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That time I traveled for 24 hours straight

I am currently sitting in my Dubrovnik apartment after a wonderful day of walking around the gorgeous medieval city. In the spirit of full disclosure, travel is not all glamour. Getting to this gorgeous apartment with the most incredible view was not fun. It was very long and very arduous probably exaggerated due to my exhaustion.

First things first, I should mention that I had 3 layovers total for this trip to my first destination. Technically, when I purchased my Delta international ticket, I had 2 but since I decided to skip Croatia’s capital for a visit on this trip, I booked an additional flight to the coast from their. You may ask, “Sami, why did you book a flight with so many layovers?” Great question! It turns out that when you are paying with sky miles like I did, your flight selection is not always the best or most direct. Since someone gifted me the ticket (I kid you not – seriously thank you!), I decided to find one of the “cheapest” routes so as not to take advantage of their incredible kindness!

My trip started in the early morning hours of Thursday, April 20. I crashed at my parents’ house the evening before since they were driving me to the Macon airport shuttle. I think my 3:40am wake up call was my first mistake because I started my trip off already tired and I hadn’t even walked into the airport.

Atlanta’s airport is vast and so busy but I will never be taking that wonderfully organized airport for granted. After going through 5 airports for so far for this trip, I can say with confidence that ATL knows their stuff. Their food variety, number of accessible bathrooms, charging stations, and most importantly, their blessed plane train are truly magical. I say that because the rest of my airport visits obviously lacked in comparison.

My first flight of the trip was to New York City’s JFK airport and I had the cutest little Asian lady who spoke very limited English but had the brightest smile sitting beside me. The arrival to JFK was truly a disaster. Although I had received all of my boarding passes at ATL and had already gone through security, I had to leave the airport and walk outside for a good .5 miles with my luggage, get an additional boarding pass, and go through security again with a million other travelers. I was resigned to the fact that I was going to miss my connecting flight because of the sheer volume of people in line. The sweet German couple in front of me in the security line must have seen my teary eyes because they offered to let me in front of them in line but I didn’t take them up on the offer. Surprisingly, I went through security much faster than anticipated, sprinted to my gate, and man aged to rip my pants *somehow.* But all of that didn’t matter because I made my flight!

My next flight was via Aeroflot airlines to Moscow, Russian. My neighbors for this flight were Russian so our communication was very limited as well. Since this was my longest leg of my trip at 9 hours total, I wanted to catch some sleep. However, I was assigned a seat in the dreaded middle area of the plane (I never got the option to select my seat), and I don’t think I slept a minute. It was cramped and so uncomfortable. Did I mention that their was no wifi available either? I was just as surprised. I relied heavily on the in-flight entertainment.

Exhausted beyond anything, I arrived in Russia where it was below freezing and I learned really quickly that navigating the SVO airport would be a bit difficult. Somehow my flight’s gate changed and I could not find it on the monitors. Stressed out and I could not able to find anyone who could navigate me to the correct gate that spoke English – yes, it was a bit overwhelming. After finally finding someone, the walk to the correct gate felt like a million miles away and I made it with 20 minutes to spare before boarding. A bright side is that my seat on this flight was located in a great area. I sat in the window seat on the row right behind first class next to a cheerful Russian family. Their grandaugther was so adorable. Her Russian phrases and reenactment of the airplanes was definitely a little dose of happiness I needed. I also had so much legroom. I never really have issue with legroom since I am so short but after 9 hours of being cramped in a small space on my flight to Russia, all that space felt like a luxury. Our flight was delayed on the runway for about an hour, but I was just done being stressed for the day and just went with the flow.

The last leg of the trip was smooth as can be. Zagreb and Dubrovnik’s airports were lovely compared to JFK and SVO. I was so thankful to have a driver scheduled to pick me up at the airport and take me to my Airbnb apartment in Dubrovnik. It was well worth the extra fee to not have to scramble around for a taxi and locate the apartment. Plus Ivan was truly sweet and a very good-looking Croatian. ? He is going to take me back to the airport tomorrow to pick up my rental car.

In the end, my Dubrovnik apartment and the view (below) are so worth all the struggles of travel. So yes, travel is not all sunshines and rainbows, but the experience is fun and liberating and something I will never regret. I spent the most incredible day in Dubrovnik today and I cannot wait for the rest of this trip


Sami Mastrario
Sami Mastrario

The cool aunt. Plant novice who loves to travel to cool places, eat unadventurous food, and take pretty photos.

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