Yesterday just was one big bag of excitement, really. I was up at 6 AM Rome time, and I wound up getting to sleep at 10 PM Eastern, meaning it was really 4 AM for me. By this time I was pretty delirious with lack of sleep.
Anyway, what a long flight I had. We had to avoid the Gulf Stream on this flight, so returning home it was an 8h 55min flight, and we wound up going in this huge arc north, over France, Britain, Ireland, coming extremely close to Iceland and Greenland, back down over Canada, going pretty much over Québec and Montréal, down then in a straight line to Newark. I thought Continental actually was a very good airline, the service was quite good given the horror stories you hear about flying these days; but the seats were extremely uncomfortable. This happened to me on my trip from Newark-Rome, and both trips back; I got a very sharp pain in my back near my tailbone because it was like the cushion was weak in the back and I felt like I was sitting on a metal bar.
Coach of course is never exactly hailed as comfortable... But I remember American Airlines' seats being more comfortable.
I had an extremely huge surprise when I arrived home, but that's for my next entry!
I had quite a busy time at Newark that almost turned into a nightmare; nowadays, and I didn't know this, when you get off in the US from an international flight, you need to reclaim your bags even if you're connecting elsewhere. So now it's a huge production where you get off Plane A, go through Immigration and get your passport and Customs form stamped, then to the huge baggage area where you have to pray to God your luggage comes off first because you have a connecting flight, get the baggage, go through Customs, and then recheck your bags through the TSA screeners, then go through yet another security screening, and run like mad to your next gate.
Fittingly, the carousel in Newark jammed in the middle of an Iberia flight's baggage that was coming off before us. It took five minutes for them to summon the guy whose duty it seems is to turn the key to restart the machine. This, of course, was preceded by heckling and yelling from a variety of ticked-off passengers, including one older man who actually started to climb on top of the carousel because his baggage was halfway down.
I had thirty minutes to spare to make it to my connecting flight, but it was way too down to the wire for me. There was an older couple on my flight to Tampa who also were on my Rome flight, who made it on with a minute before takeoff.
I do have to say, I received really nice treatment from one official who, when seeing my flight time, opened a barrier and let me drop my bag and run to the gate.
To top it all off, boarding the final plane, I get stuck behind some Cheshire Cat family, who stopped to say hello to people in every single row, asking about if we got pillows (we don't), why don't they have pillows (because those people took theirs from an international flight) and then to take a picture of their son in the aisle...
Thank you all who have read my blog while I was away; I really loved doing it, and I wish my cell phone would have let me write a bit more per email; but it was awesome. And to everyone who commented, I loved reading your comments, and I'm going to be adressing them in posts to come.
In all, it's nice to be home; I was surprised, though, at how weird and different everything looked to me, after being away for just two weeks. It felt like I was away for over a month!