Travel Day

Tuesday July 19, 2016
I’m writing this after the fact, and I’ll keep it short and sweet.

This was a long day of travel. If you can imagine what kind of coordination it takes to have 200+ people to fly on the same day, I’m sure you would agree that such a feat is simply amazing. Sure, we had multiple flight legs that split several ways, and we all had different arrival times, but that was part of the madness!


For me in particular, I was in a flight group that flew to Frankfurt, Germany. We had a nine hour flight on a Lufthansa A330-300. I sat next to a Nigerian Catholic priest who was in my local home area doing parish missions so I got to kind of talk to him about his work and his plans for World Youth Day in Kraków. 

With fourteen trips to Japan in the past year and a quarter, I knew that trying to get as much sleep as I can on the plane would be the most beneficial knowing that we’d land in Frankfurt at around 9AM. Did I? Nope. Not really. I attempted to sleep, but couldn’t pass into slumber because I have not mastered sleeping in Economy class as I’m a spoiled yet striving to not be entitled business (or first!) class traveler to Japan.

I did end up watching a few movies and some episodes of Big Bang Theory. For some reason my video monitor kept messing up as if someone was randomly touching particular parts of the screen. Sometimes it would stop whatever show or movie I was trying to watch. It was frustrating to deal with. However, despite the challenge, I was still able to complete watching Kung Fu Panda 3 and the new live-action Jungle Book.

We landed at Frankfurt at mid-morning. And my particular flight group had a six hour layover before our flight to Rome. That’s a long time to be at an airport. I mostly sat around conversing with my fellow pilgrims and grabbed sandwiches and pastries for lunch. An hour or two before our flight, I attempted at reading on my Kindle app on my iPad, and I almost dropped my iPad due to nearly passing out. It’s okay. I’m typing on it now.

Speaking of nearly passing out, I was able to practically pass out on the flight from Frankfurt to Rome. I don’t remember much from that flight as I was super tired. 

We finally arrived in Rome, grabbed our luggage, then boarded our charter bus to the hotel. However, the tour guide and driver decided to give us a brief driving tour around Rome so we got to preview some of the sites that we will be visiting this week.


Lastly, we arrived at our hotel. It’s actually a sort of apartment/residence style hotel so it’s a pretty generous accommodation during our stay here in Rome. I’m surprised it’s able to handle all of us plus other large groups of pilgrims.

Dinner was served. Showers taken. Bed prepared. And finally sleep. 

Ready to take on the adventures that await the next few days.

#WhenInRome

-JD

Nonrev Adventures: San Antonio 2015

Please note I’m writing this way after the fact.

I had just returned from my sixth trip to Japan last September. A part of me was tired of paid airplane tickets and wanted something more adventurous and uncertain. During my first few days of returning back to work at the office, I had the crazy idea of flying somewhere for an epic day trip. My parents had just returned from their own epic day trip to New York with some of their friends who also work for the same airline that my dad does. All they did was shop and eat at an iconic Filipino chain restaurant. I suppose I was feeling a little jealous of them and adventurous myself. And I get every other Friday off.

I contacted one of my buddies that I know through my church. He, too, enjoys non-revenue standby flight benefits. Throughout the week of my returning back to the office from Japan, we brainstormed some ideas.

We had a few goals in pulling off a day trip flying somewhere:

  • Flights to and from DFW airport need to be open (lest we be stuck somewhere!)
  • Public transportation should be decent
  • Places of interest should be present
  • Travel time should be short in order to maximize sightseeing

Some of the ideas we had were Austin, Houston, College Station, Ohio, and Louisiana. Ultimately, San Antonio won because of the numerous flights between it and Dallas/Ft. Worth as well as the city bus that goes between San Antonio’s airport and downtown.

Conveniently, the Friday we decided to leave was the day that I had to go to the airport anyway for a Global Entry interview. Global Entry is a trusted traveler program with U.S. Customs and Border Control. I applied for it because a previous return trip from Japan through Los Angeles International proved to be a trying experience in waiting in lines. Global Entry doesn’t bypass the Customs process, but makes it way faster by allowing trusted travelers to go in their own line at select airports. It costs money and requires an interview. Well worth it for frequent international travelers.

After my interview, we headed to the gate. We actually got there right before the flight prior to the one we listed for was about to leave, and we were able to easily switch over and hop on that earlier flight. We didn’t even sit at the gate! It was pretty much show up at the gate, talk to the gate agent, switch over, board the plane, and take off. The perks of being non-revenue standby!

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The flight was only an hour long. Just enough to chill and enjoy some orange juice.

When we landed, we both dropped $1.50 to board a 45-minute bus ride to downtown San Antonio. After disembarking the bus, we wandered down a street and happened to see a Catholic church.

Upon going up to it and checking the name of the church, I noticed that daily Mass starts in a few minutes. Seeing as how we’re both Catholic nerds, it was an easy decision to kick off this day trip with Mass.

IMG_4376After Mass, we hit up the Alamo. To remember. I’ve been a few times in the past, but it’s always cool to refresh on Texas history and the epic battle wag
ed between Texans and the Mexican army here at this site. One of the barracks is a museum with artifacts, and I found it to be particularly interesting because I’ve never seen this part. Maybe it was new? I dunno. They had stuff from life at the Alamo as well as battle artifacts. The Alamo used to be a Spanish mission, so it was also cool to see some Catholic-related things.

Once we reached a satisfactory point in remembering the Alamo, we walked around some more and headed towards the River Walk. Along the way, we ran into another Catholic church—St. Joseph’s. We walked in and marveled at how cool this one looked inside.

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This church also had a gift shop off to the corner so we browsed around a little. My buddy bought something St. Joseph is his patron saint. The storekeep asked us a few questions because it’s probably rather uncommon for guys like us to walk into a church during the middle of the day on a Friday. She was impressed that we were just visiting San Antonio for the day, and recommended that we go visit the cathedral.

And off we went!

San Fernando is the oldest cathedral in the United States. And it’s smack dab in the middle of San Antonio!

We looked around inside, and noticed they had signs pointing towards a Confession line. We went over there but learned that Confessions start back up later in the afternoon. We hit up the Catholic book and gift store at San Fernando to kill some time. I bought myself a little statue of St. Max Kolbe because I think he’s awesome. If I remember correctly, we still had time to kill before Confession so we hit up McDonald’s for a drink and chilled at the River Center Mall to recharge our phones. We headed back to San Fernando and were able to go to Confession!

After gettin’ all squeaky clean spiritually, we hit up the River Walk. There were lots of young military personnel present with their families. San Antonio is home to a lot of military presence with all its bases. I’m guessing boot camp just finished. We grabbed dinner at one of the Mexican restaurants right on the River Walk. It was muy delicioso. And I made a few quacky friends.

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Tired and full of Mexican food, we headed back to the bus stop to head back to the airport. We arrived early enough again to catch the flight previous to the one we originally intended to fly on.

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I wish I had stats on this one, but we walked a lot. All in all, we spent just over six hours in San Antonio.

What stood out to me the most about this trip was how it turned into an incidental mini-pilgrimage. To start things off, our timing in making it downtown in order to attend Mass was just perfect even though it was happenstance, and it would not have been possible unless we had opted to switch flights in the morning. We visited three Catholic churches total, including the cathedral. We were able to even go to Confession! I also associate lots of walking with pilgrimages I’ve previously been on (like Washington D.C. and Rio De Janeiro), and most certainly many steps were taken this trip. As I’ve been to San Antonio numerous times in the past, it was cool to see and experience its richly Catholic heritage this time.

This non-revenue standby flying adventure for San Antonio in 2015 proved to me that I can pull off epic day tripping by hopping on planes. And it also gave me a tangible example for having Catholic excuses to travel.

More trips like this in the near future, I’m sure!

– JD

March for Life 2016

I’ve related this story to multiple people prior, during, and after this particular trip. And they think me crazy. And I’m like “whatev”. I don’t apologize for having a sense of adventure.

 

Yes, on Wednesday January 20, 2016, I flew 6000 miles from Japan escaping a mild snowstorm, spent 12 hours at home in Texas to completely unpack and totally repack differently as well as nap for a few hours, hopped on a plane on Thursday January 21, 2016 to fly another 1000 miles at 6AM to Washington, D.C., walked 8 miles around town carrying everything I packed with me, went to bed, got up early on Friday January 22, 2016, marched in the cold as the most epic blizzard hit, got snowed in all weekend, dealt with flight cancellations and delays through Monday January 25, 2016, finally arrived home in my own bed at 1:00AM Tuesday January 26, 2016 and still got to work by 7:30AM. And it was totally worth it!

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Continue reading “March for Life 2016”