Thursday, November 5, 2015

Trip One - Part One

A few days ago, I finally had a chance to write down everything from trip one. Here's part one:

Friday
I was supposed to leave my hometown airport at 11:31 am on Friday, July 10. The flight was delayed about 15 minutes though as there was a backup of planes waiting to land at Chicago O'Hare. We were schedule to arrive at 11:29 am Chicago time and still managed to arrive on time.

My layover at O’Hare was an hour and 42 minutes. At about 1:11 pm, I left O’Hare for Dulles (Washington DC). We arrived there at about 4:10 pm. The layover there was another hour and 45 minutes. At 5:55, I was off to Vienna! I slept most of the time. When I wasn't sleeping, I was watching movies. They offered us TWO meals, dinner and breakfast. The food was delicious, way better than I thought it would be! The flight was scheduled to be just under 10 hours but we actually arrived about an hour and a half early (about 7:00 am instead of our scheduled 8:40 landing).

Saturday
During my 13 hour, 40 minute layover, I got to explore Vienna. I went on a sightseeing tour and walked around the city for a bit before returning (too early) to the airport. They had a baggage storage area and for about $5 per bag, I got to keep my bags there so I didn’t have to bring them around Vienna with me. My flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 10:20 Vienna time but I was nervous that I would get lost or something so I returned to the airport at about 5:00. If I had planned better, I probably would have done more sightseeing and stayed out another hour or so.

I got to see a lot of old places. If I could do it again, I would have gotten off the tour bus (it makes several stops along the route) and actually gone inside a few of the places.

My flight to Eastern Europe was supposed to leave at 10:20 but we actually left late. The flight was overbooked and they asked for volunteers to stay, offering $200 each. I would have had I known what was going to happen (more on that below). I arrived on Sunday, July 12 between 3:00 am and 3:35 am (our scheduled landing was 3:35 but I believe we arrived early again).

Sunday
When I arrived, they checked my passport and on my way out to baggage claim, I met my driver. After I met my driver, we went and got my bags and took the 10-15 minute drive to the apartment I was staying in.

After settling in to the apartment, I took a 4 hour nap before getting up and getting ready for the day. After I got up on Sunday and calling the translator (they give us prepaid cell phones), I found out that the government would be closed on Monday and I wouldn’t be able to meet Peaches until Tuesday. If I had known this while I was still in Vienna, I would have taken the next day’s flight and gained $200!

On Sunday, I went with the translator and another family, the L family, they were on their pick-up trip to get their daughter and had just gotten her the day before, to the open air market. This place is so cool! I bought a few souvenirs here. It’s typically only held on the weekends during the summer but during peak tourist season (like when I was there), some vendors are there every day or most days. After the market, the translator and I walked back to my apartment, first stopping at the market that was just two buildings away from my apartment to get my money converted and pick up a few groceries. I ended up going to the market a few times throughout the week for fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat. It was so nice to get stuff fresh. Food there is very inexpensive compared to here. I was able to make my own meals or eat out for less than it would cost per day here. I was also able to walk everywhere, which made it even more cheaper.

We went out to dinner and then walked around town a little bit. The holiday is called Vardavar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Day). People were dousing others with water from buckets. Thankfully, none of us got wet. I think it’s because the family I was walking around with had their child with them and little kids are off limits. People were in the water fountains and throwing water from cars and off balconies, it was crazy! It was really cool to witness though, too.

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