Friday, June 11, 2010

Planes, Pains, and Automobiles

Well, it has been a turbulent last 36 hours or so to say the least. We kicked off with the aforementioned 3 hour bus ride from Springfield to JFK. Then as planned we took two international flights to bring us to Johannesburg. Since traveling was the main pastime, I'll give a systematic overview of the airline, airports, and people met along our initial travel days.

We arrived at JFK and checked in at the Emirates International terminal. Against all odds everyone's baggage passed the weight inspections. The bags were checks and send off to the plan without any real delay. This allowed us for over an hour of time to roam around that airport and take in some breakfast food. Delegate Jones decided to buck the trend and purchase "the most expensive piece of pizze you'll ever eat." Some delegates seemed nervous for the flight while others seemed infifferent. This being my first time in the air, I possed a Dramamine or two and got ready to strap in.

For those who haven't taken an international flight, or at least haven't taken an international flight on Emirates, you don't know what your missing. Meals are free. Drinks are free (with the exception of 8 dollar glasses of champagne). Movies, music, and television shows are all free on your own personal display unit in the back side of the head rest of the person in front of you. Hot towels are also distributed at different points during the trip (a highly underrated feature).

Aside from the length of the flight, I saw few problems to record. Delegate Dave Fitzpatrick and myself had a tough time with our units on flight number one. His screen wouldn't play video and my hand held remote wouldn't deploy itself. It was as concensus that the scrambled eggs on Emirates are about as horrible and generally tasteless as any of Lady Gaga's raunchiest outfits. Other than that the food was reasonably good and the drink carts came around in a timely manner.

As I have mentioned prior, this trip had a lot of firsts for me. Exposure to leaving the country, taking a flight, an international flight, spending time in an airport, etc. We have met many people from different countries, ethnicities, and rooting interests on our plane rides and the passion of the world cup is beginning to present itself. At the conclusion of our first plane ride, Dave and I saw how hardcore soccer fans can be. At 8 AM, flight patrons were getting liquored up on the last two hours of their flight and talking about all the great games they plan to see in South Africa. These folks in section 29 of the plane are HARDCORE.

The airport and Dubai were very modern and all signs were translated into English and Arabic. It is interesting to see all the things featured featured on the signs. For example, I saw one listing that said, "Prayer Rooms/Duty Free Store" with the same directional arrow. The food was relatively Americanized. I stopped at a place called "Cosi" and purchased their version of a Chicken Parm (because quite frankly I like to try the chicken parm everywhere I go). Although this might not have been the most cultured food I could have eaten, Cosi was next to a Burger King. This location truly allowed me and other delegated to feel like we were really blending.

Flight number two kicked off with an agressive round of video triva played by almost our entire delegation. Each round was hard fought but won by our delegate of the day. Information on this will be forthcoming. From there we had an interesting Chicken dinner with some questionable salad but nothing to serious. I stie here now typing on my laptop 55,000 feet above the ground concluding my blog for the evening.

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