The trip started with a half empty bus – make that 80 percent empty bus to the airport. Not all too surprising considering that I was traveling in the middle of the break. At the airport I found my gate and settled in but not long before boarding they cleared everyone out inviting massive confusion and every man for himself-ism. This is when I don’t miss traveling with the ex. He would have been freaking out about getting on the plane first. I, on the other hand, knew that my carry on luggage consisted of my purse and my sunny personality. However, I draw the line at line cutting.
When a line resolved itself, I got in it. Then a very large German man decided he could ease his way in ahead of me if he was patient enough. I watched him out of my peripheral vision and patiently but firmly edged him behind me. For my persistence, when I got to the desk, the clerk stared fiddling with my ticket. I started grinning inside. Upgrade, baby. Reward for being persistent and not letting pushy man have his way. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
The flight was lovely. Had I been in coach I would have had to endure every second wide awake while some stranger slept on my shoulder, but in business I ordered my breakfast for after take off, ate and proceeded to sleep for most of the flight. The guy next to me was my total hero though. He finished eating before me and was sleeping before the very attentive crew could pick up his tray. He slept, as far as I can tell, straight through to an hour before landing.
Dusseldorf Airport threatens to top my worst airports ever. Recall that of the top 10 worst airports in the world according to Expedia, I have been to four. This one wasn’t on the list, but it should have been. We we ejected from the plane into a featureless hallway that eventually led to a set of stairs and down to passport control. Passport control? I’m not staying in Germany. I checked my ticket which helpfully said I would be departing from gate B. I saw a sign for gate C, but not B. So I located a very helpful policeman who told me I would indeed have to go through passport control. The man in passport control demanded to know where I was going. Venice, Italy. How long I would be staying? Five days. Then he glared at me like he suspected that I was lying so I added that I had to go back to Abu Dhabi where I teach kindergarten. Kindergarten usually gets them. I swear I could swan through the tightest security in the world with a bright grin and a comment about teaching kindergarten. Not this guy. He glared at me a second longer before stamping my passport and handing it back to me. No “enjoy your stay,” no “have a nice trip,” nada. So I set off in search of the next hurdle, security. At security, while the guy in front of me fiddled with everything he owned like he’d never been through airport security before, I took off my watch and dropped it into my purse and pulled out my iPad. I dumped it all into the tray, but the guard stopped me before I could get through the metal detector. He needed my ticket. Then he needed my passport. Then he wanted my sweater. For the record, my sweater is a paper thin boyfriend sweater that I don’t usually unbutton. I pull it over my head like a cardigan, but I was so baffled that I ended up unbuttoning it thinking he only wanted to see under and then had to throw it in the tub. Maybe the guy in front of me wasn’t so disorganized after all. And the guard? Looked seriously annoyed the entire time. He’s going to have wrinkles.
After my pleasant encounter with security, I continued through the maze of Dusseldorf Airport. They’re doing construction. Are you surprised? I’m not. It seems like every airport on the planet is doing construction, except Amman in Jordan. Pretty sure the dust is what’s holding that one together. The hamster tube I had to go through had lots of great big windows showing me all the wonderful things (food, shopping) available in the the neighboring building. Thanks. I needed that. Eventually the maze dumped me into Gate B which is actually about twenty gates bunched together, but they won’t tell you which one is yours until less than two hours before your flight.
I had a five hour layover.
At least the food was good. By which I mean they had ham sandwiches.
On the flight to Venice, I was seated next to a very chatty German woman with excellent English. After my frequent bad encounters with Germans, it was nice to meet a friendly, pleasant one. We traded anecdotes all the way to Venice and I consulted with her about one of my students (I can’t help myself.) Then I hopped a cab to my hotel.
The only four stars this hotel has are in the logo. It reminds me a lot of Fawlty Towers, but without the charm. The automatic door doesn’t open until you are stopped immediately in front of it. (To be fair, this seems to be common. If you walk too fast you will be smacked in the face by a door that has not decided to open yet.) The lobby furniture was burgundy, but at some later date the cushions were recovered in aqua blue making for an eye bending color combination. My room key is a metal key on an astonishingly heavy fob. It was handed to me and the elevator pointed out, but no one helped me to my room. Eh, one less tip. The doors and trim are painted gunmetal gray in a very high gloss. The first several times I walked up to my door in the rather dark hall, I flinched, thinking there was someone there when it was only my reflection. The room itself is about eight by ten, but I do have my own bathroom. Sadly, the shower has no spray. It’s like standing under a hose and no matter what I do the water ends up all over the floor.