Hello all, this is my first trip report so here goes, please be nice
I was travelling to Armenia for a month to participate in an international research collaboration hosted by an undergraduate institution with which my research advisor has connections. I was VERY fortunate to be selected for this project and ended up doing almost a year's worth of work in about three months, on top of my other studies which included PCHEM (aka Sadism 101). But I digress. Since I didn't purchase the ticket and was meeting a crew from MYR
, I had to double connect. If you ever have the choice, pass on that BTW. If I had been booking I would have purchased a single connection in CDG
, but since I didn't purchase or book, I took what I was given.
13 Dec. 2007
I had wrapped up my Fall Semester Finals and celebrated an early Christmas with my family. My mom took me to the airport in a balmy ATL
. It was 80 F (~25C?), unusually warm even for us in December. I had a little difficulty checking in because I had a paper itenerary all the way through (pass on that too), but the gentleman at the US counter, a black man probably in his fifties was incredibly friendly and helped me out. I paid my baggage fee and skipped through Security at the T-Gates (DO take advantage of that!) I meandered my way down to Concourse D, I almost always walk, where a US 737 was waiting to take me to Charlotte. The interior looked rather worn, but for the short flight it was ok. Despite all the horror stories I've read about US on this forum the crew (CLT
based) were very friendly. My seatmate struck up a short conversation with me and did a double take when I told her where I was headed. In short, about an hour later we landed in CLT
I met up with my crew in Charlotte, bear in mind I've only met them once! We grabbed some food at a Chili's before heading down to where the LH
A343 was parked. I'm sorry folks I don't take registrations and what-not,lol. There was VERY long line to check in at the counter, but it moved relatively swiftly. I impressed the agent with my limited German, actually getting a smile out of a native German! Whodda thunk! I asked for an exit row but unfortunately there were non available, so I stuck to my aisle seat in the back. Originally they had placed me in the middle, but I had that rearranged VERY quickly.
We settled in for our haul and I already knew it was going to be a long flight. Lucky me gets to sit next to Chatty Cathy visiting her son in Munich for Christmas. Oh goody, nice lady but she talked the ENTIRE way across the Atlantic. Lucky for her I don't sleep well on Eastbound Redeyes. Meal service was nondescript and decent, though the LH
crew (including an incredibly cute blonde) came around frequently with drinks and whatnot. I'm not a fan of overhead movies because I get a crick in my neck and I didn't really care for the movie selection (don't remember what it was sorry).
We arrive in Munich while it's still dark and decide to explore the city. Having been to Munich the previous July I was excited to relish this unexpected opportunity to gorge myself with Kaessenkuchen, Hoffbraeuhaus Bier and a nice juicy Doener from an Imbiss near the Hauptbahnhof! For anyone who cares we stayed at the Hotel Dolomit on Goethestrasse in July. Luckily for me the Glockenspiel that I didn't get to see last time because it was covered in scaffolding was fixed! We enjoyed about four hours in a very cold Munich before our jetlagged selves schlepped back to MUC
. We proceeded through security ohne problem. We found our gate and I fell asleep for probably two hours, and then checked my email. I wandered around the terminal (2 I believe) and saw flights to Breslau (Wroclaw) and Shanghai. Finally it came time to board, and we were herded onto a bus and driven out into what seemed like the Bavarian countryside where we boarded a CR9. The plane was relatively comfy and I had a pair of seats to myself. I fell asleep soon after takeoff (which was around 2200). I awoke a few times during the flight, we were flying over what I can only assume to be Istanbul, Bucharest, or Budapest, and I ate some interesting looking pasta. We landed in EVN at around 0400 local time on Saturday morning. We breezed through customs and immigration which including purchasing our visas on arrival. We should be so lucky here in the states. Our party met us and we trugged into the cold Yerevan morning.
We were taken to the apartment we'd be staying in for the next month and got there around 530 and collapsed into bed. Around 1300 we were picked up and taken to meet the people we would be working with, let me say Armenian hospitality is on par with the old time Southern Hospitality I grew up with. We were IMMEDIATELY taken in, welcomed, hugged, kissed, and I've never felt so welcome with total strangers, though only a few spoke English. Side note, I found this intially bizarre. People 40 and up tend to speak Russian almost exclusively in conversation, and 30 and down Armenian, and they would do this with each other! Add our English and some Georgian (not mine) to the mix and there were three and four languages floating around the table. Also, my Armenian friends got a kick out of telling people I was from Georgia. I would then get babbled at in Georgian. I was tempted to talk MY
Georgian back just to even the playing field
So after a week the professors left and we were on our own for another four. Then came time to head home. It was bittersweet because we'd met some amazing folks, but I was going to miss three days of class by that point so I was eager to get home.
9 Jan 2008. When things got interesting!
Our friend Hayk dropped us off at EVN for our 545 departure on OS
around midnight. We had already given the keys to our apartment back so we just decided to chill at the airport (literally). Check in EVN is located in the old part of the airport and it is undeniably Soviet. Cold and dank, but hey, we only had to be there a few ours, or so we though. About 0230 an OS
representative tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I was to be on the OS
flight I said yes. Apparently the flight hadn't even left VIE
because these multimillion dollar machines can't land in the heavy early morning fog. We were told to head up to the OS
office, where we would get hotel vouchers and a reroute.
My original route home was to be EVN-VIE
. AHHHH! Upon chatting with the office I was given the choice of that horrendous routing, EVN-VIE
, or EVN-VIE
. Considering the last option involved one less connection and avoiding Y on LH
, I pounced. Unfortunately, we already knew ahead of time that we were going to arrive several hours too late to catch the bank of Atlantic outbounds, so we would have to grace the OS
offices again in Vienna to get a hotel voucher. In the meantime we were put up in the Marriot on Republic Square, which provided the best shower I'd had in a month. After a few hours shut eye we headed over to the OS
office and then got out tickets and then off the airport once more, where this time everything went smoothly. Departures is from the new part of EVN which is very nice, to me it resembled a scaled down MUC
. The flight itself was very nice, I had 10A on an A320 that could have only been 30% full. I watched The Seeker and enjoyed a nice white wine with my nondescript meal. We landed in Vienna (my favorite city BTW) and collected our bags. I went in and started talking to the OS
handler in my very bad German and she smiled (Austrians are much more prone to smiles than their German friends) and gave me a hotel in the 3rd or 5th District, I can't remember at this point. My friend was placed in the 23rd, sucks for him. Since we were no longer travelling together we parted ways and said our farewells. I was given a room in Hotel Ananas just down the street from the Karlsplatz and thrilled. I had a night in Vienna to myself. I went to the Volksopern and saw Die Opernball, very impressive. I got back to the hotel and noticed that my standard room was going to cost OS
600 euro a night! My entire ticket before taxes was around US$600!
The next morning I was shuttled to the airport where I checked in, paid my baggage fee and proceeded to board with little incident. Note to any first time VIE
travelers (this was my second) make sure you're in the correct security line if you're departing from the A gates. If you're not careful you could wind up in the line for Tokyo or New York instead of Chicago! A somewhat depressing note was the now discontinued nonstop DL
was at the gate to us! I had just flown this flight about six months prior! We boarded and I nabbed a set of three in the middle of our 767. Just after takeoff I stretched out and reclinded the empty seat in front of me so I could watch the PTV! I watch Ratatouille (sp?) three times and the Bourne Ultimatum twice. Westbound TATL's are much nicer! Before I knew it we were in a stormy ORD
. I made my way through security and all that noise. Upon baggage recheck some confused worker informed me that because my ticket was issued by US I would need to proceed to their counter even though the flight was opperated by UA
. Considering T2
is on the way to T1 I stopped, and was met with a laugh. Apparently I was not the only one this misguided fool was sending to T2
. I proceeded to T1 where a nice check-in lady put me on standby for an earlier flight to ATL
. Since this flight was leaving in exactly twenty minutes I had to move and since God has a sense of humor I got the SSSS! Also since I had no thinking ability whatsover at this point I embarrassed myself and just put my stuff in bins that a nice Hollander had taken out for himself! I got searched and patted and had seven minutes to get from security out to the Satellite! I rushed past some people who apparently had no concept of a hurry (ie standing on the LEFT side of the moving sidewalk) and hurried to the gate only to find the flight had been delayed by twenty minutes -_-. Luckily I got on the flight, as just after it took off the everything was delayed at least an hour. Immediately after takeoff we hit the worst turbulence I'd ever encountered, though it was quite comical to be in the back of an A320 and watch 85 heads all jerk in the same direction. We landed at a weather-afflicted ATL
where I had a short reunion with my parents, then a two hour drive back to school! I got to class the next day as if nothing had happened!
[Edited 2008-08-21 08:29:36]