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Germany Bound!

1st December 2011

Security Checks Continue

So my route plan from Kathmandu to Hamburg was extensive: 8am flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi, 4hours layover, New Delhi to Milan, 4hours there, finally, Milan to Hamburg…

After leaving Nepal far behind, we disembarked in New Delhi, India. Quite a fancy airport and it even has sleeping “cocoons” that you can rent if you have a long layover.

Once again we were given bag tags to add to our ever growing collection, I think I will look like a traveling Christmas Tree by the time I am through all of these.

Bag Tag Decorations

Waiting in line I met Hannah, returning to the UK after volunteering in Nepal for a few months. Going through security check number 2 or 3 since arriving at the airport, we had to scan our bags. Her’s was pulled to the side and the good humored guards asked where the little pair of scissors were. She argued stating there were none, but when she unpacked it she found it in a little side pocket. There was much laughter. As mine went through I took out my little pair before they even had a chance to ask, dang it totally forgot about them till Hannah was arguing. We joked that they should open a used scissor shop after work. It was refreshing to find airport security with a sense of humor.

Money Exchanges… Or Not

I had ended up with 2500 Nepali Rupees, totally forgetting to change my money before I left (blaming lack of sleep and emotions). But was certain I could change it into Euros in New Delhi airport or at the very least change it into a currency that would be more workable once I got to Germany. As it turns out there were TWO major issues:

1) Past immigration and security no FOREIGNER could exchange money (only Indian Passport holders). Since transit meant I was already past security meant I had no hope of being able to do this.

It did occur to me to ask an Indian Passport holder to change it for me… until

2) They don’t take Nepali Rupees.

GO FIGURE!!! It was suggested that one of the Duty Free stores might take them, but after about 15 shops both Hannah and I realised there wasn’t much hope. Mmmmm guess it means I just have to go back to Nepal.

People Watching

People watching in airports is one of my favorite pastimes and this was no different. This brought a bemused giggle to my lips:

Reebok Monks

I can barely afford Reeboks and here are 2 monks buying a pair of stylish running shoes in the Duty Free Shop (which is usually twice as expensive).

Jet Airways continued

So far Jet Airways had been pretty decent and I hoped this would continue with the 11hour flight to Milan looming in my near future. After an hour delay it was time to board, then a further 30minute delay we were finally in the air. I was in the middle section on the aisle with an Indian mom and 2 boys. For the most part they were reasonably well behaved, but there was the occasional elbow in the ribs when they weren’t concentrating. Luckily Jet outdid themselves with individual entertainment units, great service and decent food. I think I even managed a bit of shut eye, which is rare for me unless I have a row to myself.

Arrival Milan Airport

Finally landing in Milan and feeling decidedly travel worn already, I wandered through the airport towards my gate, which was on the far end. On the way I thought it wise to draw some Euros, but at that precise moment could not remember if Italy used them or not. I asked at one of the duty free shops and after a bit of confusion with translation I got my question across and the fact that I was brain dead at that moment. We all laughed and they pointed me in the direction of an ATM. Of course it was all in Italian without the option of English (if there was one it was probably asking in Italian if you wanted English). Oh well, it was a good thought.

Went through another security check and finally found my gate, I literally think it was at the end of the airport. Another hour long delay so I decided to buy some internet time just to let all those who needed to know that I had made it this far.

The plane was almost empty and I just hung back to board up hoping to get a front row to sleep. Thank karma I did, the attendant too one look at me and didn’t argue, pointing me to the second row. I think I was out for the count before the plane even left the ground. I woke up just before we landed and before my eyes were even in focus the attendant was offering me the snack and juice I had missed at the beginning. I love good service and was very appreciative of this.

REUNION!

Germany was not just a country of random choosing like most of the others. At the very beginning of my trip, in my first country, I had met an awesome girl by the name of Cathleen in Aguas Calientes. You can read about that in my entry “Aguas Calientes Day 13”. We had always joked about me visiting her on my way home but never really thought I would get the chance to. Once I realised I was going to Nepal and would head home over Europe it just seemed like it was meant to be. Cathleen lived in Leipzig in the former Eastern side of Germany but had traveled to Hamburg to meet me. As I got off the plane and wandered through the non existent immigration check (still very strange to enter a new country without all that rigamarole and slightly annoying as I now don’t have a German stamp in my passport), I felt exhausted but was very excited to see my friend.

She was there with her friend Hendrik who lived in Hamburg. He had driven her to the airport which meant no dealing with public transport, he also gave up his bed for us. I was exhausted but still had many things going through my mind and still trying to fathom that my year of travel was only 2 weeks from an end. This would prove to be a difficult idea to wrap my head around in the weeks to come.

But for now, there was a new country to explore and a great friend to catch up with.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow….

1st December 2011

Farewells

I have never been very good at goodbyes, you would think after so many I would be better at it. But alas, I shall always be an emotional person.

We decided Buddha would not come to the airport with me as I was leaving at 6.20am and was sharing a taxi with Namiko, the Japanese girl from the night before. However, he did carry my bags down and into the car. It wasn’t a very emotional goodbye with us hanging onto each other, I think we were both in shock that our time was over. So with a hug and a kiss and tears just barely welling in my eyes I drove off into the sunrise towards the airport with him watching after me.

I have had holiday romances before and always I am a complete wreck when I leave. This time seemed a little different, a little calmer, I just felt deeply sad but there was a glimmer of hope that we would meet again. Like something was meant to be…maybe…or is that just my girlish dreams infiltrating my practical brain?

Airport Security… Nepal Style

Before getting far in the taxi we had a flat or needed to inflate the tire, not sure as there was so much incense burning IN the cab that I was in a daze!

Finally arriving in plenty of time we went to enter the airport, it was all very confusing as we were not permitted to enter until a certain amount of time before our flight. So joining the mulling masses we hung around outside for a further 10minutes. Then it was security check 1, there would be many more to follow.

Warning Soppy Moment: Standing in line I sent a text to Buddha telling him to sleep well. He replied with “I am sleeping but think of you and dream I am flying”. I wish he was flying with me.

At the baggage counter my fear of having my checked bag overweight was soon alleviated as it was 6KG under. However, in my zealous attempts to achieve just this my carry on was 6KG over. The guy suggested I transfer items, but I feared an explosion if I attempted to unzip either bag as they were packed to the brim. I have a slight shopping in developing countries habit. The guy kind of winked and let me off without having to pay a fee. But then, he followed me as I walked away from check in asking for a tip… I guess thats one way of putting it. Except for two 1000 rupees (which was a little much I thought), I only had a 20 rupee. He wasn’t overly impressed at my backpacker generosity but took it and walked off in disgust.

Namiko was still in line for check in and I hung around waiting for her. Unfortunately, with time ticking away to under an hour for my flight I said cheers and hoped we would meet in Delhi on our mutual layovers. Just as well I did, because the road blocks, starting with entry to the airport, along the way were numerous.

Security 2 – As I attempted to go up the escalated the guard asked to see airline tags on my bags, turned out I needed one on EVERY form of bag, except myself… You didn’t need to write anything it just needed the tag.

Security 3 – Men and women were separated into 2 lines, this is one of the few times being in the ladies line is to your benefit. Bags were scanned as we walked thru a scanner, and then bags were searched. This is when bag tags are stamped.

Soppy Moment Warning: While I waited I called Buddha, normally nothing wakes him up, but he answered and we said we missed each other. He told me to call before I took off.

Security 4 – yup you guessed it, apparently going from lounge to plane on the tarmac there is a chance of picking something contraband up. We had to have our bags searched again right at the foot of the stairs to the plane and be patted down.

Finally on the plane I was waiting for the flight attendants to ask to search our bags again before giving us a snack at take off. Even in the states I have never gone through so many check points. I think I had collected about 2 bag tags for each bag at this point.

Soppy Moment Warning: As requested I called him one last time before take off. He wished me safe travel and said he missed me already. I am really not sure how I feel, as mentioned most boys left me in a wreck when I left them, but feel strangely calm this time and can’t quite figure out why…

As the plane left Kathmandu and I watched the mountains disappear in the mist… smog… I realized that Nepal was everything and yet nothing I expected it to be. From the insanity of Kathmandu to the tranquility of Nagakot, from the food to the markets to the friendly, kind nature of the Nepali people, to the guy who has part of my heart. This has been one of my most pivotal stops… one that will, ultimately, change my life completely…

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Lima to San Fran – Day 104 cont… – Did someone say Security?

April 20th 2011

It’s too bloody early…
Having a flight at 6.30am means getting up at 3.45am and heading to the airport at 4am. That’s just too early to be healthy. But I managed to roll out of bed, gather my gear and Fernando walked me to my waiting chariot. Then airport bound for my flight from Lima to Bogota, Columbia, a 3hr layover then to San Salvadore, El Salvadore, a 52min layover then into San Fran airport around 10pm. As much as I love to travel, its the actual traveling part I dislike the most.

Airport tax and pisco
I had perfectly calculated my remaining money to ensure that I could cover the airport tax, buy some pisco for my friend in LA and still have some money for food and snacks. My funds included $30 US and 43soles (Peruvian). When I got to airport tax the conversation went like this:
Clerk: that will be 30 please
Me: excellent, here is 30 soles
Clerk: that would be dollars please
Me: American Dollars??!!??
Clerk: yes
Me: ahhh I have $30 and some soles
Clerk: $30 and 2 soles will cover it
Me: well there goes dinner

I tried to draw some money out of the cash machine just to have backup as soles would not be usable outside of Peru, and the exchange rate wasn’t worth changing it. However, Peruvian ATM’s do not like me and so I figured I would try in Bogota. I found duty free and ask for a bottle of pisco that was 40 soles or less, they had one for exactly 40 soles. Sealing it up nicely in a bag I headed to my gate. There weren’t even drinking fountains around but managed to get a glass of free water from one of the restaurants. I now had a whopping 45c US and 27c Peruvian.

Security round 1…2…3…4
I had already gone through the mandatory security check in Lima, but arriving in Bogota they checked my bag again and had me go through a scanner. Then I attempted to find an ATM, none to be found and so used my credit card to get some grub. Then it was onto my gate where I had to go through a full on pat down and rummage through my bag. They also took the pisco out of the protective tin and swished it around, I was waiting for them to take a sip.

Finally made it on my flight an was a little nervous about my next leg as there was only a 52min layover, but we were on time and there were no worries…or so I thought.

As I was waiting to deboard the flight, the attendant (who up to this moment had made all announcements in English and Spanish) made an announcement in Spanish. It went something like this “blah blah Katty Smidt blah blah”. It is very unnerving to hear your name in the middle of a sentence and have no idea what it is about. As I left the plane I was told to talk to the gate person, who told me to go to gate 53. When I got to gate 53 (which was completely cordoned off with stretchy ropes, trapping travelers at the gate for flight to San Fran), the conversation went something like this:
Me: hi, here is my bag and ticket
Security 1: hola, ahhhh Katty Smidt, hey it Katty Smidt
(well searching through my bag)
Security 2: ahhh Katty Smidt, ok.
Me: yes its me, why??
Security 1: Pisco, mmmm
Me: yes its for my friend
Security 2: you need to put in check in, here look
(very small print on inside bag of duty free bag “some items will not be allowed to be carried on for certain flights on certain airlines to certain countries”)
Me: well thats clear as mud
(confused look from security)
Me: no problem just check it.
Security 1: ok
Me: can I leave the barrier to plug in my computer?
(5feet from the barrier was a plug)
Security 1: mmmm no. But come with me.
(follow security 1 out of barrier, down security only stairs to find my checked bag waiting for me to be searched – just in case I magically transported something into it)
Security 1: mmmm bag full, pisco must go in bag
Me: well yes it is full, but I will take out my hiking boots and squeeze it in
(back up stairs to roped off area)
Security 1: you can sit here with computer right by us

Think I was almost on a first name basis with that guy.

Back in the US of A
After anther 6hr flight I finally landed at San Francisco airport and marveled at the fact that I understood everyone. As exciting as understanding was it also seemed like a bit of a let down, no more challenge when it came to communication, it definately made life interesting. Picked up by my mate I prepared to spend the next day chilaxing at her house and planning the best surprise ever…

Stay tuned to hear details…

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 14, 2011 in RTW, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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