Italy recap: Day 13 (the voyage home)

[Ed: this is the last Italy post! I’m as happy about this as I’m sure you are.]

Friday “afternoon”

We’re on our way home! Of course, we’re only 4 hours into our 10 hour flight (and I think I’m out of new books to read – ack!), but it’s a good start.

This morning went well – we got up a little early, checked out, and lugged our stuff to the bus station. I bought tickets, and was a little proud of myself for expressing displeasure at a woman who blatantly cut in front of me. (my more usual M.O. is to pretend nothing happened) We got to the airport ridiculously early, so much so that we had to wait 20 minutes to check our bags. We had a pretty tight connection in Paris (a little over an hour), and my big fear was that we’d have to recheck our bags to go through security again. Luckily this turned out to not be the case, although figuring this out and checking our bags took 10 minutes with a helpful but kind of rude Air France agent.

First flight was uneventful, and we quickly found the shuttle we needed between terminals 2G and 2E in Paris. The shuttle driving alone took 20 minutes(!) so I was very glad we didn’t have to do anything extra – we were a little late to board, but no biggie. The plane was also 30 minutes late taking off which makes me feel good about our luggage’s chances. Here’s hoping!

We’re sitting together on this flight but there are no individual TVs which is disappointing.

“evening” for real
We’re on our last plane! The rest of the flight to Atlanta was relatively uneventful. The poor lady sitting in front of us was travelling with three kids ages 3 to 6 – I overheard her saying that someone else was supposed to be travelling with her but something happened. The kids behaved reasonably well, I suppose. Before we took off, the boy was crying and so the flight attendant took him up to see the captain, and pitched it by pointing out that his sisters wouldn’t get to go. Sounds like she has some parenting experience! (and yes, I was a little jealous I didn’t get to meet the captain…maybe you do in first class?)

When we landed in Atlanta, the in-flight instructions informed us that we would indeed have to get our checked bags, bring them through Customs, then recheck them, making a liar out of the rude Air France agent. We had just under two hours to make our connection in Atlanta, but having to do all this stuff made me nervous – so many more points of failure. But everything turned out fine – our bags were basically there after we got through passport control and we were both asked only a few questions. (of course we had to go separately because we’re not a family in the eyes of the US government…boo)

Aside – I will say this: people in the Atlanta airport were super-friendly and helpful. It was partially the language barrier, but in Italy I often felt unsure about where to go (or what line to wait in) and whenever I asked someone it felt like I was imposing.

Interestingly, the inflight instructions made a big deal out of the fact that you always have to recheck your bags at the Memphis airport in particular, which took me aback. Is Memphis some super-important city or airport? (0.5%) Or does FedEx being based there have something to do with it? (1%) Or is the Memphis airport just laid out in a stupid way? (98.5%)

Anyhow, our trip is nearly at an end, minus the catching up on sleep part. A bit of navel-gazing:
– Going through AAA to book hotels has been generally successful. In the future I’m really going to try to find ones with WiFi in the rooms. (yes, yes, I’m a nerd)
– One hour is not enough time for a connection, especially involving international flights. (*especially* in foreign airports!)
– 90 minutes is the minimum time for a connection at our first city back in the US.
– Look at nearby airports! There were tons of buses from Florence to the Pisa airport, which I gathered was bigger.
– This vacation we did a decent job not overscheduling ourselves – most days we were tired but not exhausted.
– The plan of reserving tickets for things with long lines, but leaving other plans flexible worked great. We brought a spreadsheet with activities/hours/etc. and this let us back off on days we were tired.
– We need to do a better job finding activities that weren’t art museums. (this may be an Italy-specific problem)
– Useful apps on my Nokia Lumia 900: the international data plan, Kindle, compass, Rome and Florence guides, and Photosynth (for taking panoramas).
– Knowing some Italian was helpful but not strictly necessary.
– I can’t really sleep on planes.

All in all, it was a good trip and we had a great time 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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