The return flight wasn't any better: the only ones I could find left Düsseldorf on 8:00pm or on 7:00am. Since I wanted to SLEEP after that morning ordeal the day before, I opted for the 8:00pm flight. Booked, paid, done. Same for the Hotel where the meeting took place.
When considering where to put my car, I remembered that the airport parking used to be like 75 Euro for five days. So I figured: hey, I can afford two days which is about the same as the transfer from Vienna (with 3 Euro per day parking) to the airport.
After only about 2.5 hours of sleep, my alarm clock kicked me out of my comfortable dreams and I drove to the airport. Empty streets at this time, lousy winter weather. Put my car into a nice spot at the airport parking garage and checked in... at the new terminal which I haven't yet been to. Took some time to find the right counter. Sleep: impossible. Boarding the plane, getting a nice seat, trying to sleep some more: still impossible. But there was a sight to behold... it was snowing outside and the snow was actually there to stay. It was winter and it was cold. Everybody wore boots and winter jackets. But next to me: a guy with short sleeves and flip flops without socks. WTF?
After landing at Düsseldrof, I picked up my bag and looked at the map for the hotel: it looked like it would be about a mile away from the terminal, so I went up to a taxi and said where I wanted to go... the driver was nice enough to just put down my bag again and point to the next building. Yay for feeling silly :D
The check in for the room wasn't until 3pm, so I had to drop off my bag first and then try to find the others... but at 9am, nobody was there yet. I read a comic book I brought with me in the lobby, which had just one public (i.e. non-restaurant-related) bench at that time.
The actual meeting went rather smooth and at 11pm it was all over again - at least we did have a lunch break with pretty decent food. But I am glad I snuck away twice during the meeting: once for check in at 3:30pm - and then again to have a quick look into my room when I discovered that somebody had opened a window! Yikes! It is freezing outside (literally!) and I need a cozy plaze to sleep!
Hopped into my bed after a nice hot shower and set the alarm on my Android phone to 10:30am - had to check out before noon. Everything nice and taken care of.
Sometime during the night I woke up and saw light from behind the curtains. So I figured: it's day already, let's check how much longer I can sleep. Took my phone, checked, 4pm. ... WHAT!? I can't have overslept by that much! A sideways look at the date got my attention: January 1st? I certainly couldn't have slept for weeks. Now there's something wrong with the time in my phone and I'm worried again - what's the actual time? 3am... phew! Darn "automatic time" feature. I set my wristwatch alarm too, just to be sure.
After waking up on time - a bit before the alarm even - I got dressed and checked out around 11:30am. Went over to the airport and was greeted by many "cancelled" and "delayed" messages. FFFFUUUU....! My plane isn't even on the list yet, so I have no idea what's going to happen. Also, I noticed: at least FOUR other planes depart for Vienna in the early to mid afternoon... none of which had any delays. Why didn't they show up on my ticket search???
After walking along the terminal for several times and having a coffee sample in just about any place that sells coffee, I ventured to try and check in around 5:30pm. The lady was friendly and told me, yes I could check in but not at THIS counter. The ones for "Economy" are over THERE - yes, over THERE where that line is originating that snakes through a good portion of the terminal. ARGH! But OK, let's get in line... just to find out about 20 minutes later that the line I'm standin in, is for people who already have their boarding passes... Thankfully the nice lady in front of me was kind enough to watch my bag while I quickly grabbed my boarding pass from the nearby computer terminal. But that machine spat out only the "do not lose this, not valid for travel" part. And again with the uncertainty. But about 30 minutes later again, the lady at the counter was printing out another boarding pass without any question. Also: Kudos to the friendly ladies at the counters who managed to keep an extremely long line moving in a rather fast pace even THOUGH there were only 50% of the counters (wo)manned... WTF management? How long does a line have to be to open more counters? When passangers start to block the runway?
Now I was checked in and everything seemed OK. Went to Starbucks for a drink and then for the gates at 7pm. But at the security checkpoint, some people were mentioning that the plane to Vienna was re-scheduled to 7pm instead of 8pm... WTF? I knew that can't be true, because moving a plane to an hour early will make it an empty plane. Something must be misunderstood here, so I didn't panic but continued to the gate - quickly, just in case there WAS a change after all. Found out there, that the 7pm was the "next info" time, not the "new departure" time. And at 7:15pm the real time appeared: 9pm. sigh
The plane didn't leave before 9:45pm after all. Arrived in Vienna some time past 11pm. Found out that my 1 day, 17 hours of parking cost me 58 Euro. WTF?!
And was back home no sooner than 12:20am. Late for Funday Pawpet. Now Bed. Thanks for reading!