Planes, trains and automobiles, blech!

Sooo I wouldn’t be voted the most popular contestant on the Amazing Race, it’s not the worst thing in the world is it?

As much as I love to travel and visit new cities and new countries and become more cultured with every step I take in all these new places, I HATE the act of getting from point A to B and back again. It doesn’t matter if it’s by planes, trains or automobiles, I hate them all. And yes, I do get a little, uhm, sourpuss like. But seriously, if you had a guy right next to you who repeatedly dug for gold up his nose and then proceeded to wipe it on his shirt, or a guy who smelled like he’d inhaled 20 packs of cigarettes just moments before stepping on to the plane and again sat right next to you, you’d probably be scrunching up your nose and glaring a bit too wouldn’t you … or maybe it’s just me.

When we set out for the 14-hour trip home yesterday morning, I prayed for the travel gods to happily shine down on us, to let us board a plane that wouldn’t leave my feet with third degree burns (like the flight in practically did), to let us get off without delay, and to let us get home alive and in one piece. It turns out, though, I was praying for the wrong things; I didn’t take into account the people.

When we got to the Berlin airport, a really small airport, we stood in a line to check-in for the first leg of the trip to Amsterdam. It was a pretty long line as there was only one clerk when we arrived and two back-to-back flights going out. And after about 45 minutes of standing in the line, we were finally the next ones to go through (by this time there were three clerks checking people in). After the clerk waved us in, she asked if we were on the 11:30 flight, and when we told her that no we were on the next one, she gave us a dirty look and left her posting to call over everyone who was on the 11:30 flight. Mario and I were a little confused as she didn’t say a word to us, she just up and left. When she came back, still giving us a dirty look, she impatiently told us to move back into the line. Mario took it in stride, I got a little pissed off by her attitude, I mean, she was the one who waved us over, she didn’t specify that she only wanted those getting on the 11:30 flight, so what right did she have to give us a dirty look? But I didn’t say anything, I bit my tongue and diligently moved back into the line. However, when I saw a group of people who had stormed the line when the clerks started calling for the one flight, but who were on the same flight as we were, I could bite my tongue no longer, especially when one guy outright budged right in front of us. I mean, come on, we were all getting on the same flight, many of us had gotten there much earlier than others and waited much longer than that guy, who the hell was he to blatantly budge in front of the rest of us? Mario plastered a smile on his face and told me that if the budger’s seat was in front of ours we’d just kick it – a lot. That helped 😉

After a four-hour layover in Amsterdam we were finally called to board our next flight. I was a little tired and cranky by this point as I didn’t have much sleep the night before (I never do before traveling) and the Amsterdam airport was seriously inefficient in getting us onto the flight. They make you go through security as you’re boarding the plane! So we’re waiting in the line, which was a super long line (where did all these people come from?) and which took forever to get up to the clerks to pass us through. Mario got through and just as I was about to go through, an airport dude came over and held me up by actually waving his hand in my face – to gayly chit chat and laugh with his co-worker! Are you kidding me? I literally had to stand there for 5 minutes, my annoyance boiling into serious anger. I know that the plane wouldn’t have left without me, but still, if it was a work-related matter (which I don’t think it was) fine, but be a little more polite about it, and maybe suggest I go into another line, not making me wait there listening to NOTHING!

And then there were those sitting next to me on the flights. If I had it my way, I would always get the window seat, but unfortunately for me, Mario likes that seat too, and because I had it on the way to Europe, he got it on the way home. Now, Mario prefers that seat for the view out the window, and while I too like staring at everything below, I much more prefer that seat as a method of avoiding people, disgusting people who love to invade my personal space! But for both flights home, there was no avoiding it. I got the nose picker and the smelly cigarette smoker right next to me. Blech!

But not only that, about two hours into the nine-hour flight, I got a whiff of this powerful, nasty, sick smell and I was like what the hell is that? It was so bad, I actually had to put my hand up to my nose to try and block it. I thought maybe it was the nose picker, he’d been drinking pretty heavily since the plane took off and was now sleeping, maybe he was letting go of the, uhm, toxins if you know what I mean. But then I spotted a flight attendant guiding an older man to the front of the plane, and figured that maybe he just had a really bad old man smell and went back to my movie praying for the smell to dissipate. It didn’t. I noticed there was a commotion of people all standing in the middle of the plane, but didn’t really think too much of it, just thought there were a lot of people wanting to use the washroom is all. Nope, that wasn’t it at all. Ten minutes later, I found out what the commotion AND the smell were all about. The flight attendant, with a grim look on her face, was again guiding the old man, who was now wrapped in a blanket, back to his seat down the aisle – holding his clothes. Another flight attendant walked by a short while later spraying air freshener all down the aisle. Oh crap! Literally. The plane stunk for hours after!

But I got home safe and I suppose that’s what truly matters, and as is usually the case, I’m sure memories like these will over-ride (if not make me completely forget … we can only hope can’t we!) the nastiness of getting there and back again:

Sacre Coeur, Paris
In chocolate heaven, Ghent
Walking along the canal, Ghent
The Gravensteen (castle of the counts) Ghent
Unter den Linden, Berlin
German plum tart = yum, Berlin

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