09.25.2010 - 09.25.2010
The time had finally come to say farewell to Europe and return home. We awoke at 3:30 am, after sleeping maybe 3 hours. We quickly dressed and dragged our carryon bags down to reception where the hotel had graciously kept our suitcases so that we didn't have lug 300 lbs up and down the stairs. We woke up the night clerk who helped us get our bags downstairs via an elevator (lift) that was only big enough for 1 person and 2 cases at the time so needless to say, we made several trips. The taxis arrived and got us to the airport quickly. We thought we may have time to freshen up in the restroom and put on some makeup which we had not taken the time to do at the hotel but we thought wrong. After checking our suitcases, we proceeded through customs and then through security and eventually ended up in a room for the gate Our flight to Frankfurt, Germany for our connecting flight was uneventful, in fact, I slept for about an hour, I think and missed breakfast but woke up when coffee was being served. I'm not sure if I snored or not and at this point I'm too tired to really care, but I still could not quite make eye contact with the stranger who sat beside me just in case. In the airport in Germany, we went through another round of security and customs. Georgianna was wanded and frisked while mama was detained while they searched her bag for an usual item that had shown up on their screen. The item turned out to be Lorie's rock from France that she had carried across three countries for her flower bed at home. Now keep in mind, that I am not talking about a small pebble, this rock was at least eight inches across and weighed a good pound and a half. The security officer took it out and told mama that she couldn't have it and then held it up so that all his comrades could see it. They all got a good laugh at us and mama threatened to strangle Lorie who had peeked around the corner and promptly disappeared from view when she saw what was going on. Our long flight to Philadelphia was extremely boring. Somehow, we all seated separately, it was almost as if they thought we could cause some sort of ruckus if we were seated together which I guess is not so farfetched. Anyway, I passed the time by napping, writing some of this blog, reading and attempting to watch the inflight entertainment, which of course was not working properly at my seat. We finally made it to Philadelphis and after proceeding through immigration had to obtain our checked luggage and go through customs. When we picked up the luggage, it was discovered that one og Georgianna's bottles of wine had busted in her suitcase and was leaking. We made it to customs where we were directed to the customs for agriculture because we had oil and wine in our luggage (see what I mean about the upside to UPS) where our luggage was rescanned. We then had to take our luggage to another place to be rechecked and then proceeded to yet another security screening where this time I was stopped for having a bottle of water in my carryon that I had forgotten about. In the meantime, we discovered that our cardboard tube containing paintings that we purchased in Paris had been left in the agriculture cusoms section. Lorie went back to try to retrieve it but was unable to get back through. Long story short, we missed our connecting flight to Wilmington. If anyone is planning an international flight, please know that a one hour layover between flights is not enough time, you should have at least 3 hours so that you don't panic. The airline placed us on the next flight to Wilmington at 5:45 pm but promptly after we had all notified our rides and loved ones at home, we were informed that the flight had been concelled due to mechanical problems and were placed on another flight at 8:55 pm. Since we had additional time to kill, Lorie and Georgianna searched out help to retrieve our paintings. After much frustration, they were able to retrieve them but not before we all decided that alot could be gained if Americans strove to have the level of professional service and attitudes that we had experienced abroad, at least by this particular airlines employees. We finally made it home around 10:00 pm and were greeted by our loved ones. We have had amazing experiences and seen some wonderful places on this trip, but as always the best part is coming home. . . . at least until we plan our next trip.