The flight from O’Hare to Toronto was uneventful except for the fact that, this being his first time flying, Jason was beside himself with glee and acting like a kid about to ride a roller coaster. Our flight from Toronto was delayed three hours until 11:30 — half an hour before Air Canada employees were set to go on strike. We snuck in under the wire and spent a restless night over the Atlantic. Before trying to get some sleep we each occupied ourselves with the seat-back in-flight entertainment gadget. Jason watched “How To Train Your Dragon,” Bill watched “I Am Number Four,” and, seeing how it was an Air CANADA flight after all, I watched a Rush rockumentary.
We arrived in Paris to find the case containing all our LPs smashed and barely holding together. Fortunately the vinyl was OK so we borrowed half a roll of packing tape and soldiered on. We had heard that there was an Air France strike as well and were concerned about our flight to Zagreb, but it turns out the strike was only “how do you say in english…? the people on the ground by the airplanes.” Apparently the staff involved in the actual safety of the airplanes did not affect our flight so we checked in, flew through security and waited for the final leg of the trip.
After napping on the terminal floor for a couple of hours (Charles deGaulle is not nearly as dirty and disgusting as we were led to believe) we boarded our flight. Actually, we walked down a long hallway, then a stairway, and then outside where we were herded into waiting bus. After a really long, circuitous route that involved tunnels and construction sites, we were deposited in front of a waiting Air France plane. It was so old that it had ashtrays in the arm rests. It was smooth flight nonetheless and we touched down at 9:15.
We had a bit of a scare getting through customs. They asked if we had anything to declare and we said no. Then then agent pointed at our guitar cases and asked what they were. When we answered guitars, he asked where we were playing a concert. We said, “no, no, just vacation.” When asked what we were doing here, we just said that we were visiting friends in Zagreb and they were picking us up. He slapped my brand new flight case and asked, “new guitar or old guitar?” “Old guitar,” I answered. “Do you have papers for this guitar?” He stared unblinkingly when I said no. Finally his scowl turned to a look of exasperated annoyance and he jerked is head in the direction of the exit and said “OK.” And we were through.
Lu from Joe 4 was there to meet us. After driving around the city looking for our hostel we pulled up in the alley and were promptly yelled at out the window by two different neighbors. We did recognize several of the curse words Lu had taught us in the car ride. After 30+ hours of traveling we crashed.