It was the middle of March, and I was sitting in bed preparing to hibernate for the evening. My phone rang and I hardly had time to answer before Stanley proclaimed, “I want to hike the Alps before I die. Let’s go to Austria!”
Within a week, I had an itinerary set, had communicated with Stanley’s cardio team to make sure that it was safe for him to climb a mountain in Europe, and had talked with a few families in each city that had agreed to host us during our stay.
It was official. We were going to Europe for my 25th birthday.
The reason it has taken me so long to write this post is because there are literally no words to describe the adventure we had. However, we are now planning our second trip, so I figured I should document the first great adventure that my 76-year-old grandfather and I had before the details slip my mind.
With fear of leaving important stories out, I figured it would be best to break this down into multiple posts.
Take Off, Day 1
When I tell you that I had every single detail planned, I am not exaggerating. I knew that traveling with my grandfather might be a tad slower than usual, so I allotted extra time to get from point to point, and even took into consideration his love for coffee shops and conversations with strangers.
We had an evening flight out of Baltimore, and in my mind, the easiest way to get from DC to Baltimore during Friday evening rush hour would be by taking the Amtrak train from Union Station (which is approximately one mile from my house).
Stanley had other plans — a great indication as to how this trip would go.
We left 4 hours early for the airport and decided to Uber because carrying a suitcase is just hard. As we were leaving, sirens were wailing and something in my gut told me, “This isn’t normal DC traffic.”
As the saying goes, my gut was correct in the sense that some man had tried to jump the fence at the White House and was shot on the front lawn. Casual. Luckily, our Uber driver was wizardly and knew every back road to get us into Baltimore. PRAISE THE HEAVENS.
Once checked in, it was time to go through security.
Some of you are going to know this story before I even begin, and the rest will seriously question my family and how we have survived on this Earth for a few generations.
A few years ago, my Noni and her girlfriends went on a cruise to Europe. They avoided pirates on the Mediterranean, getting seasick on the boat and becoming stranded on an island. All was well. That is until Noni decided to do something to really piss TSA off, which resulted in her being questioned in a private room for an hour and almost missing her flight back to America. **We still aren’t sure of the details, but Noni claims that she was an angel while going through security.
Since this has happened, the Sears family has been cursed while going through TSA and, this trip was no exception.
I made it through security fine. When it came time for Stanley to walk through, the alarms went off. Not being bothered per usual, Stanley walked back and took his belt off thinking this must be the problem. That, along with the stash of medication he didn’t put aside (and the cell phone, and the stray money and the hairspray) caused the issue. Instead of putting his belt in a bin, Stanley ever so gently laid it on the conveyor belt.
While walking to the terminal, Stanley realized that his pants were having a hard time staying put. The cause: a missing belt.
We walked back to security and noticed a rather large line, TSA agents that were crawling under the scanner, and a whole lot of confusion taking place. Stanley looked at me, looked back at the mess happening before us, and loudly screamed, “MY BELT! I think my belt is stuck in the machine.”
Sure enough, it was and once received, we tracked back to our terminal with our pants in place.
It was finally time for take off.
As we boarded the plane, Stanley assessed each person entering the aircraft and determined the chances that they might be a part of ISIS. Once he felt comfortable that we would make it safely to our destination, he looked at me and asked, “How much longer?”
Lord bless us, I thought. It is about to be ONE. LONG. FLIGHT.
In case you are wondering how we passed time on a redeye to Frankfurt, we discovered a free radio station with 50s music. See below:
Three naps, two meals and one long flight later we were about to land. Being extremely proud that Stanley hadn’t offended a soul on the plane, I thought that this was about to be an uneventful trip, until the following conversation occurred:
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Hello! It is time to fill out your customs papers. Are you German?
STANLEY: We haven’t gone that far back in our genealogy; I MIGHT BE.
Part 2 will be coming soon – Check back or sign up for updates.