06.07.2007 32 °C
July 4, 2007
4:30 AM the alarm wakes us up to another fine weather forecast. It may still be dark out but our journey can not wait so we trudge down to the front desk to check out and pay our final bill. George the famous Taxi Driver is waiting for us out front with a bright yellow Mercedes taxi to whisk us to the airport. And whisk he does at a mere 95 MPH.
Fortunately there is no traffic and we are at the airport in 40 minutes. We pile out say our final farewell and head to the Iberia check in line. This time I did put the knife in my checked luggage, not to make the same mistake twice. We drop off the check in luggage and with two back packs, one each, we head through security.
Ah security. What a misnomer that is. We stand in a very short line, have our passports reviewed by a person who could care less and soon we are at the security gate. I take out my computer from the backpack; dump all my change in the bin, take off my shoes and breeze through the metal detector. Of course my back pack does not go as fast.
I do not have a knife, the deadly sun screen was already taken what can it be this time, cookies? They ask me to open my back pack and there wrapped in gift wrap are the offending items, 4 bottles of Ouzo. They sell Ouzo in the airport in the Duty Free shop so what is the problem? I can buy it in the airport why not in the city?
Well after a discussion I am told I can not take the Ouzo as it is a liquid and I can not take a liquid across security. So George, Sal and Rick your Ouzo gift is in the garbage at the Athens airport. I sure the world is now a safer place.
Ok we board the plane to fly to Madrid. I am looking forward to a quiet flight, not like the last one where I had to be a doctor. The flight is relatively open and we get out on time. Breakfast of eggs and potato, coffee and juice are offered. Way different from domestic US flights where there is no food service, Europe still has a meal with their flight.
After breakfast we fall quickly asleep and soon awake in Madrid. Here we have a 2 hour layover for the overseas flight to Chicago. As we are waiting for the flight I can not resist a final Iberico ham sandwich I have come so much to enjoy. Since I know they are not available in the US I enjoy it as my last meal in Europe.
As we get ready to board the 9 hour flight a family from the Middle East comes by. There is a Mom and Dad and 9 year old boy and a 4 year old girl in a baby carriage. The girl is wailing. I pray that she is no where near us on the flight, Sometimes your prayers are answered; and sometimes not. This one was not.
We get on the flight into row 24 and also in row 24 in the middle row is our family from the noisy section of the Middle East. I want to sleep because I do not want to sit here for 9 hours but the little girl wants to wail. She proceeds to wail for more then 6 of the 9 hours. Her family did not make much effort to shut her up at all so the little girl had free reign to wail and wail and wail. I was able to get some sleep off and I but really wished they would move.
Well soon the ordeal was over. We arrived Chicago right on time and headed to customs to claim our bags, check back into the US and forward our bags to Detroit. Sounds easy right, not.
We get our bags relatively quickly but when we get Cathy’s bag it looked like it went through a shredder. The top of the bag was all broken and the back was basically torn off. There was no way the bag was going to make any flight in that condition.
I show the bag to the porter who proceeds to tape the entire top of the bag with American Airlines tape. It will hold and will make the bag very easy to find in Detroit! I also ask the baggage handler for a claim for the damages to the bag which they promptly gave me. Nice service even though they destroyed our property.
We leave Chicago relatively on time and head for the hour flight to Detroit. We land uneventfully and proceed to baggage claim to see what new things the airlines can cook up for us. Our bags come out and seem in order, looks however can be deceiving.
We get to the parking lot transfer bus, drive to our car and head home. The vacation is over at precisely 8:30 PM July 4 the moment we get into our home.
I will not go into details as to what we found when we got home but suffice it to say it took us 1.5 days to clean the house up. The bad news is my 100 gallon fish tank went bad and about $250 of tropical fish died. Oh well we still have the memory of the trip right!
One last point of our adventure occurred while we unpacked our bags. As you recall Cathy’s bag was a mess but the contents we fine. My bag was also fine. We had a small travel bag for incidentals and shoes and such. When we opened this bag there was a nice little note from the TSA. It seems our bag was chosen for a random search. NO big deal nothing to hide anyway.
Well it seems that search means also shopping for the TSA because we found the following missing from the bag: The charger to my new cell phone and the charger to my computer. Why they chose these items to take we have no ides but take they did.
Oh well the trip is over and is now a memory. We have over 900 photos to go through and put on line for all to see. We have some nice souvenirs and some gifts for friends and family. All in all it was a great trip and we highly suggest that each and every one of you take the time to go to Europe and enjoy.
Safe and happy travels
Phil, Cathy and Chris
July 6, 2007