Saturday, July 25, 2009

The trip home - July 23, 2009

Farewell, Venice. Farewell Europe. We are traveling home.

Our day began at 4 a.m. (Venice time) with a wake up call. At 5:10 our water taxi pulled up to our hotel's dock, and Ronald (the clerk) helped the taxi driver load our luggage into the boat. We waved good-bye "Ciao" and were off.

Venice disappeared in our rear view, and in about 25 minutes we were docking at the Marco Polo airport in Venice. No signs directed us to the terminal, but an older man saw us arrive and he indicated with gestures which way to go. Once we got past the dock, we saw a very nice, covered walkway that indicated it would take about 7 minutes to walk to the terminal. Great -- no stairs!

At the ticket counter, we asked to have our bags checked through to Tampa. The clerk let me know that I had already checked bags in Venice AND London and now, "It won't be right," but she did it anyway. Good grief! Let me know the rules ahead of time! I had emailed for advice and got no response. I couldn't call because I still hadn't figured out how to make a call on this stupid British phone I had.

We hadn't had breakfast and were hoping to grab something at the airport, but when we passed passport control ("No re-entry") we found ourselves trapped at a gate that had nothing but chairs and a restroom. I began reading a book I had purchased in London.

The flight from Venice was pretty uneventful. It took about 2 hours. We landed at Gatwick and followed the signs for those who were transferring to international flights. It looked easy as pie ... heh heh heh.

Well, we had to go through security again. I went first, no problem. But I saw Sheila was held up. Soon she was gesturing to me, in a bit of a panic.

Security had caught her with ... SNOWGLOBES! No liquid over 3 oz. was allowed to be carried on. She had two choices: let them throw them away (she had purchased them as a gift for her future daughter-in-law) or transfer most of her stuff to MY carry on and check her carry-on with the snowglobes in them.

Of course, I agreed to share my carry-on! Luckily, I could pull my laptop out, which was in a special envelope. Her computer fit in it, so we could carry that separately. Still, my carry-on got pretty heavy. We ended up being escorted by the "big boss" to another employee who walked us through passport and showed us where to check in her bag. So we did that, with little problem, and soon were going back through security again. When we got to the line, we heard someone yell, "The snowglobe ladies!" How embarrassing! I guess we were the story of the day there.

We had almost 3 hours to kill, so we ate a late, late breakfast at the Cafe Rouge, then shopped at a W.H. Smith for snacks. Then we sat down and read until the gate was announced. We walked down to the gate, and shortly we were boarding the plane.

I had chosen an aisle seat for Sheila and I was going to be in the middle with her. But when I got to my seat, a young girl was sitting next to me talking to her mother 3 rows back. I offered to switch seats with her mom, who was on the aisle. I ended up sitting in the very back row next to a teen from England and his grandfather.

Now, having the aisle means never having to say, "Excuse me," but there is a disadvantage. Everyone who comes by bumps you. At least, they did me. I could never sleep very long because I'd get brushed as people went back to use the toilet. Then of course the flight attendants kept coming by serving drinks and sometimes food. The bad part was that, being in the last row, I didn't get a choice of lunch. I got served fish and peas, two of my "never eat" foods! So I picked at the potatoes, and ate the desserts. I wasn't that hungry, anyway. Later, we were served sandwiches. I got egg salad, which was okay.

The nice part was getting a good choice of movies or TV. I watched "Notes on a Scandal" as a movie then several TV shows. We also could watch our flight path and get info like altitude, airspeed, temperature, and time to destination. I tried reading, but my eyes would get heavy so I didn't get through very many chapters.

After almost 9 hours, we landed in Tampa. As U.S. citizens, we were put through the fast lane to get our luggage. But it doesn't help if your baggage doesn't come out until almost last. We got through that, made our declarations to customs, and then put our luggage on another belt to go to the main terminal. We hopped on the tram and headed to it.

I stepped off the tram and saw my husband and two grandchildren. Big hugs and greetings of "Nee Nee!"

I was home!

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