Phew! For the record, I arrived last night in Abu Dhabi feeling relatively happy and healthy. It was a loooong day of sitting broken up by additionally looong periods of standing in lines.
On my first flight, I sat next to 2 UW students heading to Dublin to study International Law. Although they were quite chatty, I was so tired from packing late and leaving early that I didn't talk very much.
On my East Coast stop, I had to haul all of my luggage from Terminal 2 to Terminal 4. Even with the help of the AirTram and the walking sidewalks, I still felt like I was getting a work out. Now I see why Rick Steves swears by traveling light.
Who packed all of this junk?!
My second flight, with Etihad airlines, was a definite step above my domestic flight. There were 3 meals, the choice of watching 114 television shows or 78 movies, new pillows & blankets, and interactive maps that helped you find out a variety of information about your flight. I sat next to a man from India heading to his cousin's wedding. Even though he now resides in North Carolina, he previously lived in Abu Dhabi. He prefaced everything with his seemingly favorite phrase, "Times have changed, times have changed . . ." and in his sing-song voice he was more than happy to share tips about navigating through the waters of Emerati culture. Unfortunately, I didn't get to listen to all that he was saying. Shortly after take off I fell asleep again . . . this time for 11.5 hours. (I must be related to Grandpa Jerry.) Later, when I finally woke up, I managed to catch the beginning of a beautiful sunset somewhere over the Middle East.
The Etihad eagle and cloud formation right before sunset.
After 13 hours of flying, our plane landed in Abu Dhabi around 8 p.m. We were whisked through customs, picked up our luggage, and then boarded a bus for our new living quarters. My first memory of being in Abu Dhabi was feeling the heat. Even though the sun had set, I could instantly feel the radiation rising off of the marble tiles the moment I stepped out of the airport.
Thank you for your prayers & kind thoughts. I'm most thankful to report that all in all, it was an uneventful journey. The Delta and the Eagle have safely landed. . .