Before I begin to share everything I saw, ate, drank, experienced and felt in 4 States during my first trip to the United States (over the next 5 posts) I shall start at the beginning.
21st November 2016 12:00 am – woke up after maybe 3 hours of sleep thanks to excitement, nerves and my need to: check my packing list – recheck my packing list, pack – repack, check my passport & ESTA papers – recheck my passport & ESTA papers. So, needless to say I woke up tired and excited with a touch of nervousness, knowing I had 17 hours of travel ahead of me (15.5 hours total flight time with a 1 hour layover at one stop)!
Lack of sleep washed away after my shower, I proceeded to get dressed and ready. I decided on keeping it simple (as I always do) making sure I wouldn’t freeze on the plane (as I always do) by wearing a sweater, jeans, flat boots, a knitted cardigan & donning my less than glamorous twists. I knew I wasn’t about to get off the plane after 17 hours in any kind of normal looking “out” (twist-out, braid-out, bantu knot-out)…think messy clown and that would have been me especially without my satin scarf, so twists it was.
2:00 am – Check-in done, bags checked, hug and kiss to my dad and off I set for my big adventure. Security check dusted without any issues I headed straight to the lounge; thanks to my fancy card giving me access to some free breakfast and WiFi (I somehow always have an appetite). What is a trip without a shot of food and beverage right? And a random stack of face towels…?
So after breakfast was quickly wolfed down off I went to the gate. Nerves started to kick in and then I realized I somehow managed to forget my book (HOW…HOW), no matter there is a book shop in the airport, new book picked up and now off to the gate, book in hand.
While sitting on the plane I looked at my second boarding card and noticed the time of the flight, (goodbye common sense hello nerves)…why does it basically say I will have 0 minutes to catch my second flight when I land??? Read and re-read the boarding card, check and rechecked the time. The couple beside me are discussing their second flight and how they will have 45 minutes for their connection with a tiny bit of nervousness in their voices. I quickly turn to them “Doha is 1 hour behind us right?” He quickly proceeded to check his phone (could have done than myself…again nerves). “I think you might be right”….I hope so otherwise I am doomed before I get there! “Excuse me (to the air-hostess) Doha is 1 hour behind us right?” “Yes, Ma’am”. Relief took over and I smiled like a crazy clown (I don’t know why I keep referring to clowns I have deep seeded for them) to the couple beside me repeating what the was said even though they heard her too.
Let me skip the pesky details of the really dreadful “chicken” sandwich, slight turbulence (I am no good with turbulence at all think white knuckles, holding breath and praying). And let me get to the “good stuff”.
After landing and going through security (which seemed pointless to me since 1.5 hours ago I just did that; better safe than sorry) I make my way to the screen to see where my gate is. Of course, the other end of the airport! I leg it carrying my oh so (not) wonderful HUGE carry on that weighs a ton without anything in it let alone all my extras I carry on a plane. Marching and telling people to please move out the way (politely) I managed to get to my gate and….yes… ANOTHER security check, but this one was the mother load of checks.
Shoes off, scarf off (forgot to mention the scarf before), cardigan off, camera out and switched on, Laptop out and switched on, phone out and switched on, any other electronic items out and switched on. Through that beeping machine (I really do not know what it is called) and then a pat-down. I apparently must have been amusing to watch because two airport staff guys were standing there with fascination as this went on, whispering like two……ok I will let it go… (I was not pleased as you probably can tell)! Security check done and now everything goes back on and of course all gadgets should be switched off before the bags are stowed away on the plane for take-off.
I proceed to give in my boarding card & get “Excuse me Ma’am but you have to go back through security”. If looks could kill, the guy wouldn’t have been able to finish his sentence. “Um what? Go through THAT (pointing at the line and that whole ordeal) AGAIN?” “Yes Ma’am, I am sorry but it says on the screen that you need to go through again”. “WHY?? I just did all that”! He proceeds to move from behind the desk, passport and boarding card in hand without a word. My eyes are burning a hole in the back of his head. Luckily the pat-down lady saw us “Why is she coming back, she went through”. “Are you sure”. “I just checked her, she is fine”. Nothing else from boarding card & passport man other than “Have a good flight Ma’am”. *HUGE EYE ROLL*.
I board my flight and I am seated on an isle seat the middle row for a 14.5 hour flight with no one sitting in the middle seat (happiness)! Now I remembered that I forgot my sunglasses after seeing a girl on the plane taking a Selfie with sunglasses on (HOW…HOW)? No, I did not buy a pair on the plane LOL! Enter again the “chicken” sandwich. At lunch time I am about ready for a bottle of wine but I settle for a glass or two. Now enter turbulence! The mother load of turbulence! Think skeleton knuckles, lip biting and screaming prayers (internally lol). I basically got maybe 3 hours sleep on the flight with endless hours of movie watching thanks to nerves, excitement and being jolted awake by turbulence.
After 14.5 hours of flight time, alcohol, finally something decent enough to eat and strolls up and down the plane I land in Washington Dulles Airport. I stepped outside the airport at 3:00 pm on the 21st November 2016 (yes it was 21st November AGAIN time difference is something else, more about this in my next post). I am greeted by 1 Degrees Celsius (33.8 Fahrenheit) wearing my sweater and cardigan. You best believe my luggage was opened and my thick coat and gloves were brought out. Smiling (again like a crazy clown) I am staring up at a beautiful blue sky, feeling the crisp “freezing” breeze and the excitement of exploration has taken over! First stop Woodbridge, Virginia…
to be continued in part 2.