The adventure begins

Trip Start Jun 12, 2008
Trip End Aug 25, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Minnesota
Thursday, June 12, 2008

This summer's adventure begins in Minnesota with a domestic flight from Minneapolis International to Chicago O'Hare airport.  The flight departed on time and was quite smooth overall except for some turbulance coming into Chicago.  Chicago O'Hare International is the only airport I've experienced landing on a highway overpass (aka runway) and then taxiing in to the terminal.

Upon arrival I immediately headed to the main terminal, exiting the security area, to check in with Lufthansa Airlines.  There were two lines and thankfully I spoke with a woman about being on a flight leaving in 30 minutes and that I needed to get my boarding pass quickly.  There were several in my same situation of just disembarking a domestic flight and still needing to check in for an international flight.  We were all helped quickly and then I needed to go back through security.  The only part of the traveling process that I really dread is the security checkpoint.  My company buys my flight through a bargain basement broker, thereby knocking 2/3 of the price off, but usually buying them the day before which notoriously grants me the special priviledge of "special selection".  This entails taking EVERYTHING out of my carry-ons, swabbing them for explosive materials (which any type of hand lotion will set off the alarm) and then haphazardly placing the contents back inside and then wanding me.  I now need an extra 5 minutes to repack the carry-on and then I race to the gate just in time for boarding.  

This time around I didn't have the full inspection but about half of the items in my bags were removed and searched.   I guess a girl lugging a laptop, 2 dSLR cameras, 2 lens bags, 3 USB hard drives, a PSP, cell phone and numerous other electronic devices in a nondescript backpack looks pretty fishy.  The whole point is to be nondescript so as to NOT draw attention to myself.  Anyone standing near me at the checkpoint sure gets a full on view of what I've got in my school bag.  I made it it the gate with just enough time to get in the right line and board the aircraft.

Lufthansa is a German airline and this was the first experience flying an airline where the primary language was not English.  The stewardess assigned to our area was very kind and had a good command of the language, but did her face light up in amused delight when I'd order beverages and such in German with a half decent accent.  If you are new to flying and looking for a good airline to travel from the Midwest to Munich or Frankfurt en route to other European Union destinations I would recommend Lufthansa highly.   The plane was extremely clean and the food wasn't terrible.  Our seatback entertainment system didn't function properly (just like on Qantas for the 14 hour flight) for the 8.5 hour flight until we got to Paris and then it worked the rest of the way into Munich.  The company knew this in advance and sincerely apologized for the inconvenience.  They had felt it was more important to travellers to keep the plane on schedule and get maintenance work done in Munich.

Unfortunately for me our plane was stuck behind 16 other planes waiting on the runway in Chicago and we arrive an hour late into Munich.  By the time I walked off that flight, walked down and up and down confusing and poorly labeled corridors to Customs Inspection for the EU and back through security (again being blessed with a thorough inspection of all contents of my carry on bags) my flight had departed 30 minutes prior.  Lufthansa squeezed me onto the next flight to Venice which would depart at 11:20 AM, the local time was now 7:20 AM and I was extremely tired from only 3 hours of sleep in the previous 48 hours.  I almost fell asleep in the airport several times but forced myself to stay awake for safety issues as well as not wanting to miss the next flight.  I eventually got on the Italian puddle jumper that took me into Venice - the flight was smooth but the plane was ancient.  We had to take a shuttle bus out to a small airfield because the plane was too small to pull up to a "gangway"  connected to the terminal building.  We also had to check our bags plane side because the overhead bins were large enough for small purses.  Thankfully both of my carry-ons were small enough to fit in the overhead bin or under the seat.

When I arrived at the airport my transportation to the ship was not there as I should have arrived at 7:30 AM and it was now 1 PM.  Thankfully I had purchased a Verizon Wireless world phone and gsm sim chip prior to traveling so I could phone the shuttle company.  Unfortunately I had been given the wrong number, but my company's airport customer service team  was able to call and get the correct one for me.  During this time I met the guest entertainer for the week and he had no phone to call so I told him to hang with me and we'd ride in together.  A while later the shuttle driver finally arrived (1 hour later) and then he had a list of 6 other crew members also going to ships in our fleet docked in Venice.  After another hour and a half we finally gave up on the last three and headed to the first ship which is currently finishing dry dock and construction completion at our shipyard in Venice.  Then at about 4:45 PM Venice time (subtract 8 hours for CST in USA) we finally arrived at the ship.  My very cool roomie gave me a tour and we grabbed some food and then I slept for a few hours and then had to get up for dinner theater rehearsal to come later in the cruise.  Thankfully I'd already participated in this dinner entertainment on my previous summer ship so I had a slight idea of what I was doing.

I am now going to rest and hopefully get a few photos tomorrow as we pull out of Venice - I have to stay on the ship to finish embarkation training requirements so I won't be getting off this Venice, but we'll return to this city the most this summer.


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