…that same blizzard followed me to the United States, dumping maybe 4 inches of snow on another city that freaks out when there are snow flurries.
The snow wouldn’t have been so bad if there hadn’t been so much wind. I got stuck in my parking spot at work, and then stuck again in a drift almost on the train tracks and then again after them.
The drifts at my apartment are 3-feet tall and the snow has been plowed into the middle of the street, so turning is a bit difficult.
Really, this is ridiculous. I love snow … except when it causes problems. Maybe these things happen because it is the month of February, and ever since I was little, February was the month that hated me the most. It is the month I would get the flu or strep or a nasty cold all through grade school. It was also the month of the science fair when I was in third, fourth and fifth grades. In college, February was the month it snowed so much that we had two consecutive snow days, but I still had to go to work and be in charge of the campus newspaper, making sure it made it to the press on time.
Then comes 2009. I planned two-weeks worth of adventure during the February holidays — the semester break. London, Dublin, Athens and Santorini were on the schedule. I still made it to all those cities, but had a bit more adventure than I asked for.
I was in London when it decided to snow 6 inches in one night. That’s not a big deal, says the girl from Northeast Ohio who was living in Salzburg, situated just north of the Alps. But it was a big deal. London does not have snow plows and salt trucks because it doesn’t snow there!
This meant that the city, more or less, shut down for two days while trying to figure out what to do. As a tourist, I didn’t want to miss out on any sites, but the Tower of London closed, the Buckingham Palace guards didn’t ceremoniously change, the museums locked up tight and I was left wondering what to do.
Fortunately, some things did open, like part of the National Galleries and they gave an abbreviated tour. St. Martin-in-the-Fields still gave their organ concert. I went to see Paddington Bear at Paddington Station and called home from an iconic, red phone booth.
But after that, I was ready to go home. I should have trusted my gut and changed my flight to Dublin to a flight to Salzburg, so I could get a bit of rest before Greece. But I didn’t.
My flight to Dublin was delayed three hours because of weather problems. I finally arrived and my taxi driver couldn’t find my hostel. I passed out in my bed once I arrived and spent a day in Dublin. It wasn’t too exciting and I was bummed I went. It really was the only trip I didn’t enjoy the whole year.
But the weather wasn’t done yet.
The next morning it started sleeting. Then it turned to snow. As I was ready to get on my plane to Salzburg, they canceled that flight and just about every other flight out of Dublin.
This was a problem because I needed to get to Salzburg so I could take a train to Vienna the next morning to catch my flight to Athens. So much for that plan. I spent the night in the airport after purchasing a really, really expensive Lufthansa flight to Athens with a stop in Frankfurt for the next morning. The only fortunate thing I can say is that there are Internet terminals in the Dublin airport, so I was able to book that flight and let my friends know that I would not be seeing them in Vienna and that I would meet them at our hostel in Athens.
The night mare still isn’t over, though.
I get up at 4:30 a.m. to be first in line to make sure that I get a seat on that flight to Frankfurt. I get to the gate where there are outlets so I can charge my appliances. In the bathroom I try to fill up my water bottle, and some Irish airport employee says there is a drinking fountain just outside. (That is important because it is one of two drinking fountains I encountered the entire year).
We are delayed getting on the plane. I have a window seat in the back row. We don’t move and don’t move and don’t move. Our pilot tells us the plane needs de-iced, but since so many need de-iced, we will have to wait a while. Then when we can move, we can’t. We were stuck in the ice. We got a tugboat, or whatever its equivalent would be called for an airplane, and were pulled away from the gate. The pilot finally says that since we were all set to depart, we would be allowed, with two other planes. After us three, no other plane was leaving the Dublin airport.
I think I started crying at that point. If I didn’t, it was when we were in the sky and the pilot jokingly told us to look out the right windows and notice that only the airport had snow. I have never been so happy to leave somewhere as I was then.
I don’t think I have ever been so happy to arrive somewhere either. Touching German soil was profound. I found my gate for my flight to Athens and a phone to call my mother to tell her I was finally out of Dublin and that I was never going back there. I cried at this point, too. I bought some food and sank into a seat to wait for boarding time.
I didn’t care about the old Greek ladies wearing jewels and fancy clothes stealing glances at the girl in jeans, sneakers and a ratty, gray, zippered sweatshirt. I had at least washed my faced, brushed my teeth and combed my hair. And I was happy to be in Germany, waiting for a flight to warm, sunny Athens. Life would be better there, and it was.