Friday, March 23, 2012

dream come true...√

"Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true." ~Anonymous



On March 1st, my first journey overseas began around 1:30 pm in the Atlanta airport. (It almost ended just a couple of hours later in Houston, but I'm getting ahead of myself...) The plane we were going to board for Houston came in about 20 minutes late. Nothing new...pretty much expected it would happen. It did put us really close to get to our connecting flight, but boarding began and things were progressing along. A lady, who apparently missed all of the carry-on luggage size charts and checkpoints, boarded the plane at the last minute with a bag that was very obviously oversized and not going to fit in the overhead compartment on our plane. More precious minutes of our few remaining to catch our connecting flight in Houston were very quickly passing. Nothing to do but hope and pray...
Landing in Houston would have been more exciting had I had a minute to enjoy my first, very brief, visit to Texas. Asking for directions to our connecting flight, catching the tram which took us to our concourse, and then running at full speed to our gate is about all I remember of Texas. The boarding area was totally empty, save the few attendants behind the counter. It was a tense few moments when they were showing some confusion as to why we were before them...they didn't know we were coming, but were waiting on one other gentleman (Thank God!). We had flown on Delta and were to check in at the gate desk when arriving to get our boarding passes for our KLM flight, so we weren't checked in at the time of our arrival. There were no problems finding us in the system once they had our ticket info and we were gratefully and thankfully walking toward our seats in the plane to Amsterdam for our next connection. It still gives me chills to think that we were only a couple of minutes from being stranded in Houston.
I was now officially headed overseas for my first time ever once the plane took to the air. The projected flight plan they would show on the monitors gave me butterflies of excitement. In a short 9 hours and 20 minutes, give or take a few, I'd be on a new continent...and in a time zone 6 hours ahead of EST. The only thing that would have made it better would have been to have had a window seat. This flight topped my longest flight time, 7.5 hours to Anchorage from Atlanta, by almost two hours.
Let me take a minute to just say how much I was impressed with KLM's crew and amenities on our flight. There were more crew members than I have ever seen on a flight before...and more free food and beverages than I could have imagined possible...and free headphones (if one did not his/her own) to watch free tv, movies, games, etc. Very impressive, indeed.

Landing in Amsterdam, it was an easy transfer over to our next flight, with only a little over an hour layover. However, a rookie mistake was made. We went through the boarding line prior to visiting the restroom. Once you made it through the security station for our flight, you were in a glass-walled room with no exiting allowed (except "in an emergency", to quote a gate attendant). We made it with no emergencies. Like I said, it was a rookie mistake...one noted so that it wouldn't occur again on the way home.
At some time of my morning/afternoon/evening...whenever it was...the final leg of my journey to Cape Town began, again topping my longest flight record with an 11 hour flight ahead.
It was again a well staffed, filled with provisions, KLM flight. I slept through several hours of this flight, several cat naps off and on inbetween reading a really good book, but was still tired when we landed around 10:30 local time in Cape Town. We saw Candace and Murray in the waiting area as we walked to Customs and Immigration through a glass-lined hallway above them. It was so exciting to be there finally and to see my cousin and meet her fiance for the first time!
C&I was must less stressful than I could have ever imagined. We had a bit of a line for customs, but they got us through in good fashion. I held my breath as the agent stamped my passport for the first time. Dream come true...√
Murray showed us the way to get our rental car and then we followed him and Candace to our hotel. It was a nice way to end a very long, but good, 27+ hours to Cape Town, South Africa.
Horizontal sleeping was greatly calling my name...and it was sweet to answer its call.

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