Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Traveling to and from Kenya

We travelled on KLM airlines totaling 22 hours each way.  We left Houston around 3 pm Houston time (11 pm Kenya time) on Monday the 15th and returned around 1 pm Houston time (9 pm Kenya time) on the 14th.  I will just say that I loved traveling on KLM Airlines!  I have never been on a plane that long and wasn’t sure what to expect.  KLM had friendly staff and lots of options on the plane that I you don’t get on shorter flights.  Every time I have been out of the country it has been a short flight, so I was worried about the 22 hours of traveling.  I had googled KLM to see what they were like and what sort of food to expect, but there wasn’t much out there so I thought I would write about my experience.

My sister and my nephew Cole dropped me off at the airport around 12 pm after we had lunch at Pappasito’s.  I knew I wouldn’t get Mexican food again for a few weeks so we went there for my last pre Kenya meal.  They dropped me off and I was a bundle of nerves about the plane ride, the trip, my safety, and tons of other things.  I met Tarin and her husband Bill when I got there and we checked in together.  We got there in plenty of time to relax before our flight, so there was no need to rush.

The First and Second Legs
On our flight they gave each of us a blanket and pillow when we first sat down, along with a set of headphones that went with the free in-flight entertainment system.  The kids each got some sort of kids game set, but I didn’t see what was in it because I didn’t have any kids on my row (thank goodness!).  I did have a few screaming kids on all four legs of the trip though, that was pleasant.

I thought the meals on the plane tasted ok, but some people don’t like them.  There was several items that seemed weird to me, but in other countries it was probably normal food.  Each flight we had two meals, a snack, and beverage service several times.  It always seemed like they were giving us something.  Plus, we got a hot towel several times throughout the flight. <--Which I thought was weird, but apparently it is normal!  Overall, the food wasn’t bad, just some parts but that is what you should expect for being miles in the air.  

The first meal was dinner and it was chicken nuggets, salad, roll, crackers, cheese, and a cake.  The only thing I remember about this meal was the nuggets tasted weird and the salad had some odd ingredients (odd but tasty).  The cheese and cake were great!  I think I had wine for this meal, but I didn’t drink a lot of it since I only like sweet wines and this was chardonnay I believe.

The second meal was breakfast, but I was still sort of full from the last meal.  I do remember that this meal was gross so I didn’t eat much of it.  It was a sandwich, fresh fruit, blueberry muffin, and strawberry yogurt.  The sandwich was terrible, I only ate the bread and the yogurt tasted like diet yogurt with a weird aftertaste.  I saved the fresh fruit for another time, but never ate it.  Maybe the yogurt tastes normal to other people?

We stopped over in Amsterdam for a 4 hour layover.  I updated FB saying that we had made it to Amsterdam for my families’ sake since I couldn’t call, but after that I didn’t do much except watch tv with the Boston Marathon news coverage.  We landed and all the tv’s were covering a news story about Boston, but we hadn’t heard anything while in the air of course, so it was quite a shock when we landed to hear that one of the most famous marathons in the world had been a target of crazy people.  I was half way around the world and I couldn’t contact anyone.  

We got back on the plane for another long flight.  This flight left around 11 am from Amsterdam and was flying in to Nairobi, Kenya.   This flight gave us the same service as the last one, just with different types of food, including ice cream!

The first meal was lunch and it had rice, chicken with terrikai like sauce, crackers, cheese, salad, roll, and a creamy pastry dessert.  I loved this meal!  The salad had pineapples and some other odd ingredients, but it was still tasty.  The pastry cream dessert was my favorite thing I had on the entire trip!  Seriously, so good.  I asked for ginger ale on this trip, but they said it is only offered on flights to and from America. :/  Boo!  Oh well, give me ice cream!

The second meal was a pizza wrap/rollup thing, salad with pasta, fresh fruit, and cookies.  The pizza wrap was a bit tough to cut/chew, but it was tasty.  I have never had a salad with pasta in it, but it wasn’t bad, I liked it.  The cookie that they give you is a famous Amsterdam cookie that I actually bought a box of when I came back through.

We landed in Nairobi with no problems and found our driver to take us back. I will say that the Amsterdam airport is very nice and organized, but the Nairobi was needed some remodeling.

The Return Trip
Coming back from Kenya seemed to take forever.  I didn’t get much sleep on the entire way home, maybe a hour or two, even taking sleeping pills!  It seemed longer because I was ready to get home, back to my routine, my family, and my Jabba the Hutt. <-- I missed that bratty boy.

We got to customs and checked our bags.  In the US, once you get through security you don’t have to go through another one or get your passport checked, but in Kenya and Amsterdam we had to show our passport constantly.  It got annoying.  I bought a few postcards for the boys with animals on them to mail before I left.  They just got the ones from Kenya this week, but didn’t quite understand the purpose of postcards.  Oh well.

I didn’t take pictures of the food on the way back because it was the same as when I came over, minus a few exceptions.  I do remember that the chicken on the first meal was much better than the chicken on the way over, other than that I don’t remember what the differences were.

The layover in Amsterdam was about 4.5 hours this time so we walked around for a bit.  I had some extra Kenyan Shillings that I needed to get rid of so I converted it in the terminal. Tip:  Do not do that! I  lost about $20 total converting it over at the airport.  I didn’t have a choice so it didn’t matter, but in the future either spend it before you leave or convert it before you get to an airport.  

At the Amsterdam airport I shopped for a few things for the boys, bought some chocolates for my work, went to the art museum, and almost got a fish pedicure.  The art museum was free inside the airport, which was cool, but I didn’t see any ‘famous’ artists in it.  I am not an art lover so I couldn’t tell you if they were famous, but the artists I have heard of were not there.  We also saw a royal motorcade leaving the airport.  A local guy said that the royals have their own license plates and they had passed by the windows in a huge group.  That was cool, especially since the queen was passing the crown on to her son that day.  We also almost got a fish pedicure where you stick your feet in a big fish tank and the fish eat the dead skin off your feet.  Gross but cool.  It was really expensive (like $50) so I didn’t try it, but I wish I would have.  Maybe when I go to LA I will.

We got back into Houston around 1:30 pm and I collected my bags.  I said goodbye to Tarin, Bill, and Jane with promises to stay in touch. :)  Laura and Cole picked me up and took me back to their house for me to take a nap.  I slept basically from 3 pm to 6 am the next morning, with a few hours wakeup in between.  So tired!

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