Thursday, August 09, 2007

Going Home

Monday was supposed to be our 'free' day. I really wanted the time to just walk around Edinburgh and enjoy the city before we left. Josh didn't think that was going to happen, but I was confident that if we worked hard enough we could get things done a day early.

Things looked pretty good on Sunday. We had a lot of things packed and we were working on the cleaning. We would leave the flat in good condition, even though we had to do a lot of cleaning when we recieved it. Being Sunday, though, we could not do any of the errands we needed to do. So we made a list. It kept getting longer.

Josh was right. Monday was spent doing a lot of running around and last minute business/packing/cleaning. It was a joy and a nice break to be able to sit down with Sam for one last cuppa.

I had arranged with one of my customers who is a cab driver to pick us up Tuesday morning between 5:00 and 5:15, so we got up at 4:15. We had to throw away our bedding because there was nothing else we could do with it. At least the sheets were the ones I brought with us which we had since we were married nearly 6 years ago. We've only ever had 2 sets of sheets so they were pretty worn.

Anyways, we were ready for Noelle and she packed us up in her cute little cab. The cabs in the UK all look like PT Cruisers (I don't know what kind of car they are) and they are very roomy and clean. Noelle drove us up to Waverly Station. We wanted to be there when they opened to get the first train to Glasgow. Our flight left at 10:45 so we needed to be there at 7:45.
At Waverly, we purchased our tickets, looked at the screen to see which train would be ours, and took our luggage to wait by the train. It seemed odd that just 5 minutes before departure the lights were still not on and there was no boarding. Josh went down to look at the screen again. It had been changed! So we picked up all of our luggage (4 over weight suitcases, computer bag, camera bag, overweight carry-on, and my oversized 'personal' bag), jetted over to the proper train (which WAS boarding) and got settled inside.

Josh had looked online, we looked at maps, and Sam helped us with directions from the train station to the bus stop we would need to take to the airport. It looked pretty simple. We would only have to cross the street once out of the station. This was very good as we did not want to lug our suitcases all through the streets of Glasgow.

We got out to the street and saw that there was construction on the road, closing the road completely. We dragged our luggage uphill to the station, just INCASE the bus still came there. There was a little turn around place in front of the station. There was a sign at the stop telling us that the stop was closed and where the closest stop was. ARGH! So we had to go back down the hill, down about half a block, cross the road and the half-block square, and go down to our station. Not a big deal withough luggage...

When we got to the stop we found that the fare was not the fare quoted online. So we dug through our pockets. Good thing we still had some extra change. We waited for about 20 minutes. In that time there were 2 buses due. This 'airport' bus did not have much extra room for luggage. The bus was already pretty full and we had to pile our luggage on top of others' and in the isle. There were more tourists boarding after us to add to the nice pile in the isle.

So we were at the airport 3 hours early, as Aer Lingus suggests. We waited at the screen that tells you where to check in. Nothing. There were information people going around telling us that Aer Lingus would be opening their desks and such-and-such points in about 20 minutes. The queue currently at those points was for American Airlines and it did not look like it was going to be done any time soon. So we waited. 20 minutes came and went. We ended up waiting about 2 hours before they opened their desks. Fortunately we got in the queue before they opened because we asked the information people again. There was a huge queue already forming and they only opened 2 desks. I thought "there is no way we are taking off in one hour." And they were SO SLOW!!!

We made it through the queue and made our way down to security. Before we even arrived the lady at the desk said, "You're only allowed one carry-on." "But the website said you can have a personal bag..." Shakes her head. "What about a camera..." Shakes her head. So we walk away to try to condense our things. The stress has finally gotten to me and I break down in tears. Our carry-ons (one being our computer) are already stuffed full and I wonder how we will fit my camera and other things into them. Josh works while I blubber and he manages to do it, though we had to throw away some snack items. He takes my camera out of the camera bag and puts it around his neck. "They are GOING to let me carry this camera!" :) We walk up to the lady with our passports and she smiles and says, "Got it sorted?" I don't even attempt so smile or speak with my puffy red face.

We make it through security, though there seems to be something in my bag that they have to test. Since we couldn't bring any water we stop at a cafe to pick up a couple of bottles. The guy is taking too long so we figure it is more important to get water in Dublin since that will be our long flight.

When we approach our gate where people should already be boarding we see the seats filled with travelers and NO PLANE! So I go back to get some water.

We finally take off 50 minutes late. This concerns us as we only had 1.5 hours until our next flight and would have to go through security again. When we get off the plane there is a lady holding a sign "connection to Chicago". We do to her and wait for the others connecting. She FLIES through the airport with about 20 people in tow, some elderly. We lose her at one point and just guess where we are to go. We catch up to her at security. Again, something catches their attention in my bag and they have to test it. I still don't know what it was that was so interesting. We were the last ones through security and the lady is gone! ARGH!!! She never even told us where we would eventually end up. So we had to fly to find a screen to see what gate would leave from. Not on this screen. Ah! Here it is on this screen! Way down at the end of the airport. We zip onto the plane and get settled for a long flight. We were supposed to have the row at the emergency exit but we were put in the row behind it. The row we wanted was empty, so we sat there in hopes that the people weren't showing up.

We end up waiting about 20 minutes for our flight to leave. Probably to get our luggage from one plane to the next. We were concerned about our luggage not making because of the delay of our first plane.

No one comes up to kick us out of our seats, so we are happy. Then there is an announcement about how we have to make sure to take everything, including jackets off the plane in Shannon. We did not even realise we were making a stop in Shannon. So we thought it would just be a quick stop in Shannon, then take off again. No. We take a quick 30 minute flight over to Shannon, EVERYONE has to get off and go through security AGAIN! Then we get back on and head off to Chicago. This would explain why our flight was 10 hours instead of 7. Of course, when we boarded there was someone in the seats that we thought we had for the long-haul flight. :(

We did get to see the famous Cliffs of Mohr as we were departing Ireland. Once we were over the Atlantic we got settled in and had a nice flight. Hardly any turbulence at all. I was afraid with all this taking off and landing that my motion sickness would set in, but it had been a while since I had flown so it was fine.

We got to O'Hare and could feel the heat already, even though we didn't disembark the plane outside. And it didn't help that there must have been 20 other international planes arriving at the same time! The luggage retreaval was so packed full of people. There were not even any luggage trollies available. I waited in the spot they were supposed to be and when an employee came by with abotu 10 trollies it was like vultures swarming to get one. By now it was 11pm our time and we were tired. It takes a while, and we were a bit concerned, but our luggage does show up. We get through the long queue through customs AGAIN and try to find a phone to call Bessie, who was picking us up. We finally see her friendly, familiar face and she loads us up in her (air conditioned) van and takes us to Nathan and Andrea's where we were all going to have dinner together. It was nice to see these friends again (and meet Nathan and Andrea's baby!) especially after such an ordeal.

By the time we had boarded our final flight I was so annoyed with companies who are disorganised and don't keep their websites accurate and up to date. People who know us know how prepared we like to be. It was maddening that we were very prepared for this trip. We had to do so much rushing around and changing of plans. It would be more understandable if it was because of our own lack of preparation. It was maddening because it was on account of someone else who should have been better prepared.


Joshua said...

But in the end, we made it safely home with many thanks to friends and family that gave us such a warm welcome!

An American in Scotland said...

Whew! Glad you both made it safe and sound in spite of the hassles along the way. :-)