The Long Way Home, Germany
I flew out a week earlier than Rickey, May 31st, to spend some quality time with my family in the German countryside. The last time we saw them was back in November.
I was excited to go back, especially during the summer, and just enjoy some quiet time at home. Surrounded by blooming flowers, twittering birds, and mom and granny's food.
However, this time, the way home should be a long and exhausting one. Way more of a hassle than I thought.
I left San Diego early in the morning. Rickey dropped me off at the airport. Everything was on time and easy. I was excited. Only a couple weeks ago I got TSA Pre-Check (so convenient!) and so I could jump the long line and go through security in a breeze.
I paid roughly $85 for TSA-Pre-Check and it's good for 5 years. It's definitely worth it and makes security in the U.S. so much easier. Leave everything in your bag, don't pull out your toiletry bag, leave your shoes on. Walk through. Done. A thirty second procedure. You are eligible to apply if you are a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen. You have to fill out an online form, make an appointment at the nearest office, pay the fee, give your fingerprints. They'll then do a background check on you and send you your Known Traveler Number within 60 days. Done. I highly recommend it.
I was sitting at the gate, munching on my croissant, and waiting for the United Airlines flight to Washington Dulles to start boarding. Everything on time, got my aisle seat. Pretty smooth 4 and a half hour flight.
And then a little delay upon arrival.
I got slightly nervous (pregnancy hormones don't help) as I only had about 50 minutes left until the departure of my next flight and knew I had to make my way from one end of the airport to the next, basically.
I had to rush and find my way around. In my opinion, this wasn't one of those airports that's easy to navigate. Eventually, I made it to my gate where SAS was almost done boarding already. I was out of breath. I shamelessly played the pregnancy card and asked for any last minute upgrades - didn't work. Didn't think it would. Asked anyway. But okay. I had booked my aisle seat and should be good on this 8 hour flight to Copenhagen.
I boarded as one of the last passengers - pretty modern airplane, by the way - and was making my way towards my seat. And here the disaster actually began. I looked on my boarding card. Looked at the row. Looked at my boarding pass again - and had to realized that my seat was a very unfortunate middle-middle seat. Umm, excuse me?
I was apparently that stressed and emotional (here again, pregnancy hormones don't help and I literally have no patience at the moment for things that don't go right) that I started crying. Whoops. The lady that was sitting in the aisle seat tried to calm me down as I explained that I paid extra to get a freaking aisle seat bla, bla, because I am pregnant, need to go to the bathroom frequently and generally wanted to move around more.
I dropped my stuff and was looking for a flight attendant. I explained my situation (more or less near hyperventilation - I can be dramatic sometimes), and she told me "Sorry, we're fully booked. I don't have an aisle seat." Ehem, hello? I paid money for a specific seat. I bawled my eyes out and think I really confused the passengers around me.
The flight attendant came back 5 minutes later telling me that she did manage to find an aisle seat for me. Thank you. Yes, I booked one. Gosh.
So, first issue resolved. I settled in and tried to calm down.
I was ready to go - only to listen to an announcement by the captain that we would probably not leave within the next hour as one thunderstorm after the next was rolling in and the world literally seemed to be ending outside. Brilliant. They closed the whole airport.
My issue now was that I only had 45 minutes in Copenhagen to catch my flight to Hanover. This would not have been a problem if we'd been on time.
Long story short, we ended up leaving almost two hours behind schedule. (At least we left Washington; I was worried I'd be stuck there because of a cancelled flight.) By that time, I already knew my flight in Copenhagen was gone. Wonderful. Another thing I'd have to deal with on location.
I tried to relax and enjoy the flight that was rather uneventful. A few turbulences but that was about it. The following 8 hours went by somehow.
After I arrived in Copenhagen, I had to make my way to the service center to somehow (I was praying!) try to get a flight to Hanover - that day. I was exhausted and my back hurt. Ugh. I had to get a number and wait. I saw they were serving number 32. I was 128. Great. Another hour went by. I wanted to be home in the backyard, on a lawn chair, eating granny's cake.
Finally, it was my turn. The guy I talked to was rather nice and understanding but could only offer me a flight leaving in 6 hours (it was about 10 am in the morning at that time) that would take me to Zurich, with a 2 hour layover, until I could finally be on a plane to Hanover, arriving later in the evening that day. NO!! Goodness. Two more flights? I was done. There was, unfortunately, no way to get me on a direct flight to Hanover that day. Phew.
Eventually, he asked what other airports might be an option and so I ended up on a flight to Hamburg an hour and a half later. At least moving and getting closer to home. I talked to my parents and luckily, my dad was off work that day. Wonderful as they are, they didn't think twice, told me to get on that flight, and drove the two hours up to Hamburg. Gotta love them for that.
The little prop plane ride only took about 50 more minutes.
When I finally arrived on German soil, my bag wasn't there - I kind of figured with all this mess - and I had to file a claim for my missing suitcase before eventually hugging my parents and embarking on a two hour car ride before I could shower, hang out in the backyard, and - yes! - eat granny's freshly homemade strawberry cake.
I made it home. It was baby Bell's first journey over the big pond. A rough and absolutely not ideal one. But I guess it's the price I have to pay - or rather the risk I am willingly taking as a German expat in the U.S.
Tss...this was quite the ride home but after all, so worth it.
Stay tuned for more about my/our time in Germany and our trip to Scotland.