Saturday, November 07, 2009

Hemispheric Travel

Travel Troubles

I know many people write about the miseries of travel these days but really, my cross-Atlantic travel this time had some particularly ugly elements and I can't help blaming Baltic Air for most of it.  I must admit, however, that living here in Klaipėda, the coastal and inaccessible, by air, city of Lithuania does not help.  Palanga, a smaller resort community 20 km up the coast from Klaipėda boasts a small, and expensive airport.  Otherwise, it is a 4-hour bus trip to Riga, Latvia or Vilnius, Lithuania.  That is the route most of us use to save money but it does require some very extended travel time as available buses will drop you at the Riga airport some 5 hours before your flight leaves.  On my way home, that meant packing and leaving without sleep the night/early morning of my 12:30 pm flight the next day.  Then, I discovered that Baltic Air has no agreements with any of the larger carriers so I would have to claim my luggage in Amsterdam, re-check it there, clear security and run to my gate and all within the hour and half allowed.  What a colossal hassle,  and I consider it nothing short of a miracle that I made my flight and got a boarding pass when the plane was seriously overbooked.  Of course, by the time I made it to my seat there was no carry-on space left for me and the airline staff were particularly out of patience with me, which didn't help. 

On the return trip, and again, because of Baltic Air, I picked up my luggage a full 8 hours before my flight and sat in the ticketing hall with it for hours, too exhausted for quite awhile to go in search of luggage storage.  Finally, after laying all over the luggage cart for a few hours, dozing in and out of consciousness, I was able to look for the luggage storage and paid the 8 € for the 2 hours it would buy so I could get something to eat knowing that Baltic Air's menu is both limited and expensive including charges for even a drink of water.  I am sure you must wonder why I didn't just check my luggage and go toward my gate on my arrival.  Baltic Air does not open it's ticket desk until 2 hours before the flight.

Arriving in Riga with a bit of time to spare, I had time to get to the airport pharmacy for some antacids for the dreadful heartburn I'd experienced since somewhere over the Atlantic.  As I stood in the doorway of the airport awaiting  the time the bus would arrive one of the English faculty dashed by, said, "Hi Geri, sorry I need to catch the bus."  I thought, "So do I" and headed across the parking lot with my luggage cart.  The bus was already waiting across the street so, abandoning my cart I attempted to grab everything for the crosswalk.  I was returning with so much more than I had taken!  Toni and CharlAnn had sent me back with lots of great reading material and I was and am grateful but I really wondered how I was going to make it to the bus when the wife of another English faculty member offered to help me across the street.  As it turned out, half the department was on the bus, returning from Rome and Paris, where they'd spent their fall breaks.  I offered to hold a departmental meeting but collapsed in a quiet heap in the corner shortly after that.

It has taken me days to feel better.  I am not sure if I caught a bug of some sort or just do not have the elasticity I used to for these quick overseas trips.

Now, I am in the final week before The Crucible performance so the schedule is very busy now, balancing meetings, classes, final rehearsals, and upcoming performances.  Marking, of course, will ever be with me.

Love and hugs,

Geri

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