The Grand Tour is . . . . over.
17.11.2008 - 17.11.2008
Let's start with the title. Ever since we spent ONE DAY with our new friends from Canada, who are living in Lucca, Italy this fall, Joseph has been increasingly sounding like a Canadian. His speech is especially littered recklessly with the Canadian, "eh." As in, "we should go to that museum, eh?" and "it sure looks gray out, eh?" We spent that one day with the Mills family weeks ago! So, instead of his language being laced with lovely European words and phrases, like the various ways of saying hello and good-bye, please and thank you, etc., we just hear that "eh" all the time. We spent ten glorious weeks in Europe, but somehow I'm now married to a Canadian. How did that happen??
We are indeed home. The Grand Tour is over. In the next few days, we hope to have a few "deeper" thoughts about our big adventure. But, for now, a report on our big day of travel over the ocean, this time by plane. Yuck (at least for me).
We flew from Paris on Monday. Since we flew Aer Lingus, our flight included a layover, and a switch onto a different plane, in Dublin. Both flights were, thankfully, uneventful (although there was some unpleasant turbulence just after we took off from Dublin), especially since I really hate to fly. The only really interesting thing of the day (aside from my moaning and muttering about a) hating to fly, and b) not wanting to go home-- and, I will readily admit that these were not the least bit interesting to the rest of the family) was what happened at the Dublin airport.
After landing in Dublin, we had to make our way to another terminal. When we made our way through various hallways, we found ourselves suddenly (and, with no warning) dumped into a new security line, and right at the front of one of the lines. We hadn't finished up the waters we had purchased for the first flight, so we quickly chugged those down. And, then it was time to take off belts, watches, take cameras out of bags, etc., etc.
Going through security in Paris had been a piece of cake, so we were quite unprepared for what we faced in Dublin. First, there was poor Margaret who has been setting off metal detectors all over Europe. We usually point to all of the metal in her mouth and they are usually satisfied (except for Eurostar, where they insisted on patting her down). The Dublin officials insisted that the braces could not possibly set off the detector. After some investigation, we discovered that Margaret's sneakers were the culprit. Who knew?
And, then there was the nasty business of the kid-sized craft scissors in Margaret and John's pencil cases. I had forgotten all about these. The security in Paris spotted them in the x-ray machine, but deemed them unable to cause harm (at this point, they probably don't even cut paper all that well) and let them pass. Not so in Dublin. They were confiscated. Along with the duct tape, which we've been hauling around Europe and had used that very morning to repair two of the suitcases (our $99 LL Bean suitcases held up remarkably well, considering what we've put them through, but Margaret's got a small rip and John's was showing some "weak" spots near the bottom, so we duct-taped them up before checking them). Our friend, Tom (aka Cruiser), might have put up a fight for that duct tape, but we just let it go.
The really special treatment was saved for . . . can you guess? Me. I set off the detector. So, I got patted down and had that wand apparatus waved all over me. I thought that it seemed clear that the wand did not like the clasp on my pants, but the security guard was not satisfied. I had to take off my sweater, go through the detector a couple more times, get patted down once or twice more, and, then, the real treat was to have the wand set over my body yet again, only this time a little more thoroughly than I was comfortable with. I don't know how close I was to be escorted off to a secret room to undress, or perhaps she was thinking about making me drop my pants right there, but the whole experience was extremely unpleasant. I'm all for good security, but I'm a (almost!) middle-aged woman traveling with my family. What did she think I was trying to smuggle onto the plane? Or, had she read my thoughts of taping some fancy French cheese under my clothing-- fancy, smelly cheese that I would use to overcome the pilot and demand that s/he take me back to Paris???
Finally, we got through and before dealing with all of the customs and immigration business (two more lines), we stopped off at the terminal Irish pub. We handed over our remaining euros, twenty-four of them, and asked what we could get. Joe and I each had a large Guinness. The kids had juice and we shared three sandwiches. Guinness makes everything better . . .
Finally, it was time to board the plane. We took off on time and landed at Logan a little early-- unbelievable, eh? So much for my really full experience with airline travel!
We spent Monday night night near my parents. Good thing, too. Although we landed before 4:00 pm local time, we really started to feel that we were still on Paris time, which would have been 10:00 pm. We had a quick dinner at Grammy and Grampy's, told a few stories, and then it was off to the hotel. I think we were all asleep by 7:30.
That's about it for now. We are looking forward to seeing our friends and family and getting the kids back to school. We are not, however, looking forward to the mountain of mail that must be dealt with. Or, the fact that work looms. Or, all of the things we need to do to get ourselves and the houses ready for winter, which seems to be approaching very quickly.
We'll finish our blog soon, with some thoughts from each of us.