Saturday, July 4, 2009

Adventures in Amsterdam (almost...)

We left for the Newark airport 5 1/2 hours before our flight so we could have some relaxation time and some good food before our flight to Amsterdam. Little did we know we would really need those 5 1/2 hours. It took 3 1/2 from the time we left our hotel that was close to the airport until we got through security. We stood in the checkin line for almost 2 hours! WARNING: DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT fly continental international. They stink.

After much waiting in line, we got through security and headed to the Heineken bar to use our lunch vouchers from the airlines and get a nice cold beer before our flight. (Note: this bar/restaurant may be the only good thing about the Newark airport). We got to our gate and then they checked out passports for like the 4th time. Frustrating.

The flight to Amsterdam was uneventful, and even though it was night none of us slept for more than an hour. Those personal video screens are just too dang tempting!

We arrived in Amsterdam and set to get the boarding passes that Continental refused to give us for our last flight. Little did we know how incompetent the Continental people in Newark truly were. Hailey and Michelle were never booked on the flight to Kilimanjaro. So the very nice KLM guy told us he would try to get us on today, but that the flight was already full (there were 3 large volunteer groups from Europe and US on that flight). Long story short ... Michelle finally lost it and started crying, and then she found the most adorable baby from Tanzania to play with and then things were good again. Hailey and Michelle were the last two people on the flight!

The one good screwup that Continental made was to put Lindsay in first class. Nice! She got pampered and drank wine out of real glasses the whole way while Michelle sat in the last row and Hailey got a middle seat. I was so impressed with the KLM flight ... the food was excellent, they treated us so well, they refilled our drinks and brought us water at least once an hour, and they didn't even complain when Michelle walked on after everyone was seated with her giant backpack. A very nice flight attendant moved his personal stuff to allow for my backpack.

We arrived at Kilimanjaro airport right on time, and got ready for customs. We were all concerned about this, but it was actually the least stressful part of the trip! We just paid our $100 for the visa and they barely even looked at our bags. A suture even popped out of Michelle's bag, and the guy didn't even care at all. The only bad thing is Hailey's luggage wasn't there! Ugh. It never made it on the plane in Amsterdam.

But good news .... Hailey got her luggage this morning without any damage or anything missing! This is the most stressful time I have ever had flying, but I'm so glad we finally made it. A fabulous cab driver picked us up and took us right to our door.

That's it folks ... we're in Africa!

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