01 02 03 Life, Unconditionally: Three Countries. One Day. Exhaustion. 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Three Countries. One Day. Exhaustion.

First, I would just like to take a moment to thank all of those that risked their lives on September 11, as well as those who continued to protect this country.  It is because of all of you that I felt safe enough to fly this past Wednesday. 

Wednesday was such a long day for me.  I had three flights, two layovers, and a six hour time change.  To say I was tired at the end of the journey is an understatement.   The first two flights were not that bad because if you forget about the time difference, I was really only up until midnight.  It was the final flight that did me in. 

Flight Number One:

This flight was from Columbus to JFK.  It was the shortest flight of the three, and the smallest plane by far.  Luckily my seat was a single, so I did not have to share armrests with anyone.  I decided not to use my iPod or Kindle on this flight so that I was guaranteed to have battery power for the other two.  Instead I read through the magazines in the pocket in front of my seat.  Now I understand why Richard Castle has a voluntary subscription to Sky Mall.  There are so many cool products in there.  Unfortunately I will probably never be able to afford any of them, but that’s not the point.  As we were landing at JFK (quite roughly, I might add) I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Manhattan skyline.  As the cloud cover was making it difficult to see much, it took me a second to realize what I was looking at.  But there is no mistaking the sight of the Empire State Building. 

Layover Number One:

This layover was very quick it seemed.  Once I found the terminal I needed to be in, I had just enough time to buy a water and call my dad to let him know everything was good.  Actually, they started boarding the plane (a full half hour early) while I was talking with my dad, but I was in the third group so I didn’t feel the need to rush.  I’m still not sure that I liked how early they had us board, because it meant extra time sitting in a cramped plane while it wasn’t even moving. 

Flight Number Two:

I had an aisle seat on this flight which I was happy about, because I hate bothering my neighbor if I need to get up to get something.  Before we even took off, I looked through the in-flight entertainment system (the only saving grace of transatlantic flights).  I could have watched The Big Bang Theory, a selection of new releases and older releases, or play games.  There were multiple Leonardo DiCaprio films, including The Great Gatsby, but I decided to hold off on watching anything right away.  Plus, I technically had to wait until we were at our maximum altitude.  I ended up watching Batman Begins, but it took me somewhere around three hours to finish.  No, not because I was constantly pausing to get up and move around or to do something else.  It was because the gentleman sitting in front of me kept fidgeting and adjusting his seat.  Every time he did this, my screen would freak out and pause itself.  I don’t know if the calibration was just off or if there was a crossed wire, because half the time it wouldn’t even recognize when I would try to press a button.  Needless to say, once the movie was over I gave up on the entertainment system.  The rest of the flight I was just reading and listening to music.  Flying would be so much easier if I could just sleep on planes.  Oh, and I’m pretty sure I was the only American passenger on the flight.

Layover Number Two:

Sometimes I feel so lucky to have English as my first language, but then I remember that I wouldn’t have had to deal with the visa process if I was part of the EU.  My second layover was at the Madrid airport, so there was always an English translation on every sign.  I’m pretty sure I learned more Spanish on this trip that I did the entire two years I took Spanish in high school.  The Madrid airport is easily the most colorful airport I’ve ever been in.  It is absolutely beautiful, and I only saw it when it was still dark outside.  I’m sure it’s even more beautiful in the daylight. 

It took me a bit to find out which gate I was supposed to be at, but luckily I could recognize the Spanish spelling of Venice.  As I was sitting and waiting for my flight to board, I got to thinking about my last trip to Italy and my journey home.  Then I realized that I cannot remember the actual flights home at all – the layovers and sure, but not the flights.  I wonder why that is…

Flight Number Three:

Oddly enough, this flight was the most spacious of the three and had the most leg room for me.  Plus, it had leather seats which I MUCH prefer.  Again, I had an aisle seat which I normally prefer.  But in this one instance, I would have much preferred a window seat with no neighbors so that I could lay down and pass out.  But alas, no, I had two older gentlemen as my neighbors.  They were both very quiet and slept most of the flight.  Even though I fully well know that I cannot sleep on planes, I tried my best to do so.  I thought I was in serious danger of actually passing out from exhaustion. 


I will definitely say this: Traveling like this is not for the faint of heart.  Airports require a lot of walking and pushing your way up through the lines.  They may not be as bad as Rome’s metro system, but they can be quite difficult.  Especially when you’re traveling on busy days of the week or at busy times of day.  I was in the Madrid airport a little before 7am and there were a decent amount of people there. 

I will post about my first few days here in Italy soon!

You Know You’re in Europe When:
~ You see man purses.
~You see a couple making out mid-flight.
~They announce the safety instructions in three languages.
~You feel like the only English speaker for miles.
~Everyone dresses very nice, even at airports.

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