You Only Live Once, This Is How I’m Doing It!

Tag: trips

Brain spillage

Today was a good day. Overall anyway.

Actually, for a good portion Joel and I fought. A lot.

We’re alike in many ways but sometimes the ways that we are different irritate the crap out of both of us. I guess that’s called marriage, huh?

The thing is, I am not always ready on time. I’m very rarely late to things but that’s because I have getting-ready-at-the-last-second-because-how-did-it-get-to-be-that-time-already-ohmygaaah-I’m-going-to-be-late down to an art form. And then I’m not late. But I cut it very close.

Joel, on the other hand, would just as soon be somewhere an hour early. For no reason whatsoever. I mean, why would you get somewhere an hour early when you could have spent that hour sleeping? Why?!

As you can imagine this causes quite a few fights. Because he’s all huffy and tense that I’m not ready on time an hour and a half early. Then I get annoyed at the sighs and the “casual” mentions of the time and the standing at the door with coat and shoes on while I’m still in the bathroom drying my hair.


It’s the way we were raised. His family was always painfully early to things. Mine was always embarrassingly late. Neither is the ideal obviously. But we’re both pretty stuck in our ways. Me because I enjoy sleep way more than is probably healthy and Joel because he likes to eliminate even the possibility of the possibility of stress.

So, I was ready about 45 minutes after we agreed on. We weren’t in any danger of missing our appointment but it caused some tense words. For a decent amount of time.

Then? We both took deep breaths, apologized for being ridiculous (because we both so were) told each other how much we loved each other and moved on.

I believe the best quality we both posses is the ability to forgive quickly and easily. I’m positive we wouldn’t be together still otherwise. We’re both too dramatic for it to work out any other way.

Thankfully, by the time we parked downtown we had kissed and made up and were back to being ridiculously in love again. We grabbed some Intelligentsia (which, not even going to lie, those baristas make waaaay better coffee than me. I have a lot of practicing to do) and were still 30 minutes early for our appointment.

(Not going to say I told you so. Not. going. to. say. it.)

Oh right, the appointment. We turned in our applications for our Indian visas. Which makes this whole trip start to seem very real. I’m not going to get truly excited until we actually have the visas issued though. And plane tickets purchased. Although a very exciting offer was made that if it works out would mean we won’t have to mess with flying standby. Which would be AHmazing. We’ll see. I’ll definitely keep you all updated.

At the application office there was a lady who tried to apply but wasn’t able to because she didn’t have a birth certificate. Her and another women we were waiting in line with us and were talking about how excited they were about the trip. The look on her face when the lady told her her naturalization papers weren’t acceptable was heartbreaking. She was born out of the country. She had no way to get any kind of other paperwork. What she had the Indian consulate would not accept. It’s unclear if there’s any way around the issue. Her friend applied for her own visa while she just sat in a chair wide eyed and sad. I wanted to hug her. I hope she finds a way to fix the problem. I hope this doesn’t mean she can never travel to India. I guess I’ll never know.

So, my nervous excitement was dampened just a little by that poor woman’s problem. Just a little though.

Because oh my goodness I just applied for an Indian visa.

Since we were already downtown we decided to use our Living Social deal that we got to see Avatar at Navy Pier’s IMAX theater. The movie was fine (we’d both already seen it) but the best part was just being downtown. It was so unbelievably gorgeous today. Just perfect weather and bright blue skies and…. ah I love Chicago. As soon as we get a decent camera I plan on spending a day downtown trying to capture my city’s essence. It won’t be possible of course but I’m going to try as hard as I can.

Chicago is just amazing.

I wish we could have spent the whole day downtown wandering around and enjoying the perfect day but since I have to wake up at 4am we headed back home after the movie. Why don’t I live downtown again? Oh right. Stupid money. Bah.

Aaaand, that was my day. I’d say the title was pretty accurate. This post was just my thoughts pouring out of my head filterless. And now that my brain has emptied itself onto this page I’m feeling very sleepy.

Which is perfect because now that I work so early in the mornings I have the bed time of a three year old.

The Call

Every member of the airline industry has had to deal with crew scheduling many, many times during their career. They generally get a bad rep for simply doing their job. Now that I’m removed from it I can see it. Not that there weren’t those that were completely uncooperative and rude but that’s also probably from dealing with 2,000 pissed off flight attendants every day. I tried to be nice and cooperative. After all, they controlled my fate all but 11 days of every month. I wanted them on my side. Most of them fade into the background as general crew desk but there were two that stood out. One who I loved, and one who made me want to grind my teeth in hatred.

As a flight attendant it was very hard for me to regulate my sleep schedule. One day I could be on a 5am flight across the country, be expected to sleep all day and then work the red eye home later that night. The next I could be on a plane to Europe and the next on an afternoon flight somewhere. You never could tell. This translated to my sleep schedule being seriously whacked out and staying up half or all night most nights. All the while dreading the call.

The worst was when crew scheduling would call me for a early morning check in in the middle of the night and I was still up. Sally always worked the middle of the night shift and for that I hated her. I’m sure she’s a perfectly wonderful person but since she never gave me good news (ie. a late check-in to somewhere exotic) I got all stabby whenever it was Sally on the other end of the phone.

The conversation usually went something like this.

*crew desk ring tone* (to this day I cringe whenever I hear that tone)

Me- ::siiiiigh:: Hello?

Sally- Hi this is Sally from the crew desk calling for Abigail. Sorry to wake you.

Me- ::in my most sullen voice:: This is her

Sally- I have an id for you. Let me know when you’re ready to write it down.

Usually by this point I was already on my computer looking at the craptastic trip she was assigning me.

Me- I’m ready.

Sally- ID blah blah blah, checking in at ridiculously-early-o’clock, to Somewhere Incredibly Dull.

Me- Ok ::through gritted teeth:: thank you.

The part of that conversation that irked me the most was the sorry to wake you. Generally she wasn’t waking me anyway. I want to think she probably knew that. In my head she took a very sick pleasure in interrupting my sleep to give me a trip that she knew I’d hate. She loved giving out the awful trips. Looking back I realize I might have been a little bit crazy thinking that and she probably was trying to be nice. She also probably hated staying up all night long giving out trips that flight attendants were less than nice about accepting. Poor Sally.

Matt at the crew desk, on the other hand, was my favorite. For the same reasons I hated Sally, I loved Matt. He worked the day shift and always gave me the best trips. Everything from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Narita, Japan to Rome, Italy. You could almost hear the giddiness in his voice when he was assigning those trips. Matt is lucky it’s not possible to jump through the phone because there were multiple occasions I wanted to kiss him right on the lips (Sorry, Joel). Actually Matt assigned me my very last trip out of DC before I transferred to Chicago.

That conversation went something like this:

*Crew Desk ring tone*

Me- ::siiiigh::Hello?

Matt- Hi, this is Matt from the Crew Desk calling for Abigail.

Me- Oh, hi Matt! How are you?

Matt- Just fine. I have an ID for you when you’re ready.

Me- I’m ready.

Matt- (totally stalling for added suspense) By the way I see you’ve had quite the month here so far. First Brussels, then Zurich and now… ID blah blah blah, checking in at some-nice-time-in-the-evening-o’clock to…. Rome!

Me- AH! Are you serious?! I’ve wanted to go there so badly!

Matt- Good! I decided to give you all the best trips this month so you kick yourself for transferring to Chicago.

(Chicago in my airline? Not so much known for awesome trips)

Me- Har, har…

Matt- Well have a great trip.

Do you see why I loved Matt?! I mean, night and day. Literally. Poor Sally really got the short end of the stick and probably became all mean and sadistic as a result of getting bitched out for the hundredth time for a trip she had to give. People aren’t usually their best at 3am when you’re telling them they have to be at work in a few hours to go somewhere they’d rather not go.

Once I transferred to Chicago I didn’t hear from Sally or Matt on a regular basis anymore. I bid a different kind of reserve where I was assigned my trips via computer the night before. I don’t miss talking to anyone at the crew desk really. When I’m assigned a crappy trip I like to have time to seethe and sulk without pretending to be nice to anyone. (I’m not proud of that. It’s just how it is, OK?! Don’t judge me) I did have to talk to Sally once but I don’t think she remembered me. I’m ok with that. I probably wasn’t ever very nice to her anyway.

**Names have been changed. Also? No hard feelings, Sally.**

My Little Dutch Holiday

I was feeling rather “homesick” so I decided to take a trip over to my second home, The Netherlands. Reason number 53 why I love my job: I fly standby and was lucky enough to get seat 1F. Yeah that’s right, first class baby. Ah! It was amazing. I ate a delicious meal, watched a movie and then laid my chair back and slept like a baby until it was time for breakfast. This is how an airline can treat their employees like crap and still keep them around because once you’ve flown somewhere like that it’s hard to imagine going back to seat 36E, back of the plane, middle seat.

Anyway, I got there without a hitch and feeling very rested I hopped on a train and made my way to Rotterdam to see my lovely Dutch family. It was a really fun, relaxing several days where I was able to just blend into their everyday life again and hang out with my girl. It was great. Then at the end of the week we celebrated Sinterklaas with Ineke’s sister Thea’s family. They were the family that I helped out three and a half years ago in Romania when their youngest was born.

Here are a couple pictures from my days there:

My little princess loved playing with my hair. She actually wasn’t bad at doing braids.

One of my favorite winter time treats over there is an oliebol. It’s a deep fried pastry dusted with powdered sugar and it typically has raisins in it although you can get many different varieties. It’s kind of like a giant donut hole actually. They only make them from mid November to early January.  They are absolutely delicious!

My iPhone was very popular with the kids because of the games. I barely got it back from them, haha. (I guess we know what will be on the list for next Sinterklaas, huh Ineke? *wink*)

For those of you who don’t know about Sinterklaas you can read about him here. Basically, Sinterklaas hands out gifts on the eve of his birthday in sacks like these.

Sinterklaas hid these in the basement of Thea’s house and left a note so the kids could discover them later.

Think there were enough? Sinterklaas even knew I was there somehow. Thanks again for all my beautiful presents Sinterklaas *wink*.

Another tradition is writing poems that tease the receiver of the gift and/or hint at what the present is.

Caroline is getting so freaking big! When I first got there she was only one, now she just turned six and she could read her own poem (with just a little help). *sigh*

Speaking of growing up, here is little Sam who I last saw when he was born! Now he’s three and absolutely adorable. If you look carefully at his mouth you can see he’s already had plenty of the candy that he’s eyeing.

So my visit this time was short but sweet. It was great seeing everyone again and hearing Dutch all around me. It just feels like home over there. As icing on the cake I even got a first class seat coming back home! It was a lot of fun and hopefully it won’t be too long before my company sponsors a trip back there for me. *crosses fingers*

Seems like nothing can just be simple

Today I decided to meet a friend for a late lunch. Joel was at work with the car but it wasn’t a big deal because I prefer taking public transit to driving when parking is involved. I never used to understand people who lived in the city and didn’t own cars. However, after one too many times of driving round and round several blocks and not finding a spot to park I have begun to understand.

Anyway, I feel like a bit of an old pro when it comes to the trains, especially the red line but today was my first time using the bus system. On CTA’s website there is a nifty little trip planner. You type in address A, address B, the date and what time you’d like to arrive and it will show you just when you need to leave to get where you need to go. Today I was headed to The Pasta Bowl at 2434 N Clark St. According to my trip plan I needed to leave my house at 1:14pm, walk four minutes and catch bus 36 at 1:18pm and that bus would drop me at my final destination thirty four minutes later. No big deal…

Unfortunately, I left my house at 1:15pm which only gave me three minutes. But it was ok because I decided I could jog a little and make up that extra minute. In my hurry I jogged about a block out of my way and had to back track. I got to Broadway at exactly 1:19pm and saw my bus stopped at a stoplight about a block from my stop. There was no way I was going to miss it since I could see it right in front of me, so I broke into a dead run down the block. I got to the stop just as it was stopping… except I was on the wrong side of the street. I thought for all of a split second before I decided catching this bus was worth risking my life and darted into traffic Frogger-style. Seriously. *rolls eyes* I made that darn bus though.

I got on and the driver was laughing at me. I guess he saw my idiotic move plus I was gasping for air like an eighty year old cardiac patient. *note to self: work out more* I sat back and tried to breathe, extremely proud of my death defying skills. I knew I had about a half an hour but I still kept one eye on each stop so I was sure not to miss mine. About ten or fifteen minutes later my bus pulled into a parking lot, and everyone, including the driver got off. I sat there for a second rather confused because I was sure I hadn’t seen my stop yet. A sweet little hispanic lady told me in broken English that this was “last stop. Everyone get off. You catch another bus?” Yeah, I guess I was going to. I had a small hope that maybe I was remembering the name of the stop wrong and this was it, until I saw an address. I was at 6400 N Clark, almost exactly four hundred blocks north of where I was supposed to be. In my ridiculous haste to catch that stupid bus I failed to notice it was going to wrong way. Ugh.

I wandered down to a stop for bus 22 which was another option to get me there. I waited for a minute and then I saw another 36 bus going down the road and around the corner. I made another mad dash but this time I used crosswalks, and it pulled away just as I got to the stop. I turned around and saw a number 22 bus pulling away from the stop I had just been at. Good grief. At this point it was freezing cold and was beginning to rain a little. I sat down on the bench and seriously considered canceling on my lunch date. Luckily, she was running behind as well so I decided not to let a couple of buses get the better of me.

I walked back over to number 22’s stop and finally managed to get on a bus without any running at all. I wanted to make sure I got where I was going this time so I pulled out my fancy iPhone and entered the address into the GPS so I could follow my progress. Have I ever mentioned that I love my phone but it is not perfect? I got off the bus when it said I had arrived at my address and it didn’t take me more than a quick look at the building I was in front of to realize I was at 3700 Clark, not 2400. I double checked, yes I entered it in correctly. I guess my phone decided I hadn’t had enough exercise for the day. I was too frustrated to just stand there so I walked several blocks before I picked up another number 22 bus and took it the last hundred blocks or so. You better believe I tripple checked I was at the right stop before I got off that bus.

Lunch was delicious though and totally worth almost dying for. Ok, maybe not quite that good but I really enjoyed the food and the company. We got a really good laugh out of my story over lunch and my friend even offered to give me a ride home, which I gladly accepted. So I guess with me things are rarely simple but they certainly make better stories that way. *smile*

Anniversary Vacation Part Three

After we got back from Uruguay we were hungry so we decided to visit one of Joel’s favorite restaurants, Hard Rock Cafe. It was a much longer walk than it looked like on the map but we finally made it.

This building looks rather epic but, it’s actually a giant mall that only has stores that have to do with home design. The Hard Rock is also in this building.

Here we are.

Joel loves his bacon cheese burgers.

I, on the other hand, enjoy the entire cow.

For dessert we walked a bit further and found a rather famous ice cream shop that had some of the best ice cream ever.

It was probably the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. I choose the banana split flavor. Imagine for a minute: Creamy chocolate and vanilla ice cream with just a hint of banana marbled with thick ribbons of rich caramel then drizzled with chocolaty fudge and sprinkled with dark chocolate shavings all in a sweet waffle cone. Hungry yet?

Plus they deliver! As much as I’d love to have some in my neighborhood it’s probably better that it’s not. At least for my waistline, that is.

After our delicious dessert we walked back to the hotel and got some much needed sleep on our last night in Argentina.

The next morning we took our time getting up and enjoyed one last breakfast at the hotel. Since our flight didn’t leave until late in the evening, we had time to walk up the Caminito. The Caminito is a little neighborhood (basically one little street, really) that all the houses are painted bright, primary colors. This was definitely one of my favorite places in the city, even though it was quite a distance from pretty much everything else.

A fun little mural welcoming us into the neighborhood of the Caminito, La Boca.

Here it is, the street known as the Caminito.

Many of the cafes have tango dancers out front to draw the tourists in to eat.

What an amazing trip this was. We were able to see and do so much. Plus, we had so much quality time together to bond and reconnect. Living apart because of my job can be really hard sometimes but trips like this are why we’re doing it for now. I can’t wait to see where we end up next!

Anniversary Vacation Part Two

Day three of our trip was easily our busiest day. We got up and enjoyed another wonderful breakfast before heading down to the water to catch a ferry over to Colonia, Uruguay. It was a bit of a hassle finding the right place to catch the boat (Argentinians don’t seem to be very good at giving directions no matter how good their English is) but we made it just in time and arrived in Colonia a short hour later.

Colonia is quaint little town that is quiet and very beautiful. Here are a couple pictures around the town.

The whole town is full of old little houses and beautiful, flowery trees.

Here is the inside of that church above.

It’s also fall down in South America now and the changing leaves made it that much prettier.

Next to the water is a little light house that, for less than a dollar, you could go up in.

Here is the view from up there. You can see the boat we came in on in the distance.

Here we are up on the top of the lighthouse.

Joel being silly. One of the many reasons I love him so much.

After we walked around the town for a few hours, we hopped back on the ferry and returned to B.A.

Here is a view of the skyline from the ferry.

Next up: Our evening at Hard Rock, finding some of the best ice cream ever and our final day in the city.

Anniversary Vacation Part One

This month was Joel and my second wedding anniversary. I can’t believe we’ve been married for two years already! In celebration we decided to take a little vacation down to Buenos Aires, Argentina. We had four beautiful days together and had an amazing time. There is too much to put into one post so I will spread it out over a couple posts.

We left Dulles Airport late Monday night and were seated in business class. I definitely felt like a rock star sitting there with my husband and it enabled us to get some good rest on the ten and half hour flight down there. We arrived Tuesday morning and were greeted by our driver who had been arranged by our hotel to pick us up at the airport. We chose to stay at the Claridge Hotel which is a five star hotel in the center of the city and we were not disappointed. We had a very comfortable room and we spent the first day doing nothing but settling in and ordering room service. Hey, it was an anniversary trip after all. *wink*

The next morning we enjoyed our delicious, complimentary champagne breakfast. I very rarely get up in time to enjoy breakfast but this was not to be missed. We then went out to explore the city.

We started out on Florida Street which was just a block from our hotel. It has a lot of great shopping and is one of the busiest streets in the city.

We made our way past the Obelisk, which is a defining land mark of the city.


Look, we really were there.

Here are several more pictures of the streets of B.A.

There are lots of cute, brightly colored buildings like this scattered throughout the city.

We wandered down to the water where we picked up some delicious ice cream and enjoyed the sun and the view.

A nice refreshing treat on a warm, sunny afternoon.

Part of our view of the water.

After we had seen all we wanted to see for the day we headed back to the hotel to enjoy the warm evening air by the pool and send some postcards to people back home.

We’ve got a lot of family!

Writing home.

Later that evening we decided to try one of the things Argentina is most famous for: steak.

We went to a place just around the corner from our hotel called El Establo. It was a traditional, little steak house. The menu had easily two or three dozen different options for the cuts of beef and how it was prepared. Our waiter obviously saw our overwhelmed looks as neither Joel nor I are experts on the different cuts of a cow. Even though he didn’t speak any English he did a great job of helping us pick out which cut we should get. And let me just say he knew exactly what he was talking about. Best. Steak. Ever!

I am not kidding you this may have been the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. I am completely spoiled when it comes to steak now. These cuts of meat made every other steak I’ve ever had look like hamburger, no kidding.

Here we are enjoying our amazing dinner.

After that we headed back to the hotel to get rested up for our next day of adventures which will be part two. Stay tuned!

Sao Paulo and Rio

Just got back from a wonderful multi-day trip to Brazil. Here is a little photo tour of the trip.

Day one I spent walking around the big city of Sao Paulo.

A few little fun facts about Sao Paulo: Sao Paulo is the fifth largest city in the world and has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan.

The weather was perfect. It was high 70’s/low 80’s and sunny.

I also visited the MASP museum which is a modern art museum not far from the hotel where we stay. It had a really interesting collection of modern art mixed with classic pieces. My favorite was the Art Mama and Bread man exhibit. Here is an article about it on

That evening I went with a couple pilots out to a traditional Brazilian steak house called Paulista Grill.

The restaurant had a delicious spread of different salads and sides to go with your meal. But the real reason to eat there was the meat, which is served directly to your table depending on whether your flag says:

and when it’s on green the meat just keeps coming.

Seriously, soooo good. Honestly, I went to the buffet to get some salads and things at the beginning but most of it ended up pushed to the side and uneaten, the meat was just too good.

The next day was a turn to Rio. We flew over in the morning, spent a few hours at the hotel down town and then flew back to spend one more night in Sao Paulo.

A view from the bus on the way to the hotel.

Gorgeous view of the beach from my room.

Hard work, I know, but someone’s gotta do it.

Day three mostly consisted of me working very hard….on my tan. I also did a little window shopping and then stopped by the grocery store to pick up some lunch.

Mmmm, yummy sandwich and some melon that was a little bit of heaven for your mouth.

Me over looking my view from the balcony in my room.

That evening I headed home. Brazil is by far one of my favorite destinations and hopefully I’ll be able to go back there soon. I know I say it a lot but it never stops being true, I love my life!

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