Friday, December 23, 2011

Not for Those with Weak Constitutions

Well, it's 4:30 in the afternoon here in Paris and I've only been awake for maybe an hour.

Oh, the wonders of jet lag!

My plane ride over here was probably the worst travel experience of my life. How so? Well my original flight was meant to be DFW>HIA>DFW>CDG. That means I was supposed to take a plane from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport to the Houston International Airport, then board a plane there for DFW which made a pitstop there (where my brother was going to get onboard) then take us to Charles de Gaulle.

What ended up happening was that I made it to HIA and had to collect my luggage and recheck it because that's what the American Airlines guy at DFW had told me I needed to do. That was fine and dandy except for the face that when I made it to the American Airlines baggage check, they told me I was too late to make the flight and I would have to make other arrangements-- that was the last flight to Paris today.

I got out of line and found a seat nearby, promptly bursting into tears as I called my dad. Now, I'm not the type to cry in public if I can help it. However, this is an exception for a number of reasons:
1) I had pulled an all-nighter the day before and I was over-exhausted.
2) My brother was sick and cell phone-less. I had no way to reach him so he would know what was happening.
3) I just wanted to go home and see my family.
4) I didn't know what to do or where to go.

When Dad picked up the phone, I explained the situation to him and he handed the phone over to Mom while he figured out my flight with the airline people. In the meantime, a sweet older woman saw me crying and dabbing at my eyes with my sweatshirt, so she came over and handed me a pack of tissues. It was rather sweet of her and it helped me calm down a tad. I don't know why. It's just the little things like that that really make your day just a bit brighter.

Finally, Dad came back on the phone and informed me that he found another flight for me with British Airways. It took me another half hour just to get the the terminal where their airlines were located and then I had to grapple with a pissy baggage check lady who seemed to be irritated by everything and kept trying to hurry me along as if I could help the fact American Airlines was taking so long in getting my ticket to come through on the computer system.

Finally, she got it and I made it through the security line after having to go through the metal detector about four times. It was only when I realized my iPod was still in my pocket that I finally got through.

My flight was delayed when I made it to the gate, so I found an outlet and checked my phone, only to find a voicemail from my brother, who had called from the DFW airport to let me know that the gate had changed in case I needed to know. I tried calling back, but it was a pay phone call and therefore pointless. I then called my dad, trying my hardest not to panic. He was still working with American Airlines to get a message to my brother. I hung up and tried not to worry.

Let me give some context here in explaining that all of the previous night during which I had pulled an all-nighter, my brother had been throwing up from some stomach virus that had him feeling miserable. Dad had given him the option of staying behind a day or two in order to recover before his flight, but he didn't want to get left behind in Texas when his family was in France. He didn't want to be sick by himself. Let's face it- who does?

So I sat there, worrying about him until my dad called back and told me he had gotten the message through and my brother wouldn't be worried. With that burden off my shoulders, I managed to relax long enough to eat some chocolate and do some reading until it was time to get on the plane.

My trip lasted about eight hours before we landed at the London-Heathrow airport. I had enough time to use the restroom, brush my teeth, and spruce up my makeup before I had to jump on the plane. I spent about an hour and a half on that plane and slept through most of it. I declined breakfast, as I had on the other plane. Airplane food makes me nauseous and the dinner I had eaten hours before had been enough for me.

I reached the airport with barely suppressed glee. I had my passport stamped and hurriedly grappled with my bags before heading out to where everyones' families were waiting. . . only to find mine missing. I stood there awkwardly, then moved off to the side to where I wasn't in the way. My phone had died before I made it to Heathrow and I started to panic wondering how I would reach my family. Sure, I knew how to take the metro home, but that would take hours and I didn't know the address for a taxi to take me. I knew Mom had told me to call them when I was in London. What if they were still waiting for that call and assuming my trip over the Atlantic had just taken longer than expected?

I moved off to the side and waited for twenty minutes, scanning the crowd for my dad's face before I finally saw him walking over with my brother. I jumped up and wheeled my bags toward them as quickly as possible. Turns out, they hadn't expected my flight to be in so soon and had gone to sit down where there were more open seats.

Exhausted and ready to finally be home, I let them pile my things in the car for me. My brother claimed shotgun because he was still feeling nauseous after the flight and such. I settled into the back, complaining about wanting to sit next to dad.

The car ride took about forty-five minutes, but the worst bit wasn't until the end. It's a well-known fact that I suffer from motion sickness. Thus the reason I generally get shotgun when we go on family road trips and such. I can't even swing on a swing set for more than a minute or two.

So near the end of this car trip home, I was feeling intensely nauseated. I kept asking how long it was until we got there and complaining that my stomach hurt. I didn't start gagging, though, until we made it onto our street. Dry-heaving is never pleasant, but a panicking father who's driving the car can always make it worse. Not only was he freaking out in the front seat, but he pulled over IN FRONT OF A CROWDED BUS STOP. And that was about the time my stomach decided to release its contents. Talk about embarrassing.

My brother and I were both yelling at him to move the car while my head was still sticking out the door and he finally moved further down the road, still throwing up out the door. I rinsed my mouth out with Dad's sweet tea he offered and jumped out of the car over the emptied contents of my stomach, keeping my head low since we weren't far from the bus stop at all.

Mom was leaning out the window with the cat calling down about how excited she was that we were home. I ignored her and hurried into the building, dying to brush my teeth and praying I wouldn't vomit all over the floor on my way up.

Finally, I made it upstairs and after changing and thoroughly brushing my teeth, I got plenty of water and promptly passed out for the equivalent of nearly twenty hours.
And that, my friends, was the worst travel experience in my life. I hope I never top it.

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