Thursday, August 21, 2014

Travel Adventures

Traveling.  I generally don't mind the process of getting from one place to another, but I discovered – again –that I really don’t like doing it carrying a bunch of stuff.  I must be caring about 130 lbs. of stuff this time, much of it gifts or requested items for others. 

I had a rental car in Philadelphia, PA that I had to return before I got my flight.  And, I had to fill the tank within 10 miles of the airport.  I had directions that should have taken me to the airport on a road that would offer numerous gas stations.  Notice the “should have;” I thought I was following the directions (no GPS available this time), but never found the one road I was to turn on.  I followed the Pasuyunk until it ended.  Fortunately I had looked at a map (and had one with limited details) before leaving.  I was able to find my way to Front Street, get gas, and get on 95 S to find the airport within 10 miles.  Fortunately, I had allowed lots of time to do this, return the car, and get a ride to the terminal – dragging all my bags onto and off of the shuttle bus on my own.  Didn’t have to go far to the place where I could get my boarding pass and drop off the heaviest bags. 

So, flying from the US to Cameroon I am permitted 2 suitcases with no more than 50 lb. each.  I bought myself a luggage scale so I can pack and repack in private before I leave home.  I know from experience
that the gadget is off a little in comparison to the airport scales, so I packed to have the big suitcase at 47 ½ pounds.  When I got to the airport, they weighed it at 57 lbs.!  That’s almost 9 pounds off.  I had to take things out of that suitcase and put them somewhere (mostly my backpack, but also the other suitcase which is smaller and weighed in at 45 lb. initially).  The kind man at the counter finally let me go with 51.4 lb.  But, now in Brussels I will have to reorganize again because they will weigh the suitcases again…  What a pain.  I would like to just pack the suitcases until they are full and ignore the weight, but with a $200 fee for overweight, I get to play with moving things from here to there and back again.

Once I found my gate and had a snack, I waited.  The flight was delayed for an hour.  No reason given except that the plane was coming from DC (where I was also headed).  We were loaded an hour late and sat on the runway.  The pilot came on to say that there was a storm front coming in – from Philadelphia to Washington.  All runways but ours were shut down.  We had more delays, but finally were able to take off.  There was rain the whole way although cloud cover was not complete and we could often see the ground. 

The main result of this delay was the shortening of the window I had to get from this flight to the one to Brussels.  We landed at Gate A3 and I had to get to D3.  I checked the display as I got off the flight and saw that the second flight was already boarding and due to leave in 15 min.  Ugh.  I didn’t have my big suitcases, but did have the (heavier than planned) backpack and purse.  As I got to the bus to Terminal D, it had just left.  Instead, I took the tram to Terminal C and walked/ran to D!  As I arrived, there was a short line still boarding.  I was the last person to get on the plane.  Hey, somebody has to have the honor.

From then on, the flight was uneventful.  I slept a little between dinner and breakfast.  Yeah.

I found the lockers at the Brussels Airport where I could leave luggage so I didn’t have to drag it into town.  Fortunately, a man and his family were there getting theirs out.  He had done it before.  We both had a problem, though, since the machine that is to give coins for bills was not working.  I gave him a 2 Euro coin and he returned a 1 Euro coin and small coins the machine wouldn’t take so we both had what we needed.  But, I then closed my locker when he was putting his money in recording my 1 Euro due.  (One pays the rest of the money due when getting the luggage out.)  We both thought he had lost all the money he had put in and I still had my 1 Euro.  We were both pleased and relieved when his accounting showed up on the screen with only 1 more Euro due (which he got from me).  We both made out!  I will make sure I have enough coins before I go back to the airport Sunday.

I am staying in a small hotel in the Central Brussels.  I found the building at 8:30 a.m., confirmed my reservation and left my backpack.  I couldn’t check into the room until 2 p.m.  Here’s a picture of the street from my room. 

The building – and rooms are narrow and small, but adequate – and inexpensive!  My room has a shower and sink although the toilet is in the hall.  The one on my floor is marked for men. At first I thought my computer use would be limited.  There is free Wifi, but the plug is not one I have seen before!  Fortunately, I found another one by the sink for which I have an adapter.  

I am very glad not to have either of my heavy suitcases.  The steps are steep and narrow.  And, I am on the 4th floor.  That would have been more of a workout than I wanted!  Instead, I have put on my walking shoes and am getting to know part of Brussels.  Today I went to an exposition that explains facts (with pictures) about the city.  I also walked miles…  I did take a nap at 2, but am planning to go to bed early to try to get my body onto European time.  I finished the early evening having a beer at a café – I am in Belgium after all!


  1. nice blog

  2. The beer makes all the travel headaches worthwhile.