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Ramblings from 35,000 feet

June 17, 2013

Hello from 35,966 feet! I won’t be able to post this until we land, but I am writing this as we are en route to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Thanks to the handy flight tracker on the plane, I can tell you exactly where we are as I start to write.

Time to destination: 5 hours, 14 minutes

Distance to destination: 2,777 miles (4,469 km)

Distance from origin (Amsterdam): 1,432 miles (2,305 km)

Latitude: 64degrees, 54’ 18” north, Longitude: 28 degrees, 5’ 17” W

Ground speed: 552 mph (888 km/h)

Altitude: 35,966 feet (10,962 meters)

Approximate location: somewhere between Iceland and Greenland

Current time: no idea. In fact, I don’t even know what time zone we are in.

 

The Christmas before last I posted several travel tips for long haul flights (Part 1 and Part 2). I have another one to add. Don’t ever watch a movie based on a Nicholas Sparks book on a flight. In case you haven’t read any of his books or seen other movies based on the books (e.g., The Notebook), they seem to have a common theme: they are tear jerkers. I just finished watching ‘Safe Haven’, mostly because I figured it was something Ben would have no real interest in seeing and it wouldn’t matter that it was a tiny screen. It was a fine way to pass the time, and the small screen definitely didn’t matter, but I had to spend quite a bit of time looking out the window and pretending to be very interested in the wing of the plane. Lesson learned.

Anyway, normally the time on these long haul flights drags a bit, and there is plenty of time left for this flight to drag, but so far, I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our trip so far. We got to sleep in 40 minutes later than a normal work day before heading to the airport, which was a treat because we often have to leave the house by around 3:00 am to get to the airport in time for our flights back to the US. We left plenty of time so that we could have a nice, relaxed experience at the airport, and after a smooth check-in/baggage drop and pass through security, we walked straight into a Dixon’s electronics store. As luck would have it, after months of searching for a new laptop for Ben which would be relatively portable, have a relatively good specification, and be within budget…we found it! Ben’s old laptop is in pretty rough shape. He has had it as long as he has known me, which is a long time…..at least for a laptop. The laptop is starting to have more and more problems, and Ben is about to start writing his MBA dissertation so he needed something reliable. Anyway, you don’t really want to know all about Ben’s laptop…but it felt like a very exciting start to the trip! After that, we wandered around and looked at some books and magazines, bought some extra granola bars for the flight in case they didn’t have a dairy-free meal for me, and then went to the gate.

Update: I can now see mountain tops which I believe must be attached to Greenland peeking through the clouds. I have just tried to take a picture, but my window is so dirty that my camera on my phone can’t seem to focus on anything beyond the window itself.

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Okay, back to the story…it was rainy in Manchester when we were setting off. It has been beautiful the past couple of weeks so leaving when the rain is starting seemed perfect.

Flight

The flight from Manchester to Amsterdam is just a short hop which takes about an hour, so by the time they serve drinks and then come back to collect used cups and snack wrappers, it’s time to land. In spite of this, I managed to find time to snap a few pictures.

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It was very windy in Amsterdam, so it wasn’t my favourite landing…but once we landed, we had three and a half hours before our next flight, so we decided to find some food and ended up with a delicious bowl of veggie ramen noodle soup each.  Sorry – no pictures. I was too hungry to wait!

After that, we wandered around the shops in the airport for a bit and then headed to our gate. In Amsterdam, you go through security again at the gate, so we had to take out liquids and laptops and go through the body scanner again, but pretty soon we were on our way. I think one thing that has made this trip feel more relaxed than usual is that we just brought one small piece of hand luggage (e.g., a backpack) each, which means that we haven’t had to fight for overhead bin space with rolling carry-ons and going through security has been easier. I will regret not bringing my normal spare set of clothes in my carry-on if our luggage gets lost and I am washing and wearing the same pair of underwear for days on end…but at the moment, bringing a very small carry-on feels like the way to go.

Oops…I am getting side-tracked again…

We are now on the flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, and so far the flight itself has already felt like a vacation. It has felt wonderful to just relax and watch a movie, write this blog post while listening to country music…

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and have food delivered to me, and not have any work to do or any dishes to clean or laundry to hang.

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This has been a very long rambling blog post, seemingly without any point. However, the best part about this trip is that I am on my way home to see my family!!! I am so excited to see everyone, and I can’t believe that I am going to get to see LOTS of family this weekend. I have to keep reminding myself that this weekend actually is tomorrow and the next day and the next day. I have been looking forward to it as an event in the future for so long that it’s hard to believe it’s nearly here.

I am incredibly lucky to be able to take three weeks off from a job I love to go back and visit my family and friends, and I am so lucky to have such wonderful family and friends who always make a massive effort to see me when I am home. I am also lucky to have a wonderful boyfriend who uses all of his time off to come back to the US with me.

I know I have been saying I will post more regularly, and I do want to write blog posts while I am away, mostly because selfishly, I love to capture the moments so that I can look back on them myself later. However, my posts will continue to be sporadic for the next three weeks because I want to make sure that I spend every precious moment enjoying my time at home rather than staring at a computer screen. So please continue to bear with me for the next few weeks, and I promise I will keep updating as much as I can.

Updated location details

Time to destination: 4 hours, 17 minutes

Distance to destination: 2,253 miles (3,626 km)

Distance from origin (Amsterdam): 1,951 miles (3,156 km)

Latitude: 65degrees, 4’ 23” N, Longitude: 46 degrees, 13’ 23” W

Ground speed: 554 mph (891 km/h)

Altitude: 35,958 feet (10,960 meters)

Approximate location: somewhere over southern Greenland

Current time: still no idea.

 Destination: USA!

 

Update: I have made it to the US safely (and my luggage arrived so I have plenty of clean underwear ;-)). I have already spent a wonderful the weekend in Madison visiting with lots of family, and today is my first full day at home. Pictures and re-cap of the weekend to follow soon.

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