Nearly eight years ago I stepped aboard my first international flight. I was excited. I had no idea what to expect. I was convinced of American exceptionalism and the glory of the American South. I was in love with the past--a golden era of American Christianity. A lot has changed since 2005, and that one short trip had a lot to do with it.
It began as a comedy of errors. My first flight was uneventful. The Air France meal was surprisingly good. Resting on a transatlantic 777 was not.
Upon landing, I learned about French efficiency. We disembarked and loaded onto a shuttle bus to take us to the gate. The gate was in sight. It would have been a 30 second walk. But the road was one way only, and our shuttle bus had just edged past the gate. So we able to see a grand tour of Charles de Gaulle Airport…
…and subsequently miss my flight to Ljubljana. I spent the next six hours in CDG with nothing to do and nowhere to go and no one to talk to. Plus, the iPhone was still but a figment in Steve Jobs' mind. Eventually I landed in LJU to discover that the rental car counter where I had a car booked was now closed. I spent $100 extra from the other rental car shop that was open. I was new. I was a rookie. I didn't know that I was supposed to find a phone and call the first place. I didn't know anything.
At this point, I was ready to go home. I was ready to never leave North Carolina again. I don't know if it was the missed flight, or sleep deprivation, or the rental car ordeal, or the unfamiliar smells, or odd language. Who knows? But I did not like it.
The problem? I had nearly two weeks before my flight would leave for home. I went to my guesthouse (think European B&B), checked in, and went to sleep. The next day I discovered things were not so bad after all. I discovered that I loved the food. The people were friendly. The country was beautiful. Life went on even if it smelt and sounded different. Two weeks later…I was ready to be home.
Why Americans Should Travel Series
- My Trip to Slovenia - Part 1
- McAloo Tikkis are ok - Part 2
- Kissing the ground - Part 3
- Ride the bus - Part 4
- Chill out - Part 5