After two weeks in the States I’m back in bella Napoli. Of course I’ll be back on a plane to MD in two and a half weeks but whatever, it is what it is. When I left Maryland the weather was a balmy 82 degrees with low humidity. When I arrived in Naples it was a frigid 95 degrees with high humidity. It was like being greeted with a punch in the face instead of a nice hug around the neck. I guess that’s how we’re going to play this now, huh Naples? Fine. It shouldn’t have been any surprise then when we exited the airport and there was a giant plume of black smoke rising from a nearby brush/trash fire. Gotta love the smell of burning in the morning, afternoon, and night. One thing I’m not overly fond of is the bits of ash that are constantly falling from the sky. If I don’t end up with some kind of upper respiratory issue after living here I’ll be very surprised.
I flew Lufthansa back and was lucky enough to travel on a giant 747-8 plane. I’d never been on one before so it was pretty cool. The weirdest part was flying through turbulence because on any other plane it can be rather jarring and rattly (it’s a word) flying through the littlest bit of it but on a 747 you feel like you’re in Jell-O. It’s more wobbly and slow motion like. After experiencing it I’d say I rather preferred being stirred to being shaken. (Har har) We had a pretty strong tailwind so our flight time was only about seven hours from Dulles to Frankfurt. I took two Advil PM around dinner but by the time they started working we were halfway through the flight. They didn’t wear off for a long time so trying to find my way through the Frankfurt airport was a challenge. Although had I been fully rested and 100% with it I probably still would have had a problem finding my way through that stupid airport.
If you’ve never traveled through Frankfurt Airport before it goes something like this: first you get off your plane from the US somewhere in Terminal B. There will be no screen showing departures anywhere but you’ll see a sign indicating “Connecting Flights” is in this direction (my guess it is could be any direction on any given day). You’ll follow the sign where a couple dudes are barely glancing at boarding passes and shuffling people either to the right or the left. You show them yours and they say “yes” then point you to the right. So you blindly walk to the right with dozens of other travellers and follow the “Connecting Flights” signs that are getting harder and harder to find. Oh good, there are the departure boards! Oh, well, your flight is listed but it doesn’t have a gate. At least you know which terminal you need to get to. Eventually you make your way to Passport Control. This is a good sign since you have to legally enter the EU before you can connect to your next flight anyway. While you’re waiting in the Passport Control line you notice something on the other side that seems out of place but, hey, you don’t design airports so what the hell do you know? Maybe that’s just where they wanted to put security. Then you start to worry, “am I going the wrong way?” Too late, it’s your turn. You get up to the counter and hand the girl your passport. She looks at it, and, in a somewhat accusatory tone, asks where you’re going. You tell her and ask if this is the right way to go. She says “yes, everything is back here.” “Okay,” you respond, “I just wanted to make sure. I need to get to Terminal A.” “Yes, everything is back here. Where are you going again?” she asks. You tell her and show her your boarding pass. For whatever reason she almost doesn’t seem to believe you but stamps your passport anyway and you’re in.
Up ahead are signs for Terminals A,B,C,D,E, and Z. You follow the signs for A and think for just the smallest second that, “yay! I get to walk around the security line and head straight to my gate!” NOPE! You are incorrect! Do not pass Go, do not collect $200! Even though you went through crazy security and were exposed to gamma radiation* at Dulles Airport just eight short hours ago, AND you got off your plane INSIDE the airport in Terminal B, you clearly are still considered a security threat. Fine, we’ll play this game Frankfurt Airport. Just for the record TSA in the US makes you take off your fucking shoes, that’s how much they don’t trust people, you just made me take off my sweater. Pfft. Good luck stopping terrorists. (Too harsh? Maybe.)
Now, I know what you’re thinking, she’s through security and this is the end of the story. Oh no my friend, this is just the beginning. Part 2 will involve following signs into solid walls, jammed elevators, several flights of stairs, a never-ending hallway to nowhere, inaudible gate announcements, and a total disregard for the rules of queuing. No, we’re just getting started! Aren’t you excited?!?
*I’m almost 100% sure they’re not exposing travelers to gamma radiation in those full body scanners but you’d think that TSA agents would treat people a little better considering the consequences of exposure if they actually are. I’m just saying.
Wanna see the actual map of the airport? Even having been there this map is super confusing. Judge for yourself.