Monday, July 6, 2009

Back in the USA

Yes, we really did lug all this with us!
Happy to be done traveling.

Chris, Oreo, and I left Marseille on July 1st. We took care of a few last things in the morning, before the taxi picked us up to take us to the airport. Oreo was not happy to go inside his carrier, and had no idea that he was no longer going to be a French chat.

The taxi picked us up and we headed towards the Marseille airport. I was so sad on the way, but kept thinking to myself, this is not goodbye, Marseille, this is "'à tout à l'heure" (see you later).

When we arrived at the airport, we were unable to check in using the machines. A woman came up to us and tried to help, but she couldn't figure out why we couldn't check in. We stood in the short line and finally got up to the ticket counter. The guy told us that he couldn't find our reservations. He made a couple of phone calls, and figured it out, but then he said that we hadn't paid the pet fee yet (which we thought we had over the phone). Chris had to go stand in another line and work on that, while I checked in the 4 suitcases. I was so happy to see that the scale was off by -0.4 kg, so all of our luggage but one weighed in under weight. (I had been so paranoid about the weight of the suitcases, weighing them over and over). The guy didn't even care that one was severly overweight.

Chris eventually came back, we paid the pet fee, then the guy asked us for Oreo's papers. We had been told over the phone when we checked our reservations that we would not need papers for him. I showed them Oreo's papers from when we had first traveled to France, and that seemed to be enough.

Our plane was 25 minutes late, so we started worrying about making our flight in Munich on time, since our layover was less than an hour now.

The flight from Marseille to Munich was smooth and quick. I had a window seat and was able to see Frioul, Marseille, and the coast. We arrived in Munich and found out that we would have to take a bus to the terminal. Great. Once we got off our plane, I realized that I left the GPS back on the plane, so I ran back, waited for everyone to get off the plane, then jumped on to get the GPS. We looked at the time and Chris thought there was not way we would make our connecting flight.

When the bus pulled up to the terminal, we jumped out and ran. There was a guy waiting with a sign saying "Newark" on it and about 7 people plus us were to follow him to the gate. He escorted us through to the passport check and said he would wait as we went through there. We were very happy with Lufthansa in providing us with an escort after all the trouble we had went through earlier.

The passport check was very slow, and we ended up chatting with a woman heading back home to Washington and a French family heading to NYC for vacation. When we got up to the passport check, the guy looked at our expired Visa, and asked us if we lived in Marseille. We said "not anymore", and he passed us through.

Our escort got us to the gate, and they had monitor with our names, except for Chris'. They said not to worry about it and printed up new tickets for us and told us to get on the plane. They had held the plane for us, and we were the last one's to board, which lead to some dirty looks from the other passengers. When we were told where our seats were located, we realized that our seats were not together as they were suppose to be. Chris was in the middle of the plane, and I was all the way in the back. I had to try and get Oreo and my heavy backpack through the aisle on my own, and almost broke my arm trying to get my backpack up in the overhead. I was so ticked off from all the hassle and not having Chris with me, that when I almost dropped the suitcase on my head I said "sh&*". Later, I noticed I had said that with a child in front of me and a nun sitting behind me. Ooops....hahahaha.

I got Oreo under the seat in front of me and I sat down fuming about having to spend the whole trip without Chris. I was seated next to a young French boy, one of the other late passengers. I guess they just switched him for Chris in the seating arrangements.

The plane took off and we started our 8 hour flight back to Newark. I started watching a movie, "Duplicity", which was terrible, and after about a half hour, Chris found me and asked the boy to move so he could sit by me. I was SO happy!

The flight was pretty bumpy at times, which really bothered me, but overall it was fine. I watched "I love you, man" which was a super cute movie, and "He's Just not Into You" which was worthless.

We arrived in Newark around 6:30pm, exhausted, and ready to get to our hotel for the night. We went through immigration easily, and picked up our bags. It cost $5 for a cart for the suitcases, which was ridiculous. Then we went through customs and had to go to the side to show Oreo's papers (even though, again, we had been told we didn't need to show his papers). We eventually found the shuttle over to the Sheraton hotel and we checked in.

Oreo was so good on the trip, and he was very happy to come out of his carrier and get some food and water. It was a great idea for us to have the hotel room for the night and separate the trip into two parts.

Chris and I had dinner at the hotel cafe and crashed early. We had to get up at 4am to make our next flight on Continental to Cincinnati.

Even with arriving early, we still almost missed our flight thanks to the LONG line at security. I can't believe how difficult it nowadays to travel by plane! They just don't make things easy! We got to the gate, again being the last one's to board, and the ladies there asked me what I had in the carrier. I told them it was our cat, and they said he would not fit on the plane. I told them that his carrier is flexible to fit under the seat and that it is airline approved, and that Oreo would be fine, and the woman said "well the cat can't tell you otherwise." We wanted to punch her! Like she knew what was best for our boy?? She let us past, and then the stewardess did the same thing to us when we got on the plane. I told her that I fly with him all the time and that he will fit, and she just looked like it was impossible. Funny, I was able to get him under the seat in front of me without a problem. Oreo was just fine and slept the whole way.

We were so happy to finally see David and Carolyn at the airport and get our luggage. We were DONE with flying! We stopped off at a Starbuck's on the way home, which was funny since I was craving a soy chai latte! The trip back to Salem was long, but it felt nice to finally get here.

Being back in Salem made it fell like the 9 months had been simply a dream. It was quite surreal. I had jet lag for the following few days and going through Marseille-withdraw. It's funny being back and thinking about how France and the US are similar and different. Very strange being in restaurants and understanding what everyone is saying. Chris and I no longer have our secret language of English, because everyone around us speaks English! :)

I'm getting more use to being back now and am feeling better. I really look forward to going back to Marseille in the next few years. For now, it's nice being with family and friends and looking forward to our next adventure.

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