Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A long journey to Tbilisi

Me Enjoying Beer
Originally uploaded by rugbyxm
Currently, I am in the Vienna International Airport, where I am waiting for my final flight into Tbilisi. It is a great feeling to know that I am almost there, especially after being almost certain that I would miss my flight and have to arrive a couple days later. Here's the story:

I booked 2 tickets to get to Tbilisi as this was the most cost effective way. The first was a roundtrip ticket from Newark, New Jersey to Tbilisi; the second was a ticket from Chicago to Newark. Because O'Hare is notorious for its delays, I booked my flight to arrive in Newark a full 7.5 hours before my 9:50 pm Lufthansa flight was scheduled to depart.

My flight to Newark departed on time, but as we approached Newark, bad weather forced us to circle the airport. This went on for about an hour until we learned that the plane was low on fuel and would need to be diverted to Buffalo. Expecting the diversion to be just a pitstop, I wasn't worried--I would still have more than 5 hours to get to my Lufthansa flight, right? Yet somehow the weather never improved in Newark and we had no idea when we'd be able to leave Buffalo. When we were deplaned at 5:30 (yes, they made us wait on the tarmac for 3 hours first), I began to worry. Already, flights to nearby JFK were being canceled--I expected my flight to be canceled next. Prepared for the worst, I began to investigate my options if I would indeed miss my flight. As my ticket was non-refundable, if I missed my flight, I would have to purchase a new ticket to Tbilisi at a price that would severely cut into the funds I had set aside for my time in Georgia. As 7 O'Clock (less than 3 hours before my international flight) came and passed, I pretty much gave up: I was not going to make my flight to Tbilisi.

But miraculously, we were given the OK to depart for Newark at 7:15. We hastily reboarded the plane and took off by 7:30 and landed in Newark at 8:50 pm. I had an hour to get to my plane before it left. At this point I knew I had made it, but I was afraid my checked luggage would not (as I would have to pick it up from the luggage carousel and recheck it with Lufthansa). Luckily, when I checked in at my Lufthansa desk, I was informed that they would do their best to retrieve my luggage and put it on my plane. Whether they managed to or not, I'll know soon enough. If worst comes to worst, I'll have to buy new clothes in Tbilisi.

My Lufthansa flight arrived in Frankfurt at 11:30, but my next flight to Vienna would not leave for another 6 hours. By coincidence, Derek, my fellow U of C trekker, had a similar layover. Dreading the idea of spending several hours in the Frankfurt airport (where they allow smoking), we hopped on a train to the city. There we saw what we could in a couple hours' time, bought chocolates (as gifts), and had lunch and a beer at the Kaiser-Grill (see photo). For more photos of our excursion into Frankfurt, and to see all the photos I take this summer, visit my flickr site:

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