Travel part 1 (or: Salem Winds Up in Three Different Boarder Checkpoint Lines)

Originally posted to Ask The Fire, 8 March 2018

I shouldn't have sat down to type this out. Honestly, I was feeling fine until I grabbed my electronics. Every clock I own is telling me that it's 3 in the morning even though I could very much grab a late breakfast right now.

I haven't mentioned on this blog, but my travel is... going to be quite long. It's the nature of the beast, combined with how little I want to spend on travel. My family took me to Chicago yesterday and we parted ways just outside of the TSA checkpoint at O'Hare. Mom asked if she could go with me to the gate. I had to tell the attendant that she hasn't flown since before 9/11.

Anyway. O'Hare continues to be labyrinthine and confusing, but my gate was relatively close to where I entered, so at least I didn't get lost. This time. Got to the gate, got into the preboarding line, etc. Everything went well.

I wound up sitting between an old German woman and a crotchety French? man. Joe messaged me just before takeoff to remind me that I was riding in his current aircraft fixation--a Boeing 747-8--so I took a little more notice of the craft than I would have normally. It's a massive plane. Not sure what else to say about it. Napped most of the way, but I did get the chance to have a nice meal and a few cups of good tea. And hey, presto, 7:45 later we're in Frankfort.

This is where the weirdness comes in. I disembarked and managed to disentagle myself from the huge group of high schoolers that were on my route and wandered into a... disembarking lounge? Now that I think about it, it was an incredibly strange place for a lounge, directly outside of a gate, but it was also abandoned and some speaker system was playing an incredibly unsettling five-tone loop. I'm certain that room was haunted. So I left.

Then I wound up in a passport check line three different times. Let's not talk about that.

When I finally figured out how lines, signs and arrows work, I wandered in the general direction of Gate Z, where I'll catch my flight to J-burg. On the way I crashed in a snooze lounge, which was quite nice, and changed a few timepieces. Then, onwards.

I found a tram system going to Gate Z and hopped on, then found myself at a preboarding gate. The attendant gave me a look (I assured her that yes, I am several hours early), and asked if I didn't want to go into the city instead.

I chose not to tell her that I probably could not, if pressed, get out of the Frankfort Airport without some form of assistance.

So I told the other truth: I speak no German at all. 0%.

She took another look at my passport, my name, and made a vague gesture to my face. "But your name and your eyes and your hair..."

She seemed a little fascinated to know that there are pockets of deeply German people in America who, while still carrying incredibly German names and blue eyes and blonde hair, are still typical Americans with no grasp of any other languages. After agreeing that yes, I would probably get lost in the city proper, she let me by.

I have yet to note: Frankfort Airport is also a labyrinth, but a slightly different kind. I had the impression of wandering vaguely with only slight clues as to where to go, even though everything was well-marked. If you asked me to sketch a map of where I've been in this building, I doubt it would be anywhere near accurate.

And here we are. I'm hanging out on a bench, wasting time and considering the cafe across from me (those smoothies look pretty nice right now). At some point I also need to work out my adapter situation, though I might wait until I get into the country for that. For the life of me I couldn't find a type M adapter before leaving the states.

And no photos for now. I didn't want to be that person taking pictures of the inside of the plane, nor the airport. Should have shot a pic of the haunted departure lounge while I could.

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