|The menu we were each handed after taking our seats on the Emirates Airlines flight from Dubai to Barcelona.|
We live and learn.
In our “old lives” we assumed we had a moderate amount travel experience as a result of various vacations over many years, seldom if ever, encountering the trials and tribulations that we now encounter as nomads. This is especially the case for those of us who don’t go “home” to repack subsequently hauling everything we own with us every single day.
It’s somewhat similar to the turtle carrying his “house” on his back. If he/she flips over, his/her whole world is literally and figuratively upside down. That was us yesterday morning as we left Dubai, United Arab Emirates to fly to Barcelona, Spain, to stay overnight in a hotel, leaving today to board our 8th cruise since January 3, 2013.
Actually, it will be our final cruise over the next 15 to 16 months with us staying on land through July 2014: Tuscany, Italy (beginning in less than two weeks); Diani Beach, Kenya; Kruger Park, South Africa; Marrakesh, Morocco and Madeira, Portugal, all of which we’ll be living in single family homes from two to three months.
|Photos were taken with my phone. Our cameras were too hard to get to when on the plane. Who knew I’d want photos of the inside of the plane anyway? This is the removable remote control that is tethered with a retractable cord, in each of our personal command stations. The button on the right releases it from the console.|
Yesterday,we took our first flight since we left Minnesota on Halloween, 2012. All other transportation since leaving the US has been by way of car and cruise ship.
|This is Al Pacino playing Phil Specter in the HBO movie of the same name we both watch simultaneously on our own screens. I watched two scary movies after this and Tom watched Lincoln, failing to remember the second of the three.|
Thus, we booked this first flight to Barcelona, to “get our feet wet” with the realities of baggage restrictions, one way fares, time constraints, tiny airplane seats and in most cases, no meal on board.
Let’s get the yucky part over with first. The property manager arranged for our ride to the Dubai airport. With our flight at 8:15 am, Ignacio picked us up at our Dubai condo at 6:00 am sharp. If I slept three hours Sunday night, I’d be stretching it.
|Our remote in place, revealing the many options on the screen.|
My phone’s alarm was set for 5:00 am. I still didn’t fall asleep until after 2:00 am having the usual “moving anxiety” that Tom and I both seem to struggle with.
After an excruciating day on Sunday, tossing yet more “stuff” to further shrink the load, we knew our baggage was overweight. Our one large bag and carry-on bag each were stuffed to the gills, now down to one large suitcase each for clothing.
|I don’t know why we got such a kick out of the remote, taking so many photos, but here it is again outside the console. Quite nifty. Then again, its the small things….|
|Our menu for the flight on Emirates Airlines.|
We knew this wasn’t enough, but hoped as we’ve done on flights in our “old lives” that perhaps we might skate through at this airport.
Ha! No skating in Dubai! We were required to place all of our checked luggage on a scale only to discover that we still were short, resulting in yet another payment for $240.Ouch! Now we were in for US $655 for excess baggage fees. If we’d left the two carry on bags we’d hoped to check, we’d have had to pay yet another US $300. Tom stacked them on the wheelie cart.
|If you can see this clearly, notice the verbiage at the bottom of the page where it mentions the free drinks.|
After removing our bulky boots, jackets, watches and all the carry on luggage on our carts, multiple gray plastic bins began going through the x-ray machines. After our awful experience with the knife placed in our bin in Barcelona, we kept a watchful eye as it all went through the conveyor.
No such luck. Showing us an x-ray of one of the carry on bags, the security guard insisted we remove everything in one of the orange carry on bags to find an object that appeared to be a pair of pliers or large tweezers. Neither of us recognized the item.
|This was Tom’s lunch. I was so hungry I started eating my deli plate before remembering
to take the photos. Tom ate twice, me only once, still full from breakfast. Real silverware, food wasn’t bad at all.
Embarrassed by their error, needing to justify the delay, they ended up confiscating one of our extension cords and an old surge protector, leaving us with two smaller items, neither of which were in the bag in question. What? At this point, we had little energy left to argue as we repacked up our bag, put on our boots and began to make our way to Gate 36.
It was now 7:32 am. Our plane was scheduled to depart at 8:15. All we had to do was get to the gate and somehow convince the flight attendants to allow us to bring on the six carry-on items in our possession, as opposed to the allowable one item per person.
amazingly wheeled the precariously stacked cart. Following sign after sign all pointing
to Gates C 1-50, we wondered when we’d ever get close to the gate. First, we had to maneuver past Concourse A 1-50, then Concourse B 1-50 to find our way toward Concourse C.
In dire frustration, twice we stopped asking uniformed employees if we were going the right direction.They assured us that we were. Time was marching on. Were we going to miss our flight? Our cruise ship is leaving tomorrow. No refunds. What about our checked bags? Yikes.
Finally, we saw a sign that clearly stated “Gate 36.” Following a narrow hallway, we ended up at a bus station. Oh, no! A bus to the tarmac?
Sitting on the bus, still not moving at 8:15, in a near panic, Tom reassured me saying, “There are over 20 passengers on this bus going on this same flight. The plane won’t take off before we get there.”
In any case, in a matter of minutes, the nature of our day totally flipped when Tom somehow maneuvered the two flights of steep steps, puffing and panting in the 90 degree heat, all the way to the plane, all without a landing to enter the rear door of the plane. Immediately the gracious flight attendants began to help with our bags with nary a complaint or comment, showing us to our assigned seats and then…the fun began.
Much to our delight, our two assigned seats were in a grouping of three seats with the third seat unoccupied. Keep in mind, we were the last passengers to board the plane thus we felt confident that the extra seat was ours to use.
In a matter of minutes glasses of cold water were handed to us along with our dining menus. Tom’s face was pale. It worried me. (Having both been sick for weeks, the strain of the morning wore thin in our weakened condition). Minutes later, we discovered the remotes to our personal monitors, the free current movies and TV shows, our comfy pillows and blankets, the complimentary headset, the complimentary cocktails, beer, wine and beverages.
We looked at each other with the same thought in mind…good thing we had yet to book our future flights yet. At all costs and efforts, we plan to try to fly Emirates Airlines.
excess baggage, gone was the angst over the security error, gone was the tension of the late bus ride to the plane and the fear of missing the flight.
conditioning and a bonus of spacious restrooms.
For almost seven full hours, we had fun. We talked. We laughed. We watched three movies each. We recharged our phones in our own universal plug ins.We were served two full meals, breakfast and four hours later, a full lunch with dessert. They accommodated my way of eating with ease, already on the menu, not too bad tasting. What an experience!
If we can fly the many hours to Africa on Emirates, we’ll be thrilled. That’s our next challenge.
Exiting the plane in the telescopic tube at the modern Barcelona airport was uneventful. Exchanging US $ to Euros was time consuming but at this point we weren’t rushed.
For the second time, I’d failed to bring the address to the hotel. When we came to Hotel Grums on May 5th, I hadn’t brought it assuming the cab driver would know the location of this popular boutique hotel, often booked by cruise passengers. When he didn’t know it he only had to plug it into his navigation system with ease.
address on my phone. When the cab driver didn’t have a clue where it was, nor did he have a navigation system, he pulled out a map asking our help. Oh, yeah. A map was going to help us. Duh?
Pulling out my laptop from the tightly packed bag, I looked up the email confirmation that I’d received from Expedia with our hotel confirmation, telling his the address. He then looked on the map locating it and asking me for confirmation.
Twenty minutes and US $50 later we reached our hotel, checked in and found our way to our room, figured out the plug ins on our own and plopped on the bed to relax until dinner at 7:00 pm.
With the two hour time loss, sleep would come easily after a light dinner in the dining room and an episode of Downton Abbey on my laptop in our room.
We’d made a decision to wear the same clothes yesterday and today with only fresh underwear to avoid opening our sucked Space Bags and suitcases at all. With not an inch anywhere in our luggage, it was a wise decision. In my “old life” I’d never wear a shirt more than once with my propensity to spill food on myself.