It’s been a while since I told a completely ridiculous story. I guess I was due…
Last week, I led a workshop in Prague. It was my first time ever in Prague, and I was sad that the timing didn’t work out for me to add a weekend to my work trip. I was really hopeful I would be able to explore at least a little bit during the evenings.
The first night, it rained. And not just any rain. It basically monsooned. We went to a lovely restaurant with views of the Charles Bridge, but we were forced to take in the view from inside the restaurant. Partway through our meal, we realized that the floor was flooding from all of the water! We moved up to the higher floor to attempt to enjoy the rest of our meal in a dry place.
Miraculously, the sun came out on Tuesday, and we were able to take all of the workshop participants on a dinner cruise throughout the city. I got to see my first locks in action – raising and lowering us at a certain point in the river. We saw several lovely sites, but it was particularly wonderful at night time when every thing was lit up.
Our workshop ended in the early afternoon on Thursday. We had a couple of hours before our flight, so we opted to go into the center for a late lunch. It was a BEAUTIFUL day, so we ate outside next to a giant cookoo clock. Live musicians were performing, and there were TONS of people out and about. It was a delightful. Probably even more so, because we were celebrating our second week of successful workshops! Lots of hard work over the past several months paid off!
Now, you might be thinking, “Megan, you said this was a ridiculous story, but so far I’m not impressed.” Well, that’s because the return trip to Switzerland is when things went bonkers.
I should probably tell you that I was traveling with one of my bosses for the first time. We were the ones who went into the center for lunch and traveled to the airport together. When we arrived at the airport, I had to print a boarding pass, and we agreed to meet inside at the gate. We were plenty early, and this typically means I start shopping. In less than 20 minutes, I had purchased a new computer bag. (In my defense, my old bag broke in April, the bag was 40% off, and I never shop in Switzerland.)
I bumped into someone from the workshop on the way to the gate and told them I had to go make sure my boss made it. I guess I should also tell you that this boss recently missed a flight while he was sitting in the lounge at the airport. A few steps from the gate, I saw that he was there, but he looked different to me. As I got closer, I realized…somehow he got a haircut in the airport! He was so excited and had a crazy story about negotiating his way into the other terminal where the hair salon is located, even though he didn’t have the appropriate boarding pass. He got a haircut, and I bought a bag. Everyone was happy!
We boarded the plane and found ourselves in the same row with a little Chinese girl with multiple HUGE designer shopping bags. She didn’t even attempt to put them under the seat in front of her. And of course, no one seems to enforce this rule here. Yet another reason why I’m a fan of the aisle seat. No risk of being trapped in my seat by shopping bags!
There are no direct flights from Prague to Geneva late in the day, so we had to connect through Frankfurt. We had approximately one hour layover. After our leisurely lunch plus a snack on the plane, I wasn’t super hungry. But, my boss said he needed to try a sausage or something local while we were in Frankfurt. We landed at Gate A20 and roamed through the concourse to our departure gate, A3. We didn’t see anything too exciting along the way, and after walking all that way, we realized that the best option was back at our original gate. Between visits to the bathroom and a VERY slow server, we didn’t receive our food until roughly 30 minutes before our departure time. I ate really quickly and at 25 minutes before departure, I said we needed to hurry. I was internalizing a lot of panic, because while I’m all for cutting it close, I don’t miss flights. It took the server far too long to process our bill, and then we needed to walk back to our gate. I started to pick up the pace, because we were closing in on 10 minutes until departure time. Meanwhile, my boss did not seem panicked in the least. (And of course, I was still internalizing my freak out.) I justified our time with the fact that they often start boarding later in Europe, and I that I feel like I rarely leave on time here.
When we arrived at our gate, it didn’t have our flight information on our screen. Did they move our gate? I scurried down to Gate A1 where there was a crowd, but that flight was going to Athens. I came back to the gate agent, and we asked if they moved our gate. Her response? She addressed us BY NAME and said she paged us six times, and that the flight was now closed. WHAT?!?!?!?!? What I should also tell you is that I was supposed to start driving to France with my visitors at 8:00am the next morning. It was now 9:00pm. We basically begged her to open the flight for us, but she didn’t budge. She looked up train times for us, but there were none reaching Geneva until the next morning. The only remaining option? To drive a rental car 4-5 hours back to Switzerland.
We went down to Avis and spent WAY too long at the desk while they found us a car. Before leaving, my boss said he needed a coffee. McDonalds was the only choice. When we walked in, we both decided a McFlurry was necessary to cope with our sad turn of events. (Well, maybe I was the only one who was sad. My boss is always smiling.)
As we walked out into the parking lot full of cars, I panicked. I forgot I was in Europe and that cars are usually manual. I didn’t specify that I needed an automatic, and she mentioned that this was the last car. Oh no. We found our car, and I almost did a happy dance when I saw it was automatic! I was the only one with a drivers license with me, so I was the driver.
It took a few minutes to figure out the GPS, but soon enough we were on our way. It was only then that I realized what a ridiculous situation this was…eating a McFlurry while driving a Mercedes on the Autobahn with my Mexican boss. You really can’t make this stuff up.
Somehow we made it back to Vevey. I came to my senses somewhere in the drive and realized I could drive the rental car to the Geneva airport in the morning on the way to France to get my car. This meant I would be in my bed 2 hours earlier than expected! I dropped my boss off around 2:00am. I called my mama to tell her this ridiculous story. I was still on the phone with her as I pulled into my driveway, and only then I realized…my apartment keys were in my car parked at the Geneva airport! WHAT?!?!?!?!? (I know it seems weird not to have my apartment keys on my car key ring, but I open my garage door with my apartment keys. Keeping them separate helps me keep the car running when I’m pulling into the garage.)
The good news? I had three visitors sleeping in my apartment. The bad news? It was the middle of the night, fans were blowing inside, and bedroom doors were closed. Plus, figuring out how to buzz me in in the middle of the night wasn’t going to be an easy task for them. I texted one of them to let her know that it was me trying to get in. I explained how she should open the door. I rang the bell three times – cringing each time. No answer. It was 2:30am or so, and I was EXHAUSTED. I knew I had to drive first thing in the morning. So, I did the only rational thing I could think of…I slept in the back seat of the rental car. I was in a super uncomfortable dress, so I changed into my pajamas, laid out the few articles of clothing I packed to level the back seat, and used the remaining dress as a blanket. The whole time praying no one would pull in and park next to me. I was sure that would end in a call to the police. This is Switzerland, after all, and I’m pretty sure people don’t generally sleep in cars here.
Before going to sleep, I texted my friend again to let her know that I was sleeping in the car should she wake up and see the first text. Around 5:30, I woke up and really had to go to the bathroom. Plus, it was kind of chilly. I decided I had to get into the apartment. I drug all my stuff with me (including my crazy pj / dress shoe / cardigan outfit) and rang the buzzer again. It took three times, but finally an answer! I made it upstairs and into the apartment where I was greeted by three friends FREAKING OUT, because they realized I originally tried to get in three hours prior. I calmed everyone down and told them to all go back to sleep, because we had some time before leaving for France.
I told my boss that it was the first & last time that will ever happen to me. He laughed and told me that this just made another hilarious story. I don’t know about that, but I doubt I will find myself driving down the Autobahn in this same situation any time soon.