I’ve now been traveling for almost 36 hours. I left my friend’s house in Rezini, a town about 30 minutes outside Chisinau at 7:00a Monday morning, to head into Chisinau, swing by Peace Corps Headquarters to pick up my luggage and then to catch a cab to the airport and on to Barcelona (via Vienna and Munich).
The day began with pizza for breakfast. Real pizza – I’d forgotten what American pizza tasted like. There’s a Sbarro’s at the Chisinau airport and we gorged on pizza and Dr. Pepper. While I was waiting for my flight I did a little duty-free shopping, the airport allows you to check purchases with them for pick-up on your return and the prices there ended up being about half the price of the same items in duty-free in Vienna and Munich!
I arrived in Vienna with no issues or delays and plenty of time (two hours) until my next flight. The airport in Vienna offered bagels with tuna fish – which was a welcome treat and was comfortable and well designed – which was good because my flight was delayed by almost two hours. By the time I got on the flight to Munich I was exhausted. I was asleep before we took off and woke up to the other passengers disembarking.
In Munich, everything in the terminal was closed. While still in my post-nap haze, I exited the terminal, heading to the center of the airport complex, for my first McDonald’s in over seven months. The Munich airport ought to be a tourist destination. The center had a Christmas Market, complete with food vendors (even a thai booth!!) and an outdoor skating rink, but since it was after midnight, everything was closed.
I realized after eating, when I re-entered the terminal that security was closed and I was stuck in the entry area. Luckily, there were several restaurants with booth seating and security guards who overlooked my sleeping there for a few hours.
I woke before my alarm the next morning and was unable to get back to sleep, so I spent the few hours before my flight wandering the airport and getting to enjoy a german pretzel with cream cheese and sprouts. (I was even beginning to mentally adjust to euro pricing and not converting everything to lei. When you earn a bit more than 100 Euros a month, it can be a bit shocking spending six Euros for a dinner.)
My flight to Barcelona took off on time and even though I was exhausted, I was unable to sleep. (Full plane and a seat mate who refused to cease talking to me, even when I closed my eyes.)
When I got into Barcelona I got my bag and went to meet my mom and Max. When I went to the AirFrance counter to enquire about their flight, I was told it had been cancelled as were most flights leaving from CDG airport that day (the winds were really bad). When I asked the Customer Service Representative there about it she confirmed that yes, the flight was cancelled, no she would not call CDG to see if they were getting onto another and no she couldn’t give me any information other than to say that there were two more AirFrance flights coming into Barcelona that day from CDG.
Since the next flight was coming in three hours later and I wasn’t sure how to contact my mother or brother – they weren’t answering my emails, I decided to wait for the next flight (and hopefully them). I realized quickly that as lovely, comfortable and delicious as the Munich and Vienna airports were, the Barcelona airport was equally awful.
There were no outlets available anywhere. No free wi-fi. No comfortable seating. No delicious food. I eventually found a corner and read for a few hours waiting for them. They weren’t on that flight or the next one, so around 7p, when I still hadn’t heard from them or met them at the airport, I took a cab to the hotel.
The cab driver dropped me off about a block from the hotel and as I struggled to find the hotel, exhausted, frazzled and mildly angry – I saw a Starbucks. I immediately went in, so happy to see this little piece of home and be able to enjoy a salad and frappachino.
When I got to the hotel the people at the front desk were super nice and once I got to my room, I discovered that my mom and Max had emailed me and they would be arriving in Barcelona around 11:30a the next day. I showered, debated walking around, but ultimately decided to go to bed early and hope that I would be seeing my family the next day (and not be having a solo trip in Barcelona).