Posts Tagged With: Luggage

Exploring Charles de Gaulle Airport

8/6/11

I see my suitcase get unloaded. At least I know it made it to Paris. I take the shuttle to my correct terminal. I use the restroom and have to go through security. Their security is worse than New York’s. They wind up breaking the wheel on my carry on. That bag had lasted through a 12 day trip to Israel and a 9 day trip to Egypt (not to mention all my little side trips) only to break due to a careless security agent. Not cool. Time for my broken suitcase and I to explore the airport.

I look for my mom’s makeup first. They don’t have it. I then look for postcards. I buy some individual ones and a book of them. I also get a magnet, chocolate, and a mini Eiffel Tower. I want to buy a book on Versailles and another one on Paris, but I decide not to get them. I buy two pretty prints of Paris. I go to the food court, which sucks. I buy water and pita bread. I try to go to the lounge and get rudely denied despite having all the right cards to get in. Thus, I sit and wait in a chair for five hours. I eventually buy macaroons at La Maison Du Chocolat. They are expensive, but I hope they are worth it. I still feel sick and I am beyond exhausted at this point. I stop by Swarovski to take a look and to tell my mom I saw it.

They eventually begin to board us. However, we don’t get far when we find out that our plane has issues and we need a new one. No idea how long that will be. We switch to a different gate. I’ve been up for 15 hours after a week of no sleep and 14 of those hours have been spent traveling. I am tired and bored out of my mind. I decide to buy the Paris book to keep me awake. Two hours later we get a plane and board. Thank goodness because otherwise they were going to make us stay overnight at the airport and take a plane in the morning.

Macaroons

 

Categories: Europe, Food, France, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Greatest Sight in Egypt…My Suitcase

Ok, you might not think my suitcase is the greatest sight in Egypt, but on the afternoon of 8/3/11 I sure did. I had spent a lot of time packing for my trip to Egypt. I debated each article of clothing. I needed to make sure I was covered up enough because Egypt’s a Muslim country and yet cool enough to deal with Egypt’s summer heat. All my essentials were in my bag including my sandals (the sneakers and socks I was wearing were making my feet feel like they were on fire), hair brush (I have very long hair), sunscreen, shampoo/conditioner, bathing suit, face soap, PJ’s, etc. All of the toiletries the ship provided had an ingredient I was allergic to so I couldn’t use them. Thank goodness for the things I got from the first class amenity bags from the planes. When it is 116 out you want to be able to wear your own clothes so you can feel comfortable and you can sweat and not feel bad. Additionally, you want to constantly change out of these sweaty clothes, which you can’t do when they are your only clothes. I was also sick of washing my clothes everyday and they never really dried because of the much needed ac in my room. I was also upset that the costume I had brought with me for the Galabiya Party didn’t arrive in time and I had to buy another one. I was also worried I would never see my suitcase again.

8/3/11

We docked and had to walk through a million boats before we could get to the dock. By a million I mean at least 6. As we were headed to the bus I hear Janelle, who’s walking ahead of me, go “Jackie, is that your suitcase?” I run to where she is and and see lime green headed my way. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Muhammad wheels it to me. I quickly look at the front for damage and there doesn’t seem to be any. I notice all the tags on it though. Looks like my bag has been everywhere. No time to open my bag to check if everything is there so I let Muhammad bring it to my room. I board the bus and everyone was happy that I got my bag back. Can’t wait to check it later.

Picture is from later that night

The picture is from later that night. It looks like a mess because of all the traveling it did and because I immediately tore it apart to make sure everything was there.

Categories: Africa, Egypt, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Pyramids of Giza

7/31/13
Next stop Giza! On our way out of Cairo we saw a man on a motorcycle with cages of chicken. We also saw a bunch of women with an infant in the back of a pickup truck. As we crossed over from Cairo to Giza we stopped to take pictures.

As we drove we passed a lot of rundown areas. Sonja and I eventually decided to use the restroom on the bus, which was an experience to say the least. We struggled to find the light and the flusher. We survived though!

Sherif had the bus make a stop at a clothing store so Nicole and I could pick up some items. I thought he wanted us to be quick about it so I tried to just pick up easy stuff. I picked out 2 Egypt t-shirts at 75 LE each and a pair of socks. The socks were 40 LE when I could buy them at home for 5LE ($1). I had no other choice. I didn’t buy anything else because I thought we were in a rush, it was expensive, and I hoped my suitcase would be arriving soon. Nicole wound up taking at least 30 minutes in the store. Sherif and I chatted while we waited for her. He asked me about my scarab necklace and laughed when I explained I won it at the Luxor in Las Vegas. I got some free postcards and Sherif told the owner of the store something about me so I got a free bottle of pretty sand.

After we finally left the shop we continued on to the pyramids. We got to catch glimpses of them as we got closer. I was so excited! We pulled up to them and had to get out of the bus to go through security. Then we re-boarded the bus. Sherif gave us each 20LE to tip our camel drivers. I took my epipen, camera, the tip, extra cash, and a water bottle with me. We got off the bus and were immediately hounded by vendors. I navigated my way through them and went to the camels, while most of the group purchased headdresses for 15LE. The camels only had one hump. The ones in Israel had two. The guy put my water bottle in the camel’s side pocket because he said I would need my hands to hold on. Thus, I put my camera bag around my neck. This camel was a lot taller than the one in Israel and way more uncomfortable. When the camels got up almost everyone freaked out a bit, but I was already used to it from Israel. My camel was led by a little boy, which scared me a bit.

We had a long ride to get to the best spot for pictures. The ride was not comfortable and though I was looking at the pyramids my mind was distracted by the camel. The boy told me his name was Abraham and he was 10. He also told me the camel’s name, which I don’t remember. Halfway through our journey the camel handlers got into a fight. From what I could make out between Arabic and gestures, one of the small boys was leading a camel and they deemed him to be too young to help out. At this point Abraham took some pictures of me and we rode on. I kept trying to focus on the pyramids and their beauty, but something related to the camel always seemed to distract me. I also kept wishing I had on the jeans I packed instead of the sweatpants which caused me to feel everything. My butt and legs were killing me!

On the way back Abraham was now in charge of the little boy’s camels as well. Sonja’s money blew away, but Abraham got it. When we got back it was time for the tip and the group picture. I gave Abraham the 20LE, but then he had a sad look on his face. I felt bad and he reminded me of the poor children in Chichen Itza, so I gave him an extra 5LE. His whole face lit up and he looked like he wanted to hug me. He shook my hand and hid the money. That was the best $1 I have spent in a while. His reaction was priceless. I had to get back on the camel for the group picture.

Then we headed off to a ramp for more pictures with the pyramids. The vendors of course followed. I saw the postcards I wanted and spent either 5LE or 10LE for 10 postcards. We took more pictures and boarded the bus to drive right up to the pyramids.

The pyramids looked less impressive up close because you really couldn’t see high they were. We were able to climb on the pyramids and take pics. I wish I could have spent every moment of down time looking at the pyramids instead of talking to people. I really needed more time to soak them in. Then Sherif took us to a pyramid that we could go into. At that point I was feeling way too hot to go in. I knew there was nothing inside, it would be super hot, and very clastrophic. We headed back to the bus and there were no vendors in sight.

I asked Sherif for an update about my bag since it was after 2pm. I also texted my mom. Sherif tells me that the plane is late so it will be closer to 3pm. He gives us our tickets to the Sphinx. My mom calls me and tells me that my bag wasn’t put on the plane. My head starts spinning. What now? When will I get my bag? I had to hang up because we were at the Sphinx. I get halfway down the block and realize I left my ticket on the bus. I turn around, but the bus is gone. I run to Sherif and tell him about my bag and ticket. I’m completely out of it and he can tell. He tries to calm me down and tells me they’ll have the bag flown to the cruise. He also tells me not to let this ruin my trip. He’s right. I have spent my whole life dreaming about this trip and I can’t let KLM screw it up. He shakes me a bit and I realize that I am in front of the Sphinx! He tells the guard about my ticket situation. He lets me go in.

I walk in and it just doesn’t seem real. We are immediately hounded by kids who want 5LE to take our pics. All I want to do is be left alone and I tell them no, which was a super big mistake. Sherif feels bad for me and convinces me to take some pics with him. I eventually just sit with him and stare at the Sphinx. We talk about Zahi Hawass for a bit. He points out the dream stone. I never realized it was between the paws. I knew the story though. So Sherif has me tell the story to whoever was listening.

On our way back to the bus a guy offers Mat 100 camels and 1000 chickens to buy Lexi. I buy 10 Papyrus bookmarks for 5LE. (In hindsight I should have bought more). We board the bus and I fill everyone in on the news about my bag. We drive to Felfela. Sherif gets a call from Heather at AMEX. They are trying to get me my bag in Aswan or Luxor. Aswan would mean Monday or Tuesday. Luxor would mean Wednesday or Thursday. Oy! I decide not to eat in the restaurant. I use their restroom and then sit with Paul and Michael at the table. We recreate the pyramids with 3 water bottles and flan. Sherif tried to get me to eat. The guys then offered me clothes out of their suitcases. Aww!

After they finished eating, we went and sat in the restaurant’s garden area. Nicole smoked Shaseesh (the water pipe). We went around and formally introduced ourselves and said a bit about ourselves. All Australians except for Paul, Nicole, and me.

Lamps for Ramadan

Solar Boat Pit

Categories: Africa, Egypt, History, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Losing my Luggage in Amsterdam

7/30/11
We land in Amsterdam. A woman waits for the 8 of us heading to Cairo. She takes us to our next gate where we are instructed to throw out our water bottles. BOO! When I ask the woman about my bag I get a rude answer. Then at the gate, I ask again and they tell me that they do not know anything about it. When the woman goes to check me in she tells me that my reservation doesn’t exist and I can’t board the plane. After me arguing with her she makes a phone call and magically I turn up in the system. After getting groped by the gate agent for security, I finally board the plane. We are delayed, which is a mixed blessing. My luggage now has 1 hour to make the plane. New question/worry: will my Contiki rep wait for me? I’m in the 2nd row of the plane next to some British guy.

They serve my meal and I have no idea what it is. It looks disgusting! I eat the 3 spoonfuls of white rice and a piece of bread. The bread tastes like sawdust. I’m given one Belgian chocolate and I put on the movie Sucker Punch. About 15 mins in and I feel ill. I feel like I am running a fever, have chills, and am extremely nauseous. I am informed that there are no pillows or blankets on the plane. Not even for first class. What the hell? I turn off the movie and put on Glee, but even that doesn’t help. I try to review some hieroglyphics, which helps for a while. I try to sleep, but cannot. I can’t stop thinking about my suitcase. The stewardess comes around and offers each of us a blue delft house, which was the best part of the flight. Then I’m given a waffle, which looks and smells amazing. However, I am too sick to eat it.

We land in Egypt and take a shuttle to the airport. I see a Contiki sign and I couldn’t be happier! Yeah Muhammad did wait for me! He points me to the passport line. However, I decide to use my first Egyptian toilet before dealing with the passport line. Not bad. The passport thing was easy since I already had my visa. Next it was time for luggage. I stood there praying that I would see a hint of lime green, which would indicate my bag was coming. The crowd started to get thinner and thinner. The 8 of us were standing there and no one had their bag. Now what? Muhammad and I go to file a claim as he explains to them we leave Cairo tomorrow. He asks me if I have any other clothes and I reply that I do not. I’m praying Janelle, Megan, Lexi, and Sonja will take pity on me. I exchange $220 American and check out the only shop in hopes of deodorant. No luck.

We drive through Cairo in the Spring Tours van. The roads are smooth at first and I read my hieroglyphics book. Then we encounter Cairo traffic. There are absolutely no rules! From the time I landed it takes 2 hrs to get to the hotel. I pick up my room key and am shown to my room. The room looks just like the pictures on the web. Within minutes I have a mosquito bite on my ear. I check the bed for bed bugs and then dump my stuff on the floor. I take inventory of what I have and don’t have. Thank goodness for first class amenity kits. I now have 2 pairs of airplane socks, ear plugs, toothbrushes, tooth paste, and scented cream (to act as deodorant for now).

I go downstairs for the meeting and I don’t see anyone, but then I hear someone call my name. Turns out Sonja and Lexi were in the bar. I fill them in and am introduced to some of the guys. Next I run into the twins. It’s so crazy to finally meet all the girls after talking for months. We sit down in the lounge and Sherif comes in. What a relief to see him! After all the Contiki research I had done, I felt like I knew him. He explained the trip and then I explained my suitcase situation to him. He told me not to worry and that it happens all the time.

The hotel informed us that fighting was going on outside so we convinced the boys to join us in a walk to the gas station for stuff. I desperately wanted water, food, and deodorant. Luckily I found all 3. I debated about buying flip flops, but they were expensive (16LE) and I hoped my suitcase would just be a day late. Besides the lack of traffic lights, it wasn’t so bad outside. I’m glad we didn’t see the fighting that was happening nearby.

After the gas station we went back to the restaurant in the hotel. Everyone got food, but me. Found out Mike is Greek, Alli had a strange situation with a guy from the previous Contiki tour, and that the special price for Contiki guests was actually more expensive then the menu prices. I ate the chocolate I bought in the gas station while everyone else ate food from the restaurant. My goal is to barely put any Egyptian food in my mouth while here.

I borrowed a night shirt from Janelle and turned my jacket into a skirt. That will have to do as PJ’s. I killed the mosquito and used my headphones from Delta with my earplugs to drown out the traffic noises.

Categories: Africa, Amsterdam, Egypt, Europe, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Panicking on the Plane to Amsterdam

7/29/11
I woke up really nervous. Mommy is stressing me out over this trip! I did some last minute packing and waited for the car to come and pick us up. The car came at 3pm. We barely hit any traffic and were at the airport in no time.

I checked in and was relieved to hear that I wouldn’t have to pick up my bag in Amsterdam. It would be checked in for the entire route. Outside of security, I checked into 4sq and spoke to my dad on the phone. I also updated my Facebook status. I took some flu medicine and I said goodbye to my mom. For security I chose a male TSA worker and had no problems with my meds. However, they didn’t like my wheelie. I was pulled to the side and it was swabbed with something. That probably had something to do with bombs.

I bought a bagel and a water for the plane, which was very overpriced. Then I went into the Delta Lounge. The place was mobbed! There were barely any seats and there was almost no food left. The lady at the desk was extremely rude and refused to help me with my seats. Love how they treat their first class passengers. I had two pieces of cheese and then I left.

I waited at the gate and started to tear up. My first flight all by myself. Of course that only made my cold worse and I spent the next 15 mins blowing my nose in an effort to breathe. I bbmed Bik to cheer myself up.

Once we boarded I situated myself on the plane and waited to meet my seatmate. Meanwhile, the woman right across the aisle from me was being a prick. She never requested a gluten free meal, but expected one to be there for her because she was first class. My seatmate finally showed up. She was headed to India. We started to prepare to leave the gate when I saw the first sign of trouble, a rain drop.

Sure enough the captain announced that we would be stuck at the gate for 30 mins to 1 hr because of the weather. Let the panic begin! My connection in Amsterdam is 1hr 40mins. I went on my phone to inform my mom and to check the weather forecast. It was a severe storm alert and even a tornado warning. I started to freak out! The stewardess said as long as I had 30 mins I would be fine. However, once I explained there is only one flight to Cairo a day she became rude and dismissive. 1 hr mark. I called my mom to have her call Delta to go over my options. I knew if I missed the transfer I would miss the tour group. For an additional hour I had a major panic attack. My mom was on the phone with Delta and I was on the phone with my insurance company. It wound up being an over 2hr delay.

After we finally took off, they served everyone around me nuts even though their instructions (and I reminded them) said not to. Then they came out with the food. I skipped the salad. I had hummus with bread. The main course was pasta in Alfredo sauce with nuts. Who puts nuts on pasta? I spooned the dozen nuts off, ate the pasta, and prayed that I would be ok. The pasta was good and the dessert was cheesecake.

Then I watched Just Go With It, which was cute. I decided I would try to attempt to sleep. 10 mins in and it hits me. MY LUGGAGE! What if I run and somehow make my transfer, will my luggage as well? I talk to a stewardess (Kathleen not mean Ruth) and she says it won’t make my flight, but they’ll send it the next day at 2pm. I explain the whole tour situation and she speaks to the captain. They decide to take down my info and call ground control in Amsterdam. They want them to pull the bag ASAP. I don’t sleep and don’t eat the breakfast (oatmeal). We land with 30 mins to make my transfer.

Categories: Africa, Amsterdam, Egypt, Europe, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Packing Rant

I’m trying to pack for my trip to Boston and I realized how much I hate packing. I also realized I’m not very good at it. I always start with a list so I don’t forget anything. However, I never know what to put on the list. Do I pack for rain even though the forecast doesn’t predict rain? If I don’t I know it will wind up raining. Do I pack a million different medicines in case I get sick or hurt? How many jackets should I bring? How thick? It’s going to be cold on this one day, but nice on the others. How do I balance that? Then you have shoe issues. I’m always worried about shoes breaking or suddenly turning evil and hurting my feet, but to pack extras takes up a lot of room and makes the bag heavier. I also don’t like to check luggage (when you don’t have your bag for a week in over 110 degree weather and your plane outfit is long pants and a black shirt-you will understand why), which forces me to shove everything in a carry on. Food, meds, clothes, shoes, electronics, books, and trip info in one little bag requires a magician. Space bags? Yeah tried those. They work somewhat ok going to your destination, but coming home they are a waste. Add on all the new clothes and souvenirs you’ve purchased and your bag wants to explode or break (like mine did in CDG airport in 2011). I always wonder how the people that pack light do it. I’ve traveled with people who having been traveling for months and they had one backpack. I would need like 3 huge suitcases. The funny thing is I’m not a girly girl who packs 900 things of make up, every hair product known to man kind, hair styling irons/devices, shoes for every occasion, two outfits a day, jewelry, etc. I’m a basic jeans or skirt with t-shirt hat girl. I don’t even like bathing suits.

I just shoved everything in 1/2 a carry on (my mom has the other half) and a backpack. I have no idea how I’m going to do this in June when I’ll be traveling for much longer.

Any packing thoughts? Hate it? Love it? Tips? Tricks?

The picture below is of my lost suitcase once it arrived in Luxor. I agonized over packing for weeks for it not to matter in the end

20130424-195948.jpg

Categories: Mish Mash, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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