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Almost Home.

A couple of weeks ago, I was crying to my mom about how difficult my flight situations have been.  Getting to England was rough, if you recall from one of my first posts.  A little synopsis; boarded my connecting flight in Dublin, had to evacuate the plane because of something in one of the engines, waited for a new flight to Heathrow instead of Gatwick, had to manage the trains from there to Barnham with two 50 pound bags (aka my worst nightmare), and ended up being awake 36 hours before going to sleep that night.

Onto our next flight difficulties.  Coming home, my flight was set from Gatwick connecting in Tampa, then onto Chicago from there where my parents would pick me up.  I then received an email saying “Your flight from Tampa to Chicago has been canceled.  Sorry boutcha!”  The company I booked my flight with was not easy to communicate with to try and book a new flight.  Through a series of emails, the only options I had got me to Chicago at 11 PM, meaning by the time my parents and I made it home it would be 4 AM.  Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the following day is a very important day for the Stahl family.  It is none other than the Greatest Spectacle in Racing; The Indianapolis 500.  So 4 AM is just about our wake up call for the big day.  Our options were not convenient, and since my parents just wanted me home more than anything, they decide to say “see ya” to that flight company and decided to get me a flight from Tampa to Indy instead.  So now my trip would be from Gatwick, to Tampa, to Atlanta, to Indy, which totals at about 17 hours.  But I would be home.  Truly home.  

So like I said, I was crying to my mom about how difficult my flight situations have been.  “I feel like everything that could go wrong, has!” I screamed to my mother over our trans-Atlantic phone call.  Then I paused, and took it back.  Everything that matters has been more than I could imagine.  I landed in a country that I fell in love with.  I was welcomed into a house that became a home.  I was accepted into a school that made saying goodbye so hard.  I made new friends, explored a new world, and gained a new perspective.  It was just the getting there and the going home parts that were going wrong.

Which brings me to my present situation.

The morning went more smoothly than I could’ve imagined.  I made my train, made it to the airport with plenty of time, and headed toward British Airways to begin the dreaded check-in process.  I call it dreaded because I knew both of my bags were going to be over the 23kg/51lbs limit and I tend to stress about making it to flights on time.  I walked into British Airways and was informed that their system had just shut down, which caused the check in line to be lengthy.  My stress level was through the roof already.  I got in line and waited patiently, texting my family to pray for a speedy line and my bags to magically be under the weight limit.  Soon after I received a response from my sister (at 4 AM her time, bless her), the line was moving quickly and it was my turn to check in.  Now came the moment of truth.

I placed the bigger of the two bags first to just get it out of the way.  It was 29.2kg/64.4lbs.  A little bit over.  She said something might have to be removed from it, so I took it off and placed the other one on the scale.  It was 24.1kg/53.1lbs.  Still over, but she said it was fine.  She asked if there was anything I could take out of the bigger bag or if I wanted it to go through as heavy.  I told her I didn’t have anywhere else to put anything and asked how much the fine would be for going over the weight.  And to my surprise, she said, “It’s alright, we’ll just leave it how it is.”

WOOHOO!  My excitement was clear and I was extremely grateful.  Now all I had to do was get through security, board my plane, and get home.  Easy enough?

NO!  Of course not!  We have many more airplane adventures left in this story!

I went through security, going through the procedures like normal.  The security woman asked that all liquids be taken out of my backpack during the check.  I only had one liquid thing in my backpack, and it was a snow globe that one of my students gave me as a goodbye gift.  It was far too heavy and I probably should have left it with Sue and Pat in Felpham, but I couldn’t bring myself to part with it.  So it went in my backpack with the idea in mind that I would put it in my future classroom.  The woman looked at me sadly and informed me that it would most likely be over the limit of liquids that I could have in my carry on.  She went and spoke to a few other guards while I went through the security search.  When I got to my things, I was told that I would have to either check my backpack in as luggage or part with the snow globe.  He told me I would be able to go back to British Airways and have them check it, but I told them that I didn’t have the money to be able to do that.  “I really don’t want to have to throw this in the bin.  We can’t give it to charity or to a child, we would have to just throw it away.  And I really don’t want to do that to this.”  So obviously, I started crying because I was flustered and tired and a 10 year old gave that to me so I would remember her and my body’s natural response is to harness the powers of the ocean and expel it from my eyes.  

The guards were so kind to me.  They didn’t want me to part with it any more than I did.  One of them said, “Alright, I’ll take you to British Airways and tell them to check it for free.”  And he did!  So my snow globe gets to see America.  I went back through security again, grabbed some coffee and breakfast, then headed toward Gate 13.  Lucky number 13.  Taylor Swift’s favorite number.  I felt like that was a good omen.  I boarded the plane, made my way to my window seat (WOOHOO NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF FOUR PEOPLE!), and made a list of which movies I wanted to watch during my nine hour flight.

The next events should be that I watch three movies, worked on a little bit of my final school work, write some of this blog, eat airline food, land in Tampa, and start the final few flights to get me home.

BUT THAT’S NOT HOW OUR STORY GOES!  Far too boring for me, apparently.

We were sitting for quite a while after boarding.  It was about 30 minutes after we were supposed to take off that the captain informed us that all British Airways’ systems were down, which causes them to not have what they need to actually get the flight going.  And it wasn’t just happening to our flight, or even to just Gatwick, but the server for British Airways worldwide was down.  Our captain was trying to pull some strings so that we would be able to go anyway.  After about an hour and a half of updates saying “It doesn’t look good but we’re trying,” we had some optimistic news that he thought we would be able to go.  After another hour, he was “99.9% sure” we’ll be good to go.  And another hour later, we were in the air on our way to Tampa.

During this four hour delay, I watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, listened to The XX’s album, and spent a good portion of time stressing out and randomly crying to myself.  Don’t imagine me fully sobbing or anything, I wasn’t completely distraught (most of the time), but it was a very overwhelming time.  As I was chatting with a flight attendant, I told her that I think we’ll be in the air when my connecting flight leaves.  She was being very sweet and said they’ll probably put me in a hotel for the night and get me on a flight in the morning like the man she was speaking to before I came over.  I told her and him that I really needed to be home.  “I’m going to the Indy 500 tomorrow.” “Not anymore,” was his response.  It was the exact kind of pessimistic attitude I choose to stay aware from.  I started tearing up as I was going back to my seat, so the flight attendant brought me tissues and apologized for the man.  But I couldn’t help it, I was freaking out.  My flight from Gatwick to Tampa was supposed to land around 4 PM EST, and my flight to Atlanta left at 6.30 PM.  That was 40 minutes ago.

So here I am, 24 minutes away from landing at the Tampa airport with no clue what I’m to do after this.  The onboard staff doesn’t know much.  The plane doesn’t have WiFi, so I haven’t been able to contact my family and tell them what has happened.  I truly have no clue what is in store for me when I drop down to Florida in now 21 minutes.

I am in one piece.  My flight was safe.  And I will be in my country.  Just trying to end on a high note.

That was about three hours ago.  We landed around 7.45.  An hour later, and my all my luggage thankfully showed up, and I made my way upstairs to do who-knows-what.  My connecting flight was through Delta, but no one was at their desk, so I made my way to British Airways.  After waiting for an hour and a half, I found out that they weren’t able to do anything about my flight, unfortunately.  They have put me in the airport hotel for the evening and given me free dinner and breakfast, though, which is much better than sleeping in the airport.

I’m currently on hold with Delta to see if I can get the first flight out in the morning at 6 AM.  I would be in Indy at 10.23.  My mom says she would pick me up and we’d find our way to the track.  It’s definitely cutting it close and not at all what I had planned, but at this point I just want to be home.

It’s quarter past 10 PM here in Florida, but to me it’s quarter past 3 AM.  I’m exhausted.

The saddest part to me is that it doesn’t even feel like I’m in America.  The only difference is that the workers I have spoken to have the same accent as me (which I’ll admit has thrown me off). 

But I am in America.  I have just confirmed my flight with Delta for tomorrow morning at 6 AM.  I should be landing in Indianapolis at 10.23 AM.  And then I will be home.

Fun Facts: 

  • Home by Michael Buble played while I was in line to figure out my arrangements for this evening and I both laughed and cried because of it.
  • I watched five movies during my 13 hour journey. Fantastic Beasts, Moana, La La Land, Sing, and Passengers. I had never seen any of them and they were fantastic distractions. 

“Another aeroplane.  Another sunny place.  I’m lucky, I know, but I wanna go home.”

The Final Week

So I’ve decided that keeping myself limited to only writing about my two week holiday from over a month ago is just silliness.  I will finish them eventually, as I have so many fantastic memories and (what I think to be) helpful tips for each place.  But as I only have FIVE DAYS left in my lovely new home, I have decided to focus on what’s been happening recently instead of what I did what feels like a lifetime ago.

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This is what happens when one girl takes your phone, takes a selfie with you, and every girl in the class sees and runs to be in it.

Continue reading “The Final Week”

YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO (AKA, we’re in Switzerland)

And the saga continues!  In my last post, we read about my wonderful time in Barcelona, Spain visiting all of Gaudi’s creations and singing along to Ed Sheeran. Thank goodness we were going to Switzerland so we couldn’t be sad for too long about leaving!

We flew into Zürich, Switzerland and had views of the Swiss Alps from our plane window.  Can you say unreal?!

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*Fun Fact from Katelyn Stahl: 60% of Switzerland is covered in the Alps.* Continue reading “YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO (AKA, we’re in Switzerland)”

Let’s pretend we’re dancing in the street…IN BARCELONA!

Wow.  At the start of this year, I had been to 49 states in my lovely country, but only one other country (S/O Canada).  Now I have been to 49 states and six other countries!!! WOOOO!

So I have just returned from my action-packed two week venture around Europe, so I figure the best way for me to get all of my amazing experiences out there without overwhelming you (and myself) would be to break it down by place.  So our first stop is Barcelona, Spain!  I met my sister, Katy, at Gatwick Airport on Friday after school, and from there we flew together to the first place in this journey; Barcelona, Spain! Continue reading “Let’s pretend we’re dancing in the street…IN BARCELONA!”

What’s a princess without her castle?

***DISCLAIMER: I was meant to post this yesterday, Friday April 7th and yet here I am posting it today, April 8th.  Life is crazy when you’re teaching/living in/exploring England and Europe!  Thanks for coming along for the journey!  This one has no where near the organization I wish I had time to do, but I am simply too much of a perfectionist and too busy to make it exactly how I want it.  I hope you enjoy regardless!***

Three weeks?  Three weeks?!  I’VE BEEN AWAY FOR THREE WEEKS?

Half of me is saying “how has it been that long?” and the other half is saying “that’s it?!”   Continue reading “What’s a princess without her castle?”