Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Europe 2011, Part III: Leaving, Flying, Arriving

As I mentioned in Part II of this series of posts about my trip, I didn't blog or post anything online about the trip prior to it happening, nor did I do any From-The-Road -type notes. I did, however, take mental notes about what sort of facebook statuses or tweets I might have created while I was gone. You can find these brief anecdotes - sometimes helpful hints for taking your own trip! - in the remainder of my trip posts; they will be BOLD.

Heaven help me, I've never left my kids with anyone but Darin for this long.

We had to be at the airport in the mid-afternoon on a Saturday. The morning was spent with last-minute packing, laundry, and preparations. I was doing my best to not cry.

When the time came to leave, we gathered, as we do each morning, as a family to pray together. Darin lead the prayer (the first one, that is; afterward, Bubby needed to have his turn, as he always does), and we began a series of hugs and kisses. Bubby & Atcha cried, "No, wait!" as we walked out the door, which made my cracked heart begin to crumble. Driving away, I busied myself with a last-minute check to make sure we had 'everything' which, when it comes right down to it, consists of identification, phone, and money.

I am feeling desperately bummed. Somebody talk me into this again.

I phoned my brother. I gave him some Top Secret Information regarding justincase/knock-on-wood possibilities, and then listened as he filled me in on the federal case he had just won as a 3rd year law student (what?!) (I know). Our conversation lasted almost the entire way to the airport, and after we said goodbye, Darin and I pulled into the long-term parking lot just in time to catch the shuttle. Almost immediately upon walking inside the airport we saw Ken, the other professor who would be on our trip with us. He helped with our passports and directed us where to check our one suitcase (we were the last of our group to arrive -- our goodbyes had taken longer than predicted, go figure). The line for security took at least twenty minutes, but it gave us some time to talk with Ken. After security, we arrived at our gate. Realizing we had some time, I went to buy a sandwich. By the looks of the boarding area, ours was going to be a close-to, if not completely, full flight. People were talking with Darin, but I didn't know who was with our group and who wasn't, so I took a seat, ate my sandwich, and studied my camera manual.

Everyone in this group is going to think I am such a snob;
I'm not ignoring them, I'm just trying to not cry.

Finally it was time to board. It wasn't the biggest plane I had ever been on, but it was big. And not crowded. Darin and I were not seated together, but he had found someone in our group who was seated across an aisle from him, and she agreed to switch seats with me, which was very nice. I carefully stowed my camera bag overhead and placed my backpack under the seat in front of mine. I buckled my seat belt, all the while obsessively verifying that my passport organizer had not somehow magically escaped its place around my neck.

Too late now.

We taxied out and took off. The flight was direct, Salt Lake to Paris, which is about a ten-hour long flight. After being in the air for a while, realizing that sleep would not come as immediately nor as easily as I had hoped, I decided to at least attempt to know the name of the person next to me who had the window seat.

Oh, hello, Tommy The Chemical Engineering Grad Student From England. Undergrad at Princeton, eh? Does the fight song really go the way Alec Baldwin sang it the other night?

The flight attendant on my side of the plane was the happiest-to-be-doing-their-job as anyone I've seen, and what a delight. She served my ginger ale with pleasure. Being such a long flight, and due to the hour we left (around 6:pm), we were served dinner.

I am going to take a bite of this crappy airplane salad and chew slowly with my eyes closed because I don't remember the last time I could do that, uninterrupted, with anything that I ate. I am eating this way for Lisa, Kacy, Cyndi, Bek, Jen, and so many others, and I may just cry. Again.

The announcement of the movies to be shown came, but I missed the name of the first one due to Tommy sharing with me his theories about James Fredette. But when the movie began, Tommy proved to be helpful.

Thank you, Tommy, for telling me that The King's Speech is really good and that I should watch it. I did watch it win some prizes a few weeks ago, let's see . . . yep, I like that movie. Thanks, Airplane!

Delta has a neat feature on its screens which tracks where above the planet your plane is located. This screen popped up after the movie, and I was surprised to be . . . in Canada.

Are we seriously flying this far north?
What the -- are we making a stop in the North Pole?

The second movie shown was Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which movie I sacrificed in favor of getting some sleep of my own. Back in August of 2008, at the Phoenix airport, I bought a neck pillow, and that $14-some was among the best spent of my life, to be certain; it gave me exactly the rest I needed that night.

When I woke up, sunlight was welcoming us through the plane's windows, and The Karate Kid (the one with Will Smith's kid) was our morning entertainment. 'Breakfast' was gross, so I watched the movie rather than pay attention to eating. It was just as well, as it had been announced that all lavatories on the plane were out-of-service.

I hope that was enough sleep. I wish I could see out the window.
I wonder if Tommy's looking at the Eiffel Tower.

Landing was fine, and after exiting the plane, I simply followed in the footsteps of those around me, presenting documentation to enter a new country.

My first stamp!

Charles de Gaulle Airport reminded me a bit of Buffalo's airport, and for the life of me I can't imagine why.

Remember when I told you that we had packed one suitcase inside of a second suitcase to make room for all the extra stuff we'd be carrying home with us? And then I made a footnote about how it didn't work?

There's a huge hole in the bottom of the suitcase -- the wheel and surrounding area, completely gone. Awesome. Thanks, Airline! Darin's dragging our one-wheeled suitcase along the floor.

Once outside, I smelled cigarette smoke -- but it was waaaaay more sophisticated cigarette smoke than they have here in the United States.


And then we boarded the bus.


La Yen said...


I really, really, really want ginger ale.

Kate said...

So having taken that exact flight, it's great because I can picture every detail. The direct flight to Paris is nice, but I'm sorry you had to fly on Delta. In all my travels to and from Utah (and other destinations), I've found Delta to be one of the worst. Most airlines give you a TV on the seat in front of you and you get to choose between lots and lots of movies/TV shows/games.

But no layover and no kids is definitely worth Delta.

Sorry this is so long. I can't wait to see how the rest of your trip went. I love Paris and haven't been in a few years (soon though).

Oh and I always get Ginger ale when I fly. I always thought it was so sophisticated when I flew on my first flight ever, and now it's just become a tradition.

Naomi said...

I eagerly await the day there is a direct flight from the UK to SLC, we normally have an 8 hour flight followed by a 3-4 hour flight depending on where we land. I usually want to harm someone by the time I'm on my second flight! Isn't flying without children a treat?!

D said...

Enjoy a wonderful day! I love you!

Kacy said...

I hate leaving and always almost cry.

~j. said...

La Yen - but I didn't order a mimosa, so there's that. (Seriously, is there a candle or spray of Parisian cigarette smoke? DeeeeLISH!)

~j. said...

Kate & Naomi - I'm going to do something here which may seem incredibly naive, but I'll just place my faith in how incestuously small the Mormon world is: Do you know each other? How far do you live from one another?

~j. said...

D - it was a wonderful day. Thank you.

~j. said...

Kacy - Are you a crybaby like me? What about after arriving at your destination?

Naomi said...

Ha, you'd be surprised how many times I have met someone new in the Mormon world and discovered a connection! This time however, I don't know Kate, from looking at her profile she lives in London which is about a four hour drive from Devon where I live. But I do know plenty of people in London so it wasn't a total shot in the dark!

~j. said...

Well, I think you two should meet, don't you?