JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

Leaving on a jet plane…

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“I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again….”

(January 18-20th, 2013.  My entire weekend was all about traveling from place to place, with only short respites in between.)

I’m starting this entry while on the plane traveling from Philadelphia to Zurich.  My flight took off from PHL around 6pm.  (It’s Friday, January 18th.)  But we left for the airport around 2:45 in the afternoon.  I already felt exhausted before the journey even started.  I’ve been lacking in the sleep department this past week.  Last weekend (and the weekdays leading up to it), I was being super social and catching up with different friends each night.  Then the middle of this past week, I had my tax appointment.  (And more social outings.)  The two nights leading up to Wednesday were very late nights, as I meticulously weeded through receipt after receipt in my tax files, and added numbers after numbers.  My taxes are immensely complicated, so I go to an accountant, but I have all my numbers categorized and added up before I get there – otherwise my two hour appointment would end up being a six hour appointment (or longer!)  And then the rest of the week, well, I’ve been packing, and doing all the other kinds of stuff you have to do before going away for a long period of time.  (And today I had to get my nails done one last time!)

Right now, I’m in a true old-school plane – NO television monitors on the backs of the seats.  If you want to watch anything – you watch the collective movie or tv show playing on the overhead screens.  I’m used to this kind of plane on domestic flights, but I guess I’ve been spoiled on all my international travel – I’m used to the touch screen little TV’s in front of each seat on transatlantic flights.

We just finished our meal, but I figured instead of waiting to see which movie comes on, I’ll just get a start on my blog entry, and then try to get some sleep.  We were told we’d be arriving an hour and twenty minutes early to Zurich because of a strong tailwind.  So there won’t be much time for sleeping.  And my four hour layover will end up being longer.  (Hopefully not longer than that though, as I’m worried about all the snow in Vienna…. I want to get to Vienna on time and then be able to get to Croatia without delay.)

******

Alrighty!  I am now in Zurich, Switzerland for my layover.  We got in at 6:54am local time, as opposed to our scheduled 8:05am arrival time.  It was snowing when we landed, and it’s still snowing now.

I’ve never been to this airport before.  It’s quite nice.  When I got out of the plane, I honesty had no idea which way to go.  The signage wasn’t especially clear in that area, considering my gate had not been announced yet, so I didn’t know which way to wander.  Luckily the Swiss are off-the-charts nice.  I remembered that about them from when I was in Basel for the weekend this last year in April to visit Miloš on his ship. A very kind gentleman was able to help me along.  He didn’t just tell me which way to go, he actually told me to follow him and he would show me the way to the gates.  We had a bit of walking to do AND we had to take a little shuttle train thing.  Eventually, we came to where you could either go through to the gates in the direction of security, or exit the airport at customs.  I thanked him for his help and I was on my way to security.

Again – SUCH NICE PEOPLE!  I didn’t have to wait at security, and they were so…….. NICE.  Seriously, I have to be careful not to overuse the word, but they’re just really freakin’ nice here.

Back in Philly, the security guy gave me a heads up that my iPhone speakers, combined with the batteries I have in my bag really look like a suspicious device and it’ll just always be easier for me to to take them out of the bag each time at every airport.  (My speakers are a travel size, zip-closed oval shape.  It’s one handy dandy unit…… that apparently looks like a bomb.)

So, I went ahead and got the speakers contraption out and put it in a security bin.  And because I hadn’t used a freezer-grade ziploc baggy (and I stuff those suckers as full as you can make them), my 311 bag was already ripped.  The woman at security gave me a bunch of them.  (I will use the extras as sandwich bags so I don’t have to buy any in Vienna when I make sandwiches!)

When I went to the passport area, there was literally no one there.  I walked right up to the counter and the woman looked at my passport and said, “Oh, your birthday is on Monday – the 21st!  My birthday is the 20th!”  We chatted a bit and she was so super friendly.  I was then on my way to the main shopping and dining area of the airport.

After freshening up in the rest room, I walked around a little to get the lay of the land, then went to the Burger King to grab a quick bite to eat for as little money as possible.

For those of you who’s read some of my other blog entries, you might remember me talking about my weekend in Switzerland last year and the biggest biggest negative about this country.  It’s expensive as hell!  Holy cow!  It almost cancels out the nice-ness.   So for example – at the Burger King – I got a Chicken nugget sandwich and a Coke that would be the equivalent of a medium size back home.  (Here it’s called a large.)  Just those two things cost me almost 9 Euro.  Not 9 dollars, 9 EURO!  I’m not on the internet right now to be able to consult a conversion website (note to self – search for iPhone currency conversion apps) but I’m going to guess that to be around 12 dollars or so?  For a sandwich and a Coke at Burger King.  At home, that would easily be 3 bucks.  Tops.

So yeah, Switzerland is the land of nice people and exorbitant prices.  (And chocolate and watches too I guess.)

Now I’m just chillin’ in a general open area since it’s still gonna be a few hours until I can find out which gate to go to.  And there’s free wifi, but you only get an hour free, so I don’t want to jump onto that quite yet.

I’m hoping this snow doesn’t cause any problems – looking outside, all I see is white.  But the friendly passport lady told me that she heard everything was fine with Vienna.  And these Swiss people don’t seem too phased by the snow.  (crossing fingers, crossing fingers, crossing fingers!)

I’m determined to not be bogged down by jet lag for the next two weeks (and after that too.)  Right now it’s 3 in the morning at home, but it’s after 9am here.  Back home, I often go to bed at 2 or 3 am.  So now the fatigue is hitting me – hitting me hard.  I will try to stay up as long as I possibly can!

Argh – and now I can’t seem to log on to the free wifi!  Grrrrr…..  Yeah, I put my phone number in to get the code via text message, and it tells me it already sent a text to this number today.  But there’s no text messages here.  No text messages besides that generic one saying Welcome to Switzerland and the one saying This is what it costs for calls and texts here.  Dammit.   I still have three hours at this darn airport.  (When I’m tired, I get cranky, what can I say.  I just want to check my email and get on Facebook!  :-p  If only there was a Starbucks here so I could use their internet…)

Updated to say I finally got on the internet.  Just had to go over to the Information booth and scan my boarding pass to get a special code.  YAY technology! 🙂

*****

Greetings from Croatia!  So I’m a few hours away from being finished with my insanely long travel weekend.  I got to Vienna just fine and took a cab to Debbie and Martin’s apartment.  They live just up the street from my apartment in Vienna.  Debbie and I had a relaxing evening – we ran out to the store briefly.  I had to buy a travel size hair dryer and we got a few things for dinner.  She made us up some broccoli soup and garlic bread, and we hung around chatting and drinking wine until my exhaustion kicked in big time and I had to go to sleep.

Despite being insanely tired, I didn’t sleep well.  I was too worried about not hearing my alarm and about all the different forms of transport I was going to have to take on the next leg of my journey.  Plus, honestly, I was just really excited to see Miloš!

Since I was waking up about twice an hour, I just decided to get up a little after 5am.  I took a shower and got ready and finished packing.  (Or shall I say, the re-arranging of which things needed to be in which bags, as I was leaving some there at their place, and taking just one big suitcase with me.  I was out the door a little before 7am.

Here’s a little hint for the UBahn.  Debbie had told me that it was 4 EUR to get to the airport.  (Switching to one of the commuter trains at Praterstern.)  Well, when I got to the little ticket machine, there WAS an option to get and airport ticket – for a LOT more money.  13 Euro, I think?  I knew that was too much, so I played around with some of the options and found a menu for specific areas.  One option in that menu was the airport.  And sure enough, that option was 4 EUR.  But I could see how someone could easily get confused and just choose that airport ticket for 13 EUR.  Pretty slick on their part, I must say.

I got to the airport before 8am, and my flight was at 10:10.  So there was lots of time.  Fortunately, Vienna’s airport has free unlimited wifi.  (Take a hint Zurich!)  And it actually worked pretty darn well.

The plane we took was a small prop plane – damn, I forgot how noisy those things can be.  Fortunately, it was only a 40 minute flight.  I was having an enjoyable read of the Croatia magazine and learning the history of Dubrovnik.  They also featured an American city in the magazine as well – Philadelphia!  Haha!  Go figure!

Next step after getting to Zagreb was to get an airport shuttle bus to take me to the bus station.   Then get a ticket for the bus that would take me to Crikvenica.  That is where you find me now, dear readers – on the bus for the next few hours as we work our way to the coastline.

A little heads up for those going to Croatia.  Many people do speak English, but it’s not like some of the other European countries where people are truly multi-lingual.  The woman at the ticket desk only spoke a little English and didn’t understand me when I wanted the bus that got me to Crikvenica the soonest.  I did end up getting the earliest arrival time, but a longer bus ride than the next bus.  No biggie.  I was either going to be sitting in the bus or sitting in the bus station.  Also – the bus driver didn’t speak English at all, which is what I experienced here over the summer as well.  However, this particular bus driver did speak some German, so he was able to give me some info in German – cost of the ride, how long breaks along the way were, etc.

It’s 12:46 now, and we are scheduled into Crikvenica at 4:15.  Just three and a half hours away!  🙂

*******

Now it’s the next day – Monday – my birthday! – and I’m here in Crikvenica!  🙂  I got in a few minutes earlier than scheduled yesterday – around 4pm.  What a journey!  I did sleep a bit on the bus, but eventually was woken up due to the twisty roads.  I thought the coastal road was twisty that took us down to Zadar in the summer, but that was nothing compared to what we were driving on.  It was mountainous terrain, and the roads along the mountainsides and small villages twisted back and forth and back and forth in tight formation.  It almost felt like the designer of the roads must have had some weird twisted sense of humor back in the day when they were first created.  We’re not talking about twisting around obstacles naturally occurring in the landscape – I’m talking about designing roads like someone is skiing back and forth and back and forth.

Anyway, I think you get my drift.

The scenery was beautiful – this part of Croatia was covered in snow, and lots of it.  About two feet or so?

By the time we got to the coastal area, there was no snow, and the temperatures were a good deal milder.

Needless to say, I was absolutely exhausted by the time I arrived.  So much travel and hardly any sleep will do that to a person.

But I was so happy to finally be here!  It definitely gave me a second wind to see Miloš again.  This time only five weeks had gone by between our visits – much better than what we were used to dealing with.  But I think I did get spoiled with seeing him every day for almost a month when he was in the States.

But no more long journeys until I go back to Vienna in two weeks.  And I’m in no rush for that – time can slow down now!  🙂

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Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And last year, I started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm married to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

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