I’m currently traveling to see my sister in Basel, Switzerland. To get there from my home in Auckland, however, it required three airplane rides including an overnight stay in Vienna. But due to my lack of planning, I had to literally have a Tom Hanks moment (you know, from the movie The Terminal). I had 12 hours to kill before my flight the next morning. What’s a girl to do?
After about two hours of walking around, trying to find the airport lounges, I found them at about 9pm. Only to realise they were open only till 10pm – my flight was at 8am the next day. “I don’t recommend you paying 35 Euros for just one hour,” said David, the very helpful receptionist at the Austrian Air lounge. Instead he said that since no flights were coming in till the morning, the departure gates were a good place to sleep. “There are leather couches in the further gates you can rest in,” he said. “Is there anything you need?” Ah, the magic question. “Yes, I need toothpaste,” was my reply. He gave me a toothbrush and toothpaste set.
So I settled into my little workstation at the F gates area, charged my devices, and managed to watch a few shows on Netflix thanks to the free Wi-Fi. I sprawled myself on a leather couch and actually had two hours of fitful sleep. I got up with a few hours to freshen up, read my Bible and enjoy my quiet time – not everyone gets to spend the night with one whole departure gate to herself. I walked around the empty terminal to stretch my legs. Then I girded myself for my morning coffee and croissant (I Googled the opening hours of the coffee shops in the F gates – 5am! Yahoo!).
What began as a grumbling moment for me turned out to be an experience I’ve since immortalised in my travel sketchbook (here’s one part of my cartoon above – “masungit” means “grumpy”). I have a disclaimer to that initial impression – the people were nicer when I had gotten some rest. This was just one experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone. But that’s the only place we can grow, really. Ultimately, when life gives you a 12-hour layover with no airport lounge to sleep in, you can still have fun.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing…” (Philippians 2:14)