Travel Itinerary-(All with no sleep) -Leave Philly Hotel by mid morning–>2.5 hour bus ride to JFK airport–> check in and get through security–>5 hour wait until our flight–> 8 hour flight to Munich Germany–>1 hour layover in Munich–> 2 hour flight to Tirana Albania–> 2 hour bus ride to Elbasan to check into our hotel–> walking tour of Elbasan–>3 hour wait until supper–> SLEEP!!
Looking back on our travel days it seems to have all blended in to one extremely long day. We arrived at the airport very early but it was a must with a group as big as ours. There was no chancing not making it on our flight to Munich. We got checked in but it turns out the airline wasn’t going to let me carry on my backpack. All of my fingers were crossed that my bags were going to make it since I no longer had my extra clothes, toothbrush or any of the necessities I might need in the next few days since they were all in my backpack that was now checked. The flight turned out to be with a great airline that served us a hot dinner and breakfast thankfully. I don’t know how I would do without food in that small of space for that long!! I did not have any luck with sleeping in an airplane seat. There were free movies so that helped pass the time.
Lesson learned on my first international flight; Be careful when removing your things from the luggage rack. I accidentally dropped a coat/ very light backpack on a man’s head in front of me when I got my bag out of the overhead compartment. Let’s just say he was very angry and I am pretty sure cursed at me in German.
Once we made it to Munich our flight took off on time and we arrived in Tirana Albania!! The flight inland was beautiful and we all kept thinking how lucky we were to serve in such a beautiful country. The sun was out and shining and by North Dakota standards it almost felt like summer. It was a great day to arrive in our home for the next two years! By some miracle we all received our luggage and we were on the 2 hour bus ride to Elbasan.
We were staying in a hotel in Elbasan, one of the bigger cities in Albania where the Peace Corps holds their initial PST for the volunteers. It was exciting to be in Albania and hard to believe the day had finally happened! We split into smaller groups and took a walk around Elbasan. The landscape in Albania is beautiful and I can’t wait to see more of the country. We were served our first Albanian meal and it was good. There was a lot of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, cheeses, and soup with chicken. The food will be fun to try out during my service. After not sleeping the night before and then staying awake until supper was a little torturous but they say the best way to acclimate is to avoid naps. I am proud of myself for staying awake and making it all the way until 10 pm that evening!