This is a narrative of a vacation trip that my wife Frances and I took to the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) during August 14-28, 2017. This was an independent trip, not a package tour. We are in our early 60s, reasonably healthy, and used to walking. We are Americans, living in Alexandria Virginia. Neither of us speaks any of the languages of the three countries.
Monday, August 14: Alexandria to Amsterdam
We had taken the previous Friday off and thus had a full three days to prepare. Our two cats went to the vet clinic for boarding on Saturday morning. We were well rested and had everything in order. On Monday morning, we had breakfast at Bob & Edith’s, a diner down the street from us. Our final preparations were finished by 2:00 PM. After that, it was a matter of waiting for the shuttle to arrive.
The Super Shuttle was due at 2:48; it arrived ten minutes early. The van was full. We were the last passengers to be picked up. Off we went to Dulles Airport. Airport shuttle drivers are notorious for erratic driving and keeping an eye on several cell phones while on the move, but this one was less distracted than most. The other passengers were quiet.
As we checked in at the airport, the person manning the counter asked where Tallinn was. He had never checked anyone through there before. We explained that it was in Estonia. Airport security was crowded, but it moved along pretty well. I started to get a headache when we reached the gate and took some Advil to deal with it.
In due course, we boarded the KLM flight to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. While the boarding process was no more onerous than usual, the plane itself had to wait in a queue before we could take off. At one point the captain said that we were 7th or 8th in line.
As is our custom, Fran and I had seats across the aisle from each other. That way we can see each other but both of us can get out when we want to. It’s usually too loud for any conversation on an airplane anyway. Our seats were near the front of the economy section, just a few rows aft of the forward lavatories. I settled in with my sound-canceling headphones and neck pillow, for the long haul across the ocean. The guy in front of me kept trying to recline his seat into my knees.
KLM’s food is generally pretty good, as airline food goes. Dinner was chicken with rice, salad, cheese, crackers, roll with butter, a little spice cake, and some white wine. I did some reading and tried to sleep. I had the map on the video screen. I got out my budget android tablet and tried to coax it into playing some music.
So engaged with such things, I looked up and noticed that Fran was sitting in the jump seat near the lavatories, surrounded by flight attendants. Something’s wrong here. I got up to see what was going on. She had passed out while in the lavatory. She was still pretty groggy when I got there. They found a doctor, who came and took her vital signs with the equipment in the first aid kit. The flight crew found some open space and blankets at the end of first class where she could lie down. The doctor didn’t think it was very serious but said that we should take it easy. The crew found some extra snacks to boost her energy. I answered a number of questions so that they could fill out their report. Eventually Fran felt strong enough to return to her seat. It was a scary incident, right at the beginning of the trip.
Walking miles: 1.1.