The journey of a thousand miles begins with one stepLao Tzu
I have the soul of a poet, but I was raised around a bunch of STEM types. So it is that I yearn for romance and adventure, but also approach it very practically with lots of contingency plans. Here is some of my practical planning and what worked and what didn’t.
Air Portugal has a size limit on its overhead baggage that is one inch smaller than most of the other airlines. Ryanair had the smallest of any airlines I looked at, which is to say, too small. I did the research to find a good rolling suitcase that fit within that eight-inch limit, and an uncle was kind enough to give it to me as a birthday present. Taking BART to SFO, I was pretty sure that I had overpacked. It wasn’t bad taking it downstairs to my Lyft, but then I had to take it all down the stairs at the BART station. I invested in an Osprey backpack nearly a decade ago when I traveled to Illinois for work-related training. I love this backpack but it was stuffed to its gills and teetered awkwardly on top of the smaller rolling case while my overfilled purse dug its strap deep into my shoulder. This was too much.
I got to the airport where I proved that I had a valid passport and my Covid-19 vaccinations. Then I checked the backpack and got through security, and moved my toiletries and electronics from my purse to the rolling case, and everything was just right again. Settled into my temporary home in Ponta Delgada, I began feeling under-packed as my roommates always had cuter outfits and more of them. This feeling quickly dissipated when I had to carry all my belongings up four flights of stairs to my new room in Lisbon.
Ultimately, I think I had packed just enough. I seemed to have more clothing than most of the men and less clothing than most of the women, in my cohort. I had to do laundry every week, but I could carry all my stuff reasonably well. This goes down as a win in my book.
Aside from carefully planning my luggage, I had also considered seating for the transatlantic flight. I deliberately picked a bad seat, the last row on the plane, right next to the galley. Though always on the north side of the plane to avoid aggressive sunlight through the window. I always prefer the window seat. My logic was that in a terrible seat, it was less likely that anyone would select the seat next to me. Also, the back row only has two seats, so if someone did sit next to me and I needed to get out, there would only be one person to squeeze past. Ideally, no one would sit next to me, and I could make myself a cozy little nest across both seats.
It worked in that no one sat next to me, but it failed because I couldn’t move the armrest between the seats, and the flight attendants were using the empty seat to store extra pillows and whatnot. Which is fair, since I did not pay for that seat. Also, even though British Airways has a larger measurement for luggage allowed in the overhead bins, the outside rows on the second floor of a double-decker plane have very small overhead bins, which is kinda compensated for by a neat little storage nook between the window seat and the window, but not really since my luggage was a solid and not a liquid, so there wasn’t anyway to divide it between two locations.
Fortunately, a nice gentleman who was far more comfortable rearranging everything than I was, saw me struggling and moved my bag to a center bin and someone else’s bag to an outside bin. Everything was secured tidily, and no one seemed to have any complaints.
As soon as everyone was settled in, they began distributing drinks. I picked a complimentary bottle of red wine because I could, and the flight attendant gave me two. Then there was another bottle of wine with dinner, which was more food than I was inclined to eat all at once, so I stashed the reasonably stashable parts in my purse for later. After dinner, they offered tea (and coffee and probably other stuff, but I picked British Airways largely because I like their tea).
I was positively stuffed by the time they were done giving us food and drinks and ready to settle in with my textbook. No sooner had I dived into the text than the whole cabin went dark for bedtime. I felt like a parakeet with a blanket thrown over my cage. Suddenly the generosity with the booze made a lot more sense. The crew was sedating us.
It was too dark to read a print book, and I was too excited to sleep, but the wifi cost extra, so I watched movies. Plural. I nodded off a bit here and there, but not a lot until they began to serve us breakfast, and again I added food and drinks to my purse and delighted in a nice cup of tea after my meal. A cup of hot tea with milk strikes me as the perfect way to start an adventure.
Fly the great big skyThe B-52s
See the great big sea
Kick through continents
Take it hip to hip, rocket through the wilderness
Around the world the trip begins with a kiss