Aug 11 2017

The US adventure(part 1): flying over there

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:10

I am writing this in a hotel room in Baltimore, because I am so tired that I cannot sleep. And I might have a little bit of a cold coming up, but how I got here is a long story. I can tell you one thing, this is starting to feel like a real vacation for me. Since I left from Sibiu there hasn’t been one night with less than 10 hours of sleep for me. Anyway, let’s begin.

I left Sibiu on the morning of the 11th of August, after barely sleeping three hours. I was so scared that I would forget something, that something bad would happen and I would miss the plane and this obviously translated in the inability of falling asleep. I slept on the plane to Munich, and then I slept in the Munich airport, and later I slept on the plane to Washington DC. I would have slept more if the bloody Lufthansa personnel wouldn’t have made so much noise with them serving stuff every two hours. Seriously, it felt like a Romanian wedding. So much food and drinks, and this was the economy class.

I landed in DC and took about one hour and a half until I was cleared to enter the wonder that is the US. Because of all that waiting in line to be cleared with the customs, I did not have to wait too much for my bag, so there was that. I got my Samsonite bag and got out of the airport and into an Alamo shuttle so I could go to their office to rent a car. Did I mention it was raining cats and dogs. Anyway, I asked for a compact one, just for me and my bag. They upgraded me to a 2016 Jeep Renegade, because … why not? Actually there was one reason why they upgraded me that I discovered later. The car had the possibility to switch to manual and use it as a stick driven car, and considering that I gave them an European driving permit when renting, they might have thought that I might be grateful. Problem is, when they gave me the car they did not tell me anything. The guy, name Robert, just told me that he upgraded me and the car is at the end of the line. I ended up in front of this almost monster truck, that I had no idea what to do with. I don’t have a small car, really, Peugeot 308 is quite a big car apparently. But a Jeep Renegade is a monster car for a 1,62m person.

So I climbed in. Really, climbed in, because I made an effort to lift up my leg to get into the car. And of the next 15 minutes I tried starting the car. After 5 minutes I gave up and searched for the user manual. I was half a kilogram heavy and I was inpatient and could not find the damn section. I then asked a friend on Facebook, how do you start a car with automated transmission. And this was his answer:”Push the button!??And step on the clutch.:))))” In the end, thank heavens for stupid-proof cars, when I pushed the button I just looked in the monitor and is was telling me “To start the engine, push the brake pedal and the start button”.

I was finally ready to move. I looked at the stick, there were a few letter I could identify, R for reverse, D for drive, P for park, N for neutral. All good. But there was also a + and – right below the D, no idea what were those for. And thus I drove from Washington Dulled airport to Vienna with the engine screaming until I realised I could actually change gears.

The next day I realised that I could drive even easier, by using the automated transmission if I just put the stick in the appropriate position. That was a fun day.

Of course I got lost when going from the Alamo office to Vienna, and managed to enter the airport parking lot. But I’m a lucky human being. Because I did not have to pay for just strolling through and the exit of the parking lot was just in the highway to Vienna. And there I was, driving a truck for the first time in my life, with an automated transmission – for the first time in my life, on an US highway – FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE!!!! And I was all alone and it was raining like Noah’s flood was coming and I had no idea how to enable the damn windows whipers, so I just used them manually until reaching Vienna.

Before ending this entry, I have to tell you about the hotel. The Vienna Wolf Trap Hotel looks just like the typical hotel from CSI, yes the type they go to when they investigate murders. Nevertheless, it was clean and cozy and it had parking space, a lot of it. I could not ask for more at the time. Nevermind that the light in the room did not work. Nevermind the noisy air conditioning machine, that you could not breathe without, because there were no freaking windows!!!!! Well, there were windows, but not in the typical European windows, those that you can actually open to get some air. But considering that the air here is hot and humid, windows that actually can be opened are quite useless. Unless you really want a way for thieves to come in, I guess.

So yeah, this was my first night. After all the scare, after all the struggle I was finally in a bed. And with all the uncertainty of how this vacation will go, after almost 24 hours without staying horizontally my body gave up and dropped into a deep slumber until 6:00 AM the next morning.


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