Well friends, we are here. We are in Vienna!! I keep getting little shivers of excitement where, after two years of day dreaming of this city, I suddenly realize (yet again) that we are actually here. We are no longer dreaming.
There was a point on our journey where I thought I might be having a stress dream where you keep being detoured and can never reach your destination... But I'll get to that part in a minute.
We left San Diego at noon on Wednesday morning to drive up to Los Angeles for our 6 pm flight. So far, so good. We had spent a week meticulously packing and re-packing our luggage to make sure we were stretching our weight capacity as far as it could go. Challenge #1 would be getting our bags checked without incurring additional fees, or being told our carry-ons (which we had maxed out by any stretch of the imagination) were too heavy. Should that scenario arise, we had already agreed to put on extra clothes and go through security looking like the Michelin Man.
I held my breath while checking the bags, and smiled innocently at the agent. Apparently the smiling worked -- not only were our bags checked without a hitch, but we were upgraded to exit row seats for our 12 hour flight. Thank God! Without the extra leg room I tend to go a little (a lot) stir crazy on long flights.
Our flight, though long, was as pleasant as it possibly could have been. Turkish Airlines for the win! Theoretically all that was left was a quick lay over in Istanbul, and then a short flight to Vienna and we would be home.
The Istanbul International Terminal was in chaos. We had arrived during a rain storm, but what we had missed (and of course only found out much later) was a violent thunderstorm that had grounded many planes and backlogged the entire airport. Gate assignments for flights were showing up only 20 minutes before the schedule take-off time, some of them popping up only to immediately have a neon "Last Call" sign flashing next to it. Our gate came up, only 15 minutes before take off, and we sprinted to find it. We came up short once at our gate -- the destination sign said "Munich". What?
Apparently the flight for Munich had been delayed by 5 hours, so they were re-purposing the gate in the meantime. After asking around to other passengers we found were not the only ones waiting for Vienna. At least we had safety in numbers. The plane crew arrived and we all looked expectantly to them for information. They had none. They were as lost as we were, and our gate still said "Munich". By this time, the departures board was showing that at least 5 flights had been canceled, 14 were being delayed by over 9 hours, and the remaining majority were all delayed by 3 hours. Our flight was one of the few that didn't show a delay status.
Every half hour for the next 3 hours were assured by the agents "it's only another 15 minutes." That was when I began to think that the entire past 20 hours might have been an endless looping stress dream that would never lead to Vienna.
Thankfully, it did eventually lead to Vienna. The luggage arrived intact, we were met at the airport by friends, and safely in our beds 27 hours after leaving San Diego.
Today has been dedicated to reacquainting ourselves with the city and walking through neighborhoods we had scouted online for apartments. Though there are a million and one things I could say, I'll leave you with this thought and a few pictures:
In all my years of patronizing public bathrooms, I can honestly say I've never had a male bathroom attendant open the stall door for me.
That's a first Vienna, that's a first.