Friday, July 9, 2010

Tale of Two Travel Experiences

I arrived in Gateshead, Great Britain yesterday, and I wanted to share two very different stories. (all links in this post will be English, by the way!)

Travel Experience A:

July 2009: Purdue to London, England

My flight from Indianapolis was delayed approximately two hours, meaning I sprinted through the huge Minneapolis airport to barely catch my flight (on which I sweated constantly and wheezed some because of my jaunt) to London Heathrow. For this reason, when I arrived, my checked luggage didn’t. This being my first major international meet not with Team USA or people to take care of me, I hadn’t packed my uniform or javelin shoes in my carry-on.
Sometimes I see missing luggage as a good thing (less to carry, yay!),
but I kind of needed my stuff to do my job. I focused next on looking for my ride. Russ had advised me to find people with signs about the meet, so I awkwardly read the signs the few men in suits were holding by the exit from baggage claim. None said anything remotely related to track and field. I asked the lady at the information booth if she could help me, and she paged anyone looking for Kara Patterson (which is so embarrassing). No luck. I had rented a world phone from Verizon because my Voyager didn’t have international capability, so I could supposedly text and call people. Nope; no service. I ended up buying an hour of internet (thank goodness it was available in the airport) so I could Skype Russ and have him contact Jeff somehow so he could contact the meet (because obviously I didn’t print off any of my own information) and ask them what I should do! That took a while, but finally we figured out that I was in Terminal 4, when I needed to get a ride from Terminal 1.
Who knew London Heathrow was so big (not me);
the train to Terminal 1 took about half an hour. Once I got there, I wandered around a little more, timid and increasingly anxious, since my computer battery was now low and outlets are hard to come by in European airports. Finally I saw Brad Walker emerge from the arrivals area, and stuck to him like glue. The shuttle man found Brad immediately :). Once we got to the hotel, the front desk had me down as Karen, but gave me a key anyway. I was so excited to get to my room and take a shower (and then put on the same clothes and not be able to brush my teeth…ew) but when I got to the door, my key didn’t work. Awesome. So I trudged back downstairs to get a different one. I had arrived on a Thursday evening, and it took until 10:00pm on Friday to get my luggage delivered to the hotel! The meet was on Saturday. At least I got the stuff. The only time that I shed frustrated tears was when one of the front desk ladies refused to let me use their phone to call the airport about my bags. The climax of this whole story is that I threw terribly and didn’t even make the final the next day.

Travel Experience B:

July 2010: San Diego to Gateshead, England

My dear training partner Mike took me to the airport on Wednesday for my 6:25am Delta flight. I only paid 55 dollars for both my javelins and my checked bag, and I carried my brand-new awesome Eagle Creek rolling backpack on. All my entertainment fits in the purse that I got at the fair, so there’s no shuffling around in the bag that I put in the overhead bin before boarding. From San Diego to New York’s JFK airport, the middle seat next to my window seat was open, and I got some sleep before beating Prince of Persia on my iPad. I had two hours in JFK to call my mom and Sam and get some food (the food lady was super nice). I also bought Stephen King’s “Under the Dome,” which is my first full book by the famous author, and excellent so far. From JFK to Barcelona, I had my own row. Yes, three seats to myself. I slept (laying down!) for about 5 of the 7ish hours. Fabulous.
The price I paid for such luxury was one lost earring back. Those are replaceable.
I had about a 6-hour layover in Barcelona, but waiting for my bags and going through customs took about an hour and a half, and I read for about three. It took some effort to find my check-in counter, but I consider the long walk I took in the heat and humidity to be yesterday’s workout! You’d think that the Barcelona airport’s use of pictures on signs instead of words would simplify things, but when you don’t know which picture you’re looking for, things get confusing. The flight from Barcelona to Newcastle was painless, and I napped and read my book. I got through customs and got my luggage quickly before immediately finding my ride just outside baggage claim! I even had some people to talk to on the shuttle. The first key that they gave me downstairs worked magnificently, and I did some abs and showered before getting an awesome massage and eating dinner with Jill and her husband Dustin, Leo and Michelle.

Immediately after London last year, I purchased a BlackBerry. Now I can communicate via two different email addresses, BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook, and Twitter at all times, and text or call if I want to pay lots of money (which I don’t). This time, I printed off all of the itineraries I had, copied hotel addresses and phone numbers before I left the states, and packed my shoes, uniform, and some extras in my carry-on. That age-old theory works:
If you’re prepared for the worst, things will work out for the best.
You’ll also have a lot of peace of mind after understanding how stressful a trip gone wrong can be.

The meet in Gateshead is tomorrow! I throw at 5:40pm. That’s nine hours ahead of San Diego time.

7 comments:

  1. ummmm that 6:25AM flight meant we left at 4:30AM which means I was up at 4:15AM!! Thank you very much, you forgot to put that in there! hahaha! Go get 'em Skarabear, mom and I will be watching via internet in Coronado...boom
    M++

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  2. Kara, I love it! You have come such a long way in a year. :) People don't realize how intimidating coming to Europe can be but once you get the hang of it you are so much more comfortable! Throw far today and I will see you tomorrow!!

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  3. Kara - hope you have a great time at Gateshead - you are competing very close to my hometown , and I am sure you will be treated well
    Bit of an off-the-wall question- but throwers instantly know when they have thrown well- but how accurately can you judge , just how far you have thrown ?
    Or are you sometimes really suprised at the measured result ?

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  4. Kara,
    Glad to hear things are going so well. Keep kicking ass.
    Rich Ulm

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  5. Paul, I am actually really bad at knowing how far my throws go! I can tell if they're good by how they fly and how my technique feels, but as far as guessing ditances, I can only do that semi-accurately if I'm sitting in the stands. Maybe that skill from the runway will come in time, but I don't know!

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  6. You and your buddy Britney are actual, genuine, authentic goddesses....keep breaking those records and making your whole life a work of art!!!! Eric Scott Bloom/MODARTIST~

    I have a Facebook album (Facebook/MODARTIST or Eric Scott Bloom) called THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE Of The FEMALE PHYSIQUE~Your feedback would be highly valued~BLESSINGS2U&Yours, Kara~E

    http://modartist.com

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