Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Whoever said that getting there was half the fun...

Let me start this by saying that I LOVE air travel. I have never had a problem with it. I get a rush whenever I step through the doors of an airport. I love sitting by the window of a plane (I always request a window seat) and watching the layers of clouds below me. I love looking for area landmarks, and wondering what people are doing in the houses below. I love flying by the highways, their ribbons of concrete snaking through the landscape, and looking for the cloverleaf ramps.

That having been said, flying to DC was somewhat stressful.

It started when I slept over at my parents' house the night before my flight. I brought the cats and their equipment with me, since Grandma and Grandpa were going to watch over my babies during my sojourn. I hardly slept at all; the cats were out of their element, being in a new environment, and they crawled all over me and hissed at each other all night long. That, and a really severe thunderstorm decided to hang out over my old bedroom; things were so bad during the storm my parents thought that lightning struck another tree in the backyard.

Needless to say, lack of sleep + flying all day = very bad mood.

I flew out June 30th, on a 6 AM flight from Bradley connecting to JFK, then flying from JFK to Baltimore at 9 AM. (I know now I could have gotten a direct flight to Baltimore via the airlines. I am never booking a flight through Priceline again). Anyway, the flight to JFK was quick, and I got to JFK ahead of schedule. I walked over to my gate, grabbed some breakfast on the way, and settled in. I worked on a couple of crossword puzzles, finished breakfast, and took a quick nap.

This is where the fun really begins.

I was awakened by a Delta agent, yelling at the top of his lungs, "All passengers to Baltimore, this way!" A little crowd soon gathered around him. He informed us that our flight was canceled due to the fact that the one flight attendant scheduled to fly with us did not come in to work. He said that they were arranging a shuttle to take us to LaGuardia, where we could catch a flight to Reagan National Airport in DC, instead of going to Baltimore.

Convenient for me, not so much for the others on my flight. There were a lot of upset passengers, especially one who had to stay over two nights due to bad weather.
So off we went to the shuttle transportation area, and we waited...and waited...and waited. Three Delta buses drove past us without stopping. Finally, a Delta agent arranged a private van to pick up some passengers, and I managed to be the last one to go on it.

It was an interesting drive to LaGuardia, passing by decaying monuments of the 1939 World's Fair, then Shea Stadium's electric blue exterior, with Citi Field going up next door. We were in the left lane, tailgating a Cadillac from Pennsylvania going less than 40 miles an hour, when the rest of the cars in rush hour traffic were doing 50. My mood kept getting worse.

Finally, we were at LaGuardia, where we were shuttled to the old Marine Air Terminal, the oldest, I think, of all of the terminals at the airport.

As we drove to the Marine Air Terminal, I couldn't help but notice LaGuardia's street signs, whose logos are based on that of the old control tower at the airport. Take a gander at this photo:

Is it me, or does the old control tower at LaGuardia look like a hybrid between a martini shaker and a cheese grater? The affect looks worse on the logo itself! (I couldn't find a picture of the logo online, so I apologize).

So we get to the Marine Air Terminal, I get my new boarding passes, and arrive at the gate to discover two things:

1. There's open seating on the flights to Reagan, because...
2. They depart every hour on the half hour.

I was just a wee bit upset when I learned that I didn't have to rush quite that much. That, and I could choose my own seat.

But I still had to wait some more. And finally, I got on the plane. We were actually served food--whole wheat crackers, baby carrots, and ranch dip. Impressive because it was food on a 45-minute flight, and because it was somewhat healthy. They still don't give you the whole can of soda or juice, though.

Finally, we approach Reagan Airport. The way the plane turns to land, you think you're gonna crash into the Potomac. However, you get the most amazing, crystal clear, picture perfect view of the National Mall, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol. I so regret not having my camera out, but it would have gone by in a split second.

Fortunately for me, DCA is on the Metro. I bought my ticket and boarded to head to my hotel. When I left the Metro at my station, however, I did not realize that you have to insert your ticket into the turnstiles upon exiting. (Yes, unlike the New York subway, there's an exitfare on the DC Metro). I couldn't jump the turnstiles with a suitcase, so I went to a patrolman and explained the situation. He started to laugh and asked, "You're from New York, aren't you?"

Well, I'm from Connecticut, but close enough.

He said he'd let me go "this one time!"

I got upstairs and went to find my bearings. My hotel was normally a five-minute walk from the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro station, but with luggage, it's about 15 minutes. And on a hot day with luggage, it's about 20 minutes. This was probably the must frustrating portion of my journey to DC.

When I finally arrived at the hotel, all I wanted to do was check in, take a shower, and then a nap. However, it was 2 PM and check-in wasn't until 4 PM. So I did what any woman would do in such a situation: I flirted and begged with the lone guy behind the front desk.

"Oh yes, miss, we do have a room available for you."


"In fact, we're going to upgrade you to a deluxe king with a balcony facing the courtyard."


So I schlepped my bags to my room--of course, it was one of the ones farthest from the elevator--flopped on the bed, and contemplated my next move. I would definitely have to shower. And after I did, there was time to do a little sightseeing.

And that, my dears, is for my next post!

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