This particular time of my life was SPRING BREAK BABY. The last one of my undergraduate career. Time to go cray, right? Well, kind of. Ish. I decided to participate in a short-term faculty led program to France and Spain, meaning I got credit for one of the last classes I need to graduate by seeing the Louvre and partying in Barcelona rather than sitting in a classroom. Good life decision. However, spring time in the mid-west is the absolute definition of bi-polar. And boy was she in one of her pissed off moods. The week we were due to leave saw all kinds of ice and snow both in St. Louis and Philly – our necessary connecting flights.
Unexpected Event #1: You’re leaving Wednesday night instead of Thursday morning!
Due to the ice/snow our original flight out of STL was moved up. To avoid more snow? I’m not sure, all I know is all of a I sudden had about 4 hours after work to pack. No big deal, right? Well, considering I literally had not even thought about how many days we would be gone therefore how many underwears I would be needing this caused some scramble.
Step 1-Buy the things you’ve been meaning to. Like Ziploc bags for liquids and travel-size toothpaste. TIP If you’re stuck at work or something, you can buy things online at Target and arrange for someone else (like your brother who is waaaay better at braving ice on roads) to pick them up for you. GENIUS.
Step 2-Plan. Don’t over pack just because you’re throwing everything into the case frantically. Also don’t forget your passport. Think!
Step 3-Fold. Watch this video on ranger rolling like the fabulous army folks. Seriously a game changer.
Step 4-Just go. Don’t obsess over what you may or may not have. Passport, money, smart phone? You can do without literally everything else if need be.
Unexpected Event #2: Flight Delay
Due to the very obvious heavy snow conditions causing the snow plow dance we’ve been watching in Philly all day, our evening flight was delayed a couple hours. No big deal, to be expected.
Unexpected Event #3: Trapped on the Tarmac
So we boarded the plane. Sweet, right? On the way to Paris! Not so much. We sat on that *pardon me* DAMN PLANE FOR SIX HOURS. SIX. We got water and pretzels. Very similar to medieval imprisonment, minus the iron bars and creepy neighbors.
Unexpected Event #4: Cancelled flight.
After six lovely hours I never want to repeat, THEN they cancel the flight due to mechanical issues. At about 3 a.m. As in we waited all that time and didn’t even get to leave the ground. Oh don’t worry though, they gave us a snack box and a piece of paper with a customer service line too overwhelmed to provide service which totally makes up for it (it doesn’t). All the hotels were full because of the number of flight cancellations and we had to ASK for meal vouchers. Twice. Something that should come standard when you have to stick around longer than expected and it’s not your fault. US Airways is officially on my list. And it’s not the nice one.
Unexpected Event #6: Paris airport on strike.
This made rescheduling for flying directly into Paris…difficult.
Unexpected Event #5: We’re going to Amsterdam!
After several hours talking to our travel agent and multiple customer service representatives in person and via phone, standing in multiple lines all over the airport, and going over more options than I remember, our FABULOUS professor-in-shining-armor found a way for all of us to get to Europe on one flight (made even more difficult by the fact we had two very nice Chinese exchange students in our group whose Visas would not allow them to fly into any non-EU country). Paris? No. Surprise, we’re all going to Amsterdam! Followed by a train ride to Paris to continue with our planned itinerary. The airline is supposed to refund us for the train. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Overall, I can’t be too bothered because I got to spend the afternoon in Amsterdam. Which was absolutely wonderful. And our group had a lot of fun together the rest of the trip, part of which is due to our initial uncomfortable airport bonding experience. There’s always a silver lining, and an interesting story if nothing else.
Look out for 3 more posts on the 3 cities visited during the rest of our time!