Exfiltration and Excellent Accommodations
WE MADE IT, AND OUR APARTMENT IS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!
Close to 30 hours of travel with a fussy Aidric and a 90% dead Tatiana (from lack of sleep)—but having conquered four flights, airports, and airport security checkpoints across three different airlines, I know we can do anything we want now.
Kraków smells like the spring forest in Oregon—slightly damp, with the smell of moss in the air. Green and gorgeous.
Baby on Board
I knew that avoiding the stressful, last-minute mayhem of our Miami departure would of course be very much unavoidable, but I still pestered Tatiana upwards of a week before our first flight to pack things up as much she could before the zero hour. Of course, the evening before our morning flight found her (many) belongings in much the same place as usual.
Her packing frenzy lasted all night, resulting in zero minutes slept, three (large) pieces of luggage to be left in the hotel's storage room for her next return to Miami Beach, and a backpack that was six pounds heavier than my own. (weighing in at about 43 pounds, it was just 0.4 kilos away from EasyJet's checked baggage weight limit)
Her pack's much larger than mine is (which is already at capacity), and as a result has been charged with packing up Aidric's gear with hers—and this kid's got way too much kit. What didn't fit went in an overstuffed $10 backpack from Wal-Mart, alongside his food supplies and toys for the trip.
Aidric's become a very picky and erratic eater lately. He'll only eat the specific food he has in mind, so it's often a guessing game of what that might be at any given feeding (while he's screaming away, naturally). Not only is this stressful for all involved, but also meant we had to carry an obscene amount of foodstuffs with us.
Other than being the most complicated and time-sensitive international flight path I've ever constructed, the number of airport security checkpoints we'd have to traverse worried me. The last thing I wanted to have happen was for a checkpoint to force us to dump something critical.
I still refuse to check my backpack for a flight (for fear of it being lost), and am proud to stay that I'm still victorious against the size and weight limits imposed by low cost airlines. A little Ziploc of creams and "potential weapons" went into Tatiana's pack, and my entire pack went with me on every flight.
Miami International was by far and away the most time-consuming of the security checkpoints. Everything went out of the baby backpack and both of us got a secondary screening for our packs. One TSA officer screwed up the packing inside my backpack, whilst another wouldn't stop talking to us about our lifestyle and why on earth we would want to go to Poland, instead of the Bahamas (while sorting through Aidic's backpack).
I find it entertaining, and a little depressing, that every person we've shared our arrival destination with has said, "Oh, are you Polish?" to one or both of us, assuming there's no reason anyone would ever want to visit the country for leisure.
Airport screenings got easier after that. At JFK, they just threw the entire unopened baby backpack on the x-ray (just as they did in Dublin and London). In London, I was asked (forced) to take a sip of Aidric's bottle of formula that he'd rejected a half hour earlier (and didn't want to throw out). I know this isn't permissible in the U.S.
Air pressure (popping ears) can be problematic for infants that don't know how to clear their ears, and we found this was a problem for Aidric on the smaller airplanes where the cabin pressure wasn't maintained as well as the larger jets. He screamed a lot on the ascents and descents during our flight from Miami to New York.
Aidric behaved well on the JFK–Dublin leg, likely because of the size of the plane and the cardboard bassinet that was provided for us. This was wonderful to have, but also a curse, as you're seated right next to another parent with an infant. The mother with a four-year-old demanding a $20 plastic model Aer Lingus jet and her perpetually screaming 13-month-old we all certainly could've done without. Aidric slept as much as their company allowed.
Tatiana was a real trooper, and tried to keep up as best as she could (after missing two nights of decent sleep). For travel, I'm switched on regardless the amount of sleep I've had—it's all business for me between the gates. (an attitude that saw us efficiently navigating many airport terminals, baggage claims, checkpoints, and ground transport)
Our Home for a Week
Several weeks ago, I reserved an apartment for us to live in (for a week) here in town, and after many hours of travel with an infant we were absolutely blown away when we walked into it this afternoon. This is quite possibly the best room I've ever stayed in abroad, outside of a hotel.
We're in a room called 'London', on the top story (fourth floor) of an apartment building about 15 minutes outside of the tourist bubble (which seems like an hour, given the quiet surroundings). The warm, cozy space has brand new fixtures and flooring, an abundance of natural light thanks to the large skylights (that open!), wired and wireless Internet, a nicely equipped kitchen (outside the room, shared by three others), and the best shower that I've had in over a year (the kind that makes you want to take three a day).
Tatiana could hardly contain herself when she saw it. Between organizing the flights, finding this fantastic room, and navigating the three of us here safely, she's just oozing happiness. I think I am too.