Friday, November 21, 2008

Travel Circus

Day: 422
Lisbon to Denver
Time: 26 hours

Like any circus you have seen there are big tops, strong men, big men, and the freaks. The only thing missing were the animals, but there was one bird that made a brief appearance.
We caught our early taxi from the hotel to the airport. Traveling with boxed bikes can be a little bulky at times, but with a crazed cabbie and short ride to the airport those weren’t a problem. The cabbie just shoved them in the back and left the hatch open. Leslie spent the first part of the day hanging onto the bikes making sure they didn’t fly out in a roundabout. Thankfully traffic was light that early in the day and the cabbie didn’t have to goose it too much. Once at the airport we somehow got on the same schedule as the ‘pushy’ couple. You know the ones who have to first in line and argue with the ticket agents? They even bossed us on how to run the elevator. Fun beginning to the day. We got a little brekkie at the airport and enjoyed our last cup of CafĂ© com leite (½ strong coffee + ½ hot milk). The flight to Frankfurt was mostly spent sleeping so it went quickly. Our layover was short and after 45 minutes of hanging out at the gate we boarded the plane for the long haul. I managed to get behind a guy who had to have his seat leaned back all the way, but as luck would have it there was an open seat on the other side of Leslie next to a nice little Polish Grandma. There was no one in front of me so all was well. About an hour into the flight a guy further up decided that he needed to move and took the seat in front of me. He also leaned it all the way back, but he didn’t last too long in that seat since I placed a knee in his back. He ended up moving several more times throughout the flight, eventually settling in the crew member section on final landing. That flight was spent catching up on movies, eating and napping very little. We finally got into Chicago, where we flew through customs only to get snagged in one of the slowest security lines I have encountered. I love the European style of security; quick, dirty and usually accompanied with a heavily armed guard. We finally got to our gate and lined up with all the other folks. The Chicago to Denver flight was full to the brim with the overheads stuffed beyond belief. I am sure that the flight crews love the charge for checked baggage. There were people in line with big suitcases that intended to carry them on. We finally got settled, got some last minute repair work done on the plane, and vroom off down the runway we went. The kicker was right when we got airborne there was a bang, flash of light and smell of smoke. The pilot turned to plane around and we got a priority emergency landing. We were even met by a fire truck or two to make sure the left engine wasn’t on fire. The official report was that a bird had flown or gotten sucked into the engine on takeoff. The airline handled it all very well and we taxied back to the terminal where we jumped off and got on another plane. We took off a little while later and that flight was nice and uneventful.
We touched down, got our bags and bikes, hustled out to meet the car and off we went. We are a little tired, but did manage to get a good night sleep. The rest of the day will be spent unpacking, checking our pile of mail (3 months worth) and sleeping. Travel is always great while you are on the road, it is the set up and take down that is the wearing part.

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