We made it…finally!

It has been a DAY! We were at the airport in Kuwait by 3am. Our flight left on time and we were excited to experience Qatar Airways for the first time. When we arrived in Doha, it took us awhile to get off the plane (we were near the back), get on the bus, go through security and arrive at our gate to leave for Athens. By then they had closed the gate and would not let us on (even though we didn’t have any checked luggage). No one along the way ever gave us special consideration thinking that we might miss our connection. We were not the only ones from our flight (but apparently there were a few who did make it) and we were told to go to be transfer desk. We were booked for the 1pm flight…and that’s all. We were nice and asked what they could do for us…nada. Upon further insistence we did get a voucher for (nasty) breakfast. Luckily I didn’t get the I edible eggs on toast like Jeff and Abby!

Amongst all this…the blame was put on US for not making our connection. We were labeled as ‘gate no show.’ The most frustrating thing throughout the whole morning was that they never took responsibility for what happened. And they didn’t treat those passengers who missed the flight the same (some got into the silver lounge…others had to beg to even be put on the 1pm flight). The positive was that the airport did have free wifi! The views flying out of Doha were beautiful!! (Pictures when we get back)

In Athens, we missed he metro into the city by 10 seconds (literally) and then had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. We switched to the tram in the center of the city on our way to our AirBnB apartment. When our stop came…the door didn’t open! We had to go past our stop and walk back in the pouring rain. Jeff left to see about getting a SIM card for his phone and Abby and I waited to see if our ‘host’ showed up. She did…minutes after Jeff left but we had no way to contact him!

We finally made it to the cute apartment!


Luckily the rain had stopped so we dropped our stuff and headed out for a bit to eat at a recommended restaurant!

It was amazing to be able to order a beer with dinner again!

The food was amazing…(oven baked feta)

…but the gyros were to die for! In Abby’s words…”I’ve never eaten a gyro until this moment.”

On top of the amazing food, the service at Smiles was fantastic! We may or may not be contemplating going back everyday 😉

Goodnight from Greece!

Packing for 13 hours in an airplane.

13 hours in a plane, broken into an 8 hour and 5 hour segment. The goal is to sleep as much as possible during the first leg and stay up during the second. You have a 7 hour layover during which you plan to walk around a foreign city. What do you pack?

Here’s my personal item.

things arranged neatly.

I’ll list them by column:
1. Nalgene,  UberLarabar x2, Larabar x2 travel dopp kit.
2. Headphones in a tangled mess, iPod touch, headphone splitter, iPod charger, Pens, Sleep-mask with earplugs.
3. Passport wallet, sunglasses, zip lock bags.
4. GQ, Runner’s World (Running Times could not be found… what’s up with that, Battle Creek?), Backpack.
Not shown: long-sleeved sweatshirt.

It all fit pretty well. It was light enough to walk around Frankfurt with and small enough to easily stow underneath the seat. A few items I consider must-haves if you’re flying overnight: sleep-mask, earplugs, chamomille tea & and a pillow. Entertainment is secondary on a flight you need to sleep on. You want to limit your exposure to light/noise as much as possible to get your body to sleep, so the mask and earplugs are worthwhile investments. Chamomille tea packs fit easily in your dopp kit and flight attendants gladly bring you piping hot water. When you wake up, you can clean up with the facial wipes and it’s almost like you got a semi-decent nights sleep.

Here’s my carry-on:

must improve photography skills…

The focus for my carry-on was two-fold: clothes and food. I needed a change of clothes for Frankfurt (middle column), a change of clothes for the flight to Kuwait (right column – no shorts!) and some PJ’s that were easy to access when we got to Kuwait (left column). God Bless Sperry’s.

In the upper-right hand corner you’ll notice some food. Ritz makes these amazing cracker sandwiches we just discovered and are a handy snack for planes and German streets. Next is a cup of soup, which is something I’ll pack for every single flight I’m ever on ever again. It’s amazing to be able to ask for hot water and make something to eat if you’re on any length or flight over 3 hours where they don’t feed you. Do this next time, people around you will be jealous. Finishing out our stowed-away snacks was a can of cashews. Salty goodness.

The Plane

Jeff has a post about packing to come soon! He’ll show some pictures of his bags & carry-on and my bags. Plus he’ll tell you about why we packed what we did and how much luggage we brought to Kuwait.

Right now I’d like to tell you about the plane ride(s). My parents and my sister took us to the airport in Detroit. We had some traffic on the way and arrived about 4:30pm for a 7:10pm departure. We had some tearful goodbyes and then headed to check our bags. We ended up not having to pay a single cent to check our bags! Even though we would have been reimbursed sometime in September, we were still incredibly grateful! Jeff can tell you all about his theory of using people’s names to get better customer service 😉

We were a little hungry so we had nachos at one of the airport restaurants. I also splurged and bought a $10 glass of wine. Gotta do what ya gotta do when you’re moving to a dry country (more on that to come in subsequent posts too)! We sat for a few minutes at our gate and were called up to start boarding. We flew Lufthansa (arranged by our school – AIS) and were very happy from start to finish with their customer service, timeliness…well everything! I did realize that I forgot my Nalgene in my parents car and the compression sleeves for my calves in my checked baggage 😦

Jeff and I’s goal was to sleep as much as possible on the first flight to Frankfurt. We stayed awake for dinner and (of course) drinks. The wine was free and the flight attendants were walking down the aisles with open bottles offering more! They did always insist that you drink water though 😉 After a glass of wine, we settled in for dinner…

We were very surprised at the quality of the meal! Real silverware!! The pasta was only okay, but everything else more than made up for it. Before and during dinner we also watched movies (we had personal TVs with a variety of ‘on-demand’ movies, shows, music, etc. and free headphones were provided)…Jeff and I both enjoyed Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. I also watched Mirror, Mirror (quite good!) while Jeff watched The Avengers. After dinner we asked for hot water and used the teabags we brought with us (Chamomile). Before attempting to sleep, we each took 3mg of Melatonin and situated our eye masks and ear plugs.

With the help of blankets and pillows provided by Lufthansa, we each got 4-5 hours of sleep and were surprised when we took our masks off and the lights were on! We had another delicious meal for breakfast along with some peppermint tea that we brought along.

We landed in Frankfurt early (just before 9am) and explored for the day (blog post with pictures coming soon to a blog near you!). Our second flight was slightly longer than one might think…we left Frankfurt just before 5pm and arrived in Kuwait just after 11pm. Germany is 6 hours ahead of the US, Kuwait is currently 7 (we don’t observe daylight savings). See the timezone map here!

We were quite hungry on the flight to Kuwait and we weren’t exactly sure what the meal plan was. So we pulled out our healthy soup in a cup (that my mom made a last minute trip to Meijer to get for us) and asked for hot water. It was better than expected 🙂

Dinner was, in fact, served on our plane but by the time they got to the back only the lamb option was left. We decided to be adventurous and tried it…amazing!

Although we watched several movies, we also brought lots of magazines, books and playing cards to keep us busy while we waited in airports and sat on planes. The Frankfurt airport had several international newspapers and Jeff attempted the crossword…but quickly found it harder than the Wall Street Journal! During the second flight, I watched Cider House Rules and several TV shows while Jeff re-watched The Hunger Games. It was so nice to be able to decide what we wanted to watch and when we wanted to watch it! The views flying into Kuwait at night were beautiful!

We were on the plane from Frankfurt with the majority of the new staff. The activities director (a returning teacher) came around to each of us and answered questions and gave us instructions for what to do when we landed. Shortly before arriving in Kuwait, the flight attendants came around with after-dinner drinks. Who would give up a chance for free alcohol!? Our last drink for who knows how long was Baileys 🙂

Everyone from AIS gathered outside the plane upon landing and headed through passport control together. It felt great to finally be here after ~24 hours of traveling! After getting our bags (took forever) we had to put them through a scanner in case we were trying to bring in any alcohol (have we mentioned Kuwait is a dry country…?). The rest is history! No but really we hope to have more posts soon about what life has been like since we stepped out of the airport!

Although we won’t always respond in a timely manner, please don’t hesitate to contact us through email, facebook, etc. Hopefully we can even skype/facetime soon and see some of your lovely faces! Love to all!