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Published: April 4th 2016
Air China Boeing 747 Double Decker
Sunday morning dawned a beautiful day, albeit cold. The temperature in Toledo would be a high of 45, while in Beijing it was forecast to be 70! We were ready to go. I was packed the night before and only had a few daily things to add to the luggage, lock it up and I was ready.
My fellow travelers arrived nearly as scheduled. Mike arrived first, prompt as ever. Ricky was dropped off by his neighbor and Dick came last. Cathy, the ever perfect hostess, made coffee for those who needed their caffeine fix. Soon the fateful time came and we moved our luggage to the trunk of my car, said our good byes, mine was a little longer since I was leaving the love of my life alone. Well not exactly alone, she and our hairy baby boy Leo, now 65 pounds and growing, will get some bonding time together. I don’t pity her, since I spent a fun filled week with Leo when Cathy went to Retreat a few weeks ago.
Adieu behind us, we piled into my Honda for the 45 minute trip to Detroit airport. An uneventful trip saw us
Clean and EMPTY we got there late so no one around
arrive at the prepaid parking lot. Once we parked we boarded the shuttle buss and our driver dropped us off at North Terminal to board our American flight to Laguadia Airport in New York.
The lines we hideously long at security but I had set us up with TSA precheck so we breezed by the long lines and headed to our gate. We had some time to kill so I decided on a little food, a breakfast sandwich of egg, cheese and ham; actually quite delicious. Ricky enjoyed a chocolate chip muffin while Dick and Mike passed on food.
Our first flight was called and we boarded with no issues. Unfortunately our smooth trip took a turn. First there was a 20 minute delay on the tarmac, due to plane traffic. With the same schedule every day, can’t the schedulers figure out a better schedule, rather than have 15 planes scheduled to leave at the same time? Maybe stagger them out a little bit? I guess it must sort of be rocket science because they never get it right.! Oh well, we finally departed for the short flight to NY.
not short at all, it seems the same incompetent at Detroit must make the landing schedule for Laguadia airport in New York. So, unfortunately, we circled NY for 40 minutes behind a 747 which blew us all over the place. Some folks were feeling a little sick before we finally landed.
Unfortunately , the incompetent brother of the flight scheduler from Detroit must have been the scheduler for gate agents, because our gate had no agent to welcome our flight. Why we needed a gate agent to get off the plane I will never know, but we did, forcing us to sit on the plane for another 20 minutes while the gate agent had his coffee break. We finally deplaned.
Now we were in New York our departure city, but not our departure airport. We were at Laguadia but we needed to be at JFK to get the flight to China. Now this sounds a bit daft, but there was a good reason. Well actually 600 of them. You see it cost $600 more per person to fly from Detroit to JFK than to Laguadia. Since we had 4 hours between flights I thought it best to save the money and catch an Uber to JFK, and so we did.
Unfortunately our Uber drive did not speak good English, so there was some delay in communicating with him as to exactly where to pick us up, but with much trial and more errors we connected and he safely drove us the 19 miles to JFK.
JFK airport was packed, so we headed over to China Air to check in. No lines, amazing. We checked in, no problem, checked our luggage, no problem and headed to security...big problem! The lines were huge and this time no TSA precheck. Oh well we had some time to kill and 30 minutes later we were through security, Mike had to go through a few times, I guess he looked like a terrorist, but we finally made it to the gate with 60 minutes to spare.
Ricky and I were hungry so we had a hot Italian Pannini which was excellent. We sat around a bit waiting until our flight was called. A few minutes in line and soon were boarded a huge Boeing 747 for the 13.5 hour flight to Beijing.
As I write this, we are in the air having just taken off for our 6828 mile flight across the Atlantic. I have a cold Yanjing beer and a plate of chicken. I am going to sign off for now and dine, hopefully the ,kick rest of this flight will be peaceful, we will see!
Well here is a fun fact I just found out, our route is across the US then a transpacific flight into Beijing. I thought we would go across the Atlantic taking the northern route to reduce the distance, but I looked at the flight map and I was wrong. The good news is, this is my first flight across the Pacific. So now I have flown across both oceans.
Our arrival was uneventful, except for the man who ate two cans of Pringles and drank a bottle of wine. He decided to puke up everything on landing, unfortunately for Mike sitting next to him!
We arrived at our hotel, The Mariotte Great Wall Downtown. It is absolutely beautiful, a five star event all the way. The lobby is all marble and our room has a huge walk in shower and a soaking tub as well as two queen beds, a couch and a glass desk.
Rick and I dropped off our luggage and headed out for a bite to eat. We walked along the main drag and came to a fine fast food location called Mr Li. No one spoke more than a few works of English, of course. While we sat there another of our group, John from Philadelphia joined us. We laughed with the staff, as we pointed out foods that we wanted, but they did not have, we wondered why they were on the menue. When we finally chose our food it was delicious and we had a nice meal for 29 CYN or about $5.
Our tour tomorrow is a full day. We will see the Forbidden City, tour Tienneman Square and have lunch at a local family house. Then we are off to the local Old Town to see what life was like in the good old days.
I am a bit bushed, as it is 10PM here in Beijing so we are off to bed for a 6:30 wake up call in the morning.
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