We’re coming back from the dead in our blogging hiatus, ’cause we’re traveling again! It’s been a long time and it will take us a while to get back in the groove. This time Steve will write the stories and MonaLiza will provide lots of photos.
As everyone knows, traveling these days is a massive hassle. But having booked, cancelled and rebooked our Viking cruises for the past two years for various reasons, we had to make a go of it before there’s another lockdown, war or anything else that will prohibit us from getting out there again.
We’re embarking on a 56-day adventure of back-to-back-to-back Viking ocean and river cruises. Our journey begins in Iceland and ends up in Jordan as we visit ten countries via a Homelands Ocean Cruise, a Seine River Cruise in France and a Nile River Cruise in Egypt. This has been planned since the beginning of the pandemic, when travel was just a dream. Now we’ve put it together and we’re ready to explore the world again!
The first day of our trip was a disappointing disaster. After hearing all of the recent news about canceled flights, lost luggage and huge flight delays due to pilot, flight personnel and ATC (Air Traffic Control) shortages, we quickly learned that it was all true. Throw in other problems we experienced and you have the makings of a bad start for our exciting trip that was two years in the planning.
We had each paid $85 and went to interviews to sign up for TSA Pre-check at airports, since we’d be visiting several countries. For some unknown reason the Pre-check emblem did not get printed on Steve’s ticket, so we ended up going through the regular line at security. Not disastrous, but maybe ominous?
We were seated on the plane and after a while we realized we were just sitting there. The captain finally came on and said there was a problem with the left engine starter and we’d have to de-plane. This was much closer to disastrous, since we had a short turnaround in Chicago for our connection to Reykjavik, Iceland.
It would take several hours to fix the aircraft so we had no choice but to book another flight, and Mona Liza worked on that for a couple of hours. The luggage was on hold, because some people wanted to wait for the plane to get fixed so they could get to Chicago, while most others had to book new flights due to connections. The only upside to this fiasco is that we were stuck at our home airport in Phoenix.
Result: the baggage workers had to sort through all of the luggage “by hand” to separate the ones going back on the plane from the “re-bookers”. This took several hours, so we were at the airport most of the day fixing our flights and retrieving luggage. The new flight was to Newark, NJ for a connection to Reykjavik, and that couldn’t happen until the next morning. United gave us hotel vouchers and we spent the first night of our trip at a bad Hilton near the airport. We also lost our business class seats and got assigned economy seats on the flight to Newark. Of course all of this meant we would miss our first day and excursions in Reykjavik.
The following day we packed our patience and returned to the airport to start over. We suffered small heart attacks when our shuttle to the airport got a flat tire, but the hotel called a taxi and we arrived there unscathed. This time Steve’s Pre-check came out OK, and we were on our way!
What a mess, better luck tomorrow!
Next up: We made it to Reykjavik!