[The majority of this was written in the lounge Tuesday afternoon during my 5 hour layover.]
Monday was the first full day off I’d had since 8/6 and I was ready for it. I was afraid it would be difficult to disconnect from work but I filled the day and somehow that helped. 5am gym visit, 7:30 dentist (passed with flying colors, yay), quick trip to Ace to get an extra plug adapter, breakfast at Cornerstone, turn the electricity on in the now vacant unit downstairs and talk to the property manager; chiropractic adjustment and a massage after. Let the vacation begin!
So of course we’re coming from different coasts. Dan went from Raleigh to DC, spent the night and did a little sightseeing. If he told me he was doing that, I’d forgotten. I get a text that says “we might come to DC instead of Philadelphia for Thanksgiving.” We’re always planning somewhere 🙂 Thanksgiving was possibly Charleston or Savannah before we landed on Philadelphia. (See my first entry about maximizing time off around holiday…) So we’ll see where we end up!
My start wasn’t nearly as exciting. My Uber driver magically showed up within a minute of submitting the order. A whopping 7 minute ride to the train station from home, but I just didn’t feel like dragging my luggage 1.2 miles. She dropped me off at the Starbucks at the entrance and I got something to sustain me for the trip since it was about 1:30, breakfast was at 9:30, and I wouldn’t eat again until I got to the lounge around 5:30.
I intentionally got to the train early so I could get a table with plugs. I ended up having the whole thing to myself the whole trip, despite 3 stops along the way to pick up more passengers. I’d planned on watching Netflix on the 1.5 hour train ride but couldn’t get a connection so just listened to music on my phone. I’ve done this trip to Richmond half-a-dozen or more times but always for work, and always worked during the ride. This was the first time I just sat and looked out the window, enjoying my music. I can’t remember the last time I did that. I usually have music on in the background while I’m doing something else – paying bills, working, travel planning. It was very relaxing. More disconnecting.
I got off the train at Richmond and transferred to BART. The map below shows the route. At some point while I was on BART I get a text from Dan that he’s taken off from Dulles, heading to London.
The blue line is Amtrak; the yellow and red lines correspond to BART’s color system: the yellow line to MacArthur in Oakland, transfer to the red line to SFO. Gotta love Google Maps. I left Sacramento on the train at 2:10 and got to SFO right at 5pm. Maybe a little longer than if I’d had to drive – who knows in rush hour traffic – but no tolls or figuring out what to do with my car. Cheaper than a one way rental. And relaxing. Can’t beat that.
I got through security pretty easily – despite them holding back my laptop for reasons they didn’t explain and I panicked at first when I didn’t see it come through with my luggage. Made it to the lounge by 5:30 so pretty quick despite that.
It was pretty crowded. I’m standing on one end of it where the coffee was; that lone high top table dead center in the photo with the diet coke can on top and bags underneath – that’s me. Right by the food. Convenient. It was literally the only table open.
The food was finger sandwiches, with snacks and drinks out of view on the wall to the right. I just nibbled a little since I knew I would get dinner on the plane.
We boarded on time but took off almost an hour late. A passenger got sick and had to deplane and they had to track down the checked luggage.
Dan bought my ticket on an upgrade voucher he earned and got me into business class for cheap (which is why I had lounge access) and this was the setup. Pretty comfortable. I ended up not watching any movies – nothing really grabbed me – and just read or listened to music when I wasn’t sleeping or eating. The green thing is my Kindle.
I have to say the food was pretty good. I don’t remember getting meals served in courses in economy! To the left is a very fresh salad of beets, green beans and lettuce, with a nice light dressing. To the right is boiled quail eggs with a mayo dressing, and a grilled asparagus salad that was excellent. And a roll.
This tasted better than it looks, a portabella mushroom ravioli in a nice sauce with spinach.
Dessert was an apple cheesecake with a killer salty caramel sauce. Pretty amazing.
I usually try to stay awake on these flights as part of a strategy for managing jet lag: stay up as long as you can then crash on the other side. But I haven’t been sleeping well, only 4-5 hours a night for the past few weeks, where I do better with at least 6.5-7. So I decided to give in and managed to sleep 3-4 hours on the plane. It felt good.
Two courses for breakfast: fruit above, “traditional English” breakfast below which is grilled tomato, mushrooms, grilled Irish bacon, eggs, hash browns, and sausage. This was like Noon Britain time, 4am Pacific. I won’t need to each lunch.
This is one of my favorite things about landing and turning on my phone: getting the text from whatever country I’m in confirming that my cell service kicked in.
Verizon has a “pay as you go” international option that I signed up for after the first trip we did and wouldn’t travel any other way. You don’t have to worry about whether or not your phone will work nor ridiculous roaming charges. I probably spend about $100 a trip on the additional charges this way. It’s worth every penny.
These were followed by several from Dan, who was leaving breadcrumbs for me to assist getting from the Vienna airport to the hotel. He’s thoughtful that way 🙂 When he was in town a couple of weeks ago he left euros for me so I wouldn’t have to worry about currency while I was on my way here if I needed anything.
I got off the plane about 2pm. Dan had also alerted me that I would probably have to change terminals. We always land in 5 and so far I think I’ve always flown out of 5. He was right. So this time I got to take about a 7 minute bus ride to Terminal 3.
The photo above and the two below are of the British Airways lounge in Terminal 3. Not nearly the size of the gargantuan one in Terminal 5 but comfortable still and the amenities are the same.
This is the little care package (minus the coffee) that you get when you fly business class: eye shades, ear plugs, socks, pen, toothbrush and paste, lip balm, 2 kinds of moisturizer.
It is coming up on 4:30pm. Another 2.5 hours before I have to board. What to do? I just checked and the massages are all booked. Will take a shower at some point and otherwise just relax.
It is now 11:21pm in Vienna, which is another hour east so now 9 hours time difference from home. (Or 6 if you’re Dan). The rest of the trip was completely uneventful. The flight was just a little over 2 hours, left and arrived on time. There was food again, but sort of normal airline fair (jerk chicken and salad). It worked though.I had a hard time staying awake on this leg. Will be happy to hit the bed!
This was the “breadcrumb” Dan had sent me earlier. The sign in the airport pointing you to the train that is a direct shot from the airport to the city center, 16 minutes. And it just so happens to stop at the station that is directly across the street from our hotel. Dan met me at the train station and walked with me back to our room. It’s good to be here.
Tomorrow we start. Ready!