09 March 2012

confidence is killer

Here's the thing, I wasn't incredibly honest about Brussels. Yes, it was a great trip. Yes, I loved the city. However, the ending of the trip was anything but great.

I took my first airplane flight when I was six weeks old. With parents who work for Delta, I find myself on planes a lot. I know how the whole traveling thing works, which was one of the reason why I felt confident enough to live in a foreign country for four months.

Regardless of my experience in the past, there have been plenty of mistakes in Europe, most of which have monetary consequences. I'll start with Brussels, and I'll probably end with Brussels because my ego can only handle so much self-criticism.

I booked the wrong ticket home. Military time, ever heard of it? Yeah, I have too. I've used it a lot. Which is why I'm still confused about why I booked a 6:00 flight home from Brussels, when my roommates booked an 18:00 flight.  After a great weekend, I show up to the RyanAir desk (not the best company, their employees will even tell you.. More on that later.) and the lady tells me I've missed my flight, it left this morning. Panic sets in. I go to the ticket counter and this fabulous lady who reminded me of Rihanna told me I would need to pay 241 euros to get on this flight with my friends. Not gonna happen. Option B: Go to a hotel, buy a cheaper ticket for the next morning and wait it out. I chose Option B. Anyone ever been stranded in a foreign country, alone? It's a little disheartening. I watched my friends walk through security as I walked to the information desk and reserved a cheap hotel for the night. 45 minutes later, the taxi comes to the airport and takes me to the hotel, and charges me 8 Euro. Brilliant.

This hotel was BIZARRE. PROS: Free wi-fi, a computer to use, a nice desk man. CONS: Vending machines with hot meals, a pizza vending machine, spilling my tea, no shampoo & conditioner in the rooms, cold.

I tried for about two hours to book the ticket for the 6 AM flight Monday, and the RyanAir website would NOT process any of my cards. That's when I Skyped my family, who were lounging in a hotel in Hilton Head. The tears flowed, then stopped. I ended up going back to the airport to book my ticket, paid more than I would online, which was when the Rihanna doppelganger and another employee eloquently repeated, "Fuckin' RyanAir", after they found it was a computer problem, not my card. I laughed for the first time in a few hours. It's fascinating to watch employees casually bash their company.

Got in a cab back to the hotel, another 8 Euros. I was in bed by 10, but there was a really interesting documentary on BBC about the marriage and dating practices among Hasidic Jews in London. I woke up every hour until 4:30, when I got up to get ready for the flight, virtually wearing the same clothes as the day before. The Brussels airport was nice, I enjoyed one last waffle and slept the entire two hour flight. When I got to Rome, I took a bus to Termini, another bus to Largo Argentina, then a tram, then the 75 bus straight to school. Class started  two hours ago, oh am I late? Luckily, we were watching Moulin Rouge in Film Genres and because I've seen it about two dozen times, I could still participate in discussions.

My advice: double check, triple check. Don't use previous traveling experience as an excuse for not being prepared and organized. You'll regret it when finding yourself alone in Belgium, deciding between paella and lasagna from a vending machine. I chose neither.

Did I mention how much I love Rome? It felt so good to be back. 


  1. awwww if your sissy was there you would have probably been okay.. we wish you were lounging in hh with us trust me... cant wait for april 19!!! xoxoxo
    p.s. dad didnt have a google account so all the comments now will be coming from my google account, youll probably be able to distinguish who is typing it though. love you
    p.s.s. this is on my new macbook :)

  2. Wow Clare, what an incredible commentary. I feel every bit of it and have been through most of it at some point in my 33 years of flying. One of the funniest was in Athens, Greece with 3 other friends. We spent an amazing time for a week all over Greece, buying jewelry, furs, meeting cute Greek guys... only to get to the airport to go home and the flight was full! With no money left, we got one double hotel room and slept across the twin beds... 4 of us!! Lessons learned, I WAS NOT on my parents meal ticket. haha