Jun 23, 2017

Across the Atlantic Ocean.

I started planning for this trip I am on right now in August 2016. When I purchased those airplane tickets for June 19, 2017 I had no idea where my life would be at that time. Ten months seemed eons away. But before I knew it it was here. Apparently everything else that could possibly happen in my life did not want to miss out on the fun and it all decided to crash the last two months leading up to my trip. These last few months are months I am not going to tell you about just suffice it to say I have probably won a gold medal in surviving and do not be surprised if you see me posing in fetal position with my medal on a box of cereal in a grocery store near you. It would just be to painful for you to have to listen to me tell you about the emotions, decisions, and eternal packing in all forms that have gone into the last few months leading up to this trip.

But I am really blogging today to tell you about day three of my trip.

Day one was driving up to Seattle and staging ourselves to be ready.

Day two was driving to the parking lot where our car will sit for 18 days and going through numerous checkpoints at the airport to get into the waiting area for an international departure. The blessing in day two was a sweet British Airways employee who graciously offered to give us the 4th piece of luggage we had for free. So there we were barely an hour into our epic trip and you can already take $100 dollars off of our trip. Nice, right? The rest of this day consisted of an airplane ride from Seattle to London. Nine hours and 20 minutes on an airplane. I obsessively used the trip checker on the screen in front of my seat. I love that feature. It shows you when you are over the North Sea. When you are over Greenland. When you are over Manitoba, Canada. When you are finally over London. When I was not checking what we were currently flying over I watched way too many episodes of the British baking show.

We did not sleep on the airplane. We left at one o'clock Seattle time. So our bodies did not feel like sleeping during the flight, which was not so great. We arrived in London at 6:15 in the morning. Our bodies were a little confused and we were starting to feel it. At the airport in London they do not post the gate your flight is leaving from until about 40 minutes before it leaves so everyone in the entire world sits in this enormous holding area waiting for their flights to be posted. I spent some time finding a electronic device charging area for us. I was exceedingly proud of myself for having thought to have adapters in my backpack for those different shaped European electrical outlets.

Finally it was 8:25 am and we got to head to our gate. The last time I checked the departure board a sweet lady from Zambia approached me and asked me in broken English to help her. She showed me her ticket and very carefully explained that this was the first time that she was flying. What are the odds that she was on the same flight that we were? She had never flown before and was concerned about getting where she needed to get. We invited her to join us on our trek to the gate. The flight to Stockholm was a tad bumpy. We all slept like logs until the last 45 minutes and then all of us felt sick. Both the girls held the throw up bags in their hands, ready until we touched down.

It was around noon in Stockholm and the hard part of the trip was upon us. The logistics of this part of our trip had worried me for quite awhile. My son and his wife and I had spent a lot of time on the phone discussing the details of all that had to happen between noon and about 4:30 pm. I needed to get off the plane, onto a train, onto a subway, and then walk a mile to our ferry/cruise ship all in Swedish. Which I do not know. There were options to read English on the machine where you purchase train tickets. But it was still hard to know which tickets I needed to buy. Once I bought my tickets I had 75 minutes to get through a 40 minute train ride, walk to the subway, and ride three stops before our tickets expired. It should be plenty of time, But in the middle of all the figuring out of tickets, dragging 4 big, heavy suitcases and going through customs I am also in the middle of having a 14 year old who is still recovering from the flight and is randomly needing to throw up. We figured it out and the train ride was uneventful. It  even turned out that I got a refund on two of my tickets because the two girls did not need tickets since I had bought one.

We got off of the train in Central Station downtown Stockholm. The 14 year old is still randomly throwing up and I cannot figure out why. We still have 4 heavy, big suitcases and we have not slept or eaten a good meal. Things are starting to feel out of balance. It happens on trips. I want to take my time and adsorb what is happening around me but I have time and some unknowns pressing on me.

We now needed to figure out where the subway was. Everyone I asked kept giving directions in kilometers. My Tatiana mentioned she felt like we were in the Amazing Race. I felt that way as well. We had a certain amount of time to accomplish what we needed to accomplish and no matter how many times I had looked at this part of the trip on google maps nothing was the same as being there and seeing how it really works. We ended up dragging our suitcases down the tall, steep steps to the Subway train. The line for the one elevator was long, the aforementioned elevator was very small and different from our elevators in America....probably using the word sketchy would help to paint a picture for you. Remember, Natalie is still throwing up at random moments and I am not adoring the idea of her throwing up in the elevator. (Note to self bring throw up bucket on next trip. Why do they not sell throw up buckets next to the magazines in the stores in the airport?) Tatiana was in charge of the two little suitcases. I had the two 50 lb suitcases, and Natalie was in charge of stopping her throwing up. I cannot imagine what the people who saw us thought. Finally, two very nice fellows happened by and grabbed our suitcases and carried them to the bottom of the steps. This was my grateful moment in this day. We finally rode our three stops on the subway and found our way out of the Central Station maze. The last part was dragging our suitcases down a path for a mile to our ferry. By the time we got to the ferry terminal we were exhausted. We got our tickets found a place to sit and all stared into space assimilating what we had just been through.

They call it a ferry and it does carry cars but it looks like a cruise ship. I had known all along that as soon as I got to this part of the trip I would be able to relax. There would be no more unknowns. Well you know at least traveling wise unknowns. We all know there are still the unknowns of what I am going to be when I grow up and who the lucky guy is who will decide he can love me forever. But that is another blog.

We explored our teeny, tiny, very clean, and well thought out berth, with beds that folded down from the wall. We reviewed our favorite parts in the movie Titanic and discussed being on the 8th floor. Natalie got her clothes changed (remember the throwing up part) and took a shower. Then I needed to see the rest of the ship. I did not encourage my children to embrace the hunker down and relax mode. When I am curious I cannot wait. We explored for about an hour and then found some seats by some windows where we could sit and we just zoned looking out the windows at the endless islands we were passing. Finally Natalie announced that she could not stay awake. Remember the no sleep thing? It finally really caught up with us. So by 7:30 pm somewhere on the Baltic Sea between Stockholm and Tallinn the three Baird girls crashed. We slept 12 hours straight. I do not think any of us moved in that 12 hours.

The next morning we could not wait to get up on deck and see where we were. There is nothing like coming out of a dark, windowless berth to a view of a deep blue endless sea in every direction. The sun was up. The sky was blue. It was an amazing feeling. One we all feel at many times in our lives when things just feel free and light. It made me get a little lump in my throat when I realized how much I had been missing moments like this in my life. When you have an endless view and things are light and clear. We did some snooping around and figured out how to get up on the very top deck of the ship by the disco. No one was there because they had partied at the disco and the casino into the early morning hours while we were snoozing away. So they were still sleeping. We bought a container of cheese cubes, a bag of carrots and one bottle of orange juice and sat on a bench on this top deck enjoying the sunshine, air and waves. The only thing that could have made the moment better would have been a whale sighting.

We finally arrived in Tallinn at about 10 am in the morning. I would do it all again and I will do it all again in July when I go home. Traveling never goes perfectly. Sigh, nothing ever does. There were a few moments that I was not sure I was going to be able to do what was required of me but we figured it out.

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