On to the next one

Can’t believe this is me. Someone who packs her bag two weeks before a weekend trip was still looking for a backpack a day before she leaves for a trip to Europe. Hold right there.  Before you call me fancy for going on a holiday to Europe, let me tell you that my tickets are for free. If you want to know how and why, please read my blog on my travel to Germany.  http://addledfierymusings.blogspot.in/2015/10/the-internal-vacation-hamburg.html

And, as you would agree, anyone in there right senses would not let go of free tickets. So, here I was, off on my next trip.
The original plan was Turkey, but thanks to the unrest most of the world is feeling because of the various acts of terrorism, I had to rule it out. I decided to travel to Prague through Paris, but my tickets allowed me to travel only via Dubai. Me being me, I decided to travel across Czech Republic and Slovakia covering as many places as my pretty shallow wallet and my boss would allow. Everyone’s reaction to my destination was, “Have you seen Hostel?!” and “Lucky! Bratislava! Have you seen Eurotrip?” Fortunately with Hostel and unfortunately with Eurotrip, it was all fiction.
This brings to the most fun part of my pre travel adventures. I called Emirates to get the details of my ticket. The guy on the other end informs me that my ticket was free for only one way of the travel and immediately expressed surprise as they never issue a one way free ticket. Well, I knew why it was one way. Because last year I had travelled via Emirates one way and Etihad the other. But, he had already made a mistake by saying my situation was something out of the ordinary. I caught on to that, and said (lied) that my friends travelling with me (I was travelling alone) had gotten a round trip ticket while I hadn’t.  I was put on hold for 40 minutes but it was worth it, as I had a free round trip booking at the end of it. Yay!
This was the only happy part. The visa application was a nightmare.  Since November 2015, most European nations have made biometrics mandatory. Which meant I had to go to Bombay or Delhi to get it done. I chose Bombay as flights were much cheaper and I had friends there I would love to meet. There was a really long wait at the visa application office and when finally my turn came, they asked me to provide tickets for my intercity travel in Czech Republic and Slovakia. This was crazy! I could buy the tickets at the train station at the time of my departure. It made no sense to buy it all a few weeks in advance. But well, it was either this or I won’t get a visa I told them I couldn’t take another appointment as I was coming from another city and couldn’t go through the whole process again. They give me 20 minutes to book my tickets. But I had no access to internet except for Gmail and I wasn’t allowed to leave the building. I mean, whaaaat?
Luckily, I am one of those obsessive planners and I had a document with the links for all the train connections on my laptop. I called my husband who was home, and asked him to book it all. By the time I could do all that and take a print and go back up again, an hour had gone by.  The woman at the counter tried to throw a fit, but I had no patience to try and be nice anymore. I gave her a piece of my mind. Thank god for men in this world! The man on the next counter called out to me and processed my application. I wasn’t too sure of getting the visa. The whole experience had left a bad taste in my mouth.
After a nerve wracking ten day long wait, my visa arrived two days before I had to leave. I hadn’t packed or planned at all, because I didn’t want to go through the heartbreak of unpacking if my visa didn’t arrive. So, here I was rushing and borrowing backpacks, power bank and even Euros (no time for exchange, and a friend had just come back from Europe) I was still packing 20 minutes before I had to leave home. I had to leave behind my favourite and lucky (bought me a lot of drinks in Berlin last year) dress as I had no space left. My mom is stressing out asking me to call her once I reach the airport. Funny of her to stress out about a local travel when her daughter was travelling alone to the other side of the world. (Well, not exactly, but this sounds dramatic) I was getting a lot of “take care” texts from friends and I felt they were all getting worried for nothing.
I was apprehensive again. The unknown is always so exciting and scary. So, here I was, the same old me, with a bag that was new, with a lot of things borrowed and my pants were blue. Not a bride, but starting on an exciting journey for sure.

While checking in my baggage, as soon as I kept my 12 KG backpack on the belt, the man at the counter, gave a sad smile and said, ” One bad news madam.” My head started running as fast as Flash, with all the possible scenarios. I thought maybe it’s the ticket. My free tickets are invalid and I am f*****! But he says, ” You can’t take this as cabin baggage.” I said, “Obviously!! I know that already.” What a dumb f***! How can one, and why would one take that monstrous 4 feet long backpack inside the cabin baggage? 
The queue at the immigration was too long and I was on a counter with a slightly older man who was asking too many questions.  I wondered if I should move to the next counter where there was a younger man and well, the chances of my smiles and charms working were higher. But, it was my turn already. I had a bad case of flu and I sniffled and coughed as I stood at the counter. I guess a petit girl with a red nose was charming enough for him. He grinned and asked what was I doing travelling in that condition. He spoke in Telugu, which I guess he thought me to be too because of my last name (I am not, but the last name is quite common).  I gave him a nasal giggle and my toothy smile. We laughed and done! 
At the security check, the guard noticed my place of birth which by the way was his native town. I switched to my pure clean north Indian Hindi. We smiled and laughed and check two! The advantages of being multilingual!
At the baggage check, I was stopped as they found a lighter in my bag. I was sure that there was none, as I don’t smoke and neither does my friend who lent it to me. But, when they asked me to empty my bag and start laying everything down on the table, I realized there was a possibility that someone else who had borrowed it from him had left it in there. And we do finally find it in a tiny side pocket. I had almost packed a set of clothes in my hand baggage just in case, my checked in baggage gets misplaced. I am glad I had run out of time and hadn’t done that.  Or else, Hyderabad airport would have seen my flowery bra tossed on the table. All these events took away my uneasiness and I was ready for some more fun adventures.
Hated the wait and what made it worse was all the babies around who were making me miss my son so much more. I am sleepy, my nose is blocked, the airport seats are so uncomfortable. Time to give my comfort a little higher priority and buy a neck pillow.
It was beautiful to see the twinkling lights of Hyderabad during takeoff. I was wondering which were those establishments near the airport, which by the way, is not exactly in the city to be open at such a late hour in the night. (My flight was at 4 in the morning) I regretted putting my camera up but realized a little too late that now I had a great phone which could take good photos too. Tried watching Zoolander 2, but couldn’t take it. After breakfast I dozed in and out to wake up in time for the Dubai sunrise.

I had a transit at Dubai and all the women walked towards Bath and Body works or Givenchy and I walked towards the duty free liquor store. My priorities are at the right place yo! 
Made a mental note of all the prices so that I can choose wisely on my way back. I still had a lot of time before boarding and thought would pass my time at the perfume stores but made no sense as I could barely smell a thing. Waiting for my boarding, I could hear the announcements for other destinations like Copenhagen, Zurich and my head started running making the next vacation plan. I had to literally pinch myself to stop daydreaming.
My Dubai to Prague flight was an Airbus 380. Fancy fancy I say! After another round of breakfast, lunch, wine (ahem) Deadpool and Zoolander 2, I was at Prague. While landing I felt this excruciating pain in my head. It felt like someone was injecting hot liquid in. I almost called the air-hostess. If you know me, you should know that sure is alarming. I hate asking for help and avoid any kind of fuss. But, I gritted my teeth and it passed. After landing, I noticed that even the airport staff were taking pictures of the Airbus 380. It’s raining. I hope the sun is out soon. 
The first thing that catches my eye as I enter the airport is the bar run by Pilsner Urquell. I had arrived at my destination. Aha Praha!

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