#Europe2017 Day 32: Going Home!!

Well, it’s been over a week since I’ve been home, but I’m reminded that I need to finish this blogging series/project and write this final post.

We planned to meet in the lobby at about 10 am… the receptionist said, the night before, that we would have a taxi arrive just ten minutes after we called… that left us plenty of time to be at the airport for a 1:something flight from Barcelona to Amsterdam, and then about an hour and a half layover before a ten hour flight to SLC.

I had emailed all my wife and Ellie’s parents that we should arrive in SLC at 5:05 pm.

When we got to the lobby of our hotel the receptionist said that the taxis were running really late, and there was already a group waiting at the lobby for a good thirty minutes. Uh-oh. Plan A wasn’t working out too well :/ I gifted the receptionist, Marc, our beach umbrella that we got a couple days earlier (this is a MUST BUY, by the way). It was only ten euros but he was very, very appreciative. He was a neat guy that we got to know while staying in Barcelona, and said when we come back he’d go hang out at the beach with us :)

Fortunately, we weren’t waiting for thirty minutes… our taxi came relatively quickly, and we were ON OUR WAY HOME! Our taxi driver was really, really cool. He was a single dad who worked about twelve hours a day and took a big international trip about once a quarter. He had been to some of the places we have been to (including the Dominican Republic and Kenya) and was headed to some of the places that we wanted to go to. We had a great chat to the airport and I tipped him my last ten euros, which I had no more use for.

We got to the Barcelona airport and then was introduced to what someone might have thought was a great checkin system, but in my opinion, was an airport nightmare. Normally, at an airport, you simply check in at your airline’s desk two or three hours before the flight, then go through the gate. Barcelona’s system works well for anyone who has a math degree… it’s over-complicated and created a lot of questions. In a nutshell, you look at the monitors to find your flight (they only list flights in the next two hours, and we were just a little earlier than that), and then see what checkin desk you are assigned to. Cool idea, but not cool to go through. First of all, some of the monitors were out, so you couldn’t tell what desk to checkin to, second, … well, that’s boring technical stuff. To say the least, there were multiple points of frustration from the point we walked in the doors until we got to the right gate. But who cares, we are on our way home!

The flight to Amsterdam was delayed about 20 minutes, which in airport talk means 40 minutes. This was no big deal, except it mean we had a very short layover in Amsterdam. But I prefer that to sitting at an airport for a long time.

On this flight the delay had grown a bit more and other passengers were asking the flight attendants about missing connections. “No connections would be missed,” they promised. Indeed, we had enough time to make it from our gate to the next gate, right?

What we didn’t count on was that the walk from our gate to the next gate was a solid 20 minutes of swift walking. We also didn’t count on having to go through passport control, which was a ridiculously long and very slow line. But our flight was coming up so soon they fast-tracked us and put us in the short line. Short doesn’t mean fast, but it was better than the long molasses lines.

Finally, we all get through that line and then rush to our gate. People were already lined up, which means we made it just in time.

William made some comical teenage annoying noise, and I made some reference to how it sounded like Napoleon Dynamite… the lady behind us said “Oh good! I was wondering if I was in line for my flight to Salt Lake City, but now that you referenced Napoleon Dynamite I know I’m in the right line!”

We got on our flight and did the standard seat shuffle (which means that I trade my seat with someone in the Trio so they sat by one another), and I sat by a lady and her father who had been in Europe (from SLC) for a massive family reunion. This lady was really cool… she was a professional dancer for over a decade, and just really nice. Her TV system didn’t work for a good hour or two and she was super patient and kind about it, where I’ve seen other people kind of throw a fit and feel entitled do some compensation from the crew.

Ten hours… I started to do the math and look at the numbers of when we would arrive and things weren’t adding up. Apparently I thought we’d land at 5:05 but in reality we were going to land at 7:05! I told my wife to be there two hours early! Ugh! I hated thinking that they would be there and wait for a couple of hours :(

I have to give props to KLM, the airline we flew… this was one of the best airlines I’ve been on. This was a newer plane and had a great TV/movie system (which I am sure helps keep passengers calm), and the very cool window tinter that tints the windows instead of closing the shade… this provides shade but still keeps the space feeling open.

On this flight I spent about an hour in the back chatting with a guy who was with his daughter in Europe for her retirement…. it was fun to get to know him and listen to his stories.

A highlight of the flight was flying over Iceland… we flew over a month earlier but it was totally dark and I didn’t see a thing. But this time it was in daylight and it was REALLY COOL! I’m not sure, and I can’t easily find the info online, but it looked like they have these really big mountains, and the snow was up to almost the very tops of the mountains! I imagined several thousand feet of snow… maybe I am totally wrong but that’s what it looked like from the sky. It was beautiful.

So, we get to SLC, two hours later than I thought, hoping that my wife would have figured out my mistake and not have been there for two hours waiting. Then, we get off and go through passport control and customs. We were asked FOUR times, at different points, if we brought food home. This process was just as slow as anywhere else on our trip, but this time we know that just on the other side of the wall was our family!

After what seemed like a long hour we finally got through and, after winding around a few corners, saw our family holding welcome home signs! It was a sweet reunion, and I was reminded more than once, by more than one person, that this trip was too long :)

On the way home I got a summary of things that were waiting for me to fix… a towel hook fell off the wall in a bathroom, the van A/C just went out that day, etc. etc. Welcome home!

Kaisie had a great taco bar ready for us when we got home, which was super. We got acclimated, and then settled in for a few days (or weeks?) of jet lag and “normal life.”

And that’s it… I hope to blog about a few things I’ve learned, and miscellaneous things about the trip, but I I obviously needed a break from daily blogging… thanks for reading!

 

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