I’ve been home for two weeks now and it’s really only just begun to sink in just how great of an adventure this all was. Sixteen European countries visited at least briefly, a ton of kilometres by air and train and litre upon litre of alcohol sampled. Am I happy to be home? Absolutely. I don’t regret trying to pack as much in as possible, but it does wear you out after a while. It’s really nice to be able to sit back and process the amazing things I’ve seen over the past few months. In fact given that I was so busy during the brief month or so I was home in June it still feels like I’m recovering from both trips. If nothing else it’s absolutely glorious to not have worn hiking boots for two weeks.
The trip to the airport was as painless as I had hoped, a quick subway ride back to Termini station then onto the Da Vinci express out to the airport. It’s about a half hour trip as the airport is near the coast and the train was absolutely crammed. Once I arrived I managed to find the Air Canada desk relatively easily. Eager to make absolutely no effort towards improving their customer service in my eyes they had all of one person checking in a 767 worth of economy passengers, though thankfully once it was clear most of the first class/pre checked people were gone the other staff did help. I always precheck at home, but without access to a printer or a smartphone I was forced to wait in the long line.
For such a major airport Da Vinci is pretty terrible, our entire wing of the airport had no jetways. I understand loading 737s or CRJ’s etc by stairway if your airport is busy, but not full sized airliners. On the upside you got to see all the morons who bring carryon bags too big for the overhead bins actually get yelled at for once. The flight itself was pretty uneventful except for being next to an ancient Frenchman who didn’t understand the concept of keeping his elbows on his side of the armrest. Unsurprisingly given the loading process we did get off late. My connection in Montreal was fairly wide, but there were at least 10 people who missed regional connections as a result.
As mentioned I had several hours until I continued on to Winnipeg so I have no idea why I was rushing but I decided to jog up some stairs forgetting that I’d been sitting in an airline seat for the better part of nine hours. Two steps from the top I stumbled and cranked my kneecap against the concrete edge of the steps above. Later in the week I’d find out I’d injured my bursa, the sack that keeps bone and tissue from rubbing and causing pain. Figures… As it was I could barely walk and I waited through the long line for customs fighting back curses and feeling like the joint had exploded. Eventually I made it through, threw my bag into the connections belt and was sitting in Tim Hortons with an apple fritter and a sandwich all of 60 mins after arriving on Canadian soil. Given that I don’t drink coffee it seems odd that this is the first place I’ve gone after arriving home both times, but they’re usually the only place in an airport that charges remotely fair food prices.
It felt very odd to be home at first but it was wonderful to see my parents, then the dogs and subsequently my shower and a warm bed (with two freshly bathed dogs as hot water bottles no less.) I decided to hold off on this last post for a while to marshal my thoughts (and because my schedule somehow ended up completely jammed for the first little bit.)
People have been constantly asking me what my favourite place was so here’s a quick snapshot of favourites by type:
City: Prague Runners up: Edinburgh/Rome
Region: Cornwall RU: Dalmatian Coast/Cinque Terre
unexpectedly awesome: Dalmatian Coast, Croatia RU: Munich
Food: Florence RU: Vienna
Booze: sub-euro beers in Budapest/Prague RU: West Country Cider in England and Munich Beer Halls
Activity: Canyoning in Interlaken Switzerland RU: Hiking in Cinque Terre/Cycling through Amsterdam
Museum: British Museum RU: Accademia, Florence and Van Gogh Amsterdam
I’ve already had a few people ask me for tips for the cities I’ve visited and I’m more than happy to do so.
For those few interested this blog will go back to being random rants and stories, but I’ll likely take a bit of a break from writing for now. Back soon, and probably back on twitter at least sooner.