Travel Diary: A Return to America

Madrid 2009, but it perfectly captures my feelings right now

I’ve officially set a new record for the time it takes to get from Europe to Oregon. Which means that the trip has taken about 18 hours instead of 24. I think. Sorry, my brain isn’t working too well right now. Probably has something to do with the whole 18-hour trip. Whatever. I made it across the planet without too many screw-ups. I call that a win. And I want to brag about it. So, I offer you all the breakdown of my travel saga:

The Flight
10:40—12:25 (+9 hours)

Because I am super lucky, I managed to find a last-minute flight home after I made my decision to peace out of Europe…okay I bought it 3 weeks before the date. Maybe not so last minute. Still, considering I was expecting to pay out the nose for a flight home, I was delighted to discover a cheap Condor flight from Frankfurt to Seattle.

A direct flight.

Yeah, there is a single flight that crosses 1 ½ continents and an ocean. My ass went numb during 11+ hours of flying, and I slurped too much shitty coffee. But, I didn’t have to deal with any of the airports on the American East coast and their inevitable delays and propensity for missed connections.

I landed in Seattle on time, despite a slight delay leaving Frankfurt (this had the added bonus of making all the Germans twitchy…Delay?! No!!). Customs was slow and inefficient, and the bureaucrats didn’t bother to stamp my passport. Still, all in all a typical cross-the-planet flight.

The Screw-up

Auspicious beginning, right? Okay, so this part of the journey was supposed to involve me taking a metro and then a bus to get to the train station. It was supposed to look like this: 1:30-1:33 Metro;  1:42-2:15 Bus; 2:34 Train.
However, because I am Jeannette and sometimes makes really dumb mistakes while traveling, things went from slightly complicated to very stressful in about 20 minutes.

First, I didn’t get out of the airport until 1:18. Which was stressful because according to Google maps I needed to be on the 1:30 metro in order to catch the right bus.

I missed that metro. I did catch the 1:40 one.

However, due to American (Seattle?) efficiency, the bus was late and I managed to hop on it—in the process nearly knocking over 4-5 people as I ran through the bus station with my giant-ass suitcase. Wooo! Time to relax, right?

Do not tempt the Travel Gods by daring to relax prematurely.

I was supposed to get off at a Tukwila Amtrak station (note: this station is really close to the Sea-Tac Airport and much more convenient than running all the way north into Seattle just to head south again) and catch my train at 2:34. I was supposed to arrive at the station at 2:15 with plenty of time.

Yeah…I missed my stop.

It’s okay, you can laugh. God knows the bus driver did when he realized that the dumb girl with the giant suitcase had totally fucked herself over. He also nicely dropped me at the nearest crosswalk so I could catch the next bus back.

Except I watched the next bus speed past me as I futility waited for the crosswalk to turn green. It was 2:13. Cue swearing, growling, and much kicking of the nearest light pole. I knew that baring a miracle, I wasn’t going to make my train. And I was not in the mood for travel frustrations. Hell that’s putting it lightly. I was exhausted and wanted to lie down on the disgusting sidewalk and not get up. I furiously resigned myself to waiting for the next f***king bus and most likely missing my train.

And then, my miracle happened. I saw a taxi. And it was free. I flagged him down, planning on jumping in front of his car if necessary. The driver grabbed my shitty suitcase and we were off! I was going to make it to the station, but only just… I tipped the driver with dollar coins, but that’s all I had, and then sprinted up the stairs (hauling my 50.6 lb suitcase, ouch!) to the ghetto Tukwila platform.  It was 2:31.

The Train

No that isn’t a typo. The train was 40 minutes late. After I f••ked up, freaked out and managed to conjure a miraculous taxi out of thin air, the train was ridiculously late. FML. Of course, following Murphy’s Law of Traveling if I had gotten to the station late, the train would have been on time. So it goes.

By the way, the Tukwila station is the most sketchy station I’ve ever seen. And I’ve been to Rome! It’s made out of plywood and is infested with bees. And teenaged boy who try to kill said bees.

Anyhow, by the time the train finally showed up, I’d come off my “I solved a huge problem” high and re-entered my sleep deprived state of travel autopilot. Now I am currently lounging on the Amtrak train, enjoying the 70’s decor and free wifi. Should hit Portland in half an hour…


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