Thursday, December 28, 2006

On Our Way to Latvia!

Our day started at 5 a.m. this morning. And I only had about four hours of sleep because I was busy packing and getting things organized for our trip. Since I’m taking almost two weeks off from work for this trip, I had to work for two days after Christmas. Accountants have year end stuff to finish up before the New Year starts. It was a challenge for me to get all my work done. We left all four of our kids home alone (will they behave – who knows?) Jason took us to the airport at 6 a.m. even though our flight didn’t leave until 7:40 a.m. We got a notice in our email the day before that our original flight had been cancelled. So, Steve wanted to get to the airport early to see if we could get a better connection to JFK airport in New York and avoid having to fly into Newark, NJ. We were wait-listed on a couple flights but they didn’t work out. So, we flew into Atlanta, and then to on Newark. We had about 10 minutes to spare to get our luggage and catch our shuttle to JFK and we made it! Because our rescheduled flight got in to Newark later we didn’t think we would make the shuttle bus in time. The shuttle was an interesting ride. I don’t remember the last time I saw the New York City skyline and recognized the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty right away. Saw the place where the World Trade Center once stood, too. It took us an hour and a half to get to New York City from Newark even though we could see it across the river! The shuttle ride was a very bumpy ride and a little nerve- wracking with all the “close calls” and crazy drivers. I sat next to the window and if it was open I would have been able to reach out and touch the cars next to us! Our teeth were still rattling when the bus stopped! (Steve says we will fly out of LaGuardia on our way home so we will travel through all three airports in New York!)

Airports and airplanes are noisy places. I have to turn down the sensitivity AND volume on my CI or I just turn it off completely. I also turn off my hearing aid because it just amplifies sound that I don’t need to hear. I’m grateful that I can pick and choose what I want to listen to. I don’t even try to listen to any music or use the headphones because when I switch my “ears” to telecoil, I pick up the engine noise from the plane instead of what I’d like to hear. We boarded Czech Airlines and left NYC at 5:45 p.m., almost exactly 10 hours since we left Knoxville. Because Steve travels so much, we were able to use his frequent flyer miles to fly business class on our international flight. I asked him what the difference was between business class and first class. He said that business class on international flights is the same as first class in the U.S. He said that he has flown first class once on an international flight and it is a step above what one can imagine. They give you pajamas! Wow. Business class was just fine and was nice and comfortable for an eight hour flight. We were wined and dined and spoiled! We had a six-course meal for dinner and then had breakfast just before we landed in Prague. If you want to travel internationally, Czech Airlines is the way to go! They really do take care of their travelers. Their planes are older but are well maintained. But they make up for that with great service. I was able to finish knitting a hat for Ziggy, who is a special friend in Latvia. Also worked on my Irish Hiking Scarf and am reading the five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom. I also took my boots off and slept for about three hours. My feet got so swollen on the plane that I couldn’t get my boots back on! The air is very dry on planes and I lathered lotion my hands constantly. I still have a bit of a cough and hope I don’t get sick while we travel these next two weeks. I’ve got a full medicine cabinet with me just in case!

It felt strange to turn off my cell phone as we left the U.S. It won’t be turned back on until we get back to New York. I’m so used to having it with me. We won’t have much contact with anyone except through email until we return to the states in a couple weeks. It’s amazing how dependent we are on technology. Steve is going to purchase a cell phone and use a prepaid card while we are over there. We’ll also use SKYPE on our computers to talk on the phone.

It was interesting to step off the plane in Prague. I love watching people and the scenery and everything is so different. I can hear people talking and I know it is not English! As I write this, we are sitting in the business class lounge at the airport in Prague. There is a slight dusting of snow on the ground. It is about 35 degrees outside with a drizzle. I’ve always wanted to see Prague but we’ll have to come back another time to see the city. We’ll stay in this lounge for about 3 hours before we board our flight to Riga, Latvia. The lounge is very interesting and modern looking. I feel like I’ve stepped into the scenery from “The Jetsons!” As you walk in there is a place to get drinks and food and they have everything! Different kinds of coffee & tea, water, juices, cheeses, crackers, salads, yogurt, breads, cookies, fruit, and even alcohol on tap! I’m just relaxing with a cup of coffee to help me stay awake. It is actually late morning here when it is really the middle of the night back home. The jet lag will catch up to me later! But, for now, I’m going to enjoy the ride!

No comments: