Justin and I arrived safely at our hotel in Tbilisi, Wednesday morning at 5 AM (as you already know, if you’ve been following us on Facebook and Instagram). We thought that the real adventures would begin in Georgia, but little did we know what was in store for us when we got off the plane in Munich, Germany. Before we left New York City, we had been told that because Justin is blind, the airline ticketing system would automatically put in a request for an airport staff member to escort us from the plane into the airport. Upon landing, we exited the plane with our minds on discovering a new city, eating German pastries and sausage, and taking as many funny “flat Candy” photos as possible before we had to return for our 9 PM flight to Tbilisi.
Sure enough, we were greeted at the gate and along with a very elderly Albanian couple were led on a stairless route into the airport where a golf cart was waiting for us. The elderly woman, dressed in traditional attire, Justin, and I were instructed to hop on the back of the two-seater cart. We somehow managed to squeeze in (I unsuccessfully tried to document the final product with a selfie photo which elicited strange looks from our seat companion). Our escort asked the couple which gate they were headed to, proceeded to drop them off, and then asked us for the number of our gate. We told him that we had a 14 hour layover and wouldn’t be going to our gate right away. I thought I had remembered in one of the reservation emails that we were going to have business lounge vouchers for the day and asked him about this. He said if we didn’t ride business class to the airport, we couldn’t go to the business lounge—we had to go to the “handicap room.” Given that handicap is no longer an acceptable term in the United States, it made this room sound that much scarier. We asked if we could be driven to the lounge to see if our names were on a list—”No, you have to go to the handicap room. Justin then asked if we could speak with a customer representative in the airport—”No, you have to go to the handicap room.” So off our golf cart went to the handicap room. I whispered to Justin not to worry, we would find a way to escape.
During our reluctant ride, I overheard our driver speak in French to a colleague of his as we drove by. Fluent in French myself, I seized the opportunity to try to dissuade him from locking us in the handicap room and began conversing with him in French. We arrived at the “handicap room” (fortunately not labeled as such, but “Special Services”) and our driver keyed in a code for us to enter (neither Justin nor I were surprised that the handicap room was under lock and key). We were led into a room that was one part children’s toys and games, the other part stark, white walls, an Ikea-esque table and chairs, and a sign that read “NO PHOTOS” (again, no surprise). I described this to Justin and we both agreed there was no way we were spending 14 hours in this room.
In French, I told our escort that we wanted to leave the airport to do a little “tourisme.” He stared at me in disbelief. “You wouldn’t want to spend 14 hours in here, would you?” I asked. He agreed that he would not and then made me promise that I would not “abandon Justin in the city” if we left the airport. I tried to keep a straight face and agreed I would not. He loaded us back onto the golf cart and quickly took us to passport control—apparently it’s the handicap room or the highway at Munich airport—a leisurely coffee before setting out for sightseeing is not an option.
Lots of laughing and handicap room jokes later, we made our way into Munich for some breakfast, a walk around the city center, an authentic German restaurant experience with sausage and sauerkraut at the Hofbrauhaus, and plenty of flat Candy photo ops as seen below. Certainly not as much fun as we would have had if we had stayed in the handicap room, but all-in-all, a fun day.
Stay tuned for the real Georgian adventures…