Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Getting there!

So a little background to my trip. Please bear in mind pieces of this are excerpts from postings I made on a travel forum, so if it seems heavy on the travel details that's why.

I was travelling to Armenia for a month to participate in an international research collaboration hosted by an undergraduate institution with which my research advisor has connections. I was VERY fortunate and blessed to be selected for this project and ended up doing almost a year's worth of work in about three months, on top of my other studies which included PCHEM (aka Sadism 101). But I digress. Since I didn't purchase the ticket and was meeting a crew from Myrtle Beach, I had to double connect. If you ever have the choice, pass on that BTW. If I had been booking I would have purchased a single connection in Paris or Amsterdam, but since I didn't purchase or book, I didn't complain. Not really much to complain about, because I was getting there either way, no?!?!

13 Dec. 2007

I had wrapped up my Fall Semester Finals and celebrated an early Christmas with my family. My mom took me to the airport in a balmy ATL. It was 80 F (~26C?), unusually warm even for us in December. I had a little difficulty checking in because I had a paper itenerary all the way through (pass on that too), but the gentleman at the US counter--a black man probably in his fifties--was incredibly friendly and helped me out. I paid my baggage fee and skipped through Security at the T-Gates (DO take advantage of that!) I meandered my way down to Concourse D, I almost always walk, where a US Airways 737 was waiting to take me to Charlotte. The interior looked rather worn, but for the short flight it was ok. Despite all the horror stories I've read about US the crew (CLT based) were very friendly. My seatmate struck up a short conversation with me and did a double take when I told her where I was headed. In short, about an hour later we landed in CLT. I met up with my crew in Charlotte, bear in mind I've only met them once! We grabbed some food at a Chili's before heading down to where the Lufthansa A343 was parked. While eating I got the first real chance to talk to the person I'd be living with for the next month.

There was VERY long line to check in at the counter, but it moved relatively swiftly. I bantered with the agent with my limited German, actually getting a smile out of a native German! Whodda thunk! I asked for an exit row but unfortunately there were non available, so I stuck to my aisle seat in the back. Originally they had placed me in the middle, but I had that rearranged VERY quickly. We settled in for our haul and I already knew it was going to be a long flight. Lucky me gets to sit next to Chatty Cathy visiting her son in Munich for Christmas. Oh goody, nice lady but she talked the ENTIRE way across the Atlantic. Lucky for her I don't sleep well on Eastbound Redeyes. Meal service was nondescript and decent, though the LH crew (including an incredibly cute blonde) came around frequently with drinks and whatnot. I'm not a fan of overhead movies because I get a crick in my neck and I didn't really care for the movie selection (don't remember what it was sorry).

We arrived in Munich while it was still dark and decided to explore the city. Having been to Munich the previous July I was excited to relish this unexpected opportunity to gorge myself with Kaessenkuchen, Hoffbraeuhaus Bier and a nice juicy Doener from an Imbiss near the Hauptbahnhof! For anyone who cares we stayed at the Hotel Dolomit on Goethestrasse in July. Luckily for me the Glockenspiel that I didn't get to see last time because it was covered in scaffolding was fixed! We enjoyed about four hours in a very cold Munich before our jetlagged selves schlepped back to MUC. We proceeded through security ohne problem. We found our gate and I fell asleep for probably two hours, and then checked my email. I wandered around the terminal (2 I believe) and saw flights to Breslau (Wroclaw) and Shanghai. Finally it came time to board, and we were herded onto a bus and driven out into what seemed like the Bavarian countryside where we boarded a CR9. The plane was relatively comfy and I had a pair of seats to myself. I fell asleep soon after takeoff (which was around 2200). I awoke a few times during the flight, we were flying over what I can only assume to be Istanbul, Bucharest, or Budapest, and I ate some interesting looking pasta.

We landed in Yerevan at around 0400 local time on Saturday morning. After landing the flight attendants had to repeatedly tell people to sit down because people were already getting up out of their seats and gathering their belongs on taxi. We breezed through customs and immigration which including purchasing our visas on arrival. We should be so lucky here in the states. Our party met us and we trugged into the cold Yerevan morning. Apparently, Tigran's transmission was acting up so we literally pushed the car out of its parking space in a very cramped, hectic parking lot! The adventure begins early!

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