Tag Archives: United Airlines

There’s an adventure…

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When we last left our hero (hereafter referred to as Joshua Tree), he was adrift in a sea of permafrost and Cree pysanky, slowly making his way back home. Our heroine (hereafter referred to as Sara) now rejoins the scene, emerging from the mire of second year Nursing exams and her final weeks as a health interviewer. After nearly three months apart due to Josh’s Northern adventures, we were reunited in a flurry of unpacking, repacking, saying hello to friends, saying goodbye to friends, and preparing to do what saratree does best: travel!

A bit of backstory: Almost as soon as we arrived home from Argentina, we started plotting our next grand voyage. While we have loved setting up our little apartment in Osborne Village and working towards ‘real’ jobs, we have also loved realizing how essential travel has become to our life and worldview.

In true Josh & Sara fashion, it wasn’t enough to merely plan a 3 1/2 month backpacking trip across Europe. No, in the week before we left, we also had to finish exams, go to Ottawa, finish practicum, drive 13 hours home from Gillam, celebrate Josh’s graduation with his Bachelor of Education, pack up our apartment, and, in the hour before leaving for the airport, record a CD to give to our European hosts.

And then the fun really began! I’m sure so many of you heard us bragging about how perfect our Winnipeg-Chicago-Munich-Naples flights were. “At such reasonable times of day! With such comfortable amounts of layover time!” Saratree Travel Rule #1: When travel plans seem too good to be true, they probably are. We tearfully hugged my mom goodbye at the Winnipeg airport and proceeded to stand in line.

And then we stood in line.

Yep, an hour later, still just standing in line.

When we finally got to the front of the line, we were told cryptically by the most helpful United staff that the flight to Chicago was delayed.

“Why?” we asked.

No answer from helpful Ms. United.

“How long a delay?” we questioned.

Ms. United remained mysteriously silent.

“Will we miss our connecting flight?” we queried.

Ms. United was mute.

We sat in Winnipeg for 3 hours, with no United staff even present at the gate.

Finally, at 8 pm, when we should have been finishing our chocolate malts at Johnny Rockets in the Chicago airport, we finally boarded our first plane.

The flight attendant, while still unapologetic and uninformative, was at least concerned about us missing our connecting flight, so made an announcement to the rest of the passengers that there were “two customers on board who needed to meet their family in Munich” (?? I’m not really sure where she got this information, but it won us sympathy, so we let it slide!) so to please let us off first.

Our poor family in Munich must still be waiting for us, because we missed that flight (although we literally ran through the airport to try and catch it, which was exciting!) We ended up in a Chicago hotel for the night, with $7 each for dinner (United apparently missed the memo regarding inflation).

Which brings us to Saratree Travel Rule #2: Mishaps are always adventures, just sometimes cleverly disguised 🙂

Enjoying local beers with our $7 vouchers:
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Not enjoying the irony of the hotel restaurant’s advertising:
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The adventure continued when our flight out of Chicago was delayed yet again (we’ve still got some angry emails to send!). We insisted, we cajoled, we got out our firm voices, we even broke out in Spanish. In the end, we were put on stand-by and made it on a flight to Washington, which got us to Munich in time to finally catch a flight to Naples, only 24 hours later than planned!

Except that our bags forgot to catch the flight.

Our bags eventually made it (only 60 hours in the same clothes, not too bad!) But what this ridiculous beginning to our trip proved yet again is that no matter how chaotic life gets, no matter how stressful or uncertain situations may be, the most important thing is to have someone you can count on by your side. Whether you’re in Italy, in Winnipeg, across the pond, or down the road, I hope this summer is a time of discovering new friendships and strengthening existing ones. We’ll keep you posted on how that’s going for us over here!

Arrivederci, amici… 🙂

Don’t cry for me, Argentina…

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Like this title, the thought of departing from this amazing continent was unfortunate but realistically inevitable.

We bid South America farewell today, after taking a train back to Buenos Aires from the beautiful river-country of Tigre. Argentina did a superb job of keeping us distracted from the sad farewell by throwing a random private river tour at us on our final night, offered by a friendly, flamboyant fellow who said that the tour would include a stop at a rustic old wine bar. The river tour was gorgeous, although the “bar” was definitely just someone’s empty house on the side of the river, in which were hidden several bottles of wine, which we enjoyed free of charge… and possibly permission as well.

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It continued to cushion our transition by having us end up on the same trans-American flight as our awesome French WWOOFing friend who taught us how to climb the Andes way back in December (click here for backstory) and hadn’t been seen since!

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Thirty-four thousand feet over Bolivia, however, the reality of leaving has finally caught up to us, so it’s time for some comic relief.

You see, Argentina is a country of endless natural beauty full of fascinating, generous people. There is spontaneous tango dancing on the streets and entire animals being cooked to a perfect medium-rare on every corner. It is a paradise of colour and music. The streets are paved with empanadas and the rivers run rich with dulce de leche. But there are times when you want to just take the whole country aside and say, “¡you guys are ridiculous!”, and it is those moments to which this post is dedicated.

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And so, without further ado, the Top Ten Quirks that make us roll our eyes and say, “Oh, Argentina…”

10. Why are good old fashioned Cheerios considered kiddie-food, yet respectable adults start every day off with a package of gas station-style chocolate cookies?

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9. Why do all store clerks ask you if you want to break your purchase down into monthly payments, regardless of whether it’s a new car or a pack of socks? Do I want to be worrying about paying off my ice cream cone six months after I’ve finished eating it??

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8. How can you have an intersection of two four-lane roads, plus pedestrians and motorbikes (who often act like pedestrians, at least as far as sidewalk usage is concerned), and have no signs, lights, or even marked lanes?? (Congratulations, however for somehow accomplishing this without killing everyone.)

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7. Side-ponytails and mullets? Really?

6. Why do the majority of public washrooms seem to go out of their way to have something weird about them? Toilets come with seats, why do you take them off? Why has the side of the bathtub been neatly cut away, requiring a full mopping of the bathroom after every shower? Why are hot water and toilet paper luxuries, but bidets taken for granted?

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5. Why is it that city buses follow a strict network of stops, yet the luxurious, cross-country, hot-meals-served-to-you-by-stewards-in-uniform buses can be hailed on the side of the road or stopped at any passenger’s whim? And, for that matter, do we all have to listen to the young punk driver’s skipping mix CD of classic rock, folklore, and Lady Gaga?

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4. Why are coins still hoarded with such voracity? I can see the 50 centavo coin in your cash register, and yet you’re asking me if you can give me SweetTarts as change instead?

3. (To be fair, this is far more directed at Uruguay, but we mean it with just as much affection):
Do you really need mate so badly at any given moment that you have to carry a thermos of hot water under your arm as you ride your bike through rush hour traffic?* And for that matter, is it so necessary to have a toothbrush in your pocket at all times? (but no toothpaste…that’d just be too much!)
*Editor’s note: Yet another instance of this blog not accurately reflecting the authorship in its entirety, because I plan to get a suitable thermos as soon as I no longer also have a 25-kilo backpack to manage.

Spot the mate!
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2. Why are there at least two security guards at McDonalds and none in the banks? Is the Hamburglar that much of a threat?

And finally, tender subject though it is, the number one quirk that makes Argentina so ridiculously lovable…

1. Despite what the ubiquitous Argentine bumper stickers, political rallies, street signs, graffiti, supermarket names, postcards, and children’s pyjamas may say:

They’re called the Falklands.

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On the road, somewhere between Flint and Detroit

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Five weeks ago, I walked down an aisle made of all the people I love most in the world towards the man who means the world to me.

August 13, 2011

My other best friend :)

The wedding party... who made it a party!

Off to find an adventure...

Three weeks ago, that man (hereafter known as Joshua) and I were knee-deep in boxes as we packed up my apartment, trying to find places to store all our furniture and worldly possessions for the next 8 months (while still keeping all our travel gear accessible, of course!). Last week, our average bedtime started at 4:30 AM and ended at 8:00 AM, as we crammed every moment full of packing and gear-shopping and goodbye parties, while trying out our new tent by camping in my mom’s front yard.

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Mom and Sean road-tripped with us to Grand Forks to catch our Greyhound bus, which was serendipitously an hour late, giving us more time to sit together in random coffee shops by the bus depot. 🙂

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After 23 hours of Greyhound bus fun (the depot in Kalamazoo* has excellent breakfasts, by the way), we arrived in Alma, MI to spend a few days with Josh’s mom and co. before flying away to Argentina.

However, nothing Josh and I do could be so simple as that! Today, Sheryle drove Josh and I to Saginaw to catch our flight to Chicago, which would connect to Washington, DC, then Buenos Aires (BA), Argentina. But, upon arriving in Saginaw, we were informed that all flights in and out of Chicago were delayed due to rain, and by the time we waited for our flight to Chicago, we would miss our flight to Washington. Despair!

Thankfully, we underestimated the determination of our United Airlines agent. After pulling on his lucky baseball cap, he proceeded to plot out every possibility to get us back on track. I think our favourite option was when he found a flight that would take us up to Toronto and then back down to Texas… He then looked at us worriedly and asked, “I’ll have to check if you have the proper visas to get into Canada.” (I don’t think they get too many Canadians flying out of Saginaw! :P)

Anyways, I am writing this from a McDonalds parking lot en route to Detroit, because our miracle worker found us a United flight from Detroit that would bring us into Washington in time to catch our original flight to Buenos Aires! We are off and running… Wish us luck!

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*For the sake of all you bus-cuisine aficionados out there, the best breakfasts are actually in Milwaukee… Kalamazoo has very little by way of food, but sounds way cooler.