getting through security at sacramento was easy as cake! i walked up, did the shoes-off, liquids-out thing and then i was through before i knew it. apparently there had been quite a bit of bag searching after me because people were complaining about it at the gate. on the plane, i was seated between two portly old men, one of whom wanted to know all this stuff about my travels but was very polite. the other one watched book of eli for most of the flight, but the last hour he gave me traveling tips like when to sleep and how to not get too lost in atlanta. at atlanta, i got there way too early to know what my gate was, but it was available by dinner. there's a restaurant in the E terminal called nature's table bistro, and i highly recommend it. i don't know what kind of food it is (something like hot bar and deli), but it is hot, delicious, and filling. there were quite a few french speakers in the airport, which is nice :) teenage angst is alive and well among the french, as far as i can tell.
on the flight from atlanta to amsterdam i had an empty seat next to me, which allowed me to spread out just a little. but probably enough that it allowed me to sleep more. in the 8 hours of flight i got 5 hours of sleep one at a time, thanks to my ipod and sleep mask. there was a french family across the aisle from me. mom, dad, a boy and a girl (both teenagers). i was constantly astounded at how much i couldn't get what they were saying... because they spoke so quietly. it was like a teaser hearing some french but not getting to speak it. when i woke up the last time, they began serving breakfast (barely substantial, but they had given us dinner too). and then it was another 1.5 hours before we touched the ground. when i saw cities and farms below us, i began to tear up. there was something so tangible about the emotion; i was thinking something like "this is the motherland. i'm in europe. people have lived happily here for hundreds of years." i felt like a part of the whole of the world just seeing it. the farms all had giant windpower mill things.
i had a crazy layover in amsterdam, 6 hours! the first hour was this: bathroom, check-in (to find out my gate), security and customs. i hadn't expected i would have to go through security or customs, but in order to get to my gate i had to. they checked my passport, stamped it (for the date on my visa), and sent me through security where they frisked me because i somehow set off the metal dectector. i thought i had nothing to declare, so i took that lane, but a young customs officer approached me and said "do you have any-sing to declare?" i told him i didn't think so but he asked if he could "take a loook." he went through my purse looking at my book and computer and stuff like that, as well as my suitcase, but told me i was good. i had noticed i was bleeding all over my hand so i got a tissue for it. he made small talk about where i was going and what i was studying. and all of this i took as a compliment because i'm good looking and harmless :) upon leaving that inspection table, i noticed the guards had giant automatic guns. i wanted so badly to take a picture of a young lady guard with her guns (yes, plural) but that would have been uncouth.
after that, i found my gate and bought 15 minutes of internet for 3€ to talk to my loved ones and post on facebook. then i ran to the nearest bathroom to freshen up: fresh shirt, fresh underwear, fresh deodorant and perfume, freshly brushed teeth, fresh eyeliner, and a freshly emptied bladder. it felt so good to be all "clean". i can't remember quite what order everything else was, but i went to the starbucks (only coffee shop i could find) and had a cappuccino and journaled. i perused the souvenir shops and thought about getting something but didn't really feel like it. i found lunch at a sandwich bar: a chicken and cheese panini with too much cayenne, and some apple juice. i was tempted to get one of amsterdam's special beers but i couldn't justify spending 5€ for one bottle. plus i was tired and needed to make sure i stayed awake until arriving in lyon. i sat at my gate most of the time reading and people-watching. the world has some crazy characters... and very weird "fashions". generally speaking, men are more beautiful at any age than in america. women are pretty when they're young, but as they get older the amount of lovely people decreases to about half. old people are all charming and quirky and grumpy too.
my flight to lyon boarded 15 minutes late. it was full of french people. and i didn't get over my shyness enough to speak french with the mother sitting next to me. i was between moms with their babies, but they weren't the crying kind. i did manage to say "je voudrais de l'eau, s'il vous plait" to the flight attendant. out one window, i saw the sunset over the clouds, and out the other i saw the full moon softly dropping light on the fluffy clouds. toward the end of the flight the mom sitting next to me very kindly began speaking english once she learned i was exhausted after traveling from the US. she had thought i was irlandaise (irish)!! not a bad guess considering my heritage. she told me a little about les lyonnais and her fun learning UK english since she's living there now. her daughter was adorable and liked me a lot, especially my bandaged finger.
after i got my bag, zoe found me and we made our call for the hotel shuttle. and then i slept soundly for 8 hours! we had a lovely breakfast: my first french croissant with nutella and fruit and coffee and les petites saucisses (sausages). now we have to call a taxi to get to our hébergement (temporary housing) because we don't want to brave the train/bus with all our luggage and lack of language faculties. i have ONE photo so far, but i will have to upload it later.