It's a rainy Sunday evening in Lyon and I'm eating McD's (the only resto open right now) and listening to NPR's Sunday Edition.
When did travel cease being fun and return to its etymological roots of "travail"? Let's see: when I was overtaken by a gaggle of garrulous Brazilians in the check-in line? when I was (incorrectly) told to turn on the laptop during the security check? when I got the middle seat?
It wasn't all that bad. Most people I encountered were fine, and the United check-in agent and the immigration official in Frankfurt both commented on my worn, visa-packed passport which already has two sets of supplementary pages - and doesn't expire until 2012.
But I sure miss the relative fanciness of European airlines. United didn't give out a goody bag, took back the headphones (which didn't work anyway), and the air vents were too high to close off so I froze during most of the flight. I grudgingly admit that Air France is pretty good in comparison.
The plane arrived early in Frankfurt so I wandered around a bit. This is the longest I've spent in Frankfurt airport, apart from one stopover during a high school trip and another on my way to/from Istanbul. The loos were surprisingly grubby, there were no trash bins or clocks, and most of the people who were on the flight to Lyon were North African or Turkish. I did however indulge in one favorite travel habit: purchasing British home decor magazines.
And of course my hotel room is right next to the glowing neon sign. At least it's not flashing.
What's wrong with Turkish?
I hate Frankfurt airport with a fiery passion. I had to spend 18 hours there this one time, thanks to the idiocy of both me and the Turkish lady working in the American Embassy. I had applied for F-1 Visa (student) and they told me to pick up my passport two days later. Two days later I went back and picked it up, but there was only some sort of weird looking stamp on it. Said lady told me that's what's an F-1 Visa is. I of course believed her and took 6 AM Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. I was supposed to wait for 5 hours for the Detroit flight, which I did, only be told that I didn't have a Visa, and that I should catch the plane back to Istanbul, which was 14 hours later.
I Hates planes.
What's wrong with Turkish?
Absolutely nothing - I didn't mean for this to be read in a negative way. Apologies for any misinterpretation.
I'm not surprised at the visa fiasco. American embassy staff seem to be particularly good at that.
This happened in 1997. And the American Embassy didn't do anything wrong, it was the Turkish clerk working there. It turns out the stamp meant "Approved for Visa", and you have to take it to another clerk so she could stick the Visa on it. And I blame myself most. I had been to foreign countries many times before and should have known that some cheap looking stamp is not the same thing as a Visa.
And no offense taken. It's just that the Turks in Europe are usually the people who were not able to find a job in Turkey and immigrated to European countries. Mostly uneducated, and sometimes even minor criminals They embarrass us sometimes. That's why I asked.
I once transferred in Frankfurt and got felt up by the security guard. 'You haff vire?' she said, as she plunged her hand down my shirt and gave me a litte fondle before sending me through to my gate.
If she were cute, I probably wouldn't have minded so much.
Sorry to butt in like this but after reading your entry I just couldn't resist leaving a comment. This might disappoint you but European airlines are not that fancy anymore. Most don't give out toiletry bags anymore, they all take your headphones back at the end of the flight, and for shorter flights many are now charging for the food you consume on the plane. This is supposed to bring down costs, humpf...
Yes, I suppose long haul flights are still better. Last time I flew Air France, it must have been around 2005 or so from Paris to Johannesburg. I didn't get a toiletry bag (wink) but the service was decent. I find Swiss (or Swissair) one of the best European airlines nowadays. I'm sorry to hear about the "garrulous Brazilians" in the check-in lines but let me assure you some of us are a bit more civilised when travelling. :-)