Wednesday, September 13th
Lauren had to work a half day on the day we left so I spent the morning doing all of our last minute preparations and I brought pizza back to have as our last meal on American soil because what is more American than pizza?
On our way to the airport, Lauren and I did an inventory of the absolutely necessary items that we needed before we could even start. Lauren’s computer? Check. Wallets? Check. Passports? Check. Now just to get through the TSA checkpoint and we are ready to boogie…or so we thought.
We got our boarding passes printed without a hitch and headed to our first of many security checkpoints. Lauren walks up to the intimidating TSA agent who looks at her, looks back at her passport, then down at her boarding pass before returning to look at her.
“Well, ma’am there are two problems. One, you are at the wrong gate. You are looking for concourse B toward the middle of the airport. You are at Concourse C.”
We both laughed sheepishly as Lauren turned toward me waiting in line. “Duh” we both say, smiling.
“Problem 2,” the man said seriously as Lauren turned back toward him, “is that your passport is invalid.”
Oh shit. Panic mode. All this planning, All this hard work. All ruined. Ruined before we even stepped foot on to our first plane. What are we going to do?
“You forgot to sign it.”
Straight-faced, the TSA agent grabbed a pen from the front pocket on his shirt and handed it to her.
A stunned silence before we both were able to comprehend what just happened. The TSA and his buddy start to laugh.
What. A. Jerk. (not really, it was all in good fun).
Well, we decided, if that is the worst that could happen to us on our travels then that would make for a pretty good day, so we laughed it off with them and went on our way to the correct concourse and gate B20.
Bonus TSA story: Our second encounter with the TSA was when the man ushering people through the metal detector noticed the miniature bottles of alcohol we were taking with us on the flight due to Lauren’s fear of flying and started breaking into a hearty rendition of LMFAO and Lil Jon’s “Shots” (Official lyrics: “Shots shots shots shots shots shots/ Shots shots shots shots shots/Shots shots shots shots shots/Everybody!). Looking back at it I’m surprised now he didn’t steal those from us for himself.
That first flight was to Chicago was relatively easy with no noteworthy events, which is exactly how you want all flights to go. Flight 1/3 to Venice completed. Waiting for our overseas flight to Madrid we met a nice young man from Wichita, Phillip who was going to Madrid to teach English to Spanish kids. We also discovered that Lauren, who I mentioned has trouble flying, only brought one of her anxiety pills for our entire trip. No bueno. Lucky for her, that was enough at least for that day.
Flight 2/3 also went pretty smoothly. We got served a dinner of “meat” as the Spanish stewardess didn’t know how to say chicken in English along with a beer. I was able to get about an hour of sleep, Lauren only 20 minutes.
Thursday, September 14th
Upon landing, we quickly became concerned that we only had 45 minutes between landing and boarding to get off our flight and go to an entirely different terminal for our third and final flight to Venice. By the time we got off the plane, it was 9:10 and our next flight was at 9:45. There was no way we thought that we were going to make it, but we were not going to give up without a fight.
The next 25 minutes were a blur. We quite literally ran out of our gate, through the terminal, through the immigration line, and into the train that took us to our next terminal, barely making it before the doors shut. There we were able to catch our breaths for a few minutes. When we got off the train we only had 15 minutes left.
We got off the train and again ran to the next security checkpoint. Luckily we must have looked awfully panicked as they expressed us through the security line and we got into the correct terminal. Through the final stretch we ran, fully utilizing the conveniently located moving walkways. Eventually, we got to our gate, which had by then become line-less and we somehow made it before the door closed. We were the last ones in line. Whew.
Our last flight into Venice was stuffy, though this was no doubt helped by our run through the Madrid airport that left us panting and sweaty. Two uneventful hours later and we were landing at Marco Polo Airport. Unfortunately, our luggage was not. The baggage handlers between Madrid and Venice were apparently in not a big a rush as we were. So the clothes we had just spent the past 15 hours in, including that sweaty run through Madrid’s airport, were not coming off for a while.
We had our last mix-up of the day while getting our rental car at the airport that took way longer than expected and we had to settle for a car much smaller than the one we were promised. Oh well, Così è la vita! We were in Europe! We were just happy to be on our way. We didn’t do much more upon arrival other than going to an Italian shopping mall. It was similar to American ones though without any of the stores we would associate with malls in America sans Sephora. Also, way nicer. Funny enough, the only meal we had that day was also pizza. In other words, our last meal in the United States and our first meal in Europe was the same thing. YOLO?
That night was spent at one of the more unique aspects of staying in Venice, which is the little cabins that are situated all around the outskirts of the city in lieu of hotels. They call them campgrounds, but there are no tents, just little one-room bungalows. There we each took a shower and put our sweaty, and in my case smelly, clothes back on. Let me tell you, there is no feeling quite like putting extremely dirty clothes back on your clean body after taking a shower. Am I clean? Am I dirty? Who knows.
By the time we got back at 5 o’clock we were both exhausted and by 5:15 we were both passed out, smelly clothes and all. 14 hours of sleep later and we were ready to take Europe by storm! Woot!