When I envisioned this travel post, it was a lot different than what it’s about to be.
It’s more meaningful and exciting now!
Back in February, I approached countless airlines with an idea to surprise my best friend for her birthday (thanks to help from her husband!) Since she lives in England and I’m in the United States, I thought it would be the greatest story about how dreams come true.
Wow Air wowed me by offering me a ticket to fly across the pond to surprise her. Like most collaborations, we agreed to terms and everything was set in motion. I was excited to possibly be breaking into the travel blogging scene as well…hence Momma Meets World!!
Since keeping this surprise was going to be SO hard, and my girl loves to plan things, we surprised Kristi on March 1st with a video, “Love Actually” style with signs letting her know we’d FINALLY get to meet in real life. She was in such shock, as I think we all were!
Fast forward to 22 March and I was off on a jet plane! Wow Air took me from Detroit, Michigan, to Keflavik, Iceland and then to London, England. The flights were fast, on time and the flight attendants looked like royalty. I left each plane being so grateful, and obviously tired from not sleeping once allll night.
I took my first steps on UK soil (well, Gatwick jet bridge) and I was immediately overwhelmed with emotions. THIS WAS REAL! I WAS ABOUT TO MEET MY BEST FRIEND.
While passing through customs, I wasn’t sure they’d let me through! The old lady who apparently hated her job asked me the most crazy questions, and it didn’t help that my answers were crazy.
Lady: “Why are you entering the UK today?”
Me: “To visit my best friend.”
Lady: *scans my passport, sees no stamps* “Has she come to you before since it doesn’t look like you’ve been here?”
Me: “No, this is our first time meeting.”
Lady: “Then how do you know her?”
Me: *knowing this is going to sound crazy* “…….the internet.”
Lady: “You know her from the internet, do you? How long?”
Me: “Two years.”
Lady: *looks at me like she doesn’t believe one word I’m saying* “Ok, well I’ll need to see proof that you’re leaving when you say you are.”
Me: “Here is my Wow Air return ticket.”
Lady: *looks at me in the eyes much too long* “Okay, welcome to the UK.”
I’m glad she was doing her job, but do you know how weird it is to tell someone you flew across the world to meet your best friend that you’ve never met?!? YES, it IS weird and it IS crazy, but it also makes one awesome story!
So I get my bags, everything is a blur…I WhatsApp Kristi and tell her I’m walking out, then next I know she is running up to me and all I could do was drop my bags and hug her. I don’t know how long we stood there spinning around hugging, I can’t tell you what was even going through my mind, but I had to keep saying “This is real! This is real!!”
My “Welcome Home” crew blew me away, and I still relive that moment sometimes and happy tears come to my eyes. I know it was a birthday surprise for Kristi, but I never knew I could feel that much emotion, I never knew that moment could completely change our lives.
I’ll write more about the trip’s adventures in other posts, because I want this post to convey just how WOWed we were throughout the duration of the week.
First, I was still in shock that this was happening at all.
“It only happens in the movies” is what we kept saying because meeting Kristi and her family was a dream. What started as a simple Instagram following two years ago has turned into the greatest friendship ever. Then every place I stepped into in England was straight from the movies. I had to keep reminding myself that it was real life and not just some BBC production.
Then it happened.
We were planning to spend the final full day getting matching tattoos and going to Stamford (her favorite place) and walking around. We left the house, didn’t read the Daily Mail…got the tattoos, then got in the car. Kristi’s mum was ringing so she took it, said some surprised remarks and then hug up.
Kristi: *grabbed my hand* “I don’t want you to freak out.”
Me: *laughs nervously and starts freaking out* “what happened??”
Kristi: “Wow Air has ceased operations.”
Me: *blood drains from my face* “It’s not April 1st, is this a joke?”
Kristi: “Not a joke, the airline shut down this morning!”
Kristi: *goes to the website* *confirms the information*
Me: “THIS HAS TO BE A JOKE!?”
You get the picture, right? I’ve never been in limbo before. It was the funniest feeling ever. The feeling between “I don’t have a return flight home” and “well, now I’m broke!”
One of my top favorite movies is The Terminal and all I could think of was how THIS ONLY HAPPENS IN THE MOVIES!!!
We decided we needed to laugh about it or we’d cry, so laughing is what we did. I called Jon as soon as we found wi-fi and he was surprisingly calm, which gave me so much peace because I knew buying a flight home wasn’t something we could afford….because my airline shutting down 21 hours before my flight home wasn’t in our contingency plan!
Kristi and I kept our plans to adventure around Stamford which was the most freeing experience of the trip. I knew I’d get home eventually, but I had no idea when. And I soaked up every single moment of that feeling, and that day. We went to the pub after for a beer and wine and talked and laughed for hours.
29 March came and instead of a rushed morning at the airport, we had a relaxing day (well, it was relaxing after we finally found a flight home to Chicago on American Airlines!) Unlike a high percentage of the 10,000 other stranded Wow passengers, I was safe, warm and taken care of.
I’m still so grateful.
So an extra four days was spent just being, and thanking God for the bonus time, and enjoying time around Peterborough and getting to celebrate a UK Mother’s day with the most beautiful mum.
My husband and kids missed me, and none of this would have been possible without their support and love, and without the support of my amazing family who filled in all the gaps during my time away. It was so refreshing to the soul.
Special shoutouts to my husband for being supportive of my crazy dreams and loving me despite “being right that something would go wrong”…Oma and Great-Grandma Jane, Great-Grandpa Tim, Grandma and Papa for keeping the babes fed and happy, and getting me to and from the airports. And Jake and Kristi, who put me up, fed me, and gave me the greatest taste of England, and life with their beautiful family.
And even though I left part of my heart in the UK, and I was that crazy, sobbing American chick wearing dungarees on a 8 hour flight home because I couldn’t take my checked-bag home with me and had to go “Joey” and wear all my clothes…it was still the best trip ever, with the best story ever, and we will cherish it forever. xxx
Thank you, thank you SO much, Wow Air, for getting me there. You may have left me stranded, but that’s all part of the adventure. May you rest in peace.