Morning came and we woke up with only 45 minutes to spare before the car service picked us up. We had Lucas shower the night before, so that would save time... and two bathrooms in this great little apartment meant that Lisa and I got ready tandem style. I woke our very sleepy Lucas up with 15 minutes to spare but in seconds he was bright and cheery and jumped right up once he realized this was Going Home day.
Our packing was done the night before and was lined up at the door... only our magical, amazing multi-device charger was left to stuff into a carry-on. When 6:30 came, Adele` was already waiting outside in our tiny piazza. Left keys on the table... pull to lock the door... hoist our 4 bags into the trunk of the sedan and we were in the darkness of Rome.
The streets were deserted with barely any cars... the least traffic we've seen since we've been here. From Trastevere (pronounced trast-EV-ehr-ee) to Fiuminco airport took about 30 minutes or so.
Then another 30 minutes or so getting through security, passport control and then luggage check. Not so bad. We were early for sure but better that than being late. We checked two bags this time, now also using our lightweight duffle that we originally packed for most of our clothing... a great way to free up our carry-ons for fragile gifts and mementos be were bringing back. In fact, the larger backpack carry-on (Lucas' luggage) was now stuffed with our day cooler-backpack we had brought along. (It turns out, we didn't buy as much to bring back as we had planned... more on that in a later post.)
We found breakfast... well, sort of... in a cafeteria area with huge glass windows, inappropriate Italian MTV blaring and a view over the runways and sunrise. Cold scrambled eggs, no milk for Lisa's coffee, airport cornettos and a Fanta for me (it's got real orange juice in it here... not like that God-awful sweet Fanta back home).
Lucas and I went into duty-free shop to find a last minute component for his classmates' gifts and discovered there is nothing "Free" about duty-free... all the base prices were 50 - 100% higher to start with... even a €3 bag of M&Ms cost €6.30! Sorry, but people who shop in Duty-Free are what Lucas and I call Shopping Zombies... buying anything, regardless of the actual value or even if they really need it, as long as the words FREE or SALE are reflecting in their lifeless eyes...
So, then came boarding. The lines were long and with no little air conditioning neither my sweat glands or my poor knees were looking forward to it. So I showed my handicapped card and we were allowed to pre-board, after the more obvious and more seriously handicapped people, of course. With all the trouble my legs gave me on this trip, I'm feeling less and less guilty about finally applying for the handicapped placard and putting it to good use. Lucas is funny... calling it my Old Man Powers!
The seats on our flight were exactly the same as the "extra leg room" seats Lisa insisted on paying for on our first flight. So I think this is another United Air rip-off.
The flight was long...over 10 hours versus 8 for the first flight. I think I watched 3 movies, several TV shows and napped a bit... and still I had time to spare. Lucas was a great world traveler, settling in quickly and keeping himself entertained with Mom's Kindle (Minecraft and drawing) and watching movies. No matter what food or snack was served he ate with gusto. He even used the bathroom! His only nervousness was with turbulence or during our very windy landing at Newark Airport. Hey, we all had white knuckles with that landing. Thank the Lord... he brought us home safely. (Terrorism was on our minds during this vacation... all that mess with ISIS got fired up right before we left on this trip).
The process for passports, baggage claim and customs was slow, but not terribly so... and besides, Newark airport was actually COOL. When we went outside to wait for our dear friends to pick us up, we all loved the 52 degree temps, even though were were in short sleeve shirts. My first time without sweating in three weeks!
A few texts back and forth and at last, the Bartels drove up waving like crazy, driving our Town & Country swagger-wagon... what a happy homecoming to see our great friends. Hugs and smiles and buoni amici... Nothing like that feeling. I let Denny drive because to my body's clock it felt like 9pm. English signs and American cars were a pleasant sight to see. We talked and laughed for the entire hour trip. A short stop for basics at the Stop and Shop and then HOME.
More kisses and hugs and dumping the luggage into the kitchen and we were home.
We ordered pizza... take out. Then settled in to watch some comedies on our Tivo that had been building up... no Big Bang Theory or AFV in Italy. Then around 8pm (2 am Roma time) we all enjoyed our own toilets, our own mattresses, our own pillows, Lucas cuddled with the Buddies that had watched over his bedroom while he was away... I cuddled with Lisa... and we all dropped off into a safe, homey sleep...
Sleep came fast after this great adventure...
--Jerry F. aka Babbo