Friday, November 7, 2014

First Flight

Last weekend was my first trip outside of Ireland. A few friends and I were going to visit our friend who is studying abroad in Strasbourg, France. After that we would hit Zurich and Munich before returning to Dublin in time for our Tuesday classes. In preparation for our departure, I drew up an itinerary for the trip which included all of our travel and sleeping arrangements, as well as a number of suggested activities for each cityIn addition, I printed out all of my tickets, boarding passes, and hostel reservations. I even printed a second copy of my plane ticket, just in case. Those of us traveling together had mapped out our route to the airport the night before. I felt prepared. But in all this preparation, I forgot two very crucial things: socks and underwear. Since we were only traveling for the weekend and our budget airline of choice charges a preposterous amount of money to check bags, I was obviously going to pack light. One pairs of pants and a shirt or two can easily last a few days, but changing out socks and underwear daily is a must for me. Besides generally not wanting to feel gross, it is common courtesy to one’s fellow travellers. But when I went to pack my bag the morning of our departure, I came across an empty drawer – not a sock to be seen. Only a hurried trip to the campus laundry saved me from sure disaster. 

Boarding on the tarmac.
Just another perk!
     Our flight off the island was on RyanAir - everyone's favorite low-cost, no-frills airline. RyanAir is wonderful because it will fly you all over Europe for less money than a bus ticket. You just need to read the fine print very carefully. Checked baggage costs extra, obviously. But so does checking in at the airport (a €100 fee). Forgot to print your boarding pass, that will be another €70. All this makes for a rather adventurous time at the airport. That our whole group managed to make it through the airport together, intact, and on-time to the gate on our first trip is both a testament to our preparation and a lot of dumb luck. The flight itself was more pleasant than expected. No broken lights, ragged carpet, cracked windows. (The horror stories about budget airlines unfounded at least in this instance). Everything was clean and fairly comfortable. The seats lacked a pouch on the back (no barf bags unfortunately), but it did give the benefit of extra knee room. With no complimentary inflight beverages, I could nap without worrying about losing out on my free Diet Coke.

     We arrived into the airport at Basel around 11:00 pm, exactly on time - a welcome change from flying in the US. Since the Basel airport straddles the borders of Switzerland, Germany, and France we had to pass through customs. After the most perfunctory passport examination in history, we gathered assembled by baggage claim and celebrated our first successful flight with cookies. We then had a choice to make: go to the left and exit to France/Germany or exit to the right to Switzerland. I had never been offered an option of exit country before - it was quite exciting. We mulled our choice for a moment, but ultimately picked Switzerland because, well, that was where our hotel was. The bus from the airport to the city centre went directly to our hotel - or so we thought. We hopped off and hurried to the hotel, wanting to get as much sleep as possible before our 6:00 am train to Strasbourg. Arriving at reception, puzzled looks greeted us when we tried to check in. Could we have made reservations for the ring night, under a different name, on a different credit card? No. Turns out there are two hotels with the exact same name on opposite sides of the train station. We had booked our room at the other one... A brisk walk back the way we came brought us to the right hotel and we settled in for a brief nap before our early morning departure. 

No comments: