December 26, 2003
Orlando – Newark
1 h 54 m
We arrived at Orlando at noon for our 1400 departure to EWR as we were continuing on to Lisbon from EWR. Despite being the day after Christmas, we were able to check-in immediately, and then carried our bags to the TSA screening center. It took less than five-minutes to clear security before going to the gate in Concourse A. We began to board at 1330, and I took 15A for the flight. We took off to the north from Orlando, and the drink service began quickly. We crossed Jacksonville, Savannah, and Richmond. Over Washington, we began our descent into Newark, and seemed to stay level at about 12,000-feet over most of New Jersey. In Newark, we landed to the south, and arrived at the gate about five-minutes early.
My parents and I checked the monitors and found that our 2025 departure to LIS had been delayed until 2117, so we had almost five-hours to spend in the Newark. We had sandwiches at Cosi, and then passed the time reading and walking through the concourses.
December 26, 2003
Newark – Lisbon, Portugal
6 h 05 m
The B752 did not arrive until 2055, and the last passengers did not deplane for almost 15-minutes. The gate agents kept everyone posted about the expected departure time, and made sure that everyone had the proper document to leave the United States and enter Portugal. Boarding began at 2130, and my parents and I had 24ABC to ourselves. The captain announced that the flight time would be 6:05 to Lisbon and apologized for the delay. One flight-attendant translated everything into Brazilian Portuguese, which is easily differentiated from the peninsular variety even by non-native speakers like me. In fact, this was the second trip that I made in 2003 to a Portuguese-speaking country on CO as I went to Brazil earlier that year. We pushed back and taxied without delay for a southbound departure from Newark. We took-off at 2220, and the crew immediately began serving drinks and dinner. I selected the beef rather than the chicken, which was acceptable and warm. I put my ear-plugs in, my eye-mask on, covered my head in a blanket, and proceeded to sleep for almost four-hours. I awoke when the crew got to our row to serve breakfast of fruit and an unmemorable roll. I the hot coffee tasted good after only four-hours of sleep. Breakfast trays were collected, and I read some of my Grisham novel before we began our descent while still over the Atlantic. It was clear was we crossed the Portuguese coast northwest of Lisbon, but we quickly crossed into fog. We continued our descent, and the captain lowered the undercarriage before we had even crossed into the clouds. When we finally did pass into the fog, I saw the ground almost immediately beneath us. We landed smoothly, but everyone was surprised that the fog was that low. It was almost impossible to see far out the window, and I believe that a vehicle escorted us to Gate 19. I did catch a glimpse of a TACV B733 parked next to us as well as an A310-300 from SATA. The line for non-EU citizens was quite long at immigration, but our bag had arrived once we got to the claim. We then rented a car, and began our drive for ten-days through Spain and Portugal, which is a wonderful region. It was the first time that I did the driving in Europe, and I would definitely call the driving style different from Georgia.
January 6, 2004
Lisbon – Amsterdam
2 h 30 m
We arrived at the airport at 0400 for our 0550 flight to Amsterdam on KLM, code shared by Continental. TAP handles KL in Lisbon, so we checked at its desks there. I was given my boarding passes all the way back to Atlanta. We made our way to security which did not open until 0445, and then to the departure lounge. Boarding began at 0530, and was conducted in a relatively orderly fashion. I was seated in 14A, which was a two-seat row at the end of the flexible business class cabin. The captain welcomed us aboard in Dutch and English before we pushed back at 0550 and took off at 0600. The flight attendants served drinks as well as hot cheese sandwiches with boxes containing yogurt, fruit, and a muffin. The captain did not announce our flight plan and it was cloudy, so I am not sure of the routing that we took to Amsterdam. We landed a few minutes early and parked at gate C2.
We had almost four-hours in Amsterdam before our Continental flight to Newark at 1330 from gate G9. We made out way though immigration out of the EU, and bought magazines and ice-cream to snack on in the meantime.
January 6, 2004
Amsterdam – Lisbon
7 h 50 m
We passed though another security checkpoint for the US-bound flights at 1245, and boarded immediately. We were seated in 44ABC. We pushed back a few minutes early, and the security presentation was given only in English this time. We took off at 1345 into the drizzle of the Dutch winter. We entered clear skies as we crossed the Dutch coast on route to cross England, the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, and then across the pond. They flight attendants first served drinks followed by chicken or pasta. I had the pasta which was warm and filling. I then proceeded to read Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, in preparation for my trip to Vietnam in July (expect a really, really long trip report with pictures this time). Despite frequent checks out the window, I cold not spot any other airliners traveling with us. About 2.5 hours before landing, we crossed North America in Labrador and headed to Goose Bay and Sept-Iles before turning south to Newark. The attendants then served a small snack before landing which was quite unmemorable, and I also completed my customs form for Newark. We landed in Newark at 1540 local time, and had to wait for about 10-mintues before parking. We disembarked at 1600, and waited about 20-minutes to pass through immigration. Our bags were coming off the carousel when we entered the baggage hall, and it took virtually no time to pass though customs.
At that point, I decided to hand carry my bag home to Atlanta, and I bid my parents farewell as they were going back to Orlando. I took the Air Train to Terminal A for the 1800 flight to Atlanta.
January 6, 2004
Newark – Atlanta
2 h 07 m
We boarded at 1740, and I took seat 10A on the B735. There was a slight delay after pushback due to the huge snow storm in Chicago, but we took off at 1830 for the 2:07 flight. An unmemorable snack was served, and then I fell asleep as I had gotten only 3-hours the night before and had been awake for almost 24-hours. I awoke to see the light of the suburbs of Gwinnett County to the northeast of Atlanta. It was a clear night, so I got a great view of the sprawl of my city. We landed a few minutes late at 2040 and parked at Concourse D.
[Edited 2004-02-17 20:20:32]