Physically, I’ve been back in the country since Sunday afternoon. But my brain is just now catching up. Y’all, I’ve been SO tired all week, and today is the first day I almost feel normal. The weekend went a little something like this:
Friday night, after a full day of all our stuff (kids camp, etc.), we went out for a fancy dinner in a restaurant in a suburb of Milan. The food was amazing, and there was an endless parade of desserts that made my day. We didn’t get back to the hotel, though, until after midnight, and then we had to get up at 5:00 the next morning because we’d decided to go to VENICE!! This was an idea we’d tossed around early, early on in the planning, but we’d decided against it because it’s farther from Milan and more expensive to get there. HOWEVER, because this year marks the 150th anniversary of the uniting of Italy, they’re selling train tickets at discounted rates (presumably so that people can travel around and see the whole united country). So we got two-for-one tickets, and away we went.
Like I said, 5:00 a.m. Barf. It was basically horrible because Saturday just happened to be my hair-washin’ day, so I had to get up to make that happen, and then we had to leave the hotel at 6 to go to the train station to get on our 6:50 train. But in the end, it was totally worth it.
We got to Venice around 9:30 and were unleashed upon the city. Our group of eight broke up into smaller groups, and Mark and I set out for Murano, which is a little island just north of Venice where they make glass things. We went to see a glass blowing demonstration, and then after doing a little souvenir shopping, we decided to try and find some lunch. What appeared to be the main “street” was a water street like those in Venice, which was really nice because it felt like we were in Venice, but there weren’t a million people. The water was calm, the boats were parked, the restaurants had seating on the sidewalk right beside the water, and you could hear the guy down the street playing the accordion. Seriously, if y’all ever go to Venice, this is the place to be. It’s like Venice, but a little cheaper and much less hectic.
So we’re sitting there finishing our pizza and getting ready to ask for the check when a girl walks up and says my name, and I look up, and it’s a girl I knew in Asheville. Yes, leave it to me to run into someone I know in a foreign country. I knew that she was there, but since we hadn’t been planning on going to Venice, it hadn’t occurred to me to get in touch with her, but there she was with her new fiancé, headed to the grocery store.
So we chatted with them for a little bit and marveled at how weird it was that we’d just run into each other there, and then they started telling us all the insider secrets on where to go and what to do. This, friends, was the greatest thing that could have possibly happened because they knew where to go for a 50-cent gondola ride.
Yes, that’s right. I said 50-cent gondola. Now, normally these things are like a million euros (not really, but they may as well be because there’s no way I could afford even half an hour on one), but those are the ones that ride you all up and down the canal. But come on, who needs that, right? The only thing you really need with a gondola ride is the photo op. You just do it for the experience, and the experience doesn’t really have to break the bank and take up the whole day. Sixty seconds will do you just fine, and that’s about what you get for 50 cents because it literally just takes you from one bank of the canal to the other.
Y’all, it was perfect. It made my life, no joke. It was the best spent money ever, and that includes hair gel purchases.
After that, we made our way to the gelateria to which we’d been referred, and it was also pretty magical. Then, all the items on our agenda checked off, we just ambled our way back to the train station, stopping in buildings and side streets and bakeries and stores all along the way.
We hopped back on the train around 6:15 and headed back to Milan, where we had to pack before going to bed because we had to get up at 5:30 the next morning to head home.
So just to remind you, we’ve now had late night, early morning, busy/exciting/exhausting day, and late night with early morning looming.
We got up at 5:30 a.m. (11:30 p.m. on Saturday in NC – This will be important in a moment.), dressed, tossed the last of the stuff into the bags and headed downstairs to check out. Our ride to the train station arrived at 6:30 to take us to where we got on the bus that would take us to the airport. We got to the airport around 8:00 (2:00 a.m. EST) and checked in for our 10:00 flight.
Our “10:00 flight” boarded at 11:00 and then proceeded to sit on the ground for three hours while they “fixed” a valve. The captain gave us frequent updates that were slightly less than reassuring:
- The valve isn’t working.
- We’re not sure if the valve isn’t working, or if it’s just the indicator light.
- We’re on the phone with our folks in Dallas, trying to figure it out.
- We’re going to just close the valve and NOT USE IT ON OUR EIGHT AND A HALF HOUR FLIGHT.
- We can’t get the panel off to get to the valve because the screws are stripped.
- We’re drilling the screws out now.
- Ok, we’ve got the panel off, and we’re working on the valve.
- We’ve got the valve closed. Now we’re trying to find new screws to put the panel back on.
- We’ve got the panel back on. We’re finishing up the log book, and once we get it back on board, we can take off.
Then it sounded like the plane was driving through a large and violent automatic car wash, at which point, Mark whips out Joshua 10:11, which reads, “As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.” Thanks, Mark.
- Ok, folks, we’re all set for take-off, so if you would, make sure your seats and tray tables are in their upright and locked positions and that your seat belts are securely fastened. Flight crew, prepare for take-off.
Then it suddenly got really hot on the plane and something smelled like old, overheated hair dryer, and that’s when we prayed and took off.
Fast-forward to New York.
We landed at JFK around 5:00, which was when we were supposed to land at RDU, but clearly we had missed that flight, so they had re-booked us on a JetBlue flight, which was nice, but it didn’t take off until 10:00 (4:00 a.m. on Monday in Milan – Remember how we woke up at 5:30? Yeah.). So we went through passport control, got our bags, went through customs, took the AirTrain to the terminal where JetBlue is, got our boarding passes, re-checked our bags and went through security again. Half-asleep, we found and ate some food, and then we all fell asleep at the gate while we waited for our flight home.
After that, it was pretty smooth-sailing, but I didn’t get home until at least 12:30 (6:30 Milan time), and then I had to get up at 7:00 to go to work on Monday.
So yeah. Beat. But I think I’m back now, or at least well on my way. And thankyaJesusandamen for a long weekend to recuperate even more. I am very much looking forward to it.