Thursday, February 18, 2010

Travel to Rome: Going Home

Finally, after 2 months from the date of our trip I am finishing my travel blog!

On Monday, December 28, 2009 we had to leave Italy. The time had come to end our wonderful trip....okay, no lie, we were ready to go. There is something to be said about going home.

Our plane didn't leave until 6:30 PM, but since we didn't know about security issues we knew we would need to get there early. We checked out of our hotel in the morning but asked if they would hold our luggage until around 2:00 PM.

We had three things to do: 1) Find stamps for the postcards. 2) Go to the grocery store for food souvenirs. 3) Eat one last meal in Italy.

I bought 15 postcards on the first day we went out to see the sights, a Wednesday, to send to family and a few friends. The next day, Christmas Eve, a Thursday, I forgot to bring the postcards to buy stamps and mail them. It never dawned on me that we could buy stamps and then just drop the cards in a drop box. I had it in my mind that I HAD to have the cards in my hand in order to buy the stamps. I knew I wanted to show the person the cards that I bought the stamps from just in case they didn't understand me, so I think that is why I had that stuck in my head.

Christmas day, nothing was open. The next day, a Friday, I did look for stamps, but there was a line at the one place we went to and I gave up. Had I known the trouble these little postcards would have caused I would have stood in that silly line! Saturday, nothing was open or the places we asked did not have any because they didn't sell them or had run out already. Sunday, nothing was open. Monday was the day we were leaving!

So, on Monday, we walked about a mile to the nearest tabacchi shop, where they sell stamps and other items. We get there and she only has five! Ugh....who gets the ones with the Italian stamp and who has to wait and get one with a stamp from America? The people at the hotel told us that we can buy stamps at the the plan becomes check for 10 more when we get to the airport.

After stamps we head to the grocery store to buy goodies. I loved going to the store to look at all the different things they have. If we had more time and Frankie wasn't rushing me I would have loved to look longer. We bought our goodies, which of course included candy. I even bought some candy to share with all my students.

We then headed back towards the hotel and enjoyed our final meal in Italy along the way. We ate at a fast food place that served sandwiches and one of the few places we found that had soda fountains. We could have gone to McDonald's but decided against that.

Upon returning to the hotel we packed our last purchases into our bags and the taxi driver showed up. He told us it would be 50 Euros to get to the airport. Coming in it was 40 Euros so I figured he was overcharging us. He didn't turn on the meter during the trip either. So I think we gave him a late little Christmas bonus. Hope he enjoyed it! I could have argued it, but didn't. After all he got us there FAST! The speed limit was 70 kph which is around 45 miles per hour and he was going 150 kph which is around 95 mph! I am so glad that traffic was light!

We got to the airport around 3:00 PM for our 6:30 PM flight. Can you guess what we did? Yeap, we waited, and waited, and waited. Saw this cafe in the airport and had to snap a picture.

goodbye roma

While we waited I went to look for 10 more stamps for the postcards. I did not have any luck. Frankie then went to look and he came back triumphant! I asked him where he got them and he told me. I had asked the exact same person for stamps and she said no to me and to him, but then Frankie went one step further and asked where he could get some. I was able to send all 15 postcards out! Of course we got home before they got to America, but that is alright. The postcards arrived about a week after we mailed them and that was including the New Years holidays!

We finally boarded and security was not an issue going from Rome to London. We arrived in London about 8 PM, their time.

welcome to london

We were going to go into London and meet a friend of mine, but we were scared that we might not be able to get back in and didn't want to chance it. Security was tighter in London because of that idiot who tried to blow the plane up on Christmas day. I even got in trouble for taking this picture, although, I am not sure why. All the man said was, "No pictures." Too late though, I had already taken it.

uk border

We did go outside the airport, but just on the shuttle to get to the terminal where we would spend the night since our flight to Houston didn't leave until 10:00 AM the next morning. We got to actually travel on the wrong side of the road and see someone sit on the wrong side of the shuttle to drive. It wasn't as strange feeling as I thought it would be, but then again traffic was VERY light.

wrong side driver

Once we got to the terminal we looked for something to eat. It was almost 10:00 PM and everything was shutting down for the night. We found one store that sold cold sandwiches and snacks, but even they were about to close so we quickly made our choices. I found some nice comfy couches and was ready to fall asleep on but then a man came over and said we had to move. He said that everyone had to stay in one area of terminal for security reasons. This new area had no nice comfy couches only slightly cushioned benches. There were no arms on the benches so at least I was able to lay down to try to sleep for a few hours. Frankie again got no sleep. He said he couldn't get comfortable so he watched TV all night.

The airport reopened around 5:00 AM. So we got up and found a place to get some breakfast. I have to say after mornings, afternoons, and evenings of wonderful Italian coffee the coffee we had for breakfast in London was not very pleasant. Our flight still didn't leave until 10:00 AM, so we did some more waiting.

Once boarding started it took close to three hours to board everyone. Every bag that went on the plane got check and every person that went on that plane got the pat down, even the little kids. Thanks, stupid idiot who tried to blow up a plane on Christmas day!

We sat on plane for 2 hours before it left because our seats were in the back we were one of the first to get on the plane. Finally, we took off for the 10 hour flight to Houston. It was BRIGHT daylight the entire trip, but most people kept their shades down on the windows. I put mine up every once in awhile to see what I could see.

I saw the Atlantic ocean. Second time in my life I have seen it.

atlantic ocean

And I saw snow in Indiana or Ohio. Which is a big deal to someone from south Texas!

snow in indiana or ohio

We arrived in Houston at around 5:00 PM our time. We were able to find the right shuttle to get to the parking lot where we left the car. We did have a small dispute about which parking spot the car was actually in. I won, by the way! Go me and my good memory! Getting on the shuttle we saw this sign and wondered what in the world we had come back to!

stop slavery

And people wonder why I dislike Houston!

We got in the car and drove in the sane, we understoond it traffic, went to a nearby hotel that was easy to find, showered in a large shower, ate food we could pronounce, turned on the TV with only English (and okay some Spanish) speaking channels, got on the Internet that was free, and said, "Ahhhh.....America we missed you!"

Of course, now that we have recuperated we are ready for more travel.

We are thinking Ireland...