Thursday, November 1, 2012

41 hours to get to Florida

This fall I have had a lot of travel, recently the US, more specifically Florida. I was attending a small conference where I was presenting a research paper and since I was not able to bring Zoe, I tried to make it as short as possible. Still, it was at a resort in south Florida in October so I did schedule a day at the pool, just before the conference started. Things didn't  turn out that way though.

I left a very early Saturday morning, leaving Zoe with my babysitter because Zoe's dad would not be back from his trip to the US for another 28 hours. She was a bit cranky that I woke her up at 7am but I didn’t have the heart to just leave her sleeping. She might not remember that I  had told her I was leaving the night before. She was to spend the full day with my babysitter and at night a close friend was coming over to spend the night with her, playing with her in the morning until her dad arrived early afternoon.

I left teary eyed in the morning, getting the Arlanda Express and feeling business woman like with my small black suitcase and Kate Spade leather carryon. I boarded the plane that was going to take me to Frankfurt, to my connecting US flight. When waiting for the plane to back out, we got the news that there was a technical error on the plane, the engine fire indicator was malfunctioning. If there is something you want to be indicated of, it is a potential fire in the engine. We deplaned and boarded another one, leaving one a half hour later, bringing me to Frankfurt the same minute as my US plane took off. I rushed to the service center in the hope that they would be able to reroute me via some other US destination and at least get me to the right side of the Atlantic that day. No luck. Due to the soon arriving tropical storm Sandy, many US flights had been cancelled, leaving the remaining fully booked. Even the attempt to route me via San Francisco was unfruitful. I was sent to an airport hotel, “right next to” the Frankfurt airport and provided with an itinerary for next day.

Internet and Latte at the brown airport hotel

The hotel was grim to say the least. Up until then I had kept my cool, realizing that there was absolutely nothing I could do to change the situation. My day at the pool was lost the minute they said ‘technical error’ on my first flight. But as I got to that godforsaken hotel, 20 minutes drive on the autobahn by a taxi driver who clearly enjoyed the no-speed limit to the fear of his passengers, I had had it. Not only did my 7am flight mean that I had to take a 5 am shuttle to the airport from the so-called airport hotel (“our shuttle leaves every hour on the hour”), the internet at the hotel was also limited to an hour in the bar, leaving my ability to at least use this ‘intermezzo’ for work rather difficult. But worse, I had left Zoe for this. I had left her with strangers for money when I could have stayed with her instead. Obviously this was a not really true, because I could not have left on a Sunday (tickets overseas not including Saturdays are deemed business tickets and cost the range of $3000-4000 instead of $1000, making it very unlikely my department would have paid for it) and I could not have predicted that my pool day turned into a brown german hotel day. I was probably much better off in terms of getting to the US here in Frankfurt than back in Stockholm under the circumstances. After shedding a few tears I went down to the bar and ordered a latte, which in Germany apparently is a bit of coffee with a liter of milk, and spent my one hour internet allowance surfing Facebook and random blogs.

Next morning the shuttle picked me and some other unfortunate Swedes up at 5 am and my journey to Florida went smoothly from then on. Zoe’s dad made it back to Stockholm before I left Europe, making me feel safe about leaving. I skyped with her one evening where she said that mommy should fly back to Stockholm and that “Zoe love Mommy”. I missed her but I’m getting better in leaving her for a couple of days. In the end I am returning before a week has passed from when I left her.

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