On the Barrage "Vagabond Tales" DVD, there's an hour-long documentary about the band. At one point, violinist Carly Frey wonders about whether or not Barrage actually exists to conduct sleep deprivation experiments. The final night of our tour in the Netherlands was, undoubtedly, one of these.
We finished our last performance in Goes, Netherlands (pronounced hoos, but with that phlegmy, guttural growl at the beginning) and hopped on a coach bus to a hotel in Dusseldorf, Germany, where we would fly out early the next morning. We went to bed sometime around 3 a.m., took a two-hour nap, and then caught a shuttle to the Dusseldorf Airport. While the short flight to Berlin was bearable, the 11-hour flight to Miami was much more challenging...I didn't just have any middle seat, I had the much-dreaded middle seat with the entertainment console in the foot space:
|Notice the silver box in front of my left foot.|
Normally, I don't have issues traveling by myself on planes, even carrying around a larger-than-normal case with two violins. Lately, however, I've been having a string of unfortunate interactions with flight attendants on a certain airline. [A clue: its name starts with a "C" and ends with an "ontinental"...] On this flight from Houston to Phoenix, I was assessing the overhead space in the back of the plane, where I was sitting. A flustered, stressed attendant approached and determined that I was taking too long re-arranging luggage to create space for my case. Taking the matter into his own hands, he began frustratedly shuffling around bags. I encouraged, gingerly, "We should be able to make my violin fit!" To which he snipped, "Well, sir, you're not the only person on this plane with luggage."
After a quick night at home in my own bed, I took a six-day vacation to Seattle with my older brother, Scott. It was our first time to Seattle, our first trip together, and the most time we have spent together since he moved out for college back in 2000. Originally, I was worried we wouldn't be able to find enough things to do, given our varying interests; but, it turned out that we didn't have enough time to do everything we wanted! In spite of the cold, cloudy weather, Seattle provided some amazing experiences. Here are some pictures from our time there!
|Eating incredible sandwiches from Salumi in the Waterfall Garden.|
|Olympic Sculpture Park.|
|Pike Place Market.|
|We heard Vadim Repin with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall.|
|Touching anemone at the Seattle Aquarium.|
Coolest jellyfish display ever.
|(This photo was not doctored. Crazy colors, eh?)|
|Up close and personal with the gorillas at the incredible Woodland Park Zoo.|
|With my awesome friend, Bonnie, who is an instructor at IslandWood on Bainbridge Island.|
|On a suspension bridge at the IslandWood campus.|
|Fire lookout tower.|
|From the Space Needle.|
|As my hair and his hood indicate, it was incredibly windy!|
|My brother captured this great photo of the sunset from the Space Needle...this was basically the most sun we saw the whole time we were there.|
- Invest in the Seattle CityPass.
- Eat at FareStart. The food is incredible, and the mission is even better.
- A friend recommended breakfast at Le Panier in the Pike Place Market, which was delicious. Try to grab the window seats for good people-watching!
- If you like coffee, take the Coffee Crawl. (Our favorite coffee places out of the many we visited were Espresso Vivace and Stumptown.)
When we came back on the road last Thursday, I had yet another incident (!) on that certain airline.
Flight attendant (standing in a row): Is that an instrument?
Me: Yeah, it's a violin.
FA: Ahhh, they must have not seen it when they took your ticket to board. We normally check instruments.
Me: I've never had to check it before...?
FA (posturing himself): Well, with larger cases like yours, we normally check them. They don't fit in the overheads very well because they're oddly shaped, so we always check them so other bags can fit. And this is a full flight.
Me (somewhat defensively): I travel 42 weeks a year with this case...I've never had problems making it fit, and I've never had to check it.
FA (more defensively): Well, I've worked in this business for 30 years and I can tell you we always check instruments.
Me: Can I just try putting it up?
FA: I'm telling you, we always check instruments.
Me (dumbfounded): ...I can't' even try putting it up?!
FA (quite begrudgingly): You can take it back there, but if I have a problem fitting luggage in the overhead, your instrument is the first thing I'm checking.
...in retrospect, the most annoying thing about how this went down was not that he wanted to check my violin, but that he wasn't being remotely helpful. Yes, the flight was full, and yes, my case is irregularly sized, but probably only 20% of the plane had boarded. Instead of immediately jumping to the conclusion that it wouldn't fit under any circumstance, why couldn't he try to help me find space? Isn't the job of the flight attendant to help passengers on flights? Why would he make his job more difficult?
Sometimes when flight attendants see that we have instruments, they will kindly take time to make sure that our instruments are not checked, helping to rearrange luggage or offering to put the cases in coat closets.
This obstinate guy, though, opted to prevent a win-win situation from the start, ultimately irritating both of us.
Fortunately, however, the Overhead Luggage Gods were overwhelmingly on my side. When I arrived by my seat, I had no problem getting my case in the overhead: it was in front of smaller bags, and only ended up using space that wouldn't have otherwise been filled!
Take that, flight attendant!