From sleeping in a hotel in Des Moines before my 6am flight. Two flights connecting to New York, and a long day spending time with a friend and seeing my cousin, I was so exhausted and barely functional. JFK had speedy security, and I finally had time to relax after being up since 4am. There was about 1.5 hours to relax, so I was looking forward to sitting down for a bit. I reached my gate to find absolutely no chairs. Just a gate sign, counter and screen with labeled double doors. (Shown to the right. There was nobody standing there when I arrived) So, delirious Kelsey decided to walk through said double doors, setting off deafening alarms throughout the corridor. That was the cherry on the cake.
Finally, my boarding group was called, and we were sent through previously said doors, down an escalator, and shuttled to our aircraft on the tarmac. I found a $330 ticket with Condor in Premium Economy from JFK to MAN (Manchester, UK), so they didn't have enough flights to get a real gate. I was so glad to have the premier section. The seats were much bigger, more foot room, Usb Charger, and tablet screens on the chair backs. I was greeted with wonderfully sweet and poised flight attendant with a newspaper and glass of what my 4am delirious mind interpreted as sparkling orange juice... As it got closer to my nose, I realized it was some kind of bubbly alcoholic drink and handed it back. Whoops.
While waiting for the plane to taxi, and as the flight attendants were doing their display, I experienced such overwhelming tears of happiness. I've dreamed for so long to travel and photograph the world. Until you actually make the decision and do it, there's something surreal about the experience. To be able to fulfill and actually bring that to fruition is otherworldly. It's that moment when you feel like your life is pristine. Infinite. And finally starting. It wasn't another flight for me, it was the beginning of something explosive and exciting.
There's something beautiful about taking off at night. With the glistening lights of New York, and watching your home country fade out into the horizon of darkness. Starting fresh. Leaving behind your phone number and worldly anchors. I couldn't wait to see how the new adventure began :)
Buying a Premier seat was totally worth it. We had our own bathroom up front, it was quiet, and spacious. No screaming babies or squashed economy seating. Since the guy next to me moved to an empty seat by his girlfriend, I was able to spread out between two seats and prop my leg over the divider to curl up. The flight attendant ladies were so incredibly sweet and warm. They offered real spring water that was so refreshing compared to the Aquafina junk in the US. I almost enjoyed it as much as my Kangen machine. Also, instead of a baguette with sliced meat, they gave me two rice cakes, a banana, and orange juice. When the flight attendant handed it to me, she apparently didn't know what the rice cakes were, and asked hesitatingly, "is that good?". Hah.
Prior to my trip, I contacted Condor about my dietary restrictions. They had a menu for people with special diets, including gluten free option, vegetarian, and vegan option, but they didn't seem to offer a combination. After talking to several support people a few times, they seemed pretty unhelpful, so I settled with the GF option thinking I just wouldn't eat the meat. In the breakfast meal, I was amazed to discover that they prepared some grilled veggies and tofu for me!
If I can, I will definitely use Condor again. I highly recommend it to anyone :)
Once I landed, I made it through Manchester customs. They asked the basic questions, but I didn't feel like it was too difficult. The Manchester airport has Radisson Blu connected to it on the airlink. The hotel offers a shower service for about 9 usd for travelers. That was the best shower ever! I swam some laps in the pool too. They gave me two lockers with all of my stuff, and had hair dryers,
Then, I spent the next two hours on a Virgin train to London. I couldn't stay awake if you paid me! By the time I arrived to my destination, my amazing hosts cooked a delicious dinner, and helped me to get a SIM card. I felt pretty drunk because I was so tired and couldn't comprehend anything. Props to them!