The Long Trip Home–May 22nd–May 23rd

Our last look at the harbor where we ended our fantastic adventure.

DSC06456 Stitch

The Schedule

We are scheduled for a 9:50 AM departure from “Rome Fiumicino Airport” with a three and a half stopover at Newark’s International Airport with a travel time of 9 hours & 40 minutes. Then it’s on to SeaTac with a travel time of six hours.

We have opted to stay at the Larkspur Landing hotel, rather that driving home that evening. Monday should be a leisurely drive home.

The Reality/Nightmare

Our day began around 5 am Rome time, which is 9 hours ahead of “home” time.  We were to “muster” in the lobby by 6:16 for a 6:30 departure to the airport, and there is where the wheels started to come off the travel wagon.  According to the last words from our travel agent, “the people that I paid to handle your luggage will make sure it gets on the shuttle bus to the airport”.  Somewhere along the line some of us missed the message and found the room where our luggage was stored and started claiming our own and moving it to lobby – pure mayhem!  I should have realized then that this was not a good omen for the long day.

Finally we, except two,  got our selves and our luggage on the bus and headed out for the “short” ride to the airport.  Some of us felt that the driver must have been paid by the hour, as we did an awful lot to direction changes, for such a short distance.  Another last word from our TA was “Make sure you have one Euro to pay for the luggage cart at the airport”.  As we arrived at the drop-off point (some distance from the entry doors) we noticed an absence of luggage carts, and the Italian lady, who was to get us through this phase, was clueless as to “luggage carts”!  Now I must explain something here: Barbara and I are still traveling with luggage that we used back in 04” which consists of one with wheels and  three that are WITHOUT wheels, plus two carry-ons – apiece. Crying face Everyone else has upgraded to these “eighteen wheelers”.

So there we are, planning our next painful move when we see in the distance (50 meters) two airport workers bringing the lost luggage carts through a locked gate – bingo – we are saved.  WRONG – One lady did manage to snag one and as Barbara went for one she was admonished with a loud, unmistakable spoken in Italian _NO!!! What the  ….. I thought, I’ll pay you 5 euros for a cart…but it was not to  be, so we resigned ourselves to lugging, shooshing and kicking our “wheel-less ones” along on what turned out to be a very long trail. Thanks to our good friends and table mates, Tor and Judy they were able to stack one on top of their wheeled luggage and help us through.

First stop:  Check in – with security – what?  Yes, (Italian Lady) you must first join the never ending line, show your passport to the nice security people, get a paper stamp on everything and proceed to the next “never ending line” and check in your luggage.

Second stop:  By now Tor and Judy have moved far ahead and we are back to kicking our luggage along.   Something you have to get used to in the Mediterranean countries is the fact that they are a very social people and never miss a chance to “chat-up” a co-worker or anyone else who manages to be waling by, as a part of their “social” day, while a customer stands cooling their heels.  And you dare not make a fuss, since there are a couple of guys (in the airport) standing around fingering the triggers of their automatic weapons!

Third stop: “Now that I have your luggage checked in, you must go and pay for that “extra” bag in another line since I can not take payment hereWinking smile   Well we knew there would be a change for a third bag and we had checked four.  The extra  charge was $50 and we were happy to pay (charged) it just to get moving on to the……

Fourth stop: “Sir”, the beautiful young Italian security worker says, “That line is for lades only, the line for men is over there” Say What? I only verbalized that “I did not know” – remembering the guys in uniform with the trigger fingers.  I did have a strange thought though – why were there three other lines with men and women in them?  I guess they were short on beautiful young Italian women that day, to man the other three lines.  After completely unpacking my carry-on and disrobing, and forgetting to remove my watch, euros and cell phone, I felt “spit out” the other side, while Barbara,who is usually their target de jour is standing all dressed and lucking smug while I try to put myself back together.

Fifth stop: Our boarding pass plainly states we are to proceed to gate G08, which we do, however when we get there, there is some doubt amongst those in our group that this is not the correct gate.   So we troop over to gate C12, only to be told that th e reader board – which is back a mile or so, says gate G08.  So back we go, confirm what the reader board says and wait – at G08 and our departure is now blazing away on the overhead departure monitor. I think  that the airport authorities must have a thing against Continental/United, because there are  only 12 chairs for passengers  waiting at gate G08 and it is right next to the entrance to the concessions.  As more and more passengers showed up for the boarding process, the line kept plugging up the access to the concessions and we were yelled at for that.  Good grief what a mess.  For an international airport, we were not impressed.

Finally after an hour delay, which turned out to be two hours, we we in the air.  Now our only worry is; will the three hours we have to get through the Newark Airport security and customs fiasco be enough.  The flight was pleasant enough with food and beverages being served during the 9 hour flight.  The entertainment system needed some tweaking as it was showing it’s age, but we did land safely and with three hours to lay over.

Newark International  was no cake walk as we were once again subjected to long walks and long lines through customs and security.  There should be such and outrage in this country and amongst world air travelers against what a small segment of scumbags have perpetrated on society in their own interests.  I am just sick of what we have to go through to travel these days.

Finally we are on the last 5 hour leg of our trip to Seattle, only to find we are being “waterboarded” with incessant and anal ads to purchase Direct TV during the next five hours, as just inches from our faces was this small screen pushing commercials, and there seemed to be no way to turn the dam thing off!!!   In between all this “crap” was a message from the the president of the airlines telling us how important it was to him that our flying experience be enjoyable – ya, right!  As of this date he has not had the decency to answer my email.

It was such a good feeling  to finally be walking toward baggage claim at SeaTac and knowing that our 24 hour ordeal was finally coming to an end.  The rest was a cakewalk.

After spending a restful night of sleep at the Larkspur, we loaded into our car and I must say the drive home was like being on a magic carpet ride.

All in all it was still worth the wonderful cruise we had and all the new friends we made.  We hope to see you all again on some wonderful floating hotel on the “bounding main”.

Next: I do intend to finish my reports on the “missing” ports.  In the meantime, I have posted some pictures of Tunisia at!222

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