Our Journey to Mallorca was less than stellar...
My girlfriend (Maddy) and I checked in for our first flight out of Detroit Metro airport. Check in was ok, as was security except my wonderful girl friend (who I love so much) lost my water bottle…oh well. After we got through security we had plenty of time before our flight.
Our flight to Chicago was delayed in order to fix the mechanism that supplies oxygen to the cockpit. I guess that’s important. We also had to gate check our bags because the plane was quite small and had no room in the overhead bins. Once we were finally in the flight the reality of this trip hit me. We’d been planning it for almost 5 months and we were finally on our way. The flight went by quickly; it was only an hour and twenty minutes.
Our plane lands in Chicago. As soon as we got off the plane Maddy and I got in line to pick up our carry-on luggage that we’d gate checked. The line was ridiculously long. Maddy decided to go check where our next flight to Dusseldorf was leaving from while I waited in line. Once I had the bags I headed out of the jetway to meet Maddy at the gate. She’d gotten directs from the United representative who had been stationed there to assist people with their connecting flights. It turned out we had to head to the international terminal which was conveniently located on the completely opposite side of the airport. So we began to jog through the airport in hopes of getting to our flight on time. We got on the tram and headed towards 5 yellow, the international terminal. It took a while to get there since we started a terminal 1. Once there we had to go through security. Maddy made it through fine but security pulled my bag aside and told me that they had to go through it. Apparently a camera lens and a bomb look incredibly similar. As I sat there watching the security women unpack my bag and wipe everything down at a painstakingly slow rate Maddy went to go check which gate we were leaving from. What would come after this point would be the most stressful part of my trip.
As I stood there watching the security women try to figure out how to repack my bag after she had removed almost everything from it, I saw Maddy coming back into the checkpoint escorted by a security man with her head in her hands. I ran over to to see what had happened. I knew instantly, once I saw the tears run down her face something bad had happened. Heartbroken, she explained to me that this wasn’t our terminal. The United representative had directed us the furthest terminal possible from where we actually needed to be. The actual gate had been conveniently located right where we had gotten off of our first flight. At this point our flight would take off in 5 minuets. Comforting Maddy in my arms, I told her everything would work out. This would be my catch phrase throughout our travels to Mallorca. I then talked to the security man about what our options were. He told us we needed to backtrack all the way to where we had started, to go fast as we could, and he’d contact the flight and do what he could to delay the plane. Re-track a 20 minute journey.
So off we went running back through the airport, up and down stairs, back on the tram, and back to where we’d started. The security man told us to tell anyone we came across in all the lines to take us to the front and get us to our flight asap. Some were more willing to help than others. Almost all did what they could to help us. I found it helps to having a crying girlfriend, because then they’ll get you anywhere you need to go, fast. Once again we had to go through a security checkpoint. Throwing our pack on the belt, ripping our shoes off and running through the metal detectors. I’m sure we drew the attention of everyone standing in line, I know if I saw someone running through security I might be a little concerned. Luckily this time we both got through quickly. We then found our gate number, unfortunately located at the farthest end of the terminal, and took off sprinting. At this point I had no desire to know what time it was, but i’m sure it was at least 15 minuets after our flight was scheduled to leave. We rushed through the crowds, dodging people as we went. I held on tight to Maddy’s backpack so we didn’t lose each other. We ran up to our gate and saw a large crowd of people standing around. The flight hadn’t even started boarding yet. We made it.
Our International flight begins. Once our heart rates dropped and the stress from the dilemma that we’d overcome diminished a thought accrued to us. We did it! We were going to Mallorca. Now all we had to do sit back and enjoy our first international flight. Or so we thought…
The beginning of our flight was great! I was amazed on how big the plane was and how much room there was. Each seat was comfortable and spacious, all had their own interactive tv’s, and… wait… free food and alcohol!?!?!
This was great. We had pasta and salad for dinner with some chocolate moose for dessert. We then talked about what laid ahead of us. Maddy eventually fell asleep and I took advantage of my personal tv and watched “Another Day to Die Hard". Once again Bruce Willis may had stolen my heart.
In the middle of the night I had to use the restroom, I crawled over Maddy and told her I’d be right back. I walked towards the bathrooms in the middle of the plane. As I walked, I started to get the cold sweats. Then I felt a sharp stinging feeling in my stomach. It started to hurt extremely badly. I started to rush faster towards a restroom doors where several others stood. As I rushed to one of the doors trying to open it, everyone started telling me it was occupied but before I could say anything the voices faded, my vision began to go black and I fell into darkness.
I (Maddy) had a different perspective. I was sound asleep until Andrew started to move around. He then got up and told me he had to go to the bathroom and would be right back. I thought nothing of it and took advantage of his empty seat to get more comfortable. A couple minutes later there was announcement over the intercom on the airplane. The stewardess stated that they need the assistance of a medical doctor. The plane was soon buzzing with alarm and concern as to what could have happened. At first I didn’t think much of it. I looked towards the bathroom to see if I could see Andrew up there in the commotion. I didn’t see him but I figured he was just caught up in whatever might be going on. I sat there waiting to see what had happened. People began to clear out of the area but Andrew still wasn’t back. I waited five minutes then ten, but no Andrew. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach, I knew something was wrong. I finally left my seat and went up to the bathrooms. When I got there I saw a very pale boyfriend speaking to a flight attendant with a cup of water in his hand and a barf bag in his pocket. I couldn’t hold myself together and started crying, again. That seemed to be a theme during this trip. As he explained to me what happened I held him tight and promised myself I wouldn’t let him out of my sight until we reached Mallorca.
We arrive in Germany. We’d looked up the lay out of the Dusseldorf airport before we arrived so we had an idea of where we need to go this time. We got off the plane and headed towards our terminal, but first we had to go through customs. When we got there the line we relatively short and we had plenty of time before our next flight. We spilt off to different ticket windows once we were at the front of the line. Maddy was done before i was, she simply walked up to the window they stamped her passport and that was it. The customs agent at my window was a little more strict, he asked me one question; “Where are you going?" That was it. Dusseldorf was our first international air port and it was by far the easiest and lease stressful experience we had so far. I still didn’t feel very well as we sat and waited for our flight. Nothing of real significance happened while waiting for our flight except for some superb people watching. Once we boarded the flight we were able to switch seats with a German family so the Maddy and I could sit together. We slept for most of the flight until we heard the captain announce that we were nearing Plama de Mallorca.
All of a sudden, out the window, I saw what I had been dreaming about for years. I could hardy contain my excitement. From the moment I saw the island until the time we landed seemed like an eternity. Finally we did land, and everything we went through seemed to be worth it. There still would be a few more obstacles in my path, but I always knew it would all work out.
Mallorca, not even two steps out of my plane and I instantly fell in love with the place. We headed down to baggage claim and waited……and waited……and waited…..and waited until the belt stopped and our gear was no where to be seen. After wandering around the airport, we finally got help from someone and located our luggage. Crisis averted.
We then headed to pick up our rental car. I may haven wanted to look more into this before we got there. For one, we didn’t have a credit card to put down, nor am I 25. That means extra fees. Extra money we wouldn’t have until the other member of our party arrived (Alison). So what were we supposed to do? Our options; ride busses to meet our landlord at our apartment which we’d show up late, or wait 6 hours for Allison.
So off we went on a bus headed towards Palma (capital of Mallorca) to try and meet our landlord and her son to exchange rent for keys to the apartment. Oh yeah quick reminder, neither Maddy or I speak Catalan or Spanish. We’ll be fine though, right?
On the bus we decided to give our landlord’s son (Jose) a call to let him know we were running late. While Maddy talked to him on the phone we found out he worked at the airport and was working that day! He offered to pick us up and we graciously accepted and told him that we would meet him in Palma. Jose spoke english however it was her second language, this made then communication between him and Maddy a little difficult. Several phone calls later and after several failed meet up spots we realized something. Jose thought we were at the airport… He’d been searching around there for some time before we all realized this. Once Maddy had told him enough landmarks he knew exactly where we were and was on his was to pick us up in ten minutes. Relieved, we set down our giant bags of gear and sat in the shade of a large tree out front of Bar Cristal.
Jose finally arrived. I have never been more relieved to see a complete stranger in my entire life. He gave Maddy a kiss on the cheek and gave me a hug. He explained that he had a difficult time understanding english over the phone but now the we were in person his english was fantastic. We packed our bags into the back of his tiny car, met his mother (Antonia) who was just as warm and welcoming as Jose despite her lack of english. We chatted with Jose and his mother the whole way to Consell, where we would be staying. They wanted to know all about us, and what we were doing in Mallorca. It took some explaining before Jose understood what we meant by we were here to rock climb, but eventually he got the idea. When we arrived at the apartment we couldn’t believe our eyes. There was room to park a car at the bottom of the steps that lead up to the apartment, we followed Jose and Antonia up the steps and into our new home. It was beautiful. Spacious, bright and fully furnished this place was everything we could have hoped for and more. As the showed us around the apartment, Antonia asked us if we wanted food. Although I still wasn’t feeling well I couldn’t pass up their hospitality. Antonia cooked us an amazing lunch complete with a bottle of local wine form the winery down the street. Finally something had gone right for us. Now we only had one more obstacle to over come; getting our car.
Once Antonia and Jose left Maddy and I spent sometime relaxing and decompressing from the stress of the last 17 hours. Once we’d regrouped we decided that we had to meet Alison at the airport if we were going to get our car situation figured out, so we headed to the bus stop. First we got on a bus headed towards Palma. The ride in was beautiful. Once in Palma all we needed to do was get back on the bus we had taken earlier that day. We got on it… but in the wrong direction, what should have been an 10 minute bus ride turned into, what I described to Maddy as and hour long tour of Palma. Luckily we were able to contact Alison to tell her we would be just a little late. We finally arrived at the airport and found Alison in the cafe with a beer and a sandwich. As we recounted our day’s epic to Alison she just smiled and l laughed at our naive mistakes. Once we’d discussed our issue with the car we head inside the airport to remedy the situation. Within a half hour Alison was able to get us a rental car and a very reasonable rate. It helped that she speaks both spanish and catalan fluently. Finally we picked up the car and were headed home.
It was a stressful day, but we knew it’d be worth it in the end. We had to push through a few hard obstacles but sometimes you have to deal with a few hardships to gain something great. We were here, and here for a month. That night marked the start of my longest climbing trip. I looked through the guide book all night and started to plan our trip. This was going to be amazing….