Day 16 (Tue, Oct 2): Departure
Rather than hang around, we decided to make an early exit from the Satellite Palace, so we were ready for the 7:30 shuttle to the airport. It was on time, a nice, big bus, and we made the trip to Fiumicino without incident.
Leonardi da Vinci airport (Fiumicino) Didn't have all that much trouble finding where we needed to go to get our boarding passes and check our bags. And we found the security check line with only a bit of bumbling around. Passed through security with no problems. My pacemaker situation - always bothersome in America - was, once again dealt with courteously and efficiently by the Europeans. The American TSA officers appear homophobic and paranoid -- "Do you mind my touching you?" after which they grope every inch of your body -- while the Europeans always are casual and brief (this guy barely touched me, on the ribs only, before wishing me a safe trip. Had a little delay at boarding because the buses hadn't arrived to take us out to the plane. Fortunately the bus drivers hadn't decided to go on a spur-of-the-moment strike, and we were on our way after twenty minutes or so.
Our flight took ten and a half hours, and the captain made up the time we lost boarding. Our schedule allowed an hour and a half between landing and our 4:25 flight to Seattle. Ordinarily this might have been enough time, but we had to go through baggage claim, customs, baggage re-check and another security check, plus walking what seemed like miles of empty corridors. All the while the clock was ticking. An airport official told us we'd never make our flight. Sigh! And we wouldn't have made it, but bless the weather gods! The plane to Seattle had been delayed for half an hour, and we made it to our departure gate at 4:35.
Sea-Tac and home After another 4-1/2 hours in the air we landed in Sea-Tac on schedule, collected our checked luggage without too long a wait, and made it to the Shuttle Express stand without too great a struggle. We checked in and were seated in a van within a couple of minutes. Then had a lengthy (to us anyway, we'd been up for 28 hours) wait while our driver tried to track down a passenger who was scheduled to join us. Fortunately, he gave up searching -- or got tired of me heaving sighs -- and we were on our way.
Arrived at Chris' house, safe, sound and pooped, but were awake enough to have some wine and peanut butter toast before bedtime. Next morning we Amtraked to Bellingham where Raylene picked us up and brought us home.
Next: The Eternal Splendor Of Rome (Elderhostel #3020RJ)