Friday, August 22, 2014

The cloud, then the rainbow

(the cloud) When I went to double check that the hotel in DC had confirmed a reservation with a taxi to the airport, the gentleman at the counter confirmed that no reservation had ever been made. Grrr. But he did what he could, and a taxi almost big enough showed up only 15 minutes later than our reservation time. With the help of bungee cord, the "almost" became "just enough."  No traffic meant we made it to Dulles with plenty of time.

(the rainbow) Pretty much everything that has happened after we got to the airport was wonderful.  The whole check-in online thing has really streamlined the time spent in line at the airport. The kid are big enough and motivated enough that they are quite helpful - they each pushed a 360 spinny suitcase and Terry and I were able to manage the rest of the luggage.  TSA Precheck was the most glorious perk of official travel I have experienced in a while. No need to remove ANYTHING from any bags ... except that I forgot a bottle of milk from Zoltan's breakfast and they did have to screen that, but it wasn't too much of a wait.

The flight was uneventful. As usual, the kids did not sleep ... well Zoltan did pass out on a makeshift bed on the floor under his and my seats but a tiny spot of turbulence meant we had to get him up and buckled and that was the end of that. The inflight entertainment options were plentiful and the kids never asked for the tablet. The kids' TV shows were largely shows they like and the movie options included Frozen AND Lego Movie AND Cars AND Cars 2. We could have stayed on that plane all day.  One glitch was that we didn't request kids' meals 24 hours in advance, but as we knew that we bought a sandwich in the airport before the flight and cobbled together snacks and the roll that always accompanies airline meals into a decent enough meal. The flight attendants very kindly asked if we needed anything more and did in the end bring us applesauce for each kid.

At the airport we quickly got our bags and equally quickly found the place to leave the bags overnight.  Off to the hotel!

This is where I rave about the Frankfurt Marriott hotel. The gave us early check in (9:00am - super early!) AND late checkout (3:00pm - kids can nap before the red-eye!) AND adjoining rooms. The month and more we spent living in hotels last summer did wonders for Terry's status with Marriott so we got executive floor access, including the club room. This means breakfast, a "happy hour" with enough food to fill our bellies, and water whenever we want it. Score!  We ended up eating lunch in the hotel restaurant too and although European prices are still heart-attack worthy, the food is at least delicious. I am still thinking of the tomato and buffalo mozzarella starter we had. The staff has been so amazingly helpful and gracious. When I asked if one dessert had milk in it, the employee I asked checked with the kitchen, came back to say sorry it does, and then told me that if we would still be guests of the hotel tomorrow night the chef would make something special for Alex.  They gave the kids sweets and again were sensitive of Alex, handing her bags of gummy bears along with the chocolate candy for Zoltan.  I can't say enough good things about this hotel and look forward to staying here again when we PCS.

And another shout out to my mom for her mad shopping skillz.  The Hungry Hungry Hippo travel game has already earned back whatever she paid for it, and Alex has already done half the templates included in her magnetic mosaics toy. We should have guessed that Zoltan would be absorbed with anything vehicles and not bothered packing anything else, but the tape road was a big hit in the hotel room.

One important lesson we learned is that when we let the kids pack themselves, we need to double check. I added a ton of extra clothes for Zoltan but we trusted Alex to follow directions and in the end she will be sharing socks with Zoltan and/or me until UAB arrives.  And we should have had her pack a bit more pants and a bit less shorts, that is our fault though. Thanks to the insight of one of my A-100 colleagues who suggested flying with a bag of the little detergent packs we are ready for laundry, which will be needed as we don't have a ton of clothes in general. The laundry packs already saved us in the hotel last week, as we got to fly with all clean clothes.

Also, the two travel nights' bedtime went like this:  We give hugs and kisses to the kids, then retreat to our hotel room while Alex reads a story to Zoltan in their hotel room.  It's pretty adorable.

No comments: