Going on Vacation – When Everything Goes Wrong – Guest Entry by Miri – Part Two

If you haven’t read part one, check it out first:  Going on Vacation – When Everything Goes Wrong – Guest Entry by Miri – Part One

The Weather

The weather is the one thing no human can influence, so I couldn’t be mad about that at anyone. Weather is inherently unpredictable. When we got there, the sky was partially blue, partially cloudy, and it wasn’t hot, but it wasn’t cold, either. Perfectly acceptable weather for bathing, one may assume, but the issue we had was that there was a chilling, unforgivingly sharp wind that made you feel like you would freeze to death when you got out of the water if the sun wasn’t shining on you in full blast. Therefore, whenever there were clouds in the sky, swimming in the ocean was out of the question. One day, I still went ahead and swam in the ocean anyway, because the clouds in the sky were so few and the water looked so enticing, and wasn’t swimming in the ocean what I was there for in the first place? The thanks I got was a cold. Runny nose and sore throat that I still haven’t managed to shake. But that is nobody’s fault.

The Area

The area of Albena is divided into two kinds. Walking toward the southern end of the beach, there is nothing but hotel after hotel after hotel (it is a hotel city, after all), and after the one five-star hotel we saw, the hotels get shabbier and shabbier. It is kind of depressing. Walking toward the northern end of the beach, however, leads you into a completely different world. The supervised hotel beach areas come to an end, so you enter the unsupervised, natural beach. At some point a sign tells you that you are leaving Albena, but it doesn’t tell you where that leaves you, just that you are not in Albena anymore. It leaves you in a kind of zero zone, away from civilization. Since there are barely any humans around now, you hear nothing but the rushing of the waves. The nature here was undisturbed. My mother and I were suddenly surrounded by butterflies, almost stepped on a lizard, collected some seriously beautiful seashells, found the seagulls’ secret hangout spot and a small waterfall. Peaceful, idyllic, that was the kind of place where I could have stayed forever.

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Then we also made a trip to Nessebar, which is a gorgeous little peninsula in the southern corner of Bulgaria, and this was a truly wonderful place. Full of old churches, and so small you could not get lost even if you tried, it was just lovely. We ate the best food of the entire stay in Bulgaria in a restaurant directly by the ocean, on a veranda that gave us a view of the water with the sun’s rays dancing on the waves. The sky was blue, and the ocean was calm, and to round it off, we did a short trip around the coast on a small boat. In short, I loved it.

We visited Nessebar on Saturday, and on Sunday I already felt a little sniffly, yet I couldn’t help it—I still needed to go swim in the ocean. I got stung in the foot by a jellyfish, but it was one of the harmless kind, blue-purplish as they occur in large numbers in that area. At first, my foot burned quite uncomfortably, but soon the burning only returned sporadically, to give way to an annoying itchiness later on, and the next day everything was fine, so that didn’t spoil the rest of our stay. We left on Tuesday.

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The Worst Flight Ever

The transfer bus picked us up at 5:30 pm. Our flight from Varna was scheduled to depart at 8:40 pm. We arrived at the airport in Varna around 7, and after the check-in, which took quite a while because of the sheer mass of people in line, we still had half an hour left before boarding was set to begin at 8. Thus, we picked up some snacks and a bottle of water and settled in to wait. Now, 8 pm came and went, without any sign of progress. We just sat there and waited, not knowing what exactly was going on. 8:40 pm came and went, as well, and we hadn’t even boarded the plane. One guy who sat behind us at the gate was well-informed and told us the plane we were supposed to board had not even left Düsseldorf yet. At some point after we had been waiting for more than an hour, there finally was an announcement: our flight was delayed for two hours and twenty minutes and would now depart at 11 pm. In the end, we departed at 11:30. What had happened was that the plane had been supposed to depart from Düsseldorf at a certain time, but two undeclared suitcases caused a security breach, and subsequently everybody had to leave the already boarded plane and identify their luggage.

But all of that hardly mattered to me at this point. I was sickly, my head was hurting, so was my stomach, and I was dead tired by the time our plane finally left Varna airport. I was just glad we were finally in the air. I just wanted to go home. I was also very sorry because a friend of mine (who’d also been taking care of the cats in our absence) had promised to pick us up from the airport in Düsseldorf, but of course she’d been expecting us at 11 pm, not in the middle of the night. Additionally, it was unclear whether we would still be landing in Düsseldorf, because Düsseldorf airport only accepts arrivals until 11 pm. There are special exceptions to this rule, and I was desperately hoping we would be one of those.

About half an hour into the flight, the flight attendings asked if there was a doctor on board. Three people stood up and were led to the front of the plane. My mother and I couldn’t really see what was going on, but we did see that the physicians didn’t return to their seats. Some time later, the plane started dropping, and an announcement was made. There would be an unscheduled pitstop at Nuremberg airport because of a medical emergency.

At this point, I was close to tears. I was exhausted and tired and frustrated, and of course nobody can help it if there’s a medical emergency, but that was just the cherry on the damn cake. After everything, now we had to endure this, too; as I’d told my mom when we were still waiting at the airport, this vacation was jinxed. So we landed in Nuremberg, and we were told that it would just be a quick pitstop, 20 minutes, half an hour tops. I was now nauseous from the quick descent on top of everything else. I texted my friend the newest update, who responded with tons of laughing emojis and disbelief, which was sort of the adequate response to this horror of a trip. Her laughter inspired me to make light of the situation, as well, which helped a little. As it turned out, then, the plane’s brakes were too hot, so we would be staying in Nuremberg a bit longer so they could refuel the tank, because why not, I guess. Ultimately, we stayed there for over an hour.

Finally, then, the plane was up in the air again, and we were told that we would NOT be landing in Düsseldorf anymore, but we would be redirected to Cologne, from where we would be transferred to Düsseldorf airport via bus. Another thing that almost made me cry. So we landed in Cologne at about 2:30 am, and the people just couldn’t wait to get out of this cursed plane. Baggage claim took forever and ever because while my mother’s suitcase was one of the first to be sent down the conveyer belt, mine was one of the last ones, as it always is. A baggage claim curse just follows me around wherever I go. Then we had to run toward where we were told the busses waited for us, and I ended up dragging both suitcases behind me because my mother had to light a cigarette and I was done waiting, for anybody or anything.

The bus was a giant red double decker with a luggage trailer attached to it that looked way too small, so the guy who loaded it had to play real-life tetris to fit all our things in. I didn’t stick around to watch our suitcases get smushed, however; I dragged my mother behind me to find a seat. The bus left Cologne at 3:15 am. I dosed and fell asleep, drooling on myself and feeling no shame whatsoever when I realized; I think every occupant on that bus was beyond shame at that point. We arrived at Düsseldorf airport at 4 am, and I texted my friend to let her know where we were; she’d been waiting for us for over an hour, and after we’d pulled our dented suitcases out of the pile, she found us and took us home. I was abundantly grateful to her since I knew she had an appointment in the morning, and yet she’d gone out of her way to save us from having to take a train home, which probably would have finally made me cry for real.

Thus, we arrived at home at 5 o’clock in the morning, a measly five hours later than scheduled, and the vacation was over. Surprisingly, the only thing not to survive the tetris in the luggage trailer was my mother’s small make-up mirror, which was in shards. Everything else, even the delicate seashells I’d collected made it out intact. Maybe the broken mirror was the reason for our bad luck, only it worked in reverse; we had bad luck, and then the mirror broke. Who knows. I guess the lesson here is: if you go to Bulgaria, only book a five-star hotel, and even the worst times come to an end.

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