I was sad to leave Warsaw. In some ways it wasn’t as fun as Mexico or Ecuador, but in overall lifestyle, it fitted me well. It is a bummer that I was limited to 90 days in a 180 period in Poland. If it weren’t going to be winter when I leave here, I would be tempted to go back.
As usual, I flew from Poland to Texas to spend a few days with my friend there before heading to Medellin, Colombia. I had made the mistake of booking my flight out of Warsaw for 8:10 am, so I had to get to the airport by five. As it turned out, it wasn’t any trouble at all to do that. The lounge at the Warsaw airport was quite nice and I wiled my way the time to the flight quite comfortably.
The flight to Copenhagen was uneventful, though I found myself next to a woman with a baby. Her constant fussing over it irritated me for the whole flight. I was worried that I would catch something from it. Most of colds I have caught have been from my friends’ children. (Yes, I am looking at you Joshua and Dylan.) I am glad to say the baby on the plane was apparently plague free.
The lounge at the Copenhagen airport (A different one from the one I had used on the way in.) was comfortable. I was quite thankful as my flight to Boston was delayed. I got into a conversation with a couple who were traveling with their child for a vacation to Greece. Their flight was also delayed.
I found the flight status boards at the Copenhagen airport to be quite confusing. The flights were not arranged by destination, flight time, nor flight number. They were arranged by the original flight departure time before any delays. I guess that makes sense, but it took me a long time to look way over on the left hand monitor to see my flight.
When I finally located it I saw that it read, Proceed to Gate. It was more than an hour and a half before the scheduled boarding. I asked the woman at the lounge desk about it. She told me that the gate was very far away. I gathered my bags and said so long to the nice family. The gate was quite far away. The terminal in Copenhagen is like a huge busy shopping mall. I had to dodge and weave between all the shoppers to get to my gate.
When I was almost there I noticed a stand with pads of forms, and pencils on it. This sign said that every American citizen traveling to the US had to fill out the form to conform with US Regulation 243. No more explanation that was given. I filled out the form. It didn’t ask for anything not already put on the web by the massive data breach at Equifax. I was curious, so I googled a bit and found:
§ 243.1 Purpose. The purpose of this part is to ensure that the U.S. government has prompt and adequate information in case of an aviation disaster on covered flight segments.
I guess SAS didn’t get all the information they needed through their booking system to conform to what is required by the US. No mention of aviation disaster was on the form. When I got to the gate, another announcement was made that citizens of the US had to have their boarding passes stamped. This would explain why my airline app had informed me that my flight wasn’t eligible a for digital boarding pass.
The airline staff had several people moving through the crowd. When one came to me, they asked all the questions that you are asked in the US when you get your boarding pass. I guess the US doesn’t think the questions asked in the EU measure up to the ones asked in the US. But why were the non Americans traveling on the same flight not bugged with this? To be bothered by paper pencils and ink stamps before going on a flight, in this day of computers, seems to be a step back into the 20 th century.
The flight to Boston was on SAS, which I have found is a very good airline. They treat people in coach like paying passengers, rather than pesky freeloaders. The food was good, and the seats were comfortable. I slept a lot. The only issue I had with the flight was that I became trapped by a man sleeping next to me. No matter what I said or how many times I poked him, he didn’t wake up. Lucky I was in the middle so the woman and her son on the other side let me get up to go to the restroom.
Problems started when I got to Boston. After I deplaned I found that the signage at the airport isn’t very good. I finally had to ask a man soliciting for taxi riders where the other terminal was. I had to ride a bus to the other terminal. That wouldn’t have been an issue, if my flight had not been so delayed getting out of Copenhagen. Thank goodness, I had Global Entry, or I would have missed my next flight before getting through customs and immigration. I walked out of Global Entry with enough time to get to my gate, though I would be cutting it close.
Then I got a push message from United Airlines saying that my flight was now boarding. I guessed that I only had 25 minutes to get to the gate before the doors were closed. I had to go through security again at the new terminal. The bus driver had dropped me at the security checkpoint furthest from my gate. After a mad rush, where I was getting more and more angry at the layout of the airport, I got to the gate and no one was boarding. A man waiting to be the first in line, told me that they should start boarding soon.
I pulled out my phone and read the push message over again, scrolling down to read all of it. It said that my flight to Chicago was boarding. Chicago? Your guess is good as mine. Thanks United! I was on the plane and buckled up before I realized that I hadn’t been able to stop and buy anything to eat.
I was starving. Of course, I had to be on a flight where the flight attendants were working in slow motion. It took them 45 minutes to start at the front of coach and work their way all the way back 10 rows to me. All they were doing was handing out boxed meals and running credit cards. I watched as at each stop the flight attendant with the credit card reader acted as if she had never seen the machine before stared blankly at it before slowly punching buttons. Thanks United!
The ‘food’ when I got it was pretty shopworn. It might have been good when it was made up a few days before my flight. As hungry as I was, I had to eat it. I only gagged once or twice. If I had found something in a trash can that didn’t smell too bad, I would have preferred that. Thanks United!
I was never more relieved to get off a plane in my life. Houston Intercontinental was a madhouse. I have never seen it so packed. Lucky for me I don’t check bags. It was bad enough to have to shoulder through baggage claim to get to passenger pickup. First I went out on the wrong side. It took me a while to realized that, since with all the Ubers and Lifts, it no longer looks like the shuttle and taxi side. I had to plow my way back through baggage claim again. Passenger pickup was just as crowded as baggage claim.
Standing there in the ooey gooey Houston air, I pondered global warming. There were so many people going in and out of the baggage claim that the doors never closed. A river of icy air was rolling out to the curb before losing its combat with the humidity. It was like passing through a curtain when I moved past the edge of the river and out into the simmering air.
My friend, who was picking me up, had had to circle the airport because it took me so long to get through the masses in baggage claim. I knew that my friend would be in a small dark rental, which she was suing while the car I would have recognized was out of commission. The pickup area was so packed with those massive trucks and SUVs Texans love, that I had to dodge back and forth to make sure I was able to lay eyes on the driver of every small dark car hidden behind them.
In the past when she or her husband came to get me, it was quite an easy procedure. I was shocked at how bad this all was. I was wondering if I should have flown into another city and taken Southwest to Hobby International. When I spotted my friend, I was so glad to toss my bags into the back seat of her rental and follow them in. The ride to her house was long but passed fast, since she had her charming sister along and we chatted the whole way.
I spent a week with my friend, resting before my next country and doing a bit of shopping. I had decided in Poland to get new walking shoes since the ones I had were pinching my toes. I liked the shoes, Women’S Sawtooth II Low Waterproof. They had lasted eight months of daily wear. I average five miles a day. I figured it would be best to get the same size in a wide.
I bought them at the REI at 7538 Westheimer Road in Houston, Texas. When I bought the first pair, the sales woman was quite wonderful. She said that they were the shoes she wore when she did urban hiking like me. This time I wasn’t so lucky to find her there again. Instead there was a man who was chatting with a couple who kept telling him that they were just looking.
He ignored me, standing there with the shoe I wanted to buy in my hand, while his eyes were riveted on the breast of the the young woman, who had a tendency to bounce up and down as she talked. The fact she was with a man who appeared to be her boyfriend didn’t seem to bother the so-called salesman at all. Finally the assumed boyfriend pointed out that a paying customer was looking for some help.
I handed salesman the shoe and he looked down at my feet and announced that I should take a size six. I informed him that I never took less than a 7.5. He ran off and returned to dump a stack of boxes in front of me before dashing back to stare at the young woman’s chest again.
I fished the size 7.5s out of the pile and sat down next to my friend’s sister who was shopping with me. Once I had them on, they felt so much better than the old ones, I decided to wear them out. I put my old ones into the box, and walked past the occupied salesman. I was a good forty feet past before he noticed and called out, “You found what you wanted?”
REI, I have a question. Why not just put the boxes on shelving and let us find our own, before hiring someone like that? I had planned on complaining about him at the check out, but I got into a pleasant conversation with the cashier and forgot all about him.
After a stop at Ross’ and the drugstore, we stopped to pick up some lunch at Golden Panda, for us and my friend, before heading home. It was the first time I had ever been to Golden Panda, I am pretty sure it will be the last. The food was better than United’s, but that is not saying much.
Later, I compared the bottoms of my old shoes to my new ones. I was surprised that the soles of the new ones actually looked narrower than the old ones. The insides are markedly wider. As you can see from the photo below, I was due for a new pair even if they hadn’t been pinching my toes. That new tread is a good 1/4 of an inch deep.
To make sure my new shoes were as comfortable as they seemed during that trip home from REI, I took my friend’s dog for several long walks around the neighborhood despite the suffocating weather. After the first walk, during the day, I only took her out near to sundown. She had been so exhausted from the day time heat that walking home to twice as long. I couldn’t do that to the poor thing again.
Actually I don’t like dogs, but I don’t hate them. I like my friend’s cats, but they don’t like me. I don’t think they hate me. They do climb into my lap when there are no witnesses but the dog.
On that first walk I found a stand of sunflowers on the right-a-way, which were where a groundskeeper probably had his truck parked. I can’t seem to get away from sunflowers.
The dog and I sort of have a love hate relationship. Love on her part, and not quite hate on my part. I have considered edging over to hate lately. I came closest the day that I left the room and came back to find that the piece of cheese, which had been in my snack bowl was missing. A dribble of dog drool was all over the table. Needless to say I tossed the black pepper crackers she disdained eating.
All too soon it was time to head out again. While I was repacking, I found tucked in my purse the bill from my favorite French restaurant in the world. Divide the prices by 3.8 to get dollars. I took a photo as a keepsake.
My friend and I drank far too much before my late night departure, so she went to bed and her husband drove me to airport. It was too late for any of the lounges to be open, but I found a restaurant and had dinner. I passed on the offered beer and had lemonade with me barbecue. (Actually it has been over a week, and I haven’t wanted to drink anything.) I was a little guilty at how much I ate, not knowing how long it would be before I was able to eat again.
When I got on the plane, the smell of the dinner they were serving, just didn’t agree with me, so I just asked for a can of club soda. Perhaps, I drank too much, and later ate too much. I sort of wished I hadn’t eaten at the airport, because the meal the woman next to me was eating seemed as good as the one on the last flight had been bad. Why is the food included in the fare always better than the stuff you have to pay for? Anyway I figured that I would have breakfast in Bogota before my flight to Medellin. After all I had a two hour and forty-five minute layover.
Note to self: Don’t drink that much before flying ever again. It was a miserable flight. The plane was hot and the woman next to me kept trying to talk to me in Spanish. At my best, my Spanish is bad, and I wasn’t at my best. All through the flight her fat little arm kept crawling all up and down my side like a wiggly puppy. That mental image didn’t help me ignore it.
I don’t get hangovers, but I was still quite exhausted when I got to Bogota, an hour late. How did that happen? Oh, yes the plane was boarded 25 minutes after “departure time”. Thanks United!
That left me with barely enough time to get to my next flight. I thought about giving a detailed account of the exceptionally stagnant customs and immigration line and having to go through security twice, but I really want to forget it. (Oh, why, oh, why did I not book a stay in Bogota like one friend suggested?) I am still pissed that seeing I was in too much of a hurry to get to my plane a young woman at the last security point took the opportunity to snag herself a nice manicure kit. Like I might hijack a plane with nail scissors with a 3/4 inch blade?
There had certainly been no time get something to eat in Bogota. The flight to Medellin was uneventful, but we were only served coffee, no snacks. I saw some small bottles of water on the cart and asked for one of those. When I finally got to Medellin, I wasn’t hungry anymore. I was just exhausted and numb. It was nice to leisurely stroll across the airport to find an ATM.
At the bank of ATMs there was quite a line. One set of machines had no line. I went up and read that one machine had no money and the other machine could not print a receipt, but had money. I withdrew $150,000 COP paying with the ATM fee, $52.26 USD. To make sure I remembered the amount of the fee, I took the photo below.
Like the names of the best ATMs to use, I had the various transportation options from the Airport written out in a notebook, in case my phone should act up. I decided that the fixed price bus was the best way to go. Though the taxis are also fixed price, I had read about the various scams the taxi drivers use there to get more money out of anglos. I asked around, my Spanish returning now that the stress level was down, and found the Aeropuerto Combuses.
I had to sit for a while in the nice cool bus before It filled up and and headed out on the hour drive to the city. It was a pleasant ride even though the young man crammed in next to me looked like a crazy American druggy. I pretended not to speak English. I can now pretend not to speak two different languages when needed. My Germanic looks are helping as I travel.
The bus was modern and clean. The bus driver was not the least bit suicidal, which I had expected, as he negotiated the mountain roads. The scenery on the ride was lovely. I made myself stay awake, with my hand over the secured zippers of my purse, attuned to every move my seat-mate made. Exhaustion makes me paranoid.
The buss dropped me off at a hotel about a 20 minute walk from my AirBnB. Well, it would have been a 20 minute walk, if my mind had been working better. Note to self, pop for a taxi when you get off the bus. Walking through town carrying a backpack makes every shill on the street want to try to sell you something. Why on earth does an exhausted older woman carrying luggage want to stop and shop? I don’t know, ask the shills. After a few Sprichst du Deutsch’s, and a few shakes of the head by the street vendors, I found the address of my new temporary home.
It was a pleasure to get hear the click of the door as the security guard let me in. As I scanned through my notes looking for the apartment number, the guard said, “Gina’s apartment? Sam?” I said yes. He directed me to the apartment with a little trouble because it was on the 15 floor and the thing I have the most trouble with in Spanish is numbers over 12.
The apartment is just like it was shown on AirBnB. It is just the right size for me. Smaller than the ones in Ecuador and Mexico, but bigger than the one in Poland. I checked in and let my business manager know that I had arrived then went down to the local store and bought few things to tide me over.
I bought enough food that I didn’t go out again the next day. I was just exhausted. I was pretty sick of eating cheese, crackers, sausage, and cookies by the time I felt like shopping again. On my second trip out I thought I was going to a bigger market, but it was even smaller. I bought a few things and brought them home before heading back to the nearby market to finish shopping. I bought enough to make sure I didn’t have surface for days.
This AirBnB has better cooking equipment that the previous ones. But I did have to buy a veggie peeler. That is one of the things I always seem to be buying for the AirBnB. I read in a book, about staying in AirBnB and how to run one, that most people buy some small thing to leave behind. In the book they mentioned books and decretive objects. For me it is always cooking implements.
I bought the fixings for chicken soup. It wasn’t until I was home that I realized that I hadn’t noticed any celery at the store. I guess that if they don’t sell it around here I can try to buy some celery seeds for my soups. As soon as I got home I was ready to get the soup cooking. That was the first time I began looking around for the light switch to the kitchen overhead lights. I found it in a storage cabinet.
Once I had light, the first thing I did was get everything ready for my soup. I cooked down some onions and garlic, while pealing and chopping carrots and potatoes. I had to use butter to cook the unions and garlic, since I had forgotten to buy olive oil. I actually used a beef bouillon cube for the soup, though the meat would be chicken. I kept the spices rather simple; oregano and salt. I was too tired to brown the chicken, and put it on top of the veggies before adding the water. It turned out to be very tasty.
The AirBnB has a very nice large pot, so I was able to make a large soup. Over the next two days I ate the soup, along with egg dishes and snacks. I had bought what looked like a large sausage. It was nothing but a big hotdog, about 2 inches in diameter. That with cheese and crackers was my daily snack until it ran out. After a few bowls, I added some curry to the soup.
When the pot of soup was down by half. I pulled out the rice maker and made a pot of rice to add to it. When I added the rice I mixed in more curry powder and some cinnamon. I went heavy on the curry and light on the cinnamon. I don’t really measure things in dishes like soup.
The curried rice turned out well. I ate it in various ways. Strait up was nice, but I also filled the little egg skillet with the rice and cracked two eggs over it. It is a perfect sized egg skillet, which doesn’t match the rest of the cook-wear. I suspect that a previous guest left it behind. Thanks!
I was able to watch the eggs through the clear lid until the whites were set and the bottom of the rice was crispy. Another time I heated a bowl of rice with some mozzarella in the microwave. That was really good. It was just an experiment since I thought curry and cheese might not go together. They did!