Thursday, September 1, 2011

Notes of a jetlagged citizen

I might cross an ocean or another every single week, if the circumstances would allow it and the plane ticket would be paid for. Instead of depleting my inner resouces, traveling always leaves me happy and energized.

Now, when you fly to Europe with that funny marriage of an alliance between Lufthansa and United, you never know what to expect. Of course, you have to look and see who actually operates the flight but the room for surprises is open anyway. United is nice and decent, service is, well, ok, kind of like a relationship which works but from which you do not expect wonders any time soon. The only problem is that Lufthansa is simply spoiling passengers in intercontinental flights and when you see how well you can be treated, it’s hard to remain happy with United. It’s true that I didn’t fly yet with those exotic Asian airlines where I hear service is so amazing that you might want to refuse to leave the airplane, but in terms of what I’ve already experienced, Lufthansa is the best.

If you see me smiling it’s because I remember my first flight which I thought it would be Lufthansa but was operated by United. First, I left O’Hare from the concourse C of terminal 1, instead of concourse B, so I kept walking forever. Second, I was already mentally enjoying the hot napkins and fine food, that perfect balance between being strong and being friendly which is the trademark of the German flight attendants, those amazing yellow scarves which you might swear have a pride of their own, and so on. What I got instead was very different. I reached Europe kind of starved, which is not necesarilly a bad thing for me, but still. Same thing happened when I left Chicago in July. We reached Munich and went directly to an airport restaurant, where we tried to erase the memory of those insulting blueberry yogurt and apple pie that United suspected would make us ready for a new day. Only sweats in the morning? Give me a plain yogurt, at least. And throw away the apple pie.

It’s not that I keep going around memorising airplane types but yesterday we flew in an adorable Airbus A340-600, that huge, new and comfortable technological marvel where you don’t have to keep walking nervously in front of a locked restroom door and pray to hear the flushing button working from inside, a sign that maybe, just maybe, the person who is there will eventually decide to leave. The restroom area in A340-600 is one level under the main deck, you have to descend the stairs and there is a half-door resembling the entrance to the old-fashioned cowboy saloons. But you didn’t come here to read about toilets. Let’s talk about drinks.

I drank and I drank and I drank yesterday, mainly coke and apple juice and water, it’s true, but I also enjoyed white wine and black tea (no sugar, please). While I was deeply entranced in the music of Queen, A-ha and ABBA, I’ve heard the flight attendants offering something sounding like „water”, „water”, but wait, that didn’t look like water. So from the joy of Queen’s Bicycle Race (I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle/ I want to ride my bicycle/ I want to ride my bike /I want to ride my bicycle / I want to ride it where I like) I signaled that I might use some white white. It was complimentary white wine on Lufhtansa, do you hear that, United Airlines?

Yesterday wasn’t without strands of adventure, provided mainly by the half-hour delay in the plane taking off from Timisoara. My connecting time in Munich was one hour and ten minutes. Beware, pleople who travel from Timisoara, that plane comes from Munich and goes back. It came in late, so it went back late. At the time we reached Munich the boarding for Chicago has already started. They took the passengers for Barcelona and New York with shuttles to their planes but the flight attendant told me I’m in time for Chicago, so I went with the regular crowd. It was the same flight attendant who, when I got into that flying maxi taxi of a plane, cried „watch out lady with all those bags!!”. But of course I have bags, Sir, I’m traveling with a child and it’s somehow different from when I travel by myself (I mean accompanied only by my imagination and neurosis). And do you know how heavy those books and magazines are and how much they enjoy moving back and forth between United States and Romania?? So don’t call me „lady”!! Call me „ma’aam”, like everybody else. The last one who called me „lady” („watch where you go, lady!”) was a homeless person on the West Coast, and I wasn’t prepared for the similarity of the tone of voice from a flight attendant in Timisoara. Don’t get misled by the fact that I look like a flying donkey at the moment, with a carry-on, a plastic bag with one string broken, two coats and a brown bear with a red T-shirt in my hands. Beware again, thing are not always what they seem to look and sound.

Well, it turned out we were late for Chicago, because after we reached the terminal and got off the bus there was a very nice young lady waiting, who took us very quickly to the gate. She was so nice that, also I’m well aware she is professionally trained to behave to passengers, I insist that it was a little bit more than that, she must also have a pleasant personality, possibly the opposite of that male flight attendant who, if opportunity given, could do a good job in Auschwitz. All in all, we reached our destination in time, well-fed and entertained. So they say vacation is over but since new plans have caught my fancy, let’s enjoy the humid hot weather and hope for the best.


Corina said...

I so much enjoyed the "ride"! You're a fabulous story-teller :-)
And if I think better, I can say I like you more in English than in Romanian.

catintherain said...

Ahh, I wish I were like you, Amalia! Though not afraid of flying, I hate airplanes and airports with a passion.
I'm happy for you that you got to travel so much, and I'm also happy that you gave us the opportunity to see the world through your magical lens.

amalia said...

Corina, now, that's a huge thumb up for my English storytelling. I'll keep up the good fight, as they insist to say here.

amalia said...

catintherain, my magical lens say a warm Hello to you. Airports or not, I still like your writing very much.