Sunday, October 22, 2006

Goin' Home

1. LH434 - The torture rack
2. Happy Times
3. Happy Times

Munich to Chicago

Up bright and early for one last trip thru the Kings Hotel breakfast buffet and then its only a three block walk to the Lufthansa airport bus (one way direct 10 Euros). Despite the fact that this is a big, very modern, tour bus, the driver is shifting thru a 5-speed manual gearbox with a stubby little lever that would be right at home in an M3. For some reason this cracks us up. All the airports are paranoid these days and Munich is no exception. We go thru about 5 different security checks before we finally arrive at the gate. They are very subtle, each appearing to focus on a different aspect of our being with the last one accompanied by very intense questioning. It’s all OK by us.

The ride home in the back of the plane is excruciating. We’re all in the same row and leg room is non-existent. Julie seems to have a bottomless supply of chocolate bars that she’s passing out. There can’t be much chocolate left in Bavaria!

Not much to do now but fall back into your own thoughts and think about what we’ve just accomplished. Despite A&J’s late arrival, we were able to keep fairly well to our itinerary though we did run it in reverse. Falling in love with Verona on a 2nd day lunch stop, we had to ditch Cinque Terre. Also, we were never able to fit in Florence which would have been nice to see. We never failed to score decent, clean, economical hotels despite not having any reservations. The cell phone is a marvelous invention. This time I would not have left anything out, we enjoyed it all. Going back to Italy again, I would head right for Tuscany, find a suitable piazza with a comfy inn nearby and hangout.

The cars were never a problem, despite having to leave them often in overnight car parks our out on the public road out of sight of whatever hotel we happened to be at. We took the precaution of never leaving anything in the cars overnight. Fuel cost were very high averaging about $8.00/gal in Italy. In retrospect we did not spend enough time on the secondary roads. Most of our travel between points of interest was on the high speed motorways. It was great rocketing along at 100+ mph but you don’t get to see much. Doing it again we would probably set the nav preference to ‘avoid motorways and tollroads’ and take it as it came. I think we’re all trying to figure a way to do this again. Money is a key deterrent as it is expensive. I made a mental promise to start playing the lottery a lot more.

We arrived at O’Hare after 10.5 hours in the air to find absolute chaos. People were lying in the aisles and flights were being cancelled left and right, including ours. We said our goodbyes to A&J, promising to meet again soon. We then managed to score standby on the last flight to South Bend unaccompanied by our luggage which thankfully turned up the next day. We were home by midnight, dog tired, happy to be home, but deflated to realize that our grand adventure had come to an end.

In a chocolate overdose haze on the flight, I would catnap and hallucinate that I would be driving the car has soon as we got home. The realization that I wouldn’t be seeing it for another 6 to 8 weeks was depressing. The wait begins.