Sunday, May 4th 2008
Before Bear went to Texas she (yes, *she*! Bear was told that Bears are sexual creatures and therefor should be adressed with the correct sex) surfed the net for information about Fort Worth and stumbled across something called "Mayfest" which took place from May 1st to May 4th at the banks of Trinity river. Bear told OP that she would like to go there and so they went on Sunday. OP told Bear that this was something mainly for families and children - and so it was. Lots of things for children to do and play with but also lots of booths with food or handcraft things or souveniers to buy. Unfortunately nothing what Bear would have liked to get, but at least lots of people around.
It was a bright sunny and warm day and so OP told Bear that they would be going there in his VW bug which is a convertible. OP behaved very gentleman-like that day with that car. He would always open the doors for Bear - maybe he thought Bear didn't know how to open them?! :-)
So, when Bear was finally ready to go they hit the streets. Bear felt pretty uncomfortable at first in the buggy. Bear has an old Mini (not for long anymore - and no, that's not Bear's in the picture, but it looks the same: Mini Sprite, British open, British racing green, 94) and there is not a big difference in driving an open bug or a Mini. Both have only 4 gears in both one is seated pretty low and both are pretty loud. *But* it is a big difference if one drives a small car like this on Austrian streets with lots of normally sized cars around or on US highways with lots of trucks and pick-ups around! And Bear must admit that at first she had not a lot of faith in OP's driving abilities with a gearshift as OP's other car was automatic and most US cars have automatic. But of course OP was a very good driver and handled that gearshift just as well, though Bear could not help but try to tell OP that he should go into neutral when waiting at stop signs or red light. Obviously OP did not have a lot of faith in Bear's driving abilities either :-).
Anyway, they made it safe to a parking-lot where they left the car and got onto a mini-train which went through the park along the river right to the Mayfest. It was a huge area. Bear got the tickets and they went inside. It really was not that exciting after all, but it was nice. Lots of families around. Bear and OP wandered around the whole thing, Bear always looking for some presents to bring home or maybe a Cowboy hat which Bear had wanted all the time. But Bear couldn't find anything that really attracted her. And most of the things were too expensive anyway.
There were lots of booths with food and OP made Bear try nearly everything. They always bought one thing together - otherwise they couldn't have eaten so many things and they were also invited for dinner at OP's dads. So Bear got some hotdog on a stick (Bear remembers that in Austria they had something similar), some roasted corn, and a few other things. OP also wanted Bear to try a certain ice-cream but the only booth that still had it, was way back and they were too tired - and there was also not enough time anymore - to go back.
At one point they met Niki, OP's sister, and her family and said Hello. And while queuing for some food, Bear saw a very small fenced in part with a sign that made Bear laugh for at least 15 minutes. Actually this place was meant for children that had lost their parents somewhere in the park and parents could pick them up there. But as a parent you were not allowed to put your child in there when you wanted it to be guarded by someone else, because you needed to do someting alone or whatever. But what made Bear laugh so much was the huge sign that read "Lost & Found - Lost children only" - don't you dare to put in some other child! - and the place itself which was so small that it was more like a cage. It probably was not so funny for native speakers as a woman standing behind Bear just looked at her a bit confused until OP explained: "She is from Europe." And Bear stood there for another ten minutes laughing her head off.
Well, that was that. A nice Sunday outing but not as exciting as Bear hoped it would be. So at about 6pm they headed back to the train-station to get the next mini-train back to the car park. OP's dad had invited them for dinner and he and his wife were already waiting for Bear and OP. Back on the mini-train to the car park, back in the buggy and onto the streets. This time Bear felt more comfortable in the bug. On one hand because they never went on the highway and also because Bear got used to driving in the bug.
OP's father was only ten minutes away living in a house that looked like the house Niki lived in. Small on the outside but bigger on the inside. With a small garden at the front and a bigger one at the back. Very American as Bear thought. OP's father and his wife were very nice and welcoming. Bear got some sweet tea (there is a difference between ice-tea and sweet tea!) and they sat down at the table where there was some sweet corn waiting and something that looked like a potatoe fritter but with tunafish and some green beans and salad. When Bear saw the sweet corn she thought: "Wow, it's getting even more American." :-) Before they started eating OP's father said grace including Bear in it. Bear was so touched!! He said Thank you that they got to know Bear and wished for a good journey home for Bear and that Bear and her loved ones will stay healthy and happy. Bear thought that this was so nice!!
While having the dinner - which was really lovely - they talked a bit about the usual things Bear got asked when she was there. If it was her first time in the U.S. and what she thought about Texas and what she thought was the big difference and what she liked most and also they wanted to know how the Austrians made their lovely salad dressing. OP's father and his wife have already been to Austria and they said that she just loved the salad dressing and that they tried to do it at home but it just wouldn't taste the same. So Bear explained it - which was really easy as it is only oil, vinegar, water, salt and pepper - but they decided that it might be the oil which made it taste so different.
For dessert they had coffee, some ice-cream and home made cookies. Then they watched a hockey game and finally OP and Bear went back home. It had gotten dark already but they stopped at a supermarket because OP remembered that Bear hadn't seen a proper American supermarket yet. It was a Wal-Mart and it was huge! They had everything there from food to clothes to CDs and DVDs, ... just everything you can think of. Bear finally got to see the rows of cereal and milk - as long as a whole supermarket in Austria would be and one could choose from cereal and milk only! Well, everything is bigger in Texas...
Bear got herself some chocolate chip cookies a chocolate bar and a country-music CD by George Strait, OP some sunglasses as he left his at Amber's flat and then they finally went back home. Bear still had to pack her suitcase. The plan was actually to leave early Monday morning for Dallas and have a look around Dallas - since they never managed to go there for the last ten days - and then go to the airport. So Bear had to have her things ready by Monday morning.
Monday, May 5th 2008
Bear's holiday was over. It was Monday. The day to leave Texas. The plan was to get up early, go to Dallas, walk around a bit and then go to the aiport. Bear's flight was due afternoon. That was the plan. The alarm went off early. Bear and OP switched it off, turned round and went back to sleep. So much for the plan of leaving early. Finally they did get up. But too late to go to Dallas before Bear had to be at the airport. So OP went to get some breakfast for Bear - he realised that Bear hadn't have any doughnuts yet. And Bear finished packing her very last things.
OP came back with lots of doughnuts. More than he actually asked for. Obviously he told the grocer that he had a visitor from Europe who had never had a doughnut before (which was not quite true, as Bear did have a doughnut before, but not a real American one) and so he got more for the European visitor to try. Bear did not eat them all. Bear gave half of them to OP, wrapped up another half of hers for later and ate the rest. Very sweet. Both, the grocer and the doughnuts.
So, it was their last morning coffee, cigarettes and newspaper out on the patio (!) before they finally hit the streets to Dallas airport.
A few days before Bear tried to confirm her flight details on the internet, which did not quite work. So OP called American Airlines and they said that the times were still the same. Bear just hoped that they were right. When they arrived at the airport, Bear handed her tickets to the AA-lady who told Bear that her luggage will be checked right through to Vienna, which made OP say not to lose it in the U.K. and the lady replied that this will happen with BA and not with AA with a grin on her face. Then she told Bear to check the luggage in at that guy who was right across the room. Weird that they do not check it in where Bear got her boarding pass. Bear went there and handed her luggage to that guy who asked Bear if she had any fire arms in her suitcase. Bear looked at him puzzled and stumbled "no". What a funny question to ask. On the other hand, Bear was in Texas and did not everyone in Texas have a weapon at home?! Anyway, Bear did not. They had one more cigarette outside the building - Bear's last cigarette for another 24 hours. Then OP and Bear said goodbye as Bear queued for the security check. Bear promised to text OP when she was safe back in Vienna and off OP went.
One more time shoes off, and everything getting checked and Bear was through security. Bear headed right for her gate, passing a few souvenir-shops, looking once more for a Cowboy hat or another present for Danielle (Bear promised to get Danielle something from Texas for her birthday) but couldn't find anything proper. Bear did see a funny T-shirt which had the horns of a longhorn cow on front and a line saying "nice racks" which Bear liked a lot and wanted to buy for Danielle, but unfortunately they didn't have the correct size. So Bear got a small stuffed horse that said "Texas" instead. Danielle is into horses a lot.
Then Bear saw Roosevelt. Bear fell in love with Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a bolster shaped with a Bear's face and Bear always wanted to have a bolster. Bear looked at Roosevelt but then decided not to spend money on it and went on. But Bear couldn't help it and went back to have another look at him. The lady watching Bear coming back said something like "You know you want it" and Bear decided to get Roosevelt. He is so comfy. Bear and Hamish will take Roosevelt on every trip from now on. Why is he called Roosevelt, you may ask. Well, it's a Teddy... so Teddy Roosevelt...
Anyway... Bear was at the right gate waiting. Quite boring. So Bear took a pictures of Roosevelt, Hamish and the pony. Finally the passengers were allowed to board. Bear got to her seat. Quite a lot of people were on that plane. Bear's seat was a middle one. Bear was not happy about that. She sat between two Irish ladies who were very quiet indeed, but Bear doesn't like to be in the middle.
The plane got onto the runway and stopped. For 1,5 hours. The captain told the passengers that they themselves were ready to leave, but obviously there were too many other planes ready to leave and so they had to wait. For 1,5 hours. On the runway. A lot of people got nervous because they had to catch a connection in Chicago and would obviously miss it. So did Bear. Bear had a connection leaving 45mins after landing in Chicago which made Bear nervous in the first place as Chicago was a huge airport and Bear was not too sure where to go to. After half an hour it was sure that Bear would miss her connection. Bear had never missed a connection before and was not sure what to do then. So Bear went to talk to a flight attendant telling her that she would miss her connection to London and what to do and the lady told Bear that she would find out as soon as they were flying as she couldn't get a hold of the airport in Chicago now. She also told Bear that she had a gentleman in first class who also had a connection to London and Bear told that man (who came up to them now) that she would appreciate him waiting for Bear in Chicago as he was English himself and could get the information easier as Bear could being nervous and all that. He said he would wait for Bear.
There was a man behind Bear who talked to another lady very loudly about him missing his connection - obviously again - and that they thought of maybe leaving the plane now and staying in Dallas as this would be the better option. The two Irish ladies next to Bear said that this was the most stupid idea they every heard before. So thought Bear. One couldn't get off a plane anymore once one were on. Security reasons. Well, obviously those two people thought they were the only ones missing their flights, when a few others - including Bear - turned round and told them to calm down since more people had connections they were going to miss. Didn't really shut them up.
Finally, after waiting 1,5 hours on the runway and a pretty annoyed captain who told the passengers every ten minutes how incompetent the tower seemed to be, the plane was allowed to take off. On the way the flight attendants announced new connection flights for the ones missing theirs, except the ones to London. So Bear once more went to that flight attendant lady and asked what she was about to do when landing in Chicago and that lady told Bear to get right to one of the officers and ask them. They would handle that. Bear once more made sure that the first class Englishman would wait for Bear in Chicago.
So, when Bear finally got off the plane - everybody was in such a rush - Bear looked for someone who looked important enough to tell Bear what to do and saw the Englishman waiting for Bear. Bear thought that this was really nice. He already got hold of a lady who dealt with his new flight and told her to handle that for Bear aswell. Very nice, Bear thought. That man also waited until Bear was told by that lady where to go and what to do. Really really nice, Bear thought. That lady, who was an elderly and very charming one, told Bear that she couldn't take the same flight as the Englishman as Bear had to get another connection to Vienna then. She said Bear would have to go to Frankfurt instead. And from Frankfurt get a connection to Vienna, which meant that in Frankfurt Bear would have to tell them again, to re-board Bear. That was easy, Bear thought, they speak German in Frankfurt. Bear asked about her luggage as she was told in Dallas that this was going to be checked through and that lady re-assured Bear that it still would be. Bear was not so sure, but was mainly happy to be able to get home within a day (more or less, regarding the time-difference).
Ok, so Bear was told to go to another gate which was only 5mins away and show them her ticket and tell them to let Bear on board. Bear said thank you, said fare well and thank you to the Englishman and off Bear went. Wrong direction. Bear realised after a few minutes and asked some flight attendant for the right direction. Bear finally found that gate, gave her tickets to the lady at the counter and told her that she was re-booked onto this flight. That lady, who had a french accent, was pretty rude and unfriendly. She looked at the tickets and asked what she was about to do with those. Bear looked at her and asked how Bear was supposed to know as she was only the passenger, missed her flight because of the airport and was told to come here and board the plane to Frankfurt. The lady gave Bear the tickets back and told her that these were the old tickets and Bear needed to get new ones. Bear asked how and that lady replied she didn't really know (nor care) and Bear should ask the officer who told Bear to get here. Bear gave her a look and went back to the other charming lady, told her how unfriendly that person was and asked for help. That lady shook her head, said that all Bear needed was a new ticket printed and that this woman probably didn't know how to do that. She printed a new ticket (only the one from Chicago to Frankfurt) for Bear and told Bear to tell that unfriendly woman to go to her counter after work and she will show her how to print tickets. Bear grinned, thanked her and went to the other gate again - this time in the right direction.
Bear handed that unfriendly, french accented lady her new ticket and said: "I am back." She hardly took any notice, did her thing, Bear got her boarding pass and boarded. Bear went to her seat and frowned. A baby right behind Bear! Bear sat down (window seat in the two seats row) and prayed for no more babies. Another young mother came up with a baby and sat down in the middle row, next to Bear's row. And one more in front of Bear. Bear was close to tears. The whole plane from Chicago to Frankfurt was full of young families with babies!!! Only a few elderly people, lots of babies and Bear. Bear thought of faking a hysterical attack to be able to get off the plane... but Bear settled for praying for no Baby sitting beside her instead. And so it was. The plane was not completely full to the last seat, not very empty either, but here and there were a few empty seats and Bear was lucky indeed. She had the whole set of two seats all for herself. Bear was happy. At least something. Bear was still afraid that the babies would cry and be loud during that looong flight, but Bear was lucky. The babies did behave.
Again it took some time until the plane finally took off but eventually it did and off Bear went into the sunset heading for Europe. Bear watched the sunset for quite a while, took a lot of pictures and watched TV. It was some not very funny TV-series on. Bear also tried to read but that didn't workt too well either, so eventually when lights went out everywhere on the plane, Bear tried to go to sleep. Although Bear did have two seats on her own, it was still not very comfy. Bear just can't sleep sitting up. And two seats were not enough to lie down. So Bear hardly had any rest. At some point Bear must have been sound asleep anyhow (if only for two hours) because Bear rememberd having the blinds of her window half way up and when Bear awoke they were down. But Bear felt like having no rest at all...
When Bear woke up, she looked outside the window and saw dawn breaking ahead. That was quite a nice sight. And quite a fascinating thought too. Leaving the US in the sunset and arriving in Europe at dawn. It's like flying away from the night...
Frankfurt. Finally german speaking people. German german, but german at least. Bear was dead tired. And fed up. Frankfurt airport is horrible. Not very well signposted at all. Half of her way Bear was not even sure that she was on the right way. Bear did ask when she left the plane where to go and was told to get to some hall to get her new ticket. Obviously that hall was at the other end of the airport. Bear walked for quite a while. When Bear passed passport control, the two - pretty bored - men looked at Bear and at Bear's passport and told her that Austrians are actually not allowed to pass anymore. Bear gave them a look and the other one said that Austrians are quite some naughty folk, that's why. And they also said that Bear did not look like on the photo. Bear was definitely not in the mood for jokes. So Bear replied: "Listen guys, I just had quite a trip coming from the US, I am tired, pissed off and my luggage is probably somewhere in China. No wonder I don't like my picture. I need to get a new ticket and find my way through this bad airport and am really not in the mood for jokes. So give me back my passport and get on someone elses nerves."
Ok. It was probably not a good idea to say that while they had Bear's passport and Bear being in nowhereland at the airport. But Bear couldn't help it. Anway, it worked. They just grinned at Bear, handed her the passport and wished Bear a good trip home.
Finally, after walking the airport like three times Bear found the hall Bear needed to find. Bear headed right for security, but that woman told Bear that she was not allowed through without her new ticket. Bear feared that she might have to walk the whole airport again, but that woman told Bear that the counter was right behind Bear. Thank God!
A very charming young lady printed the new ticket for Bear. Bear asked about her luggage. Bad question. If Bear could give her the sticker, the young lady asked, so she could scan the number. Bear didn't have any sticker. Bear never got any at Dallas airport. Together they searched every single ticket, old and new ones, boarding passes and Bear's passport. No sticker. Well, that was not too good, the lady said. Bear should have gotten a sticker. Bear explained to her that Bear got the boarding pass at one counter and handed over her luggage at another one, so Bear was not sure where she should have gotten that sticker. Bear also figured that OP who was chatting to the lady at Dallas airport, distracted her a bit from her work. Anyway, no sticker.
So, the young girl tried to find Bear's luggage in the computer without the sticker. No luck. She called American Airlines and asked where Bear's luggage was. Bear's luggage was not there. Bear's luggage was not in Chicago nor in Dallas. Bear didn't have any luggage, the computer said. And American Airlines said so too. The young lady was pretty contrite and asked wether Bear had her name and address on or in it. Bear said that she had both on the suitcase. That was a good thing, the girl said. So, the suitcase will be back eventually. Probably within the next week. Or two.
Bear didn't care too much about it anymore. Bear thanked the girl, headed for security and got on the plane. For some reason the journey from Frankfurt to Vienna is wiped off Bear's memory. Bear was probably knocked out then. Bear just remembers getting off in Vienna and heading right for the next possibility to have a cigarette. Bear talked to a young woman who wanted to go on holidays with her family and got stuck in Vienna in between. And then Bear looked the right luggage belt, hoping that her suitcase might have found its way to Vienna anyhow. And what a surprise, it was right the first one that came out. Bear was happy.
Bear's father picked Bear up. Bear was home again. Bear looked at her house. Dirty. Disgustingly dirty. Bear started to hoover. After nearly 24 hours of travelling, and quite a trip this was, Bear started cleaning her house when she came home. Bear didn't want to unpack in that dirt. After cleaning Bear started to unpack, put in the George Strait CD and downloaded her photos.
Bear had an unusual holiday. Bear had a different holiday. Bear had a good holiday. Bear took home a lot of good memories, and experiences. Bear was happy.