Hello from Evergreen, CO  (An epilogue to our Europe trip)

Hello from Evergreen, CO  (An epilogue to our Europe trip)

Sunday morning – August 4, 2019   (tenth post of this travelogue)

Well, as you can tell from the title, we made it home and it is sure nice to be here.  We arrived at a few minutes after midnight on Tuesday (7/30).  That was almost exactly a 24 hour journey from when we left our Fiumicino (Rome) apartment!

We first flew from Rome to Philadelphia – a 10 hour flight.  The transfer in Philadelphia was a nightmare.  First, it took us almost an hour from the time we landed to the time we got to the gate.  They parked the plane in a remote area and used a huge transfer vehicle to get us to the gate.   Sounds simple  huh?  The first problem was that American somehow got their signals crossed and we had to wait 20-25 minutes for the transfer vehicle to get to the plane.  Then there was some sort of mix-up on getting the transfer vehicle to the proper arrival gate – another 20-25 minute wait on the tarmac.

Then the fun began.  There was a huge line to clear customs.  They had installed some electronic kiosks that scanned your passport and let you answer the customs questions on a screen.  I  would guess that they have not perfected the system, as it really held things up.  Then we still had to go to a Customs Agento  show him we cleared  the kiosk process.   Then we had to get our checked luggage and take them to the transfer location.  Lastly we had to clear TSA again.

Speaking of clearing customs, in Rome they had a scan system that seems pretty effective – if you are not flagged.   Unfortunately, I was flagged both entering and leaving and had to stand in long lines to go to a customs officer.

The flight from Philadelphia to Denver was OK.  I had upgraded our seats to an exit row (actually, I upgraded seats on all flights where available).   That gave us a ton of legroom, but the seats seemed very narrow and uncomfortable.  They had configured the row to be two seats on each side where there are normally three and apparently installed special seats.

When we got to Denver only one checked bag showed up.  Turns out one bag did not make the connecting flight.  It was delivered the next day.  Also, the suitcase that we shipped from Florence arrived on 8/1 in very good condition (they had done some “packaging” at the Mailbox Etc.store).

Now for some final thoughts.

I think in the back of our minds, we assumed this would be our last trip to  Europe.  I think that is almost certainly the case now.   We have been very fortunate to travel to Europe several times over the years and have seen some fantastic things and experienced incredible events.  But this trip really took a toll  on us.   Our bodies are really letting us know that we are not spring chickens anymore and our endurance has declined.  I am so thankful that I am quite active in the shop (often working on heavy parts) and that helped me deal with all the luggage on this trip.  There could always be an exception, but we will probably focus our future travel on the many  beautiful parts of our country. 

We probably extended the trip a bit more than we should have.  Even though a significant part of the trip was paid for by SU, the cost of each additional day added up.  However, we had a goal to visit new countries and I am not sure that we could have shortened the trip and still met that goal.

We experienced our stays a bit different than we have done in the past where we would try to cram every tourist stop into every day.  This time we went much slower and spent a lot more time “experiencing” the “atmosphere” of each stop.  I think this gave us a different perspective of the various locations.  We “enjoyed” the challenge of shopping at grocery store several times.  We enjoyed our meals in the apartment and soaking up the environment and lifestyle.  We enjoyed our evening strolls and eating at the wonderful sidewalk restaurants at each of our stops.

We were fortunate to have discussions with several local folks so that we could learn more from their perspective.  One memorable discussion was with a special needs teacher while waiting for the train in Bled.  We learned a great deal about life in Slovenia from him.

The school teacher mentioned that crime was very low in Slovenia (and we think the same was true in Croatia).  In our nightly strolls in those countries, we felt very safe.  The same could not be said of Italy.   As we have mentioned, pickpocketing in most major tourist areas in Italy is VERY prevalent.  Pat’s FB group continues to report significant losses including  phones, billfolds and even a passport. 

Some of you may remember the 1987 comedy movie:  “Planes, Trains, and  Automobiles.  It starred Steve Martin and John Candy.  Well, we could have created a sequel:  Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Ships.  If we did, they would be several comedy episodes in the movie {grin}.

We went the whole trip without watching TV – and survived.  We probably could have gotten some British news channels, but I hate their form of the news.  Instead, we kept up on National and Denver news via the internet. 

We did not suffer significantly from jet lag on this trip.  In the past, it has kicked our butts.

As I have noted in the past, we mostly write this blog/travelogue for our own benefit and too keep the family informed that we are still alive.  We find ourselves referring to blog posts from past trips to refresh our memories of certain facts or to just plain relive some great experiences.

That is all for this trip.

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