Let me start by giving you some numbers:
2000 mi round trip
28 hours of racing
4 laps of the Nürburgring
3 automotive pilgrimages
7 GB of data consumed
Over 2000 photos saved (probably over 7000 taken)
And a map*:
That's the statistical analysis of my European Extravaganza, but how about a narrative version?
suppose the story starts part-way through this past semester when I turned 21, and was coming to the end of a rough couple of semesters. That and the fact that this is probably my last chance for a full-blown summer vacation prompted the family to agree that a "summer trip to end all summer trips" would be a nice way to celebrate my 21st and my father's 50th (a couple of years ago) and recover from the stresses of an intense academic year.
Before my overseas adventure could begin though, I spent a week at Olin to help out with the I2E2 Summer Institute. Sebastian was there, and sometimes Asa, too. It was an incredible experience getting to spend a week with such a spectacularly diverse group of visiting educators (and a week with some awesome Olin faculty, too). As usual, Seb and I were surprised at just how many people come from overseas to get a taste of Olin, compared to virtually no US educators. Goes to show the state of US education I suppose.
And of course it was nice to be at Olin outside of the stressful semester schedule. Getting to hang out with people and not worry about homework or exams or design reviews was brilliant. Alas, I only had one week to enjoy it before the big adventure began.
Well, almost began. Before starting my travelog, I should admit to being very lucky to have never really suffered at the hands of the airline industry in terms of missed flights, lost luggage, etc. I arrived at Logan with plenty of time before my flight to London. So that's my responsibility for getting to Paris taken care of. We boarded and taxied out to the runway more or less on time.....until someone discovered that apparently there was a discrepancy in some paperwork and nobody knew exactly how much luggage the luggage in the hold weighed. So we were obliged to turn around, taxi back to the gate, and wait an hour for some people to weigh some bags. Besides the obvious boredom and frustration this caused to all, I was getting a little concerned that my 90 minute layover in London was rapidly evaporating.
Oh well, we got going an hour late, but trans-Atlantic flights always burn a little extra fuel to make up time, especially since the Gulf Stream is with us. Right?
We arrived in London 90 minutes late, giving me approximately a 0 minute layover. Oops. It shouldn't have been too bad though, since the delay was long enough that British Airways had had time to re-book everyone, but that included the people on the late flight from Hong Kong, too. Of course, with this sudden influx of late people and the need to change terminals and the perpetual issue of airports being designed in the least-helpful ways possible, I ended up missing the check-in for my new flight. Oh the irony.
All was not lost, however, as very nice BA clerk got me re-re-booked with a 2.5 hour layover, so no worries about missing that connection, and plenty of time to get some much-needed refreshment. Of course, lunch would have been great at this point, but when you only have 10€ in cash and you need most of that for the Paris train from the airport to the hotel, suddenly airports seem outrageously expensive. I can now confidently report that it is possible to live off of one cup of coffee when traveling internationally and being stuck in an airport for several hours.
Maaaaany hours after I had planned to arrive in Paris, I finally walked out of Charles de Gaulle - bags and all - in search of a train. I even found the correct train to Gare du Nord easily and was soon reacquainted with my mom (who had taken the Eurostar from London after spending a week in England with my grandmother) and my dad (who flew in from Phoenix), after we all arrived at our destination hotel within a couple of hours of each other. FINALLY the adventure can begin...