Saturday 9/7/13…it was finally here, the day that I had stressed about coming for the past three months. It was the day I was leaving the United States to live and work overseas.
My first trip would be from Seattle, WA to Frankfurt, Germany. This was a 9.5-hour flight and the longest one I had even taken. The day was very difficult. Anxiety had definitely set in, but after travelling back from California a few days before I really felt ready to go. I guess I had accepted it in a way. Not everyone feels the same maybe, but I was ready.
Lufthansa was the flight I took to Frankfurt and it amazed me how quickly the plane was boarded and ready to go. It was an A330 and a full flight, but it was all setup quicker than a quick flight to Vegas from Burbank.
No matter how large the plane is, the seats are not made for big guys. I was squished into the seat pretty good, but it was not absolutely horrible. The overhead announcements were done in both German and English, but I found it funny that when the pilot or flight attendant spoke in German they sounded excited and when they spoke in English it was a bit lazy and jumbled.
The flight left about 1:40 pm Seattle time and was schedule to land in Frankfurt at approximately 8:45 am local time. Total flight time was about 9.5 hours.
I was able to sleep a little bit on the flight, and went through most of the selection of TV shows and movies available on the inflight entertainment. Due to the small seating area, I could not get out my laptop and watch the movies I had rented from ITunes. The food was tolerable; dinner served shortly into the flight and then breakfast shortly before we landed in Germany.
The amazing part was flying through the night. Below are pics of the sunset over Toronto and the sunrise over Dublin. Over the ocean I was able to peak out the window a bit and see nothing but the black sky and so many stars!! I like stars.
Landing in Frankfurt was pretty easy, and the exciting part was trying to find my gate for the next flight. The terminal is quite something. I could not tell you how I got to where I had to go, but I went down two flights of stairs, across another whole section of gates, then finally through customs which led to the other side of the whole facility, then upstairs, through more gates into metal detectors and checkpoint. At the metal detector, they checked my camera gear for explosives and then asked me a couple of questions and let me go on my way.
The next adventure was trying to find my gate. Since 99% of the airlines at Frankfurt are Lufthansa, I had to find my flight number. Okay, maybe the displays are organized that way. Nope. Departure time? Nope. City? Nope. I stood there trying to figure out how to find my flight but they made no sense at all. The other issue was my plane ticked showed one gate, which happened to be at the very end of the terminal. Not my plane. I also realized that they did not show Naples on the gate. It showed Napoli. So I finally figured that out and found my gate with time to spare. A quick couple of messages to family and friends and I was back on a plane to Naples, Italy. Cool avgeek note, the plane was the throwback Lufthansa A319.
Flying to Naples was pretty easy. Except the fact that I spilled my water on the nice old man next to me, nothing really happened. It was a little surreal when the pilot came over the intercom and said it would be a little bumpy over the Alps. Looking down below and realizing that the ground was not California, but not the United States, that was another reality check.
I landed in Naples just after noon and went to the baggage claim quickly. Getting my baggage however was not so quick. Despite there being five baggage claims, the small airport decided that all the planes that day were going to use just one baggage claim. Annoying. Since I decided before my trip that I needed new luggage, I had tagged my bags with new bag tags to identify which ones were mine. Well, of course they fell off. Eventually I was able to get my bags and meet my boss outside the concourse. Oh, another note, Eurobet casino advertises on the baggage claim and made it somewhat interesting.
The base location in Naples is not actually in Naples. It is located in a town called Gricignano, about 15 minutes north of the airport. The road to my hotel was pretty nice, until you get just outside of Naples and closer to the base. In Naples there is a large garbage strike going on so nobody is picking up the garbage. What do people do? They just drive to the side of the road and dump the garbage off. Bags of trash, and junk, and everything you can imagine lined the roads. I was told this was note even as bad as it usually was. They also don’t have trash pick up. Between the hours of 8 pm and midnight you take all your garbage out to this dumpster and it costs a couple of Euro to dump the trash. Dump anything before or after that time and you can be fined. So instead, just dump it along the site of the road an no problems.
Then, there were the ladies of the night or day. They lined the streets, sitting in chairs or holding umbrellas, waiting for someone to pick them up. There were quite a few of them all over town.
I got to my hotel and was able to finally relax after almost 24 hours of non-stop go go go. It was Sunday afternoon, which meant back home it was late Saturday night still. I was able to finally connect to Wi-Fi and check in back home. I couldn’t really go to sleep because my time would be thrown off, so I walked around and watched TV. NFL pregame shows were not even on yet. Weird.
I took a little catnap and woke up in able to watch football games that were played through Armed Forces Network. Watching the games live all night was a new experience and one I guess I have to get used to now.
I was in Naples only for about a day and a half, and only did a little sightseeing. I got to see the ruins of the stadium where Spartacus used to practice. Of course, my phone was dead and I left my camera in my room so no pics. My bad. I will get more when I go back. Other than that, it was just focusing on work and meeting the important people with the district. I ate some pizza (which was okay…) and went to a small deli in town.
Then it was time to make my final flights to Bahrain. As it is not 2 am here (4:30 pm in California) I need to get some sleep. Travel to Bahrain post will come soon.
Thanks for reading!