Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Moldova - Getting there, eventually: September 18, 2013


Whoever first said, "it is the journey not the destination," never traveled by plane in the post 9/11, 21st century.  It is the possibility of the destination that enables me to survive the journey.  We began our journey at 10:45 a.m. on September 15 when a SuperShuttle van picked us up at our home.  The van delivered us to Sacramento airport about one hour later.  Arriving two hours before our plane to Chicago was scheduled to depart, we were two of the first passengers attempting to check in for the flight.  Before the check-in process was complete, a United Airlines employee advised us that the plane to Chicago would be delayed at least 3 hours due to mechanical issues causing us to miss our flight connection in Chicago.  She re-routed us on a Lufthansa flight to Munich leaving from San Francisco.  We arrived in San Francisco about 3:00 p.m. via a United Airlines paid taxi van.  Our flight to Munich was scheduled to depart at 9:05 p.m.  It was a really long day, and we were still in California.

Nearing exhaustion, we slept most of the flight.  The plane landed in Munich about 5:30 pm on September 16.  Our flight to Chisinau, Moldova did not leave until 9:25 a.m. the next day.  We took the train into Munich to overnight in a hotel.  The next day we took the train back to the airport.  Unfortunately, the first train we got on was going the wrong direction so two stops into the journey, we got off and waited for a train going the right direction.  That put us at the airport only 25 minutes prior to flight time.  At check in, an ├╝ber-efficient Lufthansa employee insisted that we had to arrive 40 minutes prior to flight time and refused to let us run for the plane.  She called baggage to make sure our luggage wasn't on the plane and sent us to ticketing to have our ticket changed.

The ticketing agent, after discovering that we were in transit and didn't need to have baggage checked, told us to run for the plane.  We ran, eventually passed security, were stamped out at immigration, and got to the gate to find that no one was at the gate 5 minutes before the scheduled departure.  We made our way back through immigration to re-enter Germany and returned to the ticketing agent.  Our morning train mix-up cost us $300 each to rebook the flight to Chisinau the next morning.  We had another overnight in Munich, but this time, we stayed in a hotel very close to the airport.  In the afternoon, we went back to central Munich for some window shopping and another Bavarian dinner.

It's September and Munich shop windows are dressed for Octoberfest and all things Bavarian.  A German friend told me, "Oktoberfest is in September, that is due to when the calendar was changed a few hundred years ago.  The name stuck, the month didn't." Despite the weather, people dressed in lederhosen were wandering the streets.  



Munich's city center looked lovely.  Someday, maybe we'll be here longer than two separate layover nights.


After our second night in Munich, we did arrive by hotel shuttle bus on time at the Munich airport.  We got to our gate 55 minutes before flight time, and the flight left 30 minutes late--but we were on it.


In Chisinau, the airport arrivals door is labeled in 3 languages: Romanian/English/Russian.  Even though Moldova is known for its wine industry, the very first advertisement we saw at the airport was for Chisinau Blonda, "Beer of Good People"  "Welcome to the Land of Good People."  


It rained in Chisinau before we landed so the city looked a little gray and wet. Some of the city streets were flooded--an apparent common event here after heavy rain. We are very glad to be in the Land of Good People--finally!

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