Thursday, January 06, 2011

Departure Day

Apparently if a series of connecting flights ends with an international flight, each of the preceding legs is considered “international” as well. I learned this the hard way.

I arrived at our little local airport plenty early to catch the 6am flight to San Francisco. I regularly fly between Medford and Nashville, and have never seen more than a handful of travelers here, especially at 5am. So while I don't need to come early to beat a rush, I did learn that my checked bag needs to come early if I want to get on an international flight. Fortunately my layover in San Francisco is long enough to allow me to get on the 8am flight here and still catch my connection from San Francisco to Chicago. From there, it's an eight and a half hour overnight flight to Brussels.

The last week has been a series of festivities...we managed to attend seven holiday parties with both sides of the family, make two trips to California, and end it all with my dad's birthday yesterday. In between all that running around, I pulled together the last few loose ends in my travel plans, contacted all my Belgian friends from high school to let them know I was headed their way, and made numerous trips to Target for last-minute purchases.

There are some things you just can't get as easily in Europe (and I'm sure I'll learn of many more that I won't be able to get in Russia). I always miss French's Yellow Mustard, for instance. Dijon is Europe's mustard of choice; it seems that yellow mustard was an American invention. Peanut butter is also considered a strange American concoction, but it is available in select stores.

I still haven't received my final assignment from the State Department. Embassy employees seem to receive time off for both American and Russian holidays. And the Russian Orthodox Christmas doesn't come around until January 7th, resulting in a very long winter vacation (Dec. 23 – Jan. 7).
My contact at the Embassy won't be back until the 10th, so I hope then to find out the details of my job and housing arrangements, as well as schedule my arrival date and buy a ticket to Russia.

There are still so many unknowns, but the adventure begins today!

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