28 hours of traveling through the airport and back through security to get our luggage.  Luckily I only found the stroller because I had no idea what I was going to do if all the luggage was in Bologna. 

From there the sweet family from Santa Monica gave me a ride to Florence.  But I was still a ball of nerves…. What was going to happen when I got to Florence?  Even if I found a taxi to take me the apartment we were staying at, how in the world would I know if anyone would be there?  I could just imagine getting dropped off on some dark street in historic Florence and being completely abandoned.  I was seriously considering getting a room at the 4 Seasons (where this family was going) for the night.  I am sure that would have cost a pretty pretty penny but I had no idea what else to do! 

Luckily we got to the Four Seasons and their travel agent was waiting for them.  The travel agent called the man whose apartment we are staying at.  He told her he was waiting for me.  Then they called a taxi for me.  What brings us to my last delima in this whole mess…. I still hadn’t gotten euros.  So I had no way to pay the taxi driver.  It was midnight.  My poor baby.  And I was on the verge of completely losing it.  The angel travel agent said, “You’ve been through enough” She paid the taxi driver and away we went. 

Sure enough we got to our street and it was super dark and I had no idea what to do when I got out of the car.  There was a big door…. So I questioned the taxi driver with the address.  He told me the address explained it was the third floor.  So he told me to push the third button down.  Halleluiah the door unlatched and I climbed the 43 stairs with my baby in the car seat, my stroller, and my backpack up one last haul to at last the final destination, our apartment. 

I finally had wifi and got to talk to Jason…. Who had just went to the ER and had been admitted for surgery in the morning.  And then I spent the rest of the night a nervous wreck.  But that’s a post for another day.

Back to the title.  Why we travel.  I am sure everyone has a different reason to travel. The sites, the food, the beauty.  But for me I remembered on the first leg of our 5 week long journey why I love to travel.  I love to see the world and beauty but most important I love to see that people are people no matter where you go.  They are for the most part good and kind and helpful.  They are just like all of us.


goddessdivine said...

Oh. My. Gosh. That makes our Hawaii mishap a complete cakewalk. This is like the worst travel story ever! Though obviously there are some tender mercies along the way. So glad you made it safely. I would have broken down and cried. Many times. Esp with a baby in tow.

theriddle said...

So considering you had to do the same ordeal all over again, would you still bring your stroller? Carseat? I'm really curious. Oh and I love you.