Well, let’s just say it hasn’t started out that way. Here is what happened so far.
Due to car issues, I arranged to get to the airport via the airport shuttle. Aside from arriving a bit earlier than scheduled to pick me up – it wasn’t a bad experience. However, that may be because I lucked out. There was only one other passenger, whom along with the driver, were very pleasant to talk to.
So I arrive at Tampa International Airport in plenty of time for my flight. Already armed with my boarding pass (ah, online check-in!!) I decide to head directly to airside. Even security was uneventful.
Now, having successfully jumped through all the hoops, I still have roughly two hours to kill. And correct me if I am wrong but this now leaves only two things to attend to: FOOD and ALCOHOL!!! Sadly, there wasn’t anything of the former that struck my fancy so I decide to settle for Chili’s. And I do like Chili’s but I just wasn’t in the mood for it, but I am a trooper, so I can make do.
So I sit down, order and await my caloric suicide. After all, I did order something called chicken crispers with fries, a Coke, and a double Kahlua and cream for good measure. Actually, the waitress asked if I would like to have the double and I felt so pressured I eagerly bubbled over with “YES!!” Once the food arrived I was a little perturbed. You see, I thought I was ordering your typical chicken tenders. What I got were very thickly battered chicken tenders, similar to what you get in a Chinese restaurant – only bigger. Just looking at them I could hear my mental calorie counter clicking away in overtime.
My bill arrives and it is pretty much what I expected at $27.27. The thing that threw me off is when I looked at the itemization. My drink cost more than my meal! Yes, that lovely and still very small double Kahlua was $11.59 while my meal cost me $10.89! Maybe it is because I only drink alcohol on rare occasions – and even then make them at home – that I am so out of touch with how much they cost in a restaurant setting. But there you go.
Now, with only 45 minutes to kill, I make my way to my gate – a whole ten feet – and perch myself in an empty chair. Now the people watching begins. I can fully appreciate why so many people have this as a hobby. I saw a little girl, blonde hair in pigtails decked out all in pink. But it is what she was carrying that caught my attention. It was a dinosaur – – also decked out all in pink! Then a saw a lady walk by with long yoga-type pants that said “I LOVE PINK” all down one leg. And what color were the pants? Yup, dark blue. I suppose this could be homage to the singer but I think she would have better merchandise than that. But what do I know, right?
The gate is beginning to fill more and more and it was about this time that I knew I was in for a rough flight. This is because a lady sat across from me and pulled out a kindle. Shortly after she sat down, she noticed another lady that she knew. They began talking and the first lady was talking about how excited she was to see Ann Romney and Trey Adkins – in that order!! Seriously?? I mean I like to know the garbage guy is arriving but I rarely pay attention to him. So, yup, I was screwed. I had a flight inundate with Republicans!!!
Boarding begins and I am one of the last zones to board. Not usually a big deal. However, this time, by the time I had reached the gate the cabin overhead bins were reaching capacity and I was forced to check my small rolling luggage. Now, I normally pack very light when going on a trip for the simple fact that I despise checking my luggage and then having to wait at the baggage claim carousel of death. Plus you never know when they will go through your luggage or break something!! On one trip many, many moons ago, I open my bag when I got home to find a letter inside stating that my bag had been randomly rummaged. Lucky me.
As more bad luck would have it, I was wedged between two strangers. “Ok, it is only a two hour flight, I can manage,” my inner trooper spoke up again. And it wasn’t until about 15 minutes into the flight that I noticed it – silence. No one was talking. Even the family sitting in front of me was not talking. It truly was a flight of Republicans – where everyone was treating everyone else as a leper who didn’t deserve to make eye contact, let alone speak to you.
While the cockpit crew did an excellent job, the cabin crew underwhelmed me. They were unsmiling, unfriendly women who looked as if they would pull a wooden ruler from their back pocket at the first sign of unacceptable behavior. The only good thing I knew I could look forward to was the Sky Mall catalog. I love these things! I am too poor to purchase much of it but I sure do love to look at all the fun toys!! Ah, the beverage trolley slowly makes it way toward me. I get another Coke and expectantly await my peanuts. But no peanuts!!!!! What kind of a flight in the year 2012 does not have peanuts???? So needless to say, I was pleased when the captain came on to announce our initial decent into Washington, DC. You can finally see scenery again out the window and you can hear the landing gear being lowered. The wing flaps were extended and they must have been doing too good of a job because all of a sudden the plane sped up while approaching the runway. My brain immediately goes, “Dive, dive, dive!!!” Ah, I love the silent games I play in my head. Sometimes it’s the only entertainment I get!
After deboarding and spending 20 minutes waiting for my luggage, I was off in search of the Metro, which is now – due to all the delay – right in the middle of rush hour! What could be better? Once I get to the Metro, as usual I can’t figure out how much money I needed to get to my destination. So I get a card with $5 thinking that should be plenty. While I am trying to figure out if I need the platform on the right or the left, my mechanic calls. So getting distracted I go to the platform on the left without being certain that was the one I needed. Shit, now what? So I look for a map to check and I did not see one. So I go back down the stairs to double check, found out I was right in the first place, grumble to myself and head back up the stairs.
Now, don’t forget, I am standing around with luggage and a camera case. To me this would scream “Tourist!” but apparently not in DC. I must have looked like a Metro guru because I had a lady come up to me to ask if she was on the right platform. So I shrug and look dumb. But she had a map!! So I was able to help her and she was fine. Then along comes another guy and asks if this is the right platform to get to Vienna. Since I was now an old hat at this Metro game I was able to confirm he was in the right place.
I love the Metro. I think it is a great idea and I wish more places had a similar thing. The bad thing about it is the ride itself. If you have a bad back, you will feel worse when you get off. And with all the creaking, groaning and grinding noises it made the ride far more frightening than any flight I have been on. Once I get to Vienna, I go to put my ticket in the slot to go out. It spits it back out at me and proceeds not to open. So I do it again and try to read the little display window. It says nothing helpful. Ok, so third times the charm, right? Nope. So I go to the window and she tells me I owe an exit fare. How long was she going to watch me before helping out? When will they change the display readout to say, “You owe money moron!”? At least that way, I would have known right away. Grumble, grumble, grumble!!
But now the vacation truly starts and I am expecting it to be far less bumpy than the journey.
Until next time – kissy, kissy, snog, snog