God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Monday, July 19, 2010

On The Way To Safari

Sometimes we're lucky and this trip was one of those times as all went according to plan in the getting there--in fact, even better than anticipated. Our flights connected perfectly, with most landing early. The luggage checked with United in San Diego arrived via KLM in Kenya. We had a 3 hour layover in Amsterdam which was tiring after the long flight from San Diego but with the adrenalin flowing, it wasn't that bad.

We traveled United business class from the US but had economy seats on KLM for the 8 hour flight to Nairobi, paying extra for economy comfort which provides a little extra leg room; however, once we settled in, it was pretty apparent that the extra legroom wasn't all that generous. It certainly was a far cry from business. Then the most amazing thing happened. 

As we settled in with our luggage stowed overhead and seat belts fastened, an attendant came to us and asked: "Are you the Parker party?" We confirmed that we were. She then handed us new tickets, saying "you may move to the next cabin." So, we found ourselves in the totally lush setting of KLM World Business class which is a blend of what would be business and first on a United 747. We still have no idea why we were so lucky. We have no history with KLM, no miles, no nothing. We were having one of those serendipity events that sometimes happen just when they are needed. Lay flat seats let us get some needed sleep--after enjoying a pretty sumptuous meal.
With this great windfall, we arrived to the sultry African air feeling much more refreshed than we might have. Our luck failed a little at this point as our luggage was about the last off the plane--a 747. We had a long wait for it and were just beginning to worry when our two lonely duffels came into view. Loading them on the dolly along with our carry-ons, we pushed through customs and found our driver/guide Andrew waiting for us.

From there was a 45 minute drive through Nairobi to the lodge where we were staying that night before beginning our safari adventure. This was our first introduction to Kenyan roads which can be pretty harrowing. If you have driven in Naples or have been to China, you can then have some appreciation of how they work. 

The Safari Park Hotel was lush and beautiful; although, since we arrived there at 10:30 at night and  had our wake up call at 6:30, we really didn't have a chance to enjoy it. After a good, huge breakfast, we climbed in the vehicle that became our home for the next 13 days and began our relationship with the man from Mombasa who became our guru and keeper and friend.
 Next: The road to Samburu National Reserve and what we found there. 
And...a sneak preview


Anne said...

How fantastic that you were upgraded for no apparent reason! Looks like it was a very comfy cabin indeed.

Love the photo, I'm eagerly awaiting more photos and reading about your travels. "The man from Mombassa" sounds like the title of a spy novel!

Barbara said...

I'm so excited to read about your trip and so impressed that you began your safari the day after you arrived - jet lag always hits me so hard I think I would want a few days to adjust!

Pokey jo said...

Hi Jane,

I loved reading your post this evening. How wonderful that you were upgraded to World Business class! I'm glad my connections at KLM came through for you, **winkwink**

Looking forward to more!!!!!

Jane said...

Barbara, the adrenalin is such that you can just keep going--it's different when returning. Plus, the cost of such a trip is high enough to not waste time relaxing.

Mindy, thanks for working your magic!!

Anne, hadn't thought about it but you are totally right--a spy novel would be perfect. Our Andrew, however, would not make a good James Bond.

Trekcapri said...

Hi Jane, how wonderful that you all were able to get an upgrade on the long flight over. I am so excited to start reading about your trip. I love your sneak preview photos and I am looking forward to reading your next entries.

Thank you so much for sharing and I am glad to hear that you and Casey and your husband had a wonderful trip.

Sandrac said...

Wow -- what great timing for an upgrade, on such a lengthy trip. That would certainly help to get you off to a good start.

Your elephant is delightful, and what a great teaser for more photos and stories to come!

Judith in Umbria said...

I am both eager and envious!

nancyhol said...

Wow! You must have friends in high places to get such a wonderful upgrade!

Looking forward to reading more about your adventure.

Chiocciola said...

Yay, thanks for the first installment! Will eagerly await more - we already know that it was a wonderful trip so now it will be fun to get the details.

And the upgrade was awesome! I would assume it had something to do with your status on United? Even though the two are not in the same alliance, maybe they knew somehow? Or you have a special friend at Schiphol!!