Viva Roma!

Nervous beyond belief, I stumble into my tiny hotel room. My mini suitcase hits every corner of the room. As I kick off my shoes and strip off my uniform, I connect to wifi; and send the message. I’m here, I finally made it! Rome!

He’s on his way. In just a few short moments, we’ll reunite. 11 years later. A childhood between cousins broken and separated by the depths of the ocean. And a question that haunts; will this reunion bring us closer together or tear us further apart?

I quickly change, and freshen up after a long overnight flight. I look tired, my skin is flushed. No time to dwell on mediocre observations. I hurry downstairs, and wait patiently with my phone in hand. Who are we kidding, I don’t know what patience is!
Pacing back and forth at the hotels front entrance, sun beaming, the heat is magnificent. I missed it.

I had planned this moment in my head for weeks now, exactly how to act, react and what to do and say when I’d first see him.
And when I finally did, I forgot what I was suppose to remember.

He looks identical to his father; my uncle. Spitting image. When I had left Poland, we were still kids oblivious to what this separation meant. Now, he sure didn’t resemble the little annoying ragrat I used to play with.
In each others embrace, I sensed a sigh of relief. Not only from me, but from him too. For a few moments, silence filled the air. What do you say? How do we begin, after so many years?

And for ten hours straight, we couldn’t stop talking. So many questions, so many answers.
We circled the city maybe 5 times, I really wish I could tell you where exactly we walked but my mind was not paying attention to my surroundings but focused entirely on his stories.
Glossy eyed, reminiscing about our childhoods back home in Poland. That family void I’ve been feeling for years now is beginning to patch up slowly.

He’s everything I was hoping for, our personalities are nearly identical. We talked like we’ve never been apart. I was the happiest at that moment. We’re blood, practically brother and sister. We’re family. Living worlds apart, united by our native tongue.

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My Essentials: Hair & Skin

Flight Attendant, Stewardess, Air Hostess.
noun – an airline employee who serves meals, attends to passengers’ comfort, etc., during a flight. – dictionary.com

I’m pretty sure you’ve guessed what it is that I do for a living.

People always ask me, “What do you have in your suitcase?” Or, “How do you pack for all the different destinations, you must be very organized.”

In my world it’s more like, “organized chaos”.

What I’ve learned in the last few months of flying is how to manage my time. What are the things I can do that will save me that extra trip to the bathroom or closet and will maximize my time in between the sheets.

So here are my essential that don’t cram my suitcase with unnecessary things. Things that save me and make my layovers that much easier – all on 4 wheels.

Starting from the top.
Head:
Round brush/ 2 medium sized rollers – for that extra oomph
Time saving tip: for those of us with long hair, side bangs or full bangs – separate the first 2-3inches of your hair. Tie the back. Shampoo and condition the front part of hair, rinse and blow dry. Set on rollers over night. And voila, as I prance downstairs for call time, I look like I’ve spent hours on my do.
Sock bun: who wants Prom Queen hair every time. This is a fantastic alternative and probably one of the greatest inventions out there. I thank YouTube for the tutorials.
This should not take more than 10 minutes.
Hair ties and bobby pins – I go through them more often than I blink.
Money saving tip: When I’m in the UK, which happens more often than desired, I stock up on essentials at Primark. Especially hair ties and bobby pins. Large quantities per package for next to nothing. No 5* quality but they get the job done.

Face:
Simple is key. Non harsh soap and warm water. I use Dove White Deep Moisture soap. I’m the last person you will find at the sink with toners and scrubs. Skin ages, grows and develops naturally, the more chemicals you use the more skin becomes irritated and sensitive.
A great rich moisturizer is a must. I grew up on Nivea, and I won’t use anything else. And if I look anything like my mom at her age, I’ll be happy. Tried a few other more expensive products with ingredience I can’t even pronounce. Just because the price is in the double or triple digits doesn’t mean we will all look like Cindy Crawford. Use what works best with your skin.
Under eye cream – unfortunately I’ve been blessed with those great dark circles under my eyes. I recently started using Elizabeth Arden Prevage Eye Moisture Cream. On the pricy side, so when my sample container runs out I will have to seriously contemplate the splurge.

Makeup removers – I find liquid makeup removers don’t always survive the trip. A few times I’ve wasted precious minutes rinsing, drying and repacking because my bottle had spilt. Not to mention cursing that my $15, 100ml bottle product evaporated into thin air. My alternative; face wipes. I use Equate Exfoliating Cleansing Towelettes. Gentle on the skin and wallet. They go with me everywhere and are always at my bed side at home and abroad. One thing I will never do is fall asleep with a full face on, especially one that has gone through two or more continents. So when exhaustion hits hard and I can’t bare to stand on my feet any longer I reach over and my wipes save me. Under 2 minutes and you can do it with your eyes closed.
Did you know? Aloe Vera isn’t only used for sunburns. I use it as a makeup remover. Works just as good if not better than all other products AND it’s made up of natural ingredients. Bonus for your skin.

Makeup – I repeat, simple is key. Too often flight attendants resemble Robin Williams’ character in ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ as he slaps on a last minute dripping “face mask” when Mrs. Sellner pops in for her appointment. Except at 40 000ft, I’m sure it would be far from tasty.
Primer – I use Smashbox Photo Finish Oil Free Foundation Primer. I find my makeup application is smoother and even. It reduces the cake look and creates a base so makeup does not sink into the creases, fine lines and wrinkles.
Followed by a little bit of concealor, mineralized powder, mascara, a bit of bronzer or blush and I’m ready for outfit …

Here are a few of my favourite things

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Drafted

Tears were bottling up in my eyes. I was furious. I could feel my ears getting hot and tingly. Surely I was beat red.

This was my first taste of “Anything can happen at any given time”

After my Reserve schedule, or in human terms, on-call, where I sacrificed my life for two months and practically lived in the UK part time… I was finally able to bid on my most desired flights. And so I bid. AVOID UK!

To my surprise, my first real flight schedule was pretty incredible for someone who just started on the line. Three layovers in Barcelona and a Rome! Rome was the one I was looking forward to the most. Main reason being, there lives a young lad who I haven’t seen in 11 years. And we’re suppose to be family. After arranging our mini reunion, all we were waiting for was the day to come.

And so it came.
Here’s the play-by-play.

Suitcase zipped, lunch ready, snacks packed, uniform on, shoes patiently waiting at the door. A quick last minute schedule check; happy to see familiar names on the crew. Twenty minutes later and I’m scanning my airport security pass and pushing past the heavy doors. My suitcase trails behind me.

Post briefing, we pick positions on the aircraft. I of course, due to my seniority (or lack there of) am last to pick. At this point I was ready to shut the aircraft doors and take off. This was a big step for me. I needed this moment, to once again unite our family. Nothing mattered, not even that I was left with a position I only knew about from what I read in my manual. Never actually having worked the Club Section, I was petrified. Word got around pretty quick and I had help within minutes. I relaxed. My destination was about to change and all within those same minutes. I hear the faint calls of my name. My supervisor rushes on board and by the time I had a chance to process the information I was no longer going to Rome, but to Manchester! For 48 hours!

I was being drafted!?!? But I had plans! In Rome, not Manchester! I was finally going to reunite with a cousin who I haven’t seen in over a decade! This was NOT happening.

Being introduced to the second crew, combined of 6 young girls, who have been travelling together the last few days, I immediately felt tension and I knew exactly why. They were all French, and I speak none of it. The theme of the flight was “forgetting” to speak to me in English. Most of the 6 hours, I spent alone. Even during our duties the only words exchanged were “Please pass the orange juice” or “Do you have ginger-ale on your side?”

I speak the truth when I say I have nothing against French or French people. I actually love the language and am learning it at the moment, but I managed to gather one nasty impression of the culture within this short time. No details shared, but I’m sure you’ve guessed that this was not my best flight. Actually, it was horrible. What made this whole thing even worse was that I realized Rome and Manchester had two very different climates. My suitcase was prepared for extreme heat not Alaska! All I had were sun dresses and flip flops. I was on the verge of a breakdown, everything was crumbling before my eyes. And this wasn’t even that bad. Would I be able to handle this? These last minute changes. Would I ever be prepared for this? Nope, you can never be prepared for this job. The trick is, and I learned it that day is to stay calm, take it for what it is. I signed up for this job knowing my life would be on the go. The routines were over, it was just an adjustment.

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Manchester wasn’t so bad after all. And the two days gave me time to rest and visit the city. Since I had no proper clothing and I was not going to spend my time sitting in the hotel, I had to go shopping. Primark saved my life and my wallet. While browsing I ran into a colleague of mine from my training class. Smiles and giggles erupted. In moments we were engulfing each other with hugs. She was flying out the next morning, so we decided on dinner that evening. Others who joined us, were also from my training class. All of a sudden I’d forgotten what I had felt just a few short hours ago. This IS what I was meant to do, this is what made feel complete. That at any given moment things could turn upside down, and just when you think the world is against you something amazing happens. This was my lesson. Who would have thought that from my miserable flight where I was sure I would have the worst two days of my life abroad with no familiar face around I ended up with not one, but two crews filled with those who I shared this change with.

So what did I learn? To be patient and calm. To appreciate what I was given, because not every person gets the opportunities I do. And what I thought was the end of the world for me was merely a small stepping stone. It could have been a lot worse.
But more importantly, I learned I needed to reorganize my suitcase!!

Irish for a day

An entry written cozy in my hotel bed a few months back.

Architecturally the city looks to be related to the UK. Old and historic. The only difference, in my opinion, there is no ‘grand’. Everything is just plain cute. The colourful low rise buildings hold hands as they line the cobble stone ways. Each path reveals a new adventure. Which one would you take?

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I often refer to myself as Dora the Explorer, and here I sure felt like her. All I was missing was a purple backpack.

A few wrong turns. A couple snapshots. A short stop in the middle of a little square filled with smiling faces basking in the infrequent rays of sunshine. And then…. we finally found it. The famous Temple Bar. To be perfectly honest, I expected it to be a bit ‘bigger’ or even maybe slightly more visible. But nonetheless we dissolved into its red doors.

I’m not much of a beer drinker, my blood craves the sweet tastes of vodka but as tradition calls in Ireland, one must taste the raw bitterness of a fresh pint of Guinness. (On a side note, to be safe I made sure I ordered a half pint to save myself from the embarrassment of a giant fish bowl being placed in front of my face).

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How was the beer? Like I said, I’m not much of a beer drinker.

An after lunch afternoon stroll triggers deep conversation. It’s moments like this you find yourself making the hardest choices. Whether to reveal yourself to a stranger or hide yourself from a good friend.

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The sun had set and what better way to end a glorious day in Dublin than to experience it under the moonlight. By this time the streets, nooks and walkways were familiar. No troubles or detours trying to find our happy place.  Apparently, this was where the entire town had met that night. So congested with people you could barely pass through from one side to the other. Here we were again at The Temple Bar.

 

The flight back seemed almost too short. So many stories we gathered in our short time together. Stories and memories that made a imprint on my life and the journey that was beginning….

 

 

London, England

London, England

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone talks about London, England? Grey.
You couldn’t be more right. It’s just that, grey.
But in its grey and rainy coating lies history and character.
My first visit back in March 2012 stretched over a 24 hour layover. Arriving in the small town of Gatwick where I could stretch my arms from side to side and touch both sides of the road, to a short train trip into London.
Besides squealing with excitement, I remember thinking “grand, this city is grand”. You could just smell royalty!

Walking through London Victoria Station was surreal. I’d never seen so many people jogging in all different directions. It’s a wonder no collisions have been reported.

Hyde Park next to Westminster, much different by comparison to others I’ve walked through was so well maintained. Luscious greens, perfectly trimmed grass, bouquets of flowers oozing with glorious colours. And the lawn chairs? Were they bolted to the ground because where I’m from they wouldn’t last long enough for someone to take a picture.

My first real fish and chips lunch with a pint of beer. The sizes were enormous! Was this normal? I tried to be discreet and check out the situations at other nearby tables. Later, I realized that when ordering a beer in the UK one must ask for ‘half pint’ otherwise you end up with a fish owl.

And just like that it was over. I returned home from my first real taste of what my future will look like.

Aside from the exhaustion, slight jet lag, and not enough words in my vocabulary to describe what I was feeling I was the happiest girl in the world! And I couldn’t wait to get back on that plane to another adventure.

Taking it back … 345 days earlier

I got the call! My heart was beating a thousand miles a minute. Nervous, shaking, sweaty palms and with a dry mouth I managed to get through what I thought would be the worst part: an unexpected dreaded phone interview. This was then followed by a day filled with faces I was sure to never see again, names that flew by me and disappeared into thin air.  A day started with introductions, interviews and testing, divided by eliminations and ending with thank you’s and a uniform fitting.

One of the most exhilarating days that I could ever remember. By the end I was sure I had it in the bag, but I tried to be modest and kept quiet. After all, the greatest disappointment would have been a rejection.

Two weeks later I was en route to my month long training course. A room-mate, 5:30am wake-up calls, a hotel filled with eager and competitive trainees, kraft dinner and sandwiches and an intensive 21 day in class course.

Adrenaline was pumping on high.

After numerous sleepless nights, vivid horror dreams, delusional days, I GRADUATED!! This was not just any graduation, this was one I’ve wanted for years. One of my biggest achievements, one of my proudest moments.

They told us, “this training you may not remember after all, but the people you meet here, the people you spend all your days with … will become some of your closest friends”

They were right about one thing, I did meet some amazing people!

This is where my adventure started… keep reading for my exciting journeys …

My very first time …

I often wondered what the big deal with blogging was. I often told myself I just didn’t have the time, or to be more specific; riveting content. Except this year I promised myself I would try the things I tell myself I don’t have time for. Although I’ve never actually made one, I guess you could call it a ‘New Years Resolution’.  So here goes… This being my very first entry.