Posts Tagged With: frankfurt

Quest of the Gods – Day 15, Journey home

Boarding started at 00:30, and everything was normal – I took my seat, did up my belt, stuck on my eye mask and fell deep asleep.  I’d love to tell you a lot about the flight, but honestly… I woke up 30 minutes before landing, when they turned the lights back on.  The lady next to me commented that “you slept like a baby” – I had managed to sleep for almost 5 hours non stop.  My flight route was: Lima – Houston – Chicago – Frankfurt – Gothenburg.

Plane selfie

Plane selfie

When we landed in Houston, I made my way to the next gate.  My boarding pass was flagged up as TSA-PRE which means I should get the expedited security process, but on connecting flights in Houston there was no TSA-PRE line so I had to join the normal security line and go through the usual TSA rubbish of taking shoes off, emptying laptops out, etc.

I had a while to kill in Houston and even though it was only 7am local time, I stopped in at a diner in the terminal and ordered a veggie burger and a milkshake.  I was trying to shift my body back into European time, so eating a lunch sized meal at breakfast is part of the process.  I had actually been craving french fries and a veggie burger for a few days (the food in Peru was amazing, but always very healthy… sometimes you need to cheat a bit!).

Once I got to the gate, they announced that the plane was “still in the hanger” and that the “super” machines they use to transport them aren’t to super, because 2 of them had broken down and therefore we would be delayed departing out of Houston.  I was freaking out because I had a 1:09 connection in Houston and the lady at the gate looked sympathetic but was unable to do anything until we started boarding, by which time it was too late.   Luckily Chicago is a busy airport so if I missed my german connection i’m sure there would be another possible route.

Plane selfie

Plane selfie

As it happens, I slept almost all of the Houston-Chicago flight as well, waking just before landing again.  I wish I could write a manual for how I do it, because i’m sure everyone would like to be able to do this – but I have no idea.  I think it’s a combination of being on far too many planes, and having a small body.

Knowing Chicago well, I was sad to see we arrived in the B gates and my connecting flight was departing from C…. this meant I had to tackle THE TUNNEL.  If you’ve been to Chicago, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a crazy underground tunnel which passes right under the jetway between the two terminals, and is decorated in horrible neon sculptures.  I RAN from B14 to C10, literally sprinting, and was pleased to make it to the gate before they started boarding the last group… I sat down in my seat, wondering if someone was also running with my bag.

We arrived early in Frankfurt, at 5:15am.  I have been to Frankfurt well over 30 times this year, and made it extremely quickly through immigration and into the executive lounge. Life was starting to feel a bit more normal now – croissant, coffee, yoghurt and familiar surroundings.

I headed to the gate a little early to enquire about my bag… had it made it?  I was told by the gate assistant that it had, and they were loading it onto the plane as we spoke.  Phew!  That would have been a frustrating end to the holiday, albeit an all too familiar situation for me.  Once we boarded the plane, I was surprised by just how quiet the flight was…. I guess a 7am departure from Frankfurt on a Monday isn’t a popular flight to Sweden.

Plane selfie

Plane selfie

On the last leg, I finished reading The Book Thief, which was a really well written and touching storyline.  I need to try and see the movie now, since it really intrigues me how you can create a movie covering such a broad timeline in a teenage life.

Landing in Gothenburg, I reflected that i’d last seen a bed at 7am two days before (this was now Monday morning, I had woken up on Saturday in Lima).  Thank god I can sleep on planes! It had somehow turned into Christmas time when we got to the terminal in Gothenburg, which kind of took me by surprise.  I wasn’t able to enjoy that though, since I felt pretty gross, and desperate for a shower, which is exactly what I did as soon as I got home.

Christmas in GOT

Christmas in GOT

Home… the end of the journey.

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Quest of the Gods – Day 0, Departure

The day was finally here… November 1st, at 4:00am, my alarm sounded.  Time to depart on the biggest adventure of my life. Excited didn’t even begin to cover it.  I jumped out of bed, had the worlds quickest shower and prepared for my 4:30 taxi.  As always, my taxi was late arriving due to my address being impossible to find unless you live there.  Basically my apartment is one street but the address is of another street (the next one over).  They always screw it up, so I wasn’t surprised to be carrying my bag down the hill to meet the driver.

After a quick check-in process at Gothenburg Landvetter airport, I settled down to buy breakfast – I was too early for the lounge to be open!  Breakfast was a cheese sandwich, yoghurt and a latte.  Decent food, although at 5am anything tastes okay, I think.

Breakfast

 

I played my usual trick of waiting by the gate (since the lounge was closed) and was rewarded by being first on the plane – a nice feeling and small reward for my 100,000+ miles a year!  Whilst waiting to board, I was amazed to notice that everyone was staring at their phones like zombies.  Normally I wouldn’t pick up on this, but being phone-less made me much more observant (and possibly jealous?).  I guess most people look like zombies before 6am anyway.

Once onboard, I was seated in my ‘usual’ seat, 8A, and settled in for a quick selfie before a micro-nap on the first leg of the flight – Lufthansa hop to Frankfurt.

The first of many selfies

The flight was pretty uneventful, but when we landed in Frankfurt the fog was intense!  After a quick bus transfer to the terminal, I made my way to the lounge in International Departures (Z gates) – I’m always amazed at how quickly you can get through Frankfurt airport if you’re lucky.

Sunrise between GOT and FRA

Fog in Frankfurt airport

Once through Frankfurt I found the United counter in the lounge and was issued with my boarding pass for the second flight – complete with the magic ‘SSSS’ mark which, the lady warned me, means that I was randomly selected for extra security screening.  I was warned to be at the gate ‘at least 30 minutes’ before boarding time, since this process ‘can take some time’ and ‘we wont wait for you’.  Great.  So much for a chill out in the departure lounge.  I did manage to squeeze in a second coffee (4am start!) and some cookies before I had to head to the gate for the screening.

Randomly selected for security screening

Second coffee of the day

The security screening turned out to be pretty quick – they gathered a bunch of us together and asked us to come to a seperate secreening areas.  There we were asked to switch on all our electronic devices (for me, that was only my camera) and then we were allowed back to the gate to board the plane first.  I have no problem with security screening since I would definitely prefer that to any problems when the plane is in the air!

We were boarded via a bus (Frankfurt has a tendancy to do this even for bigger flights), and our bus seemed to get lost during the journey to the gate (possibly due to the fog?).  Even so, I took my seat pretty quickly and it was time for another selfie.

Selfie #2

Selfie #2

 

I love the United trans-atlantic service, not because its particularly good but i’m so familiar with it that I could basically recite the inflight announcements all the way through the flight.  Our departure was delayed by almost an hour due to the fog in Frankfurt, which didn’t bode well for my 1h30 connection in Newark.  Still, it’s a nice long flight so time to relax and enjoy some movies.  During the 10 hour flight I watched:

  • A fault in our stars – which made me cry, and was definitely a beautiful movie
  • 22 Jump Street – which was really boring, just like 21 jump street
  • Happy Christmas – which was weird, and made me uncomfortable because Anna Kendrick played a happy character instead of a grumpy businesswoman as she is typecast
  • Earth to Echo – which I couldn’t decide if it was a kids or grown ups movie.  For a kids movie, there was a lot of swearing, but the plot and style really didn’t cater to adults.

I also watched the obligatory “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” which they always have on the United inflight entertainment.  My dinner was served and it was basically Mushrooms and Rice, which meant for me that my dinner was Rice.  Oh well, you can’t win everything.

Due to the foggy departure, we ended up landing in Newark 35 minutes late, leaving me with just 55 minutes to get through immigration, collect my bags, progress through customs, re-check my bags, obtain my boarding pass for the connecting flight, change terminal and go through security, then board the flight.  As you’ve probably already guessed, that didn’t happen – I gave it a damn good go, but when I got to the check-in counter for my connecting flight it was already closed. I was pretty fed up at that point and shouted a bit to the guy at the counter, who helpfully told me to go bother someone else since he didn’t work for Avianca.

I eventually made my way to the United service counter, since I booked the flight with United, and they started by offering me a ticket on the same flight a day later… uh no!  “I’m not misssing the start of a vacation I have been waiting for for 6 months” I told them, and started to throw a frequent flier fit (FFF?) – I was rewarded with a more senior agent at the desk who was able to rebook me onto a flight with LAN Peru directly to Lima, leaving New York later that day.  The problem: the flight was leaving from JFK and I was at Newark.  Luckily the United lady was on my side and even issued me a voucher for the taxi fare, and a meal voucher to cover my meal in Newark before I left.  Being a frequent flier REALLY helps in these sort of situations – the taxi alone was $95, more than i’d paid for my ticket (since I used airmiles!).

Newark to JFK

Newark to JFK

Using my $7 meal voucher I invested in piles of bad food, since I had eaten so badly on the plane over.

Pizza, Mac and Cheese and a Protein drink

The next challenge, I realised, was to contact Gadventures to let them know my arrival plans had changed – I was scheduled to arrive at 2:05am, and i’m pretty sure whoever was going to meet me wouldn’t want to sit at the airport until my new arrival at 6:50am!  No problem, I thought…. i’ll call the US toll free number from a payphone.  Oh.  Payphones.  Do they even still exist?!  Well, the answer was yes, and I actually got to use 3 different ones before I managed to get through to Gadventures.  Clearly the phones aren’t well managed on a Saturday!

Payphone Selfie

I did find myself thinking that this problem would have been so much easier if I was holding a mobile phone in my hand, but I was determined not to let it bug me – I ended up changing some $1 bills into quarters and using coins to call the Peruvian office who answered immediately and were very helpful.  My flight change was no problem, and all I had to do was cross New York in a taxi and wait in JFK for 6 hours.  The taxi ride was uneventful, although we did get to see a great sunset over the Brooklyn bridge.

Sunset over Brooklyn

Sunset over Brooklyn

One advantage of this little detour is that I got to experience JFK – I’ve never flown through there, since it’s not a United hub.  I have to say I was pretty impressed with it, although it was  like almost every other US airport, with a Starbucks, Auntie Annes and a Hudson News… the US airports have so little local character (at least Hudson News is relevant in New York, I suppose).

At this point i’d been on the go almost 20 hours and still hadn’t boarded my flight from Lima – despite a coffee, pretzel and lemonade, I was feeling exhausted (maybe from all the carbs!) so as soon a I boarded my flight to Lima, I snapped a final selfie and settled in for the long night flight to Peru.  I had basically the worst seat on any plane – the non-reclining, back row, next to the toilet seat.  But it was a seat, and I was finally on the way, and I was so excited for the true adventure to begin!

Final day one selfie… tired!

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1 month to go!

I can’t believe it’s so close! In 1 month, i’ll be boarding my plane to Peru! Well, technically, i’ll be boarding a plane to Frankfurt, then changing planes… a lot of times. But it’s close, and i’m really excited!!!!

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Training when travelling

It’s one of the blessings, and one of the curses, of my job that I get to travel. It’s wonderful to see so many amazing places, but on the other side it’s hard to keep up a regular training routine. Continue reading

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My travel route to Peru

I booked my trip to Peru using air miles, which means my options were pretty restricted when it comes to which route I could take.  United, who I carry my loyalty with, offered me the routing:

Gothenburg – Frankfurt – Newark – San Salvadore – Lima

Lima – Houston – Chicago – Frankfurt – Gothenburg

It’s kind of insane, but it’s a lot cheaper to use air miles on a trip like this than to book it directly.  So by the time I get to Lima I will have spent 25 hours on planes, and face the same on the way home.  Not unusual for me, but still… adventure starts a long way from home!

Flight Route Map

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