The relaxation ramped up even more for our last day in Vienna. Again, we got moving pretty late in the day, and I really had no other goals than to get some souvenirs and to take my dad to the Mozart museum, which is located in one of his previous residences.
Oh yeah, we were in a city where some of the greatest classical composers lived. There is so much history in Vienna, thousands of years of it, and it’s such a vibrant city in the present, yet I scarcely hear about it like I hear about other “popular” European areas. I decided pretty early on that I wanted to spend some more time visiting Vienna at some point.
My dad and I walked through the Mozart museum, which had three floors, each detailing a specific aspect of Mozart’s life: Vienna at the time, his musical career, and how he had his dwelling-place arranged. Evidently he had quiet the entrepreneurial spirit, and this helped his talents spread far and wide. I also realized how little I knew of what Mozart had been involved with.
Having collected our souvenirs and learned a little bit about Mozart, Dad and I decided we were ready to be home in the US. So we went to a movie at an English cinema at a commercial district about fifteen minutes by foot from our apartment. We came back to the apartment after the movie, had a quick dinner consisting of the remaining sausages I hadn’t cooked, got our bags packed, and left for the train station.
For this last overnight train trip, Dad got to experience the final type of sleeper compartment available – the six-person economy class. We roomed with an older man and another young adult (who may have been the man’s son) as well as a French couple. I studied some aviation facts as the train began its journey, but after an hour or so, I decided it was time to get to bed.
And that’s when chaos ensued. My dad was banging around early in the morning, so I (and likely everyone else in the compartment) woke up, and I realized that the train wasn’t moving. And it continued to stay put for a really long time. I didn’t know if this was factored into the schedule or not. Given that we pulled into Frankfurt station a whole three hours late, it was clear that it was not, and instead was the result of an accident on the rail line.
This three hour delay threw the rest of the day and much of our return journey to the US into utter, frustrating, expensive chaos. First, because we were three hours late, we had to take a different train to Paris, and of course the tickets I’d bought weren’t the flexible kind, so I had to pay full price for the train that left a whole four minutes after we got on it, and arrived in Paris far too late for us to make the 2p flight to Iceland. During the three and a half hour purgatory on the train, I called several parties trying to figure out how to handle the situation.
At long last, I bought a couple of WOWAir tickets to the same airport in Iceland, which were conveniently inexpensive. The flight was leaving much later at a closer airport, so we had plenty of time to make it. An intimidating amount of time to spend at an airport, to be honest. So I was content with that. But then, when we got out of the airport tram to our terminal where we’d be spending the rest of the day, I got a text that was basically informing me we no longer had tickets back to Chicago from Iceland!
So then, I went into the terminal and tried to track down the Icelandair kiosk, but when I finally found it, I was told it closed right after the flight departed. So that didn’t help. I sent a message to Icelandair on Facebook and got a very unhelpful response given my situation, so I connected to the airport’s conveniently-free WiFi so that I could do free calling (thanks T-Mobile), stood right under a WiFi router to make sure the call didn’t get dropped, and waited to get patched through to an Icelandair representative. I explained to her everything that had happened (basically, the accident was likely caused by some committing suicide), and she helped me get the Iceland to Chicago tickets reinstated for much less than I would have paid for brand new tickets. (Though they could easily have comp’d the tickets but whatever.)
Once I’d gotten that situation handled, my dad and I worked our way through security, only to find out that some of our souvenirs weren’t allowed in our carryons (even though there weren’t any specific regulations about them that I could tell). I was ready for this, having packed a collapsible bag for this exact purpose. So I stuck all of the contraband in there with the help of a very cooperative security agent, then headed back to check the bag.
Problem 1: I exited into the arrivals area with all of the baggage reclamation conveyors, and I had no idea how to get back to the departures area where I’d be able to check the bag. I asked a helpful airport employee who directed me to some random elevator. I found the elevator, went down to the departure area, learned after some effort that I wouldn’t be able to check the bag for another few hours, and decided to figure out where I could put the bag so I could get back to my dad.
The answer was left luggage, which was in a terminal on the other end of the airport tram line. I got there just fine and asked the person at the information booth where the left luggage place was and if she knew where I might find some packaging material for the more fragile souvenirs. She told me, in a friendly manner, to look to my left to find the left baggage place and to ask them about packaging material.
So I went into the baggage place and the attendant graciously gave me some bubble wrap and tape they had in their back room for me to package things up with, and I didn’t pay for anything but the regular storage fee. I went back to the other end of the tram line, back through security (the agents recognized me), found my dad, had some dinner, went back to the other end of the tram line, picked up the bag, waited an hour or so for the flight checkin to open up, checked the bag, headed through security for the third time (with a new shift of agents – “Do you have any coins in your pockets?” – “This is my third time through security today; we’re good.”) and sat and waited for the flight to Iceland to start boarding. Except there was a different plane, one to Warsaw, at the gate we were supposed to board at when boarding was supposed to start.
So we waited for that plane to board and two flights, including the previous flight for our aircraft, to deboard, and we were finally on the plane to Iceland! Several hours and maybe a REM phase or two later, we were descending through some thick cloud layers to the Keflavik airport in Iceland. The terrain was definitely different: flat, wet, without a tree in sight. And so much cloud cover. Oh and it was still pretty light at 11p.
Safe on the ground, we walked what felt like a mile from the airplane (including going down stairs to walk on the tarmac into the airport in the rain?) to the luggage pickup area, retrieved the tiny bag of souvenirs, and paid far too much for a rental car. Of course it was super far from the building and at the end of the row, so I got a little damp. Then I couldn’t figure out how to get back to get my dad and almost headed into town before making a really awkward maneuver to a short term parking lot next to the building. We got our bags into the car, including some dinner from the adjacent convenience store, and left for our Airbnb, which was about forty-five minutes away.
Hungry, tired, and wet, I got all the luggage inside, microwaved our dinner, chowed down on the ham and cheese sandwich until one of the sauces (mayo?) made me almost gag, threw the rest in the garbage, shut the lights off, and crawled into a luxurious memory foam mattress for a much-needed night of sleep.