29 June 2012

The travel days from hell

On the 8 hour flight from Brussels to New York we all slept like we'd experience a night of drama and trauma, which was fitting because we did!!! The day started out fine and dandie then it took a crazy, crazy turn.
Early that morning we checked out of our hotel and headed to the school's apartment to clean up for the next guest. We ate a hefty delicious lunch and we sadly parted with Zane's school group. I knew we would have a long travel day and I didn't want us to have to rush during our travel journey. This is how I planned our voyage back to the US. Arrive very early to Paris' Orly airport (4pm), check bags hang out, eat an early dinner, board our 9pm EasyJet flight, arrive in Berlin's Schoenefeld airport at 10:30 pm, collect luggage, get in taxi to go the Berlin's Tegel airport, sleep a couple of hours at the airport, check in for our US bound flight at 4 am board our flight at 6 am. This would be a long trip but with taking our time, food and rest breaks it wouldn't be so bad. I would have 6-8 hours to get to Berlin's second airport and things should be just fine!
Little did I know that things would go haywire at the very beginning of my plan causing a domino effect. We arrived early at paris' Orly airport, the boy played the airports free video games, we relaxed, and eat an early dinner. At boarding time we saw the flight had been delayed to 10, so we waited, at 10 the flight had been delayed to 11. At 11 the airline announced that our shuttle flight had never left Berlin and that Orly airport was closing! In order to make sure we all got to Berlin the airline had 4 charter buses that would drive us across Paris to Charles De Gaulle airport where they had a plane waiting for us that would fly us to Berlin. By now it was 11:30 pm. Our buses pulled into Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport at 12:15 pm.  We were made to go through security and re-check our bags at our new and second airport in Paris. All these unexpected changes and delays were making me very worried about the time we had left to travel to the second airport in Berlin to catch our flight home. After check-in and security at Charles de Gaulle airport we waited at the boarding gate for a while, people were upset but not at the riot level that this inconvenience would have caused In the US!

Zane made friends on the bus and at the second airport. He took a euro coin and practiced his magic tricks on anyone who would pay him attention. He made coins disappear and pulled them out of ears, he was a hit! Dude fell asleep on the bus ride and was heavy like a load of bricks.

We boarded the plane at 1am. I calculated in my mind that we would arrive in Berlin at 2:30 am giving us an hour and a half for travel and check/in at Berlin's second airport. At 1:30 our pilot made an announcement that our plane had a flat tire and it would take at least an hour to fix, "...but don't worry you all can stay on the plane while it's being fixed." This is when I felt panic set in. This new delay would put us in Berlin at 4am the same time were suppose to check in at the other Berlin airport which is supposed to be 40 minutes away!!! What if there was another delay and we didn't make it to Berlin at all?! Where would we stay in Berlin? If we missed our flight to the US we didn't have money to buy new tickets!! Oh no, my plan had gone terribly wrong. The closest resolution that I had to our worse case scenario was an offer from a very nice lady on our flight who knew our situation and said we could live with her for however long it took us to get back to the US.
As sweet as her offer was I was determined to catch my flight and get back to the US. I explained to Zane what was going and that most likely we would have to leave our checked baggage at the first Berlin airport in order to make it to thesecond Berlin airport for our flight. We had his iPad in my carry-on and most importantly, we had each other.  Without our baggage we would only lose clothes but we could still possibly make our flight. He understood and agreed, much to my relief.

The tire was successfully changed. We took off at 2:15 am. Our flight arrived at Schoenefeld airport at 4am and we decides to wait 10 minutes for the bags. Miraculously they were among the first batch to come out. We grabbed our bags, ran out to find a taxi, and loaded in our a stuff. I explained to the driver that we only had an hour more for check-in and that we needed to get to Tegel airport FAST. He smiled and said "don't worry we have no speed limit in Germany I will get you there in time." and I believed him.

We got on the autobahn and he drove 120 mph the whole way the roads were the smoothest I'd ever seen! I tracked our route on my iPhone and we were moving so fast that the dot could not smoothly follow our path on the map. The map estimated that we would arrive in 34 minutes, we arrived in 11 minutes.. We were able to check in on time and boarded our flight quickly. The flight from Berlin to Brussels was about an hour and a half. We all fell asleep in the flight but had to wake up to switch planes in Brussels. That lay over was about two hours. We were so so tired. Poor Zane did his best to wake up and help when it was time to move but it was so hard for him. I appreciated his maturity and helpfulness. This trip really made him more responsible and sweet, sweet, sweet. I'm so proud of him.

On the flight to NY we slept hard and long, it was so urgently needed. Once again our meals were superb and the kids every needs were met by the airline.  Once we landed in NY around 1 pm, Wednesday we quickly passed through immigration and customs. The agents at both points complimented me on traveling internationally with the children, they believed the travel experience to be vital for the children of this generation. Their kind words made me feel good and help me was a sweet validation that our crazy family adventures were beneficial to these young minds we been put in charge of.

It took about two minute to get a taxi and in about 30 minutes we arrived at my sister-in-laws house in Brooklyn. We forced ourselves to stay up until 8pm to help reduce the effects of jet lag and I think by 8:01 we were all sound asleep.

On the subway on the way to Paris' Orly Airport
Zane is taking great care of his little brother
The boys playing video games at
Paris' Orly Airport
(our first Paris airport)
Zane performing magic tricks on his new Russian friend
at Paris' Charles De Gaulle
(our second Paris airport!!)
Dude fast asleep while we wait for our
extremely delayed flight back to Berlin
People waiting patiently for our flight from Paris to Berlin

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