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Monday, September 12, 2016

Damn, but this is a big planet...

Fresh out of Seattle near twilight, flying north past Mount Rainier
A few months ago, a friend asked if I'd be interested in touring Central Europe. Having only recently vowed to start touring outside of the states, what answer could I give, but 'Hell, yeah!' So we plotted via texting, phone and the internet until we'd assembled a rudimentary game plan for our trip. As my friend Jo (Joan) lives north of San Francisco and I generally refuse to fly out of San Francisco each booked our own flights. After a day's wending about on line, I found a deal, flying from Sacramento to Seattle, to Amsterdam, and on to the trip's start: Budapest. Travel time a mere 14 hours. Done!

On my travel day, I landed in Seattle, surprised at how gigantic that airport is. It has not one, but three underground trains to transport passengers to their gates. I had to get from the Domestic gates to the International gates which took three different tram rides.

Seattle Airport's underground maze 
From a window seat on all my enroute flights, I could view Seattle
Passing over Seattle
Leaving Seattle the jumbo jet passed by a couple of Washington Volcanoes around sunset. During the nighttime hours the jet cut a path over northern Canada, even sailing over Churchill on the Hudson Bay.

My TV monitor showed the route we took over Canada & beyond
I gave a wave to Scotland as we passed over it
Scotland or maybe Amsterdam...

This lower photo is either Scotland or Amsterdam... note to self: take better notes!

Finally we landed in the Netherlands, Amsterdam being our doorway to the European Union (E.U.). I was told to pick up my luggage - all of it - and soon I was sort of panic stricken. Hey, where the EFF I was supposed to go for my flight to Hungary? Spotting a uniformed information lady, I threw myself at her mercy. She patiently talked me through placing my passport into a computer thingie (which I can not believe I didn't photograph) that issued me a boarding pass and told me my boarding gate. Then the lady directed on a  friggin' twenty mile hike to where I - and hundreds of other travelers = wended our way through the E.U.'s squads of uniformed officers. We were asked 'Why are you traveling?', 'How much cash do you have on you' and other queries. There I got the first of many visa stamps and finally I forked over my luggage to KLM airlines. I was flying KLM, but the first two legs of my journey were via KLM partners, Alaska Airlines and Delta. At long last I was on the final jet, in the air, watching a bank of clouds to break up for a glance at the Danube River.

Austria is down there somewhere under the clouds
Whew! The flight to Seattle was about 2 hours, from Seattle to Amsterdam was about ten hours, and Amsterdam to Budapest was two hours. So the journey was a cool fourteen hours in the air. I love to fly but darned! That was a lot of air time even for me.

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