My trip started just like any other in the past; screaming, shouting, running all around. Even though I had packed two weeks in advance for this trip to Europe things always seem to go wrong at the last minute. For example, for the past few days I have spent day and night putting together just the right music for my mp3 player. It took a lot of time an patience. Well like an hour before I was supposed to leave to catch the train to Penn Station in Manhattan, I decided that I would try to add a few more songs. Well as it turns out, something went awry and I was left with an mp3 player that wasn’t working, thirty minutes before I had to leave to catch the train. Now for those of you who know me, I started to freak out. Running around the house exclaiming “this **** mp3 player won’t work.” But for those of also know me, you know how great my luck is, and approximately 15 minutes before I had to catch the train it started to work! This is where the panic kicked in. “Oh my G-d, I only have ten minutes to catch the train, dad get this mom get that, Jenny just sit on the couch and do nothing as usual!”So Dad and I packed up the Jeep for the short ride to the LIRR train station. This would take me to Penn Station in Manhattan, NY and from there I would have to take the New Jersey Transit two stops to Newark Airport. We arrived at the LIRR station in Great Neck, NY with a few minutes to spare. Dad and I unloaded the car with my backpacks and I got a round trip ticket to the city. Dad helped me get my bags down to the platform, we said goodbye and then a few minutes later the train arrived.
Now I am generally a decent packer, meaning I don’t take THAT much, but this trip it just seems like I packed a ton of stuff. The reality is that since it is winter in Europe and since I am going to places like the Czech Republic and the Swiss Alps, I need warm clothing; sweaters, jackets, etc… Anyway once I got onto the train I initially sat in a 4 seater, but once the conductor quickly came by to collect my ticket she said to me “you might as well go to the six-seater (which was right next to the 4-seater), and so I did. I actually took up six seats, three facing each other.
The journey to Penn station seemed to go by quicker than normal, but maybe that was just the excitement and adrenaline kicking in that I was about to embark on yet another fantastic trip. I arrived at Penn station with all my crap getting looks from everyone, found my way to NJ Transit, bought a ticket and then waited for about fifteen minutes until the train arrived. While waiting in this open area where there are seats around the outside of the room, I noticed people were looking at me and my pack. See my pack has patches from every country I have been too (40 and counting). It can seem intimidating but often people just stare and wonder “what country is that,” since most of my patches do not have the country name on them, just the flag. I find it humorous and often just play coy and continue to listening to my music.
The train arrived at approximately 255PM and as soon as the track number appeared I ran to the train; I need to solidify a seat or two for all my crap and since these trains tend to be crowded I needed to make sure I had enough room, otherwise I would find myself standing for the next twenty five minutes. Anyway once I entered the train the most vile, horrid and putrid smell you could possibly imagine past through my nostrils. It was a mix between urine and death. It was horrible. You know how normally your nose gets used to smells to the point where you don’t smell it anymore, well this wasn’t one of those smells, that’s how bad this train smelled. So for the next twenty five minutes I battled with the stench that was the New Jersey Transit train to Newark Airport.
Once I got to Newark Airport which is in Newark, NJ, there was a rush for the elevators which takes you to the air train terminal. The air train is like a monorail that takes you from various points to the airport terminals, parking garages, hotel etc. I jumped on the first air train that came and was on my way to the terminal. The Continental international terminal was not as crowded as I expected even with it being Christmas. The domestic portion seemed to be buzzing especially after the storms that hit the Midwest kept holiday travelers stranded for the last few days.
After getting on the wrong line for baggage check in, and getting yelled at by the airport worker, I stood on line for quite a while making usual chit-chat with people around me, mainly commenting on the ineptitude of the airline staff and how the checking in of baggage should be entirely automated. I eventually got to the machine where the process is virtually automated except there is a member from the airline staff who has to validate your passport and travel documents. After receiving my boarding pass I had several hours before my flight. I proceeded through security which did not take long at all, much shorter than I thought, scoped out where my gate was and then went to the first bar I saw. There was good NBA basketball on, so I pulled up to the bar, ordered a drink (thanks to mom’s money) and was all set. I started to chat it up with two guys, one from Scotland and I think one from Ireland. We had a nice chat about football (soccer) and just general stuff. The Scotsman had lived in Detroit for the past twenty five years and had retail stores which focused on Irish and Scottish stuff. I didn’t get specifics but he apparently lived in Auburn Hills, MI, where the Detroit Pistons NBA franchise plays. I didn’t get any personal information from the Irishman except that he moved to the US in 1994. After a few hours and a few drinks, I decided it was time to head to the gate. I said my goodbyes and was off. They were really nice dudes and definitely helped pass the time.
I waited at the gate for a little while and actually was able to plug in my iphone and watch a movie before the flight was called. Once the flight was called, all hell broke out. People were literally on top of the lady checking the passports, who comes before the lady who actually scans the eticket or paper ticket. People were so antsy to get on the plane it was a mess. Since I was sitting in row 22, I basically had to wait until everyone was on the plane and luckily there was room in the overhead compartment for my backpack.
After I put my backpack up top and took what I needed for down at my seat, I put the gift I brought for Harriet’s parents up in the overhead compartment. Well apparently I didn’t secure the gifts well enough and as I went to get something from my backpack the gifts came crashing down on the passenger sitting I the seat in front of me. All I hear is “Jesus Christ what was that!” I apologized profusely to the rather large gentlemen who sounded like he was from Texas or somewhere in the south.
Once I sat down, the lady sitting in the window seat started chatting and all I have to say is that I hate French Canadians and that generalization will NOT change until I meet a nice one. She was not nice at all, definitely spoke English but pretended to only speak French at opportune times. The good news was that the middle seat was never taken so we had much more room than I expected. Also a positive was that there was a power point below my seat, so I was able to charge my iphone the entire time. The flight seemed to take forever. The food was bad, I’m glad I brought my own sandwiches and while I tried to watch movies I really just wanted to sleep and I think I eventually got an hour or two in which was nice. I also want to add that the flight attendants were loud, rude and appeared to be pissed off because they were working on Christmas.