Friday, April 15, 2011

Travel Log: Travel Turbulence

I am off to the land of lamb and Guinness. I anticipate nothing short of adventure, and look forward to finding out if the Irish are as friendly as everyone says.

I am flying on BlueAir from Bacau, about 2 hours from Iasi. I get to Bacau with ease; the driver of the maxitaxi is friendly and I befriend a college student who tells me her dad is a taxi driver in Bacau and will take me to the airport. First potential problem of taxi-driver-in-a-strange-city-gyping-me averted. Not only that, she comes WITH ME to the airport, we chat on the way, I find out she’s a 4th year in the Dentistry program in Iasi. Good stuff.

I arrive at the airport- a small one- and I get myself through security. It’s funny how particular they can be at small airports. Maybe they have more time to make each person actually take out their bag of liquids and take off their watch and do a cartwheel before they go through security, I dunno. I find myself a bit confused with all their little rules.

The “terminal” has one waiting room, a bathroom, and a vending machine. This is not exactly a high volume airport. I read a bit, chillaxed. At the time when our flight is supposed to be leaving, a lady comes on the intercom (for the first time) and informs us that our flight is delayed. For FIVE hours. She says it in Romanian first, so I of course assume I simply misunderstood (which is  stretch, because I understand reasonably well). Oh but no, actually five hours. How is this even possible? There is ONE FLIGHT a day. And only one. Can they not get that ONE FLIGHT right? And what kind of delay time is five hours? I mean, who even TELLS YOU five hours? They often tell you in manageable intervals to hopefully assuage passenger frustration. Like, “We’re sorry folks, but it’s gonna be about a two hour delay.” Then towards the end of that they tack on another 2 hours. And so on. I figure it cannot possibly be good if they ACTUALLY TELL US it’s 5 hours. That is grounds for passenger mutiny. Which is indeed not far from what happens.

We can’t go anywhere, cause there’s only one room. I preemptively get a sandwich out of the vending machine, knowing I haven’t brought food to last me that long, and knowing that this budget airline isn’t serving anything on the plane that doesn’t cost extra. And I am not about to fight a bunica for the last ham sandwich 4 hours from now. Thankfully they open the doors out the back of the airport where we would leave to board the plane. Many people, myself included, take advantage of the “freedom” and the warm spring afternoon. I sit outside from 430 to 800, reading and praying, watching the dozen or so children running around, and sighing at the intense anger of many of my fellow travelers. The plane leaves, apparently to go to Bucharest (no joke) to get fixed, and then come back. Maybe. Sometime. It is still unclear. And no one seems to know.

I chat with this woman for a good long while (no really, click on the link), who informs me that this route to Dublin is new last week (which I vaguely remember hearing) and they’ve had major problems every day. Excellent. She talks something about politics and corruption and the mafia and how salaries have gone down, but I can’t quite connect that to the fact that our airplane is delayed for 5 hours because of a mechanical problem. She’s friendly, and our chat helps pass the time. The Lord gives me a great peace that does indeed surpass understanding as we wait it out.

A bit before 8pm we all have to go back inside, and then the real fun begins. There are easily a dozen kids under the age of 10 on this flight that has maybe 120 people on it. And while they could play outside that was all well and good. But now that they’re cooped up in a small room, it’s not so well nor good. They and their parents seem to think it’s appropriate to continue their outdoor games indoors, so there is a fair amount of running, screaming, climbing, and crawling going on. You can imagine the chaos, I’m sure.

Our flight leaves around 9pm, and from then on it’s pretty standard. We arrive in Dublin at 11pm local time, 1am my-body time. I do the passport thang and walk out to the arrivals area. Since I am 5 hours delayed, the person at whose apartment I will be staying is no longer able to meet me, so he has sent a friend to pick me up. I half expect to see someone with a little sign with my name, since neither he nor I will have any clue of what the other looks like. But I don’t see anyone, so I call him. He is surprised to be hearing from me, as he had come to the airport a bit before 11 and the flight board said my flight would be delayed until after 12. So he went back to the city. So it goes. And so here I am, at 130am my-body-time writing this little travel log in the arrivals area of the Dublin airport. As I am sitting, I see that the World Irish Dancing Championships are April 17-23. Tis a shame I will miss that by just a few days. That would be awesome.

A group of about 40 high school students comes through, all in BRIGHT RED sweatshirts that say PARIS 2011 on the back. I can’t quite hear what language they’re speaking to figure out where they’re from, but man, 40 high school students traveling in BRIGHT RED sweatshirts can’t be fun for anyone involved.

And now the kind gentleman who will give me a ride is calling, so I best be going. I will arrive at my destination well after 2am on my body’s time, tired but thankful to have a lovely and free place to stay while here.

And so the adventure begins. 

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