Hello Fellow Fish,
Real quick, just wanted to quickly share this quick story as we quicken our pace to the full-on Prague.
The 46 hours following my departure from New Delhi were exceedingly frustrating. Some (most) of it my own fault, some of it the fault of myself. Regardless, it was a less than ideal way to start a solo trip to/through Europe.
It started off just like any other international flight, at an airport. This airport, however, happened to be in New Delhi, India, and after a routine security check, standard boarding procedure, and the usual commotion of passengers the Indian Stretchable Time was in full effect and we sat on the tarmac, delayed, for 4 hours. I’m not usually one to complain about inefficiencies of air travel, in fact, I accept them and still marvel at the fact that I am fortunate enough to be able to take part in the miracle of human flight, something unimaginable a mere century ago. But I have to draw the line somewhere, and I found out that line was right around kicking toddler #2 (seat behind me), screaming infant across the aisle, and hour 3.5. I wanted to aggressively shake them…but that probably would have been socially frowned upon. All I could do was turn up my headphones and pray that we would take off soon.
When I was booking this plane ticket, I was given several options for a length of a layover in Moscow ranging from 5 hours to 35 hours. I figured, I could kill two birds with one stone with a long layover. So I selected the flight that would have a 28 -hour layover. I arranged for a couch surf host to meet me a station in Moscow and we would go out and see the sights and I’d get on a plane to Prague the following day. It was a swell plan. I arrived in Moscow excited to be off the plane, but also excited to get another stamp in my passport. I was in line to clear customs and it was finally my turn. They take me passport, thumb through it, look at me, look at the passport, then look up at me again and ask, “Where is your visa?”
“My what?” I reply.
“Your visa. To enter Mother Russia!?” he insisted.
“Uhhh, maybe you didn’t see the Eagle seal on the front of that blue passport in your hands that reads: ‘United States of America.’ But I’m AMERICAN. I don’t need a visa.” I sarcastically fired back.
“Yes, you do.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Please go back to the terminal,” he said with an air of finality.
“Yes. Yes I do. Thank you sir.” *walks away with tail between legs. Defeated.*
I go back to the International Terminal; my day was suddenly 28 hours more wide open. I write to my CS Host and tell them what happened and cancel, and did my best to start killing time. Along the way, I meet an American girl who also had a 20+-hour layover. She had been teaching English in China for the last two years and was on her way home to PA to visit family. We got to talking and decided to get a drink at the terminal Irish Pub. We had a few drinks and then realized we were spending entirely too much money on single round drinks of Irish whiskey. Being the astute economist that I am, I suggest we utilize the money we have a little more wisely and get full bottles from the duty free store. So we each get one full bottle, find a nice spot to settle in for a while, and see to it there was nothing left over. After a solid 12 hours making sure we finished the whiskey, we find a gate where everyone with layovers was sleeping and join the ranks.
|Moscow International Terminal|
I was awoken to the my new friend saying, “Hey Matt, aren’t you going to Prague?” As these words were being processed in my head, I hear over the loud speaker, “Final boarding call for Prague…” I say a quick goodbye, and sprint to the gate, I just make it but realize, I wasn’t issued a boarding pass for this flight yet (something that should have been done an hour prior). The lady tells me to go to the desk, so I run to the desk on the other side of the terminal, and the desk lady says just go back to the gate they should let me on. So I SPRINT back to the gate, sure enough, they don’t let me on, and I stand in disbelief as I watched the plane pull away from the gate without me on it. The gate lady walked me to the desk lady and assured me I wouldn’t have to pay anything out of pocket. Desk lady and I get in a shouting match as I try my hardest to convince myself that it was anyone’s fault but mine. And she was the closest target. What’s more, not only would I have to pay, but the “only” flight that desk lady could give me cost 70,000 Rubles ($800!!) for a 95 minute flight.!! So I just booked a new flight on my phone for $250, but with another layover, in Warsaw. I had to walk to another gate, and as I did, I felt myself getting progressively more hungover, now that the adrenaline had subsided. The sun was rising, and I wanted nothing more than to yell at myself. I found my gate, and waited an additional 3 hours for that flight.
|The first time I've seen potable public drinking in almost a year|
After an uneventful layover in Warsaw, Poland I had finally arrived in Prague! I was so relieved to finally be there after so much planning and the previous layover, but that excitement was quickly extinguished as (predictably so) my bag didn’t show up at baggage claim. I was given the run around, and after an hour of this ordeal, they realized my bag had been on the flight I was supposed to be on, and was sitting in a storage place.
I was met by a player from the team who dropped me off at my apartment, a small hotel, rented by my team the Prague Black Panthers. Finally, a place to call my own. Things were starting to look up. So I put my bags down, and promptly passed out on MY bed. Would soon be gearing up for a full season of Europe Football.
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Until Next Time,