I have returned from Foreign Lands! Hello! Did you miss me?
[This was written on Sunday, but by the time it was ready to post, we had mysteriously lost internet and I wasn’t alert enough to do any troubleshooting.]
-Here’s some free advice: you don’t have to drink to be drunk. I know you’re going to say I’m doing it wrong, but I have found that one drink at the beginning of a party (or even half of one drink) and then water for the rest of the night is often sufficient. Let’s call it Drunk By Association. Which is how I feel right now. (Also: jet-lagged.) Because of this.
-Speaking of jet-lag, because everyone has today, due to my somewhat inhuman levels of energy… (Also: delighted to be back home. I sang America The Beautiful at the baggage claim in Dulles. Not at the top of my lungs. Quietly, so that my travel companion could hear, and so that we could, yet again, erupt into laughter.) …let’s attempt to recreate the timeline for yesterday:
Saturday, June 11th (aka The Longest Day OF MY LIFE)
3:16am in Lyon, France – My alarm goes off. (I had set it for 3:16 instead of 3:15 because it reminded me of pi. Nerd alert.) I jump out of bed and shower for the second time in…6 hours, mostly because the hotel bathroom was so swanky.
3:30am in Lyon, France – Breakfast buffet at the hotel. This place was awesome. You should totally stay there if you’re ever flying out of Lyon at the earliest hour possible.
4:00am in Lyon, France – Shuttle to the airport. Where we discover that airports don’t open until after 4am. Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration. We only had to wait, like, 15 minutes for the agents to set up their counters and start up their computers. But we were the Very First In Line to check our bags, since we’d printed our boarding passes the night before.
4:30am(?) in Lyon, France – We’ve made it through security (first customers of the day!) and celebrate/laugh at the fact that we are literally the only people in the terminal.
5:30am in Lyon, France – Our flight does NOT start boarding as scheduled. Nothing really happens. We wait some more.
5:45am in Lyon, France – An announcement is made in french, and everyone at our gate sighs dramatically. The computer announcing our flight no longer shows our flight, but instead announces a flight that departs at 10:45am. Everyone picks up their luggage and starts grumbling as they move to stand…in line?…in order?…in a disgruntled, multi-lingual pack around the agent at the desk. For the next half hour, we attempt to figure out what, exactly had happened, by either reading body language, or asking whomever is standing next to us to perhaps translate. Apparently our flight is cancelled. Apparently for a technical problem with the plane. Apparently, though they’re sort of looking busy and calling out a few names, they’re not actually able to help us. The disgruntled, multi-lingual pack grows increasingly more disgruntled.
6:15am in Lyon, France – A supervisor comes over and basically yells at everyone for being upset, tells us to go pick up our luggage and go stand at the ticket desk. We are herded down to the baggage claim, where our luggage had apparently been waiting for some time, on a conveyor that is not moving. Some suitcases have been thrown onto the ground by those before us, who had to climb onto the conveyor to get to their luggage. This may have been the most pitiful moment of the day. It also returns to my mind for the rest of the morning, as the announcement is repeated about how, for our security, we should not ever leave our bags unattended.
8:30am in Lyon, France – Finally have new flight schedule, after standing…in line?…in order?…in a disgruntled, multi-lingual pack at the ticket desk for two hours.
9:55am in Lyon, France – Our new flight does NOT start boarding as scheduled (…cue dramatic tension…), but it’s just running a little late.
10:25am in Lyon, France – We are in the air! For a whole hour and thirty minutes! They feed us a cheese sandwich (sourdough bread, camembert cheese, and some type of dill spread). I may have napped for 30ish minutes.
11:55am in Frankfurt, Germany – We have a very short connection, which is shortened even more since our plane basically lands in the middle of nowhere, and we are shuttled back to the terminal on a bus. Attempting to get my bearings as we drive through a maze of roadways under the terminal, I am reading all of the signs we pass. I see our gate listed on a wall, but then we drive on serpentine roadways for another ten minutes, until I have no idea where we are in relation to the gate.
12:35pm in Frankfurt, Germany – Once we’re finally released from the bus, our next flight is already scheduled to start boarding, so we start running in the direction of our gate. The signs take us – and at least a dozen people who have the same connection – down and then back up five or six flights of stairs that at first didn’t even appear to be open to the public, through a security checkpoint, and probably retracing, exactly, the serpentine route of that shuttle.
1:05pm in Frankfurt, Germany – We are on the flight! It is in the air! I am sitting next to an adorable Greek woman who claims it’s the largest plane she’s ever seen in her life!
8 hours and 40 minutes of flight during which we gain 6 hours and thus have no idea the actual time – I stay awake until the first drink service, take an ambien, and spend the next 7 hours alternately sleeping and wishing I was sleeping because I’m so disoriented. (When I attempted to stay awake for “lunch,” I was so thoroughly convinced that the plane cabin looked “exactly like the set of a sci-fi movie” that I made a short video as “proof it wasn’t just a dream.” It ends with a shot of my terrified eyes.)
3:45pm in Washington, DC – We are in America! Where we can read all the signs! And you don’t have to pay to use a luggage cart or the public bathroom!
6:45pm in Washington, DC – I am reunited with my car and say goodbye to my travel companion, and immediately get lost attempting to leave the District.
9:00pm in Richmond, VA – I stop at a friend’s apartment to change out of travel clothes and into dancing clothes. A group of us go out for dinner (cheeseburgers, at my request).
[For reference, this would be nearly 24-hours since my wake-up call in the French hotel.]
10:30pm in Richmond, VA – We join a few hundred people for a warehouse party which I’m going to pretend was scheduled merely to welcome me back to the country.
2:30am in Richmond, VA – I crash on the floor at my friend’s apartment, hoping that wearing an eye mask will help me sleep in past sunrise.
5:30am in Richmond, VA – I am up before the sun. (Barely.) I load up and drive home, stopping at a gas station to get some weak American coffee and to remember how delightful southern accents are. There is fog on the mountains as I drive toward Charlottesville. It’s good to be home.
[As of this writing, I’ve been up for 12 hours and am about to give up my attempt to stay awake until sunset.]