zaterdag 13 juni 2015

Friday 12/06 Brussel-Chicago: airplane

Not sure if I ever wanna be remembered of this day but I’l write it down anyway.
Flight to Chicago was smooth and ok, we even had a free upgrate to Business Plus, wich meant we were sitting behind a “wall” and had a lot of room. (no view, though)
with a slight delay we landed at o’Hare.

First stop; immigrations, witch can take very long, but now they have COMPUTERS to let you in the country. It was a bit unclear but with some help Robert got accepted real quick. Then me... uh oh, computer said “theres is a problem because your passport will expire within 2 months, error error error, you’re not ok”
WAAA!! I thought I would fall on the floor, but the girl who helped us said “the computer doesnt understand, but you’re ok, you’ll have to see a officer at the window” (like it used to be) I kept on asking “but I’m ok though, right???”
I specificly looked it up at home because of the short expire!! (also, my passport passed several hands in Brussels)
So, the officer did let me in the country :-) we did have a small conversation about the Bottle Rockets :-) it all went VERY fast anyway, and we waited for our suitcases. That took sooo long that we started worrying. Finally with suitcases, we had to stand in a ridicilous long line for customs, and finally we made it outside.

next problem: the number we had to call to be picked up by the rental company didnt work. But after a few minutes we saw their shuttle bus anyway so we got in.
Dollar rentacar was located in a... shack, with people and suitcases bulging out of it, with unhappy complaining customers (2 in dutch) a long line that didnt move, and 4 employees behind desks with a look on their faces that said “I dont wanna be here”  (and last time we delivered our car here they were also very unfriendly. No more Dollar for sure)
Finally Roberts turn, and I stayed with our luggage. At some point he called me and shook his head, the woman that was helping him was very agressive with pushing extra insurances and when Robert said “no” she got really unfriendly.
Long time later he called me again and said the dreaded words “they dont accept my credit card”
Disbelievfe. First moment of total disbelieve in a long line.
Lady just said it didnt work. Didnt wanna try our debetcards. Didnt wanna think about another solutions. Next in line!
she was pretty rude and totally swept from our feet we went outside and tried to call Dan who we were supposed to meet. He was on his way to a gig so not in the neighbourhood.

we went back to the airport and tried our creditcard at starbucks... no problem!! I was so relieved! still, we didnt know what to do. and we were so tired!  we couldnt get online, but we were able to call some people for advice but didnt really work out either and we just didnt know what to do anymore. Robert wanted to go back to Dollar to try again, what meant another long line... we saw the driver of their shuttle bus and he said it wouldnt work because they can only try once every 24hr. He said “do you have one of those fancy phones? go online, book a car at Hertz and try there” we didnt have no fancy phones :-) but a laptop but we couldnt get online because the only option was you had to buy a monthly plan!! :-S
so, either getting a monthly plan to go online on american airports or just doing a “walk up” to Hertz!
we choose the walk up (most expensive option) because we just didnt know what else to do and we were just so-mega-tired and jet lagged. we felt so lost. I felt like I was about to start screaming.
We hopped on the Hertz bus. What a different does Hertz make from Dollar. They had an office, not a shack. They had seats for people who were waiting. They also had quite a line, but they hada bunch of smiling people behind desks waiting for us. Pretty quick it was our turn. It felt kinda cool in a way to just walk up to a Hertz desk in the USA and go “we want a car”  ooh living on the wild site :-)
the woman was very friendly, took the credit card, swiped it and proceded.

WHAT!! Robert and I looked at eachother and crossed our fingers. Did she already see it worked? she didnt try to sell us a bigger car, extra insurance, toll passes, and adviced us on several options in a way that was cheaper for us. We ended up with a 650 dollar car for 5 days, but then... The credid card was declined.

But she didnt go “next in line”, no, she tried to help us, going through several options on how to get to STL, or what we should do, or how it was maybe possible that it did work at Starbucks. She adviced us to go to the “bus shuttle” on the airport. Back to the airport. Feeling so unreal and wanting to go home. Discussions on what to do. So tired. Trying not to get a fight or hysterical breakdown. Found a sign for “ticketing” so we followed it and found the ticket desk for United. (we assumed that Lufthansa dont fly to STL) Still, again, for some reason its just excited to slap your creditcard on the desk and go “we need to go to Saint Louis asap”
we could still make it to a flight but as we were “walk ups” we had to PAY. So it be, sigh. but, credit card declined. And no ma’am, sorry we dont take cash...
we went “ok, bye” and left. To the “bus shuttle” what ever that may be...

Dan advised us to “take the blue line into town and take the amtrak”
But how, when, where,..... does the Amtrak takes cash? does the Greyhound take cash? (if the Greyhound didnt take cash... ) more running around (thank the lord that we packed SO LIGHT)
about to give up. Buss shuttle was only regional and said “take the blue line to the city”
more running around, so tired, and that super surreal feeling. I said to Robert “right now I just wanna go to sleep and wake up at home” and he totally agreed.
We went to the subway and had to ask help to buy ticket and where the amtrak was and squeezed ourselfs in the tiny seats. I must say that no one made a problem of our luggage.
we knew it was quite a ride into town. I just stared outside and wished I was home.
After maybe an hr we were there and the moment we left the station I just felt better!
we found the station without getting lost. Its pretty big and impressive.
“Union Station” thats just... cool :-)
And now the 1000000 dollar question....
“do you take cash?”
“yes we do”
next question: we need to go to STL asap!
we just missed the last train :-(
Next one was 7am, arriving in STL around 12.30.
He advised us check Greyhound also, what we did.
Bit complicated, but they had a night service, (and they take cash! some faith in humanity restored) and Robert didnt wanna sleep on the bus (maybe better) so we went back and bought tickets for the train.
Just to try Robert gave his creditcard... worked perfectly for 104 dollar.
We asked how to get info on hotels in the neighbourhood and she send us to the service desk. Long, long line. We were thinking about going online and check but we didnt do it.
Its just so hard to make the right decision when you’re so tired and stressed out.

went to get a drink and the chatty girl at the check out said I would fit in perfectly in Wisconsin with my accent :-D I dont know if its true or not but I think its funny because of the cheese connection :-D

Guy behind us in line came all the way from Los Angeles by train!! and missed his connection because of delay and we assured him trains in Europe are just the same.
Turned out we were at the service desk where they only help stranded Amtrak traveleers. I think we looked so desperate, she made some calls for us anyway (thank you) when we said we’re from Belgium she went “how on earth did you end up here?!” well, thats a long story :-)
she called two hostels (every single hotel in the neighbourhood was completely full, and she wondered why) and the last one had a private room free. she said “they’re from Belgium and they’ll take a cab now”

Huge line outside the cabs-curve so we walked back to the subway. It was very complicated because we didnt know where to go so we gave up, went back upstairs got a cab. we feared the worse with the rate but it was only 15 dollar.
Lincoln Park looked like quite a nice neighbourhood. We feared the room would be gone but it wasnt. On first sight the hostel looked nice, but our room was a bit overpriced. But we had a bed... no bathroom though (quite a walk to find one) and it was a bit dirty. we probably caught bedbugs :-P
We went back out to find something to eat and ended up at Mac Donalds and Subway. I just couldnt speak anymore at Subway but they took it kinda cool and asked where we were from and what was going on and we explained. Then “is there Subway in Belgium too?"
yes, there is! Turns out there is one in Bulgaria too and it looks nice. Good to know.
Salad was wayyy to big, i was so hungry now I couldt eat anymore (ever had that?)
Robert got mayonaise with his fries. WOman didnt even blink. Times are changing.
Back in our room; sorted somethings out and then BED, fantastic BED. The sheets were clean and the bed was better than it sounded :-D and we did get some sleep... but woke up at 3. But we knew that would happen.

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