Tag Archives: Airport

Surprise Megventure!

Surprising friends and family is one of my favorite things to do, especially while I’ve been in college. Thanks to the generous support of my Dad, I’ve been able to surprise my mom on multiple occasions and now my sister! Here’s the latest “Megventure” update from Chattanooga, Tennessee!

This season has been physically and emotionally draining. After sitting out for nearly a month with my back, and going through the painfully slow process of getting cleared, it was established that I probably wouldn’t be traveling with the team to Chicago and St. Louis over Halloween weekend. This happened to be the same weekend my sister was also set to be in Chattanooga, TN for her first college race. After learning I wasn’t traveling on the 29th, I jokingly texted my Dad asking if I could surprise my sister in Tennessee with a quick stop in Nashville on Halloween to meet up with Dave and his friend CJ. My joke soon became a reality, when just hours later my flights, Megabus (oh my) and hotels were booked.

Fast forward: It’s now Friday morning (Halloween) and I find myself trekking it to JFK via the subway. Truth be told, I’ve never taken the subway to the airport, just the LIRR – THEY ARE VERY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES.  After switching trains four times and finding a fellow Greenwich Villager like myself, I finally arrived at JFK and made my way to the Admiral’s Club (my airport safe haven).  This is when the surprise truly began to take form – I had talked with Twist and explained that I was going to have a boring weekend and was considering going to Boston (lest I slip up and accidentally post a traveling pic to social media). After some delays, I finally got on my flight to Nashville via Dulles and then sprinted through the airport to catch my next flight. Less than 10 minutes later, I was upgraded to First Class (granted it wasn’t that different on the tiny plane),  and well on my way to the south.

Upon arriving in Nashville, I was immediately greeted by a gentleman on my flight asking if he wanted to split a cab downtown. HELLO SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY?!  I quickly abandoned my New York attitude and said, “Why not?” 20 short minutes later, I was in downtown Nashville and met up with the boys. I immediately fell in love with the city – the people were so sweet, the food was to die for, and the music… don’t even get me started. The three of us ventured out to get some food at Peg Leg Porker (definitely recommend it) then out that night to numerous bars to celebrate Halloween, country-style!

Hours later, I was packing up and headed on my first Megabus Adventure. I paid $14 dollars for my seat on the double-decker packed bus to Chattanooga. I ended up sitting next to a mother and we exchanged stories about our lives – she was on a 15 hour bus ride from Indianapolis to Atlanta (WOAH!). Upon arriving in Chattanooga a few hours later, I sprinted towards “civilization”, also known as Starbucks to get some caffeine and figure out how to get across town. Unlike New York or Nashville, Über does not exist in this quaint town.  After ordering, I asked the barista his recommendation on getting across town. His response, “Try making a friend, I’m sure they won’t mind.” I wish I could have seen my face in that moment because before I could utter another word, he added, “You’re not from around here are you?” Laughing off what I thought was a joke, I began looking up taxi services to bring me to the hotel a few miles down the road. Thirty minutes later, a woman in an old, cluttered white mini van pulls up and I hop in. I kept saying to myself, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in New York anymore.”

After checking into my hotel, I began my reconnaissance of my sister’s hotel across the street. I sat in the lobby for an hour waiting for her team to come back to the hotel from the race course, but began to get hungry so I headed back to my room. I found out that a website similar to Delivery.com exists in Chattanooga, but there’s only about 5 different restaurants with the same cuisine (BBQ) – lucky for me, I was in the mood for some southern cooking.  Once I finished eating, I trekked back to my sister’s hotel and ran into some of her novice teammates who led me into their workout room where Twist would soon be heading.  A few minutes later, Twist was in my arms crying; a surge of emotions no doubt overwhelming the two of us. I knew she had team obligations and workouts before we could hang again, but I was just so happy I was able to see her for a few minutes! It had been almost three months since I had seen her last – and so much had changed for the two of us since then.

Unfortunately, my sister’s races were canceled on Saturday because of strong winds, so she told me to go ahead and move my flight up a day because there was literally NOTHING for me to do in Chattanooga except watch her race.  No more than fifteen minutes after I changed my flights, her races were re-scheduled to Sunday. I was really bummed I missed her race, but that’ll be something I can do next time I surprise her!

Sunday morning, I headed back out to the airport. I gave myself an hour and a half (because of my history with flights) even though the airport was a whopping 7 minutes away. I could have waited 20 minutes before boarding because that’s how long it took to get from my hotel room to the gate. Chattanooga has a single terminal, 5 gate airport (sans Starbucks) with a grand total of maybe 10 employees working at any given time. Unfortunately, my flight was delayed on the ground and I missed my connection in Chicago, pushing back my New York arrival time a few hours. I got back to my apartment late Sunday night with a big smile on my face, knowing that I had once again successfully surprised my family!

It was definitely another Megventure for the books and I am so incredibly blessed I had the opportunity to surprise Twist, hang with Dave, and see Nashville!

Auf Wiedersehen!

As some of you may or may not know, my younger sister, Twist, just spent the past five days exploring the city (and Syracuse) and is now off on her first foreign adventure to Germany. I could not be happier/nervous/jealous, but more importantly I am extremely excited for her to catch the travel bug!  After helping her prep and pack for this trip, I was inspired to write a blog on my top ten travel tips because international travel is anything but stress-free.

  1. Check in 24 hours before hand! While in Europe, some (budget) airlines required us to print out boarding passes before hand, but more often than not I opt to go for the eTicket to save time and the environment. This also enables you to change your seat before getting to the airport and check for upgrades. Who doesn’t love a free upgrade? I also recommend purchasing your airline’s app (usually free) on your iPhone and signing up for gate changes and updates. After I get to the airport all I have to do is show my boarding pass on my phone and everything’s a go. If your gate changes or there are delays, updates are sent directly to your phone – super convenient, right?
  2. Set aside enough time to get to the airport and make sure to set enough alarms if you have an early flight. This is an important  tip and one lesson that I’ve had to learn the hard way. I’ve unfortunately missed my fair share of flights but have learned to give myself adequate time to get to the airport – especially around the holidays in New York!
  3. Have necessary information (card numbers, passport number, flight information) in a safe place. Sh*t happens and you’ll never know when you will need this information. I usually keep a copy of my passport on my email and phone and send it to my parents. It’s also critical to make sure someone you trust has access to your flight information in case anything happens.
  4. Travel light! I know this sounds ironic coming from the “packing Princess” (see below), but trust me on this one. Weigh your bags before hand to make sure they aren’t over the weight limit, otherwise you’ll find yourself either repacking at the airport or paying an extravagant baggage fee (no thank you!).  If you want to save yourself some time and money  just pack carry-on’s – I usually opt for the functional back pack and duffle bag.

    They call me the packing princess

    They call me the packing princess

  5. What (not) to wear?  Everyone has varying opinions on how you should dress while traveling, and my answer of course is, “it depends”. I travel a lot for soccer and often times we are required to wear the same thing. It’s comfortable  and I thoroughly enjoy being able to wear sweatsuits on the plane. On the other hand, when I travel alone I enjoy dressing up a bit. A blazer, jeans, cute top, scarf and flats is cute and functional.  You never know who you’ll meet at the airport!
    Traveling in matching gear is comfortable and easy!

    Traveling in matching gear is comfortable and easy!

    Looking professional also has it's perks

    Looking professional also has it’s perks

  6. After you decide what to wear, make sure your choice is easy to get through TSA. I often times avoid putting on a belt until after security (or not at all) and make sure I empty my pockets before getting to the airport. Nothing annoys me (and other travelers) more than somebody who stalls the TSA line because they didn’t “know” they had to take off their belt.
  7. Maybe it’s just the soccer player in me and the bottomless stomach I possess, but I always pack some snacks and an empty reusable water bottle when I travel, whether it’s just a quick trip uptown or a longer international excursion. When you travel internationally, you run the risk of not having food you’re used to or like. My go-to’s are pre-packaged trail mix from Trader Joe’s and Chocolate Chip Cliff Bars for Kids. Just keep in mind some countries don’t allow certain foods to enter into their country so check before hand!
  8. Choose your carry-on wisely. If you decide to pack just a single bag for your carry on, I urge you to pack it in the most ergonomically way possible. I usually keep my laptop closest to my back and have my camera on top so I can pull them both out quickly as I go through security. The front pocket of my backpack usually has gum, headphones, lip balm, and my business card in case I ever accidentally leave it. The middle pocket contains the valuables: passport, boarding pass, wallet, snacks, and a few toiletries. I reserve the pocket closet to my back for my laptop, camera, chargers and a good book.

    Planning what to pack makes traveling so much easier

    Planning what to pack makes traveling so much easier

  9. Have a positive attitude while traveling. Planes get delayed, luggage gets lost, and sometimes you just flat out miss your flight. Everything is going to be okay!  If you stay positive, your travels will be! Relish in the adventure.
  10. Document your travels! As an avid shutter bug and self proclaimed traveling photo journalist (I wish!), I thoroughly enjoy looking back on my adventures and reminiscing of the “good ole days”.  One of my goals when I went abroad was to snap photos of everything in sight – the namesake for this blog.

I hope these tips help you out and you enjoy your next adventure wherever in the world you are!

Auf Wiedersehen!

Auf Wiedersehen!

Live Blogging My Way Back To New York

Nothing is better than some play-by-play action of my flights back to New York, not that my Twitter feed isn’t interesting or anything, right?

Have Suitcase, Will Travel

Have Suitcase, Will Travel

3:33 PM – So I’m already 3 minutes later than I would like to be on my journey back to the Big Apple, but hey, it happens.  Just said goodbye to Sibel, Jesse, Jenni, John, Kenta, Shelby, Nani, Petey, and the family and am now off to the airport.

4:05 PM – Just checked into the commuter terminal to LAX and GUESS WHAT? MY BAGS ARE UNDER 50LBS! I really do think this goes down in the record books as an achievement as Meg the Packing Princess usually is over by 25 pounds.

4:17 PM – Bags are checked, just said goodbye to mom, and now through security. Love the commuter terminal – no lines, no hassle and the sweetest people ever.  I got my seat moved up to the Bulkhead on my next flight and am pretty stoked about that, as well.

4:58 PM– Commence texting everybody in my phone about how much I miss them. Yikes, this is what happens when you put your emotions out there?

 5:11 PM – Time to board the plane. We are flying a tiny 30-seater plane and we take off in about 20 minutes. It was actually pretty cool to walk out on the tarmac to the plane and I just sort of twirled around and took in the beauty of everything around me for the last time: the radiating sun, the fresh smell of the salt-water bay, the picturesque palm trees bouncing in the light wind, the booming noises of the airplanes around me. So this is what living in paradise is like.

 5:52 PM – Just landed in LA. Well, that was quick! Can’t really argue with a 27-minute flight, can you?  Have to go pick up my bag off the tarmac and transfer to the main terminal and chill out for the next couple of hours. YIPEE.

6:19 PM – Picked up Anthony and Cleopatra. I think I was supposed to read that for soccer, but does buying it count for anything?

6:38 PM – Time for dinner and the only thing in this terminal is a Sammy’s Wood Fired Grill? Guess I will have to settle, so I grab a seat at the bar because lord knows ordering a table for one is just incredibly depressing and reminds me that I am all alone again.

6:41 PM – Commence creepy server guy commenting on my “Legs of Steel” and how they would be awesome at skull crushing. SAY WHAT? I’m all for making new friends but, eww, get away from me.

6:43 PM – I order a grilled chicken with kalamata olive and grilled pepper pesto wrap. Yum (I hope).

6:52 PM – I scarf down my wrap because for some strange reason I am hungry beyond belief.

7:10 PM – Pay for my food and head to the magazine rack. Flip through some issues of Shape and Men’s Health and reminisce of my times at FQ10. Begin to get emotional, slap myself with a slice of pizza (just kidding) and head over to the seating area. TWO HOURS UNTIL BOARDING. UGHH.

7:19 PM – Begin to fill out paperwork for soccer, register for health insurance for London, and as my old boss used to say, GSD.

7:31 PM – Walk around the terminal to find a working outlet. None to be found. What is wrong with this place?

7:51 PM – Grab a Veinte iced coffee from Starbucks because lord knows I need one before getting on a red eye. NOT.

8:00 PM – Plop down on a chair, open my laptop and begin to put thoughts on paper because that is the only thing that seems relieving at the moment. I still can’t believe I won’t be back until December. Am I ready for this right now?

8:58 PM – Pack my bag up as they begin to call first class for AA Flight 10 from LAX to JFK.

9:01 PM – Board the plane and find out that I’m sitting next to this awesome girl and her dog named Rupert.

9:04 PM – Begin to chat with aforementioned seat-mate and begin to fall in love with Rupert.

9:11 PM – Rupert farts. No joke. WOULD I LIE TO YOU?

9:30 PM – Flight begins to taxi away from the terminal. Goodbye California.

9:44 PM – Pull out laptop again and commence writing my life away. Typical right?

12:14AM (PST) – Computer has 7% battery and I begin to realize I might want to sleep before getting to New York. Damn it I shouldn’t have had that huge coffee.

4:58 AM(EST) – Wake up as the plane begins to descend over Long Island. A rolling fog clouds my view but I don’t seem to care because I’m finally back.

5:14 AM – AA flight 10 lands safely and taxis to terminal 8.

5:52 AM – My bag is the last to come out of the belly of the plane but the thought of not knowing where to go makes it all okay. I contemplate telling the taxi driver where to go.

6:08 AM – Hop in a cab and stutter for a quick sec where to go. The 8 months I spent away from my city is obvious. I can’t seem to remember my cross streets or which bridge I prefer to go over or even my favorite radio station. Is it Mercer and Bleeker or Mercer and Houston? Welp. This is embarrassing.

6:31 AM – Arrive at 181 Mercer Street. Realize the gym doesn’t open for another hour. Plopped myself down outside the door.

7:03 AM – Realize that it is in fact Sunday and the gym doesn’t open until 9AM. Contemplate getting THINK COFFEE and then realize that they don’t open for another hour either.

7:15 AM – Two awesome NYU security guards let me into Coles and carry my stuff to the couches. Oh the perks of making friends with the guards.

And with that Meg is back in Manhattan!

Chilling Outside Coles

Chilling Outside Coles

“De Perdido al Río”

“Vivo en Sol.” The words slip from my slightly chapped lips as I explain to the cab driver how to get home on my last day in Madrid. It’s a natural phrase, uttered without hesitation, reflecting my years of practice and months of living in this city. A recited and practiced line, I guess you could say, but more or less a string of words smushed together haphazardly, indicating that I call this place my home. I live in Sol.

“Derecho en Calle Mayor y para antes la iglesia.”  Sentences begin to flow effortlessly, a sudden click between brain and tongue, a feeling of near fluency. A sense of accomplishment washes over me, but then the sudden realization that I will be on a plane a mere twenty-four hours later brings me down from cloud nine.The ping of my inbox, alerting me to check in to my flight, brings with it a flood of emotions, regrets, memories, question; an almost self-loathing and pity all combined into one.

I watch the minutes tick away, yet I cannot bring myself to terms with leaving this place which had just provided me with a treasure chest full of experiences. Laying in my tiny twin bed for the last time, I set the alarm for 9 AM, early by our Madrid standards. Insomnia strikes again, surely a result of the conflicting emotions pitted in the depths of my stomach, thought I’m sure the cup of green tea an hour earlier wasn’t helping either. I shoot my family a quick “24 hours” text, send a Snapchat to my favorites and browse through the photos on my iPhone one last time before slipping into a light sleep. I wake no less than seven hours later to the blaring of my alarm, but instead of getting up, I silence it and enjoy the fleeting moments in my bed for the last time in our tiny Calle de la Villa apartment.

I rub the sleepies from my eyes, and look up from my bed towards the charcoal painting above my bed for the last time. The portrait of an old man, arms crossed, with a disappointing look strewn across his slightly wrinkled face, almost resembling my gather, looks down upon me and my questionable decisions for the last time. I look to my right and see three bags filled with a semesters’ worth of clothes and souvenirs, sitting neatly ready for their next adventure.I muster all my of my strength and plop myself up and quickly throw on my clothes and hastily pack away the last of my belongings. It plays back in my head; a surreal moment, frozen forever in time.

I creep down the hall into Erin’s room and see her struggling with her overpacked suitcases. I proceed to zip them shut in a “sitting and pulling” fashion, learned from my reign as Packing Princess of the Patten household. The clock hits 9:27 and we wake up our other two roommates to say our final goodbyes. The routine is all too familiar, from weeks of traveling together, yet the baggage, both physical and emotional, is much more to bear. A final group hug, a huddle, if you may, and we drag our belongings up the stairs from Bajo Izquerida for the last time and hail a taxi down.

After squishing into a cab, we wind our way through Sol and head eastward to the airport, past Puerta del sol, through Plaza de la Cibeles, by the Prado, and turn left at the Atocha railway. The cab driver asks us if we’re Americans and he reacts eagerly to ask more about our stay once we’re from Chicago and California. He asks if we mind if he smokes a drag, and though it’d normally bother the hell out of me, the smell and smoke in my face is almost welcome, a subtle reminder of my time in Europe. We continue on, past Plaza de las Ventas and my normally subdued emotions take form as a singular teardrop out of the corner of my left eye. It was beginning to hit me. The only thing holding the flood of tears back was the conversation with the cab driver about the Copa del Rey final the night before.

We struggle through the airport, it feels as if our feet our chained together, the city unwilling to let us out of her grip. Erin and I part ways, and promise to meet up after security, and sure enough, we do. My luck of running into people still proving to be as relentless as ever. What seems like an hour later, we are saying goodbye for real this time. She goes through yet another security check point and disappears into the growing crowd beyond the fence. I find my place among the remaining empty seats at gate U60, and find myself thinking of the number of people who have sat in that exact seat after a semester abroad.

I flash back to reality when fellow NYU students sit next to me, all hungover, clearly already missing our new city, regretting getting drunk the night before an 11 hour flight. I guess they really did grow accustomed to this Madrileño lifestyle. Twenty minutes later, I’m sitting in seat 27H, next to one of my teammate’s freshman year roommates – as a matter of fact, the same one who comforted my sobbing self when I missed my flight home on my official visit, three years prior. This world really is getting smaller. We break into conversation, reminiscing of our days abroad, her adventures in Italy, and mine in Spain. The familiar pang of nervousness washes over me as the captain announces we are delayed because we cannot take off in tail winds.

My basic flight training flashes before my eyes, and I reason it is because our 767 is way too heavy to do so. My intuition is rewarded when thirty minutes later, the captain explains that cargo is going to be taken off to lighten the load. An hour and a half late, we’re finally in the air – my true home away from home. I double-check my ticket from DFW to SAN and realize my original two-hour layover is compromised. Instead of my normally fretting and stressing, I repeat my favorite spanish phrase, “De perdido al río,” over and over in my head (translated meaning, “from lost to the river”). I accept the fact that I might not make it home tonight. I figure, a typical megventure is not complete without a missed flight, so I just go with it. That’s what the phrase essentially means, so…

de perdido al río


Hola Amigos

Hey friends! Welcome to another Megventure!  The countdown has officially begun for Madrid. Less than 12 hours until I plant my feet firmly on Spanish ground and begin my next world adventure. It is still incredibly surreal that I’ll be living in a foreign country for the next FIVE MONTHS – I’m sure when the jet lag catches up to me is when everything will hit me. Living abroad is nothing new to me, but exploring, adventuring, and forging a path on my own is incredibly fresh and novel to me – it makes me tremble in my boots (but just a little bit). The fact that I won’t be able to communicate fluently and that stores won’t be open 24/7 will provide just enough culture shock to settle me down.

I’m currently sitting in the Dallas-Fort Worth American Terminal nibbling on a banana, charging my iPhone (not that it’ll be of much use in Spain), jamming out to some music Phebe picked out for me, and typing my life away. This morning was an early one beginning at 0430 when American Airlines called to confirm my flight. Less than an hour later I was awoken by Bandit and Bear for the last time this break and made my way downstairs with my bags. I think everybody would be surprised to hear that I fit ALL of my clothes into a single suitcase and the rest of my shoes and toiletries into my NYU duffle. YES. You heard right, ONE SUITCASE. Let’s not recall the numerous times I have overpacked, but I think I deserve a crown or something for that. Unfortunately my reign as Packing Princess did not last long because as soon as I checked my bags I was told a) my suitcase was 4 pounds over and b) I did not have two free bags. Thankfully enough my bright eyed smile came to the rescue and the woman felt bad and upgraded my seat on my flight to Madrid (though I did have to pay for my bags).

No Idea How I Fit It All In There

No Idea How I Fit It All In There

After getting through security with a quick pat-down of my hair “because it’s beautifully poofy” (yes, the TSA agent really did say that), I made my way to my gate and promptly was asked by a soccer Mom if I really did play soccer (as if the soccer jacket and lovely thunder thighs didn’t give it away). We talked soccer for a long time, which always puts me in a good mood, then I boarded the plane where I sat next to a huge Everton fan. It was a quick two hour jaunt over to Dallas, where I quickly made my way to the Admirals Club. As soon as I sat down, a replay of a Liga game was on at the bar and two Barça fans were smoothly speaking Spanish – discussing Messi’s recent Balon D’Oro win (Go Barça!).

There’s really something about the beautiful game that makes it so unique – it transcends age, gender, race, everything. I can be anywhere in the world, and fútbol never ceases to find me. I am truly a lucky individual to not only be a student of the game as a player, but a fan, and hopefully a teacher of the game. To my amazement and incredibly disappointment I have heard from numerous sources that women’s soccer is not a commonality in Spain. I’m going to take this as my opportunity to make an impact and hopefully spread soccer to the female population because it has had such a definite and huge impact on my life.

Missing Them Already

Missing Them Already

I’m getting ready to eat some almuerzo (lunch) so I’ll finish here.

If anybody is in Spain or Europe for that matter, please do not hesitate to contact me – I’d love to meet up.

For more updates, check out my twitter @megpatten and my instagram @mpatten1

Palabra del Día (word of the day): Aventura – Adventure

Hasta Luego

And Back By Popular Demand!

GOOD MORNING WORLD! Hope everybody’s day has gone off on the right foot. I received a lot of positive responses about live blogging my trip to Indy so I’m going to do the same on my way to New York.  My day has been pretty swell so far (granted I haven’t sat next to any oversized smelly men yet). I woke up oh so effortlessly at o’dark thirty and quickly added more stuff to my overstuffed bag (in typical Meg Patten style). Once we hopped in the car and Twist dropped us off at the airport, my Mom and I were notified that one of my bags was eight pounds over while the other was eight pounds under – I know what you’re thinking – how amazing of a packer are you to exactly measure out the differences between the two bags? I don’t know but somehow I’m the queen of packing ( coronation will be on Sunday for any who would like to attend).

Anyways I’m about to board but just wanted to add a smiley picture to brighten up your day 🙂

Momma and I

Momma and I

Until Dallas!