Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day One: Getting There; Bend, Oregon to Rome, Italy

Day One:  Getting there; 
Bend, Oregon to Rome, Italy.  Three kids in tow.  

We flew out of Portland, Or; approximately 3 1/2 hours from our house.  We could’ve flown from our local airport but this would have added $1000.00 to our tickets.  Thus we elected to make the drive.  Even with a hotel, gas and long-term parking we came out ahead.  

We drove over the night before and stayed in an inexpensive hotel (aka Comfort Suites via Hotwire).  The thought being we’d break up the travel for the kids (ages 16, 12 and 8). 

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 1:30 pm.  We arrived three hours early as suggested for international travel. By 11:30 am we’d checked in and passed through security. With time to kill we got coffee, wandered around, took advantage of the free wifi and generally became antsy. 

Of course our flight boarded late; 45 minutes late.  With a 1 hour 10 minute layover in Amsterdam this was not good news.  Had I known how big the Amsterdam airport was I would’ve questioned the time between connecting flights.  

"When you know better you do better." ~ Maya Angelou.

The first ten hours of our flight, from Portland to Amsterdam, were spent reading, napping, snacking and watching movies.  Each seat had a small tv screen and a wide selection of movies, games and tv shows.  The kids handled this portion of the flight well as they were entertained in a manner to which they were accustomed.  Things didn't go so well once we arrived in Amsterdam.  

First off we arrived late; pulling up to the gate with forty minutes to catch our connecting flight.  Keep in mind this was 1:00 am Oregon time.  My kids are used to staying up late but staying up late and functioning?  Good luck.

We got off the plane, passed through security and ran from Terminal E to Terminal D in record time.  During all this Middle daughter had to pee. She was less than pleased when we passed up the bathrooms and did not hesitate to voice her opinion.  

We arrived at the gate red faced and in need of albuterol (good thing it was in my carry on).   Our connecting flight was still at the gate.  Phew! 

Only we were not allowed to board.  Why?  Because our bags would not make the plane.  Yes.  Our bags.  And more befuddling, besides us five, there were seven other people in the same boat; flying from Portland to Rome.  Nary a one of us made the flight and KLM was absolutely unwilling to hold the plane.  

The good news is we finally let Middle use the bathroom.  Her eyeballs went from neon yellow to a sleep-deprived red.  Then we marched three exhausted children back through the airport to T2 -- central rebooking.  Then we waited and waited and waited.  And then we waited some more.  

"... waiting for a train to go, or a bus to come, or a plane to go, or the mail to come or the rain to go, or the phone to ring or the snow to snow, or waiting around for a Yes or a No, or waiting for their hair to grow.  Everyone is just waiting." ~ Dr. Seuss

Finally we rebooked a flight.  All was to be fine.  Fine indeed.  

Originally we scheduled a car to pick us up from the airport.  We were willing to pay extra for this service as we knew we'd be arriving with three harried children.  

When we went to call the driver and tell him of our delay we found our phone had no service.  Spectacular.  

We used a pay phone to make the call (I'm looking forward to that bill).  Unfortunately we were woefully unable to communicate with Gianni, our driver.  It seems he doesn’t speak English and we don't speak Italian (so much for those grammatically correct emails we’d exchanged).  

After our communication debacle we agreed we probably didn’t have a ride from the airport and would have to come up with plan B.  Plan B, plan B.  What was Plan B?

The kids were exhausted and fussy and poking at one another.  Tears were shed.  Angry words were spoken. Mom and Dad thought about scratching the whole trip and returning home and/or abandoning said children at the airport. They also considered visiting Amsterdam's famed Coffee Shops.  

Finally we boarded the plane to Rome (no contraband in tow).  

We did not have seats together.  I sat across the aisle from Little.  She spent the entire flight sleeping on a stranger’s shoulder.  I am ever so grateful to the stranger for allowing her to do so.   

The kids were impossibly difficult to roust once we landed.  Oh they were tired!  We dragged them though the airport and went to gather our bags.  

You know what's coming next don't you?  

Of course our bags weren’t there.  It's amazing they let us on the plane

And the other people coming from Portland?  Did they get their bags?  Why no.  No they did not. All our bags remained in Amsterdam*.  

My children, I have come to realize, would take to homelessness quite well.  As we were sorting out the baggage fiasco the children slept (and quite soundly I might add) on a cardboard box.  This sleeping arrangement portending our day to come ... 

... to be continued. 

*as I type this I am sitting in our apartment in Rome a full 24 hours after our arrival here.  Mr. Peculiar sleeps soundly in a chair.  The children have gone off to the sweet shop around the corner; gelato on their minds  Our bags have just arrived.  I am still in the clothes I had on three days ago.  Perhaps I'll change tomorrow.  

Ah the traveling life!




Elizabeth Harper said...

Gracious! It sounds like an exhausting trip over, but also as if you've done a great job of maintaining a positive outlook. I'm looking forward to seeing and hearing more about your time in Rome. I've not been there yet and it's on my list of places to visit.

Theresa said...

Glad to know you were able to afford your dream trip. Things must be picking up in your neck of the woods. You deserve it after all the hours you logged this summer.

Travelling internationally would be great if I did not have this intense and overwhelming fear of dying in a plane crash! Glad some people can enjoy the good life :)