Heading home

Well, the day has finally arrived; we headed home. Jon said to Dave yesterday that it is probably with mixed feelings, but we don’t think that’s the case. Forty days away from home is a long time. We’re not sure if it’s just because we knew the end was in sight or if we were just ready, but the last two days were very tiring and we were ready to go home.

We got up early today, Dave at 05:45 and Linda at 06:30 and caught the airport shuttle at 07:30. Oh, wait, the shuttle didn’t leave until about 07:45; it’s late. This wasn’t really a problem, though, we were plenty early. When we arrived at the airport, we walked what may have been one-half mile, seriously, to our gate. Along the way, however, we had a 25-minute delay. They were only letting people through to the check-in area three hours before you flight time. Oh, well, something to remember. Check-in, security, and emigration were quick and easy. As was picking up some colorful pasta at the duty-free shop (we never found this in Milan).

We were fortunate to be able to wait in the lounge at the airport. That let us sit in comfortable seats and get some pastries to eat.

Hanging in the lounge

The flight from Milan to Atlanta went off without a hitch. Linda slept maybe 30 minutes on and off and Dave stayed awake for the whole trip. We arrived in Atlanta a few minutes late, but sailed through immigration, customs, and security. We think we got through all of them in about 30 minutes. We were really surprised by the Global Entry process. All we had to do was have our picture taken by the machine. We then walked up to the agent who greeted us by name and asked if we had anything to declare. That was it; they never looked at our passports until we went through security.

The flight from Atlanta to Charlotte went well, too. We departed about 20 minutes late, but arrived on time at a little before 9:00 pm. We each slept for a half hour or so on this leg. Joseph picked us up at about 9:20 pm and we headed to his house. We each did a rapid COVID test in the car and they came up negative (we didn’t think infecting their household would be a nice thing to do, if we were positive). After spending a little time talking with Vivien and Joseph, we headed off to bed at about 10:30 pm For those keeping score at home, in Eastern Daylight Time, we woke up between 11:45 pm on Tuesday and 12:30 am on Wednesday and went to sleep on Wednesday at about 10:30. Averaging it out to starting at midnight, that means we were awake for about 22-1/2 hours. That’s a long day.

Dave woke up this morning at about 3:15 and got out of bed at about 4:30. Linda slept until 6:30. We will be leaving Indian Trail around 10:30 and will stop for some groceries, so we should be home around 2pm.

We plan to do a recap in the next few days with things like, “What would we do again?”, “What did we bring that we didn’t need?”, “What will we not do next time?”, etc.

Looking forward to being home on the mountain!

We made it … Frankfurt/Basel/Como

We departed Indian Trail at about 8:45 this morning (9/2) and arrived at the Charlotte airport around 9:30. The person working the TSA Precheck area was great.  At one point, she said, “If you didn’t pay $85, you can’t stand in this line.  Go down to entrance A.”  It was hilarious to me.  What a great attitude.

Our flight to Atlanta left on time at 12:10. Dave realized he was on vacation when he ordered a Bloody Mary at about 11:45 on the plane.  Still hadn’t fully sunk in that we were headed to Italy (after a stop in Germany and Switzerland).  After an uneventful flight to Atlanta, and another Bloody Mary, we arrived a little ahead of schedule.

First Delta Bloody Mary

Our layover in Atlanta was about 4-1/2 hours.  We stayed busy and got in plenty of steps for today.

Our flight to Frankfurt (yes, that’s the German connection from above) started off with a little scare.  There was a delay in boarding due to a mechanical issue with the flight attendant panel.  I guess that is what controls all things in the passenger cabin.  The good news is they got it fixed and the delay was only about 40 minutes.  The flight itself was uneventful and we arrived in Frankfurt as late as we started.

From there we cleared immigration and customs quickly and took off to find the train station for our train ride to Basel. We had a little time to visit what felt like a nice Dollar store, based upon prices, and a grocery store.  It was all we could do to not buy all the Haribo Gummi items and other cheaply priced products.  Thank goodness we don’t have any space for things.

The Deutsche Bahn train from Frankfurt to Basel was disappointing. When we got on the train there were a lot of people standing.  Seemed odd in a first-class car, but we were just boarding.  As Linda looked for our seat, there were no seats 91 & 92.  While talking with the car conductor, he told us they had a shortened car today, so we should just sit anywhere, if we could find a seat.  Linda and I got lucky and found two seats, but not together.  We got on the Wi-Fi and said to e-mail if a seat opened near the other.  Fortunately, a seat open by Linda in the quiet part of the car (there were eight seats designated in a walled off section as quiet seats). The car conductor said we could get hold of Deutsche Bahn and get a refund.  We’ll see.

Linda by Deutsche Bahn train
Linda in front of Deutsche Bahn train

We changed trains in Basel to a car where there were only five of us on this car.  What a difference.  The views through Switzerland and into Italy were stunning.  It was absolutely wonderful.  This was truly what we expected out of a first-class car.  Very comfortable seats and even a “waiter” serving food to people.  He did get our beer for us. 

For some reason, we were delayed at the station ahead of Como.  They talked about passport control, but no one checked us.  It may have been a crew change based upon one announcement.

We arrived at the Como San Giovanni train station about 15 minutes late and called for a taxi.  He took us near our Airbnb.  We set out on foot in the pedestrian area.  Dave got us a little lost, but we recovered.  The Airbnb is small, but nice.  We anticipate a magnificent view, but that will be in tomorrow’s blog, since it is dark out now.

We took a short walk down to the lake and what must be pizzeria row.  There were innumerable bar/grille/pizzerias lined over a three-block area.  We picked the one closest to our Airbnb.  Their outside seating was full, but we could get a table in about 15 minutes or sit inside.  It was too nice of a night (yes, it was about 8:45pm) to sit inside, so we waited.  Well, we went inside for a glass of wine and an Aperol spritz.  We also got an aperitivo board (and a €4 cover charge … maybe we would have gotten that anyhow).  We ordered spaghetti carbonara and a Regina pizza (San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella of Agerola, and basil) to share.  We both thought the carbonara was oversalty and the pasta certainly was al dente, but good.  The pizza, while short on the basil, was excellent.  We took some home and we’ll see if we find a time to snack on it.

White wine, Aperol spritz, and aperitivo at Ox Ristorante

[ Lemon sorbet and two glasses of complimentary limoncello[/caption]


Part of pizzeria row

We did a short walk by the lake and then headed home.  A quick shower and then it was time for bed.

Tomorrow we will do some exploring around the area.