Posts Tagged Santa Monica

Worst Flight Ever

Thankfully for our livers, all things must come to an end.  After a weekend of partying in Germany, it was time to depart for Spain — the 8th and final country on our 30/40 World Tour.

Everyone has heard of “German efficiency,” but there was none to be found in the airport security line.  The line wasn’t very long, but was so slow!  They were basically taking apart each person’s carry-on bag despite having a perfectly serviceable x-ray machine.  They even examined my empty water bottle and told me I was not allowed to take more than 3 ounces of liquid.  My water bottle was clear plastic and attached on the outside of my bag.  This extra scrutiny seemed ridiculous.  But I assured them that my visibly empty bottle was indeed empty by shaking it for them.

Our flight to Spain was not direct.  It was also one of the only flights we did not book through STA, since they didn’t have any deals.  We couldn’t find any reasonably priced direct flights from Munich to Barcelona, so we used a discount carrier with a one hour layover in Düsseldorf.

Of course, nothing could be that easy.  Remember how we always say you get what you pay for?  This was another case in point.

The flight from Düsseldorf to Barcelona was delayed.  We had done a great job of booking direct flights with week-long layovers in exotic locales.  Our only true airport layover of the 30/40 World Tour was at LAX, but even then we planned a beach outing in Santa Monica.  This time, all we were able to do was hang out in a terminal filled to capacity with people from various delayed flights.  There weren’t any seats; even the nuns were sitting on the floor.  So we headed to the bar to wait.

Once it was finally our boarding time, they packed us into busses en route to the plane.  Finally, we had made it to the plane.  Thank goodness!

Not so fast.  Our journey was not yet over.  It was not yet time to relax.  This flight involved screaming children from all directions.

AirBerlin plane

After escaping the worst flight ever and arriving in Spain, we paused in the terminal to capture photographic evidence of our tormentor

The irony is that we had been on plenty of other flights with children.  Long flights.  Hours and hours of being constricted to a little seat.  But this tiny little 2 hour flight was horrible.

Perhaps I have a special intolerance as a person without children, but it really didn’t seem like the parents were doing anything.  The little girl in front of us was traveling with her German mother and Spanish father.  She was perpetually backward in her seat so that she could stare at us during the flight.  She got increasingly bold and started sticking her arm through the gap between the seats.

This was a nuisance, but not a major problem…until her arm swatted my drink.  Of course, it spilled all over my legs.  So I got to spend the rest of the day with sticky legs and socks.  Just lovely.

To understand just how much I disdain messes and sticky things, I will take you back to kindergarten.  I hated using glue because it could get on my fingers.  Other kids would smear glue all over their hands and wait for it to dry.  I found this appalling.

Back to the flight.  In the US, they would never serve food on a 2 hours flight.  But this was Europe.  They gave us some sort of boxed meal, but all the “fresh” food was inedible.  I think the sandwich was just mayo — gobs and gobs of mayo.  Perhaps there was something else in the sandwich, but it was hidden by the mayo.

We eventually arrived in Barcelona where we had to hurry up and wait for the train.  Despite visiting Dubai, it seemed excruciatingly hot in the train terminal with little air flow.  I expected it to be cooler in the evening as the sun descended.  Perhaps I was just being my half empty self with additional annoyance and stickiness.

We ended up in a train car with a group of boys on vacation.  With a liquor bottle.  They ended up making quick friends with the two girls nearby, and the liquor went back and forth across the train.  Hilarious people watching!

Barcelo Sants elevator lobby

Can you spot Ms. HalfEmpty? She's sitting in the spacey egg chair in the Barcelo Sants hotel elevator lobby.

After an afternoon of travel that seemed like days, we checked into our hotel — conveniently located above the train station.  This hotel had a space theme.  All the hallways were dark until you walked by the sensor and then a group of vertical lights from floor to ceiling adjacent to each door would illuminate.  It was a neat effect and probably saved a good bit of electricity too.

Barcelo Sants room

Outer space portal above our glowing hotel room bed

Our room was elegantly modern with space touches including a captain’s swivel chair.  There were also round portals in the room with pictures of the moon.  Oddly, one of them was above the toilet.

Barcelona taxis

During our 4 days in Barcelona, I spent a lot of time watching the parade of taxis from my hotel room window while waiting for Mr. HalfFull to coif himself. He takes longer than me! It was great people watching to see the drivers smoke and chat. It was like I was spying from space!

We even had multiple sizes of pillows with varying degrees of firmness.  Plus, there was an amazing ergonomic backrest for sitting up in bed, and a perfect bed tray. Our room was so awesome and relaxing that we didn’t leave until 1 PM the next day in search of food.

Maybe the flight wasn’t actually that bad.  I mean it wasn’t great, but it could have been much worse.  Perhaps we had just been spoiled by awesome airlines with hot towels, edible food, and the gift of silence.

  • How do you select flights?  Price?  Schedule?  Number of stops?
  • Describe your worst flight.
  • Does a dislike of glue as a kindergartener make me an old soul?
  • Is it a sin to spend the whole morning of your first day in a new country asleep?  Or is sleep important to help you enjoy it?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Cannons Around the World

As you all know from the title of our 30/40 World Tour, Mr. HalfFull is 10 years older than me.  Some might think that 10 years is a big age difference, and assume that Mr. HalfFull’s 10 extra years of maturity might be overwhelming to his young, beautiful, perhaps naïve bride.

Do you remember what they say about assumptions?

My husband may be more mature in age, but in behavior he is not.  This became readily apparent as we traveled around the world and he begged me to take his photo EVERY SINGLE TIME he saw a cannon.  Please refer to the “maturity” evidence below…

Palisades Park Cannon

Even on our layover in Santa Monica en route to Fiji, Mr. HalfFull found his pose.

New Zealand Cannon

Mr. HalfFull found another cannon to demonstrate his manliness in New Zealand.

New Caledonia Cannon

New Caledonia provided Mr. HalfFull yet another opportunity to display his maturity.

Sydney Cannon

This cannon outside our hotel in Sydney, Australia thwarted Mr. HalfFull with a fence!

Canberra Cannon

But in the end, Australia did not emerge scot-free, as Mr. HalfFull found a suitable cannon in Canberra.

It looks like his cannons got progressively bigger. Along with his ego?

  • Do you consider a 10 year age difference large?
  • Are you surprised when the younger person in a couple is more mature?
  • Is your husband as mature as mine?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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America?

Palisades Park

Ms. HalfEmpty napping in Palisades Park

You may be wondering why, after a week in Fiji and a week in New Zealand, I am writing about America.  Prior to this trip, I took easy/free internet access in the United States for granted.  After landing at LAX, we took a bus to Santa Monica to kill time before our next flight.  I expected that I would need to patronize a café to get on a network.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could sit in Palisades Park and use the city’s free internet!  But on Likuri Island (our first stop in Fiji, where we used generator electricity during the day and none at night) there was no broadband internet, but you could pay per hour to sit in their office and use antique computers.

In Fiji and New Zealand, I have discovered that there is no such thing as unlimited internet.  They limit you by the hour or megabyte, and sometimes both, meaning that if you reach your megabyte limit before your time is up, you get booted.  Plus, the connections have been painfully slow, especially when every minute is counted.  These constraints add a lot of stress for a half empty perfectionist!

On top of the internet limitations, I know my half empty mind won’t be able to move on until I get these thoughts off of my mental to-do list.  But no worries (as the Kiwis often say), I have lists of observations and tons of images to write about.  But for today, I present you my final thoughts while leaving America for 10 weeks.

Before embarking on my 30/40 World Tour, I hadn’t been to an airport since Thanksgiving and hadn’t been to Dulles airport in much longer, so it was interesting to see all the changes. The first thing that caught my eye was TSA employees in tuxedo-like uniforms.  At first, I thought this might be a classy new concierge service.  But alas, no.  The tuxedo guys don’t check your tickets or bags; they just stare at you. I guess they are profilers looking for odd behavior.  I can tell you what’s odd — wearing a tuxedo at the airport!

The second new thing for me was the naked full body scanners. I felt very uncomfortable since I was not sporting metallic ink underwear. Mr. HalfFull told me later that he sucked in his gut and wanted to yell, “Shrinkage!” as they scanned his junk. Fortunately, he kept this thought to himself.

Dulles AeroTrain

Sleek AeroTrain @ Dulles airport

The third new airport feature was awesome! Dulles International Airport now has underground trams called AeroTrain. A lot of airports have these, but we have used people movers driving across the runways for years at Dulles. I was impressed – very efficient and sleek.  Perhaps some Scandinavian efficiency engineer from IKEA created the system of tram doors on both sides.  One side opens about 5-10 seconds before the other.  So people on the tram exit on the side with open doors, while people waiting to board are outside the set of closed doors on the opposite side.  We noticed a Dulles employee avoid the stampede off the tram, exit off the delayed side, and then scoot right up the escalator by himself.  This guy didn’t fall prey to the herd mentality.

Since we were not checking bags and had already printed our boarding passes at home, we didn’t have to visit the ticket counter at all.  With time to spare, Mr. HalfFull visited a tech gadget store in search of a single electrical adapter for all seven of our 30/40 World Tour countries. Lo and behold, they had one!  Plus it also has a USB charger and surge protection, all in a neat little package priced at $40.  Great success!

America store in airport

If you look closely, you can see the terrorist video above the register in the middle of the photo

While sitting on a bench with our luggage waiting for Mr. HalfFull, I noticed a store subtly called “America!”  They had t-shirts and souvenirs, plus a video playing above the checkout counter that was visible from my vantage point. I couldn’t hear any sound, but I could clearly see a reenactment of a group of terrorists with red cloths tied around their heads hijacking an airplane. Are you kidding me? They should have called the store “Tea Party!”  This seemed like an odd video choice in a terminal full of potential customers moments before boarding airplanes.

Capitol Grounds lattes

Capitol Grounds lattes & passports -- we're ready to travel!

As you know from my incessant mentions of coffee, I suppose I’m a bit of an addict.  With the new charger in hand, Mr. HalfFull set off to acquire small skim lattes with Splenda from Capitol Grounds.  (I haven’t found Splenda since leaving the US!  Hmm…)  As soon as he returned, our boarding group was called. Perfect timing!

Guess who was on our flight? NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, sporting a Milwaukee Bucks shirt!  I wonder if he travels under the name Lew Alcindor to avoid hassles with the tuxedo dudes.

  • Did internet availability overseas affect your travel?
  • What do you think of the tuxedo TSA guys?
  • Have you experienced the naked full body scanner? How did you feel?
  • Do you have metallic ink underwear?
  • Have you ever seen a terrorist reenactment video at an airport?
  • Have you flown with celebrities?

Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on halfempty4now.com, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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