Date: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 (for Tuesday, July 15, 2014)
Time: 7:12 pm local, EST
There really are very few words more beautiful in the English language than home--unless one includes such words as Big Franks and drinking fountains.
My alarm was set to ring at 4:45 am Tuesday morning, but I had already woken up by the time it rang. It wasn't because I was excited, but because it was so hot. I finally just gave up. I took a shower, got dressed, and finished my packing. Then, with much delight, I threw the remainder of my loaf of bread out the window and into the lake (I think it was a lake). One duck ate quite consitently and a swarm of seagulls divebombed the rest of the bread.
We left the hotel by 5:55, I carried my overstuffed backpack and pulled my small, light suitcase behind me. In front of me I pushed Kaiti's very large, heavy suitcase which I had volunteered to bring home so that they didn't need to lug it around Spain for the next week. It was about a ten minute walk from our hotel to the train station. We got on the train and had a (basically) private car for the hour-and-a-half ride to the airport. During that time Joel and I (but mostly Joel) wrote the Twelve Days of Christmas, a la Wholer's Europe Tour:
On the twelfth day of Europe, Wholers gave to me:
Twelve art museums
Eleven pricey meals
Ten small hotel rooms
Time in nine countries
Eight hours of train rides
Seven lectures, too
Five chocolate treats!
Four times getting lost
Three loud Argentines
Two hot night on a train
And a Eurorail pass that Chris lost.
Please note that none of these numbers are accurate (except the last three).
We got off the train which stopped in the airport. We went up a couple of excalators and made it to the Delta check-in window. I was very nervous that they would ask questions about Kaiti's suitcase--or even worse charge me for its weight. But they didn't. It was ever so slightly overweight, but they were nice and didn't charge.
I easily made it through security, and was the first one to our gate. I found a small waiting area and got comfortable so that I could read for the hour before the plane started loading. After I had been reading for half-an-hour an announcement came over the loudspeaker asking for volunteers to sit in the emergency exit row. When I had originally checked in I had asked for an aisle seat, but they said the only one was in the emergency exit row, which would cost an additional E80. But I got to the counter fast enough to get the same seat for free!
I got to sit next to Allison Brown, who became a pretty good friend of mine, but it didn't help the trip! It was so incredibly long! It lasted about 9 hours, but it felt like twice that. I watched a lot of movies, but got horribly sick of it!
We were scheduled to land in Atlanta at 2:51, but we managed to get there at 2:37 instead, which was nice. I was the first of our group to get off the plane, followed quickly by Allison. We were also the first through customs and to the baggage check area. I was waylayed slightly because I had brought back bulbs and chocolate, but I had no real problems. I truthfully answered the questions they asked me, but I didn't volunteer any information (unlike Chris who volunteered way too much information). After collecting Kaiti's bag, I left the baggage claim area and found Dad who was waiting in the long receiving line.
We left the airport, and began driving home, missing bad traffic. We stopped at the Taco Bell about an hour out of Atlanta, then sped home so that I could eat Big Franks. Then it was time for Doc with the family, then bed: blessed bed.
This afternoon (Wednesday) I had some free time, so I decided to attempt some math. My (very broad) estimate for mileage, from my door and back, including airfare, was 12,862 miles, approximately 140 of which were on foot. I visited 9 countries (10 if you count Vatican City as its own country) and spent 28 days with 25 new friends. I completely ignored the world cup, but felt like part of it anyway, since all the Europeans were watching their teams win or lose. I studied thousands of years worth of history, culture, art, and rulers. I now know a little bit more about politics, and feel a little less like I know it all. That's the beauty of international travel.
This is the last blog installment for my Europe 2014 study tour. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your prayers and support. It has been greatly appreciated. I would also like to publically thank Bill Wohlers, though he will probably never read it. In my opinion, Dr. Wohlers, you went above and beyond what was expected of you. I enjoyed most of the tour, and I learned so much. You showed a compassion for and interest in all your students, and I appreciate all the hard work you put in to making this trip amazing.
Love to all!
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.