Wednesday, March 30, 2022

We're HOME!!

It was a great trip and we had the best time. It just felt so good to be back out in the world. 

We all had to take a Covid test on Monday morning before our return to the US. Gate 1--the tour company we used--handled it all. It was simple---well, except for the "brain swab up the nostril!" We had not experienced that before. Unfortunately, one person tested positive and has to quarantine at the hotel for 7 days. She was traveling--and sharing a bed with her sister--who tested negative! Bummer! Luckily, Gate 1 took care of everything--food, hotel expense and further testing--which is why we'll always carry the insurance.

Our transfer time to the airport was 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning. That meant we had to get up at 2:45. No problem for me. I always say I'm an early bird. Okay, well, maybe not quite that early, but it just doesn't bother me. On our way out the door, the hotel prepared us a boxed breakfast. It contained a bottle of juice and another of water. There was a croissant, piece of coffee cake and a banana. The only reason I'm mentioning it is because it will be important later.

Everything went off without a hitch at the airport. We flew from Porto, Portugal to Frankfort, Germany. From there, it was back to the U.S. through Dulles in Washington D.C. 

When we are traveling internationally, we've learned that the key to adjusting to the time is to try to sleep on the "long" flights over the water---no matter what time it is. That's easier said than done when you are traveling in the daytime. But the most important part is to stay awake the day you arrive--which is morning--until the time you would normally go to bed. 

On the reverse, coming home, you should sleep on the plane over the water and stay awake until your normal bedtime when you arrive home. 

This has always worked for me. I have NO TROUBLE--EVER--adjusting to the time change. It really does work. 

Anyway, the long flight home went by pretty fast as I watched a documentary about Tom Brady that was so interesting. The guy has a work and life ethic that shows he's really earned the title of the G.O.A.T. Love him or hate him, you can't deny his total absorption and hard work. He lives a totally "clean" life.

Then I watched--I thought--three movies, but I can only remember two. In the Heights--which I've already seen on stage and at the movies. Love it so much. I'm going to get the dvd to add to my collection. I ended the trip with Moonstruck. I hadn't seen that since it first came out--what--20-30 years ago? I loved it all over again--the music! I just love Italian and opera music. It made the time just zoom by.

Once we reached the states, we had an hour and a half to go through passport control, collect and re-check our luggage and get to our gate. That sounds like a lot, but our experience has always been long lines and panic as to whether we'll make it or not. This time, it was a breeze! Until---I got stopped by the "sniffing" dog! The "drug" officer---not sure what you call them---asked me if I had food in my bag. I admitted that I did. I always carry a bag of snacks when I travel. I think that's the real reason for the term "comfort food": food you carry so you don't panic about not having food at all times! 

As I was pulling out the ziplock with the snacks, I remembered my vitamin and supplement organizer. I pulled that out thinking the dog smelled drugs. The officer said, "no, just the food." When I pulled out the bag, she honed in on that banana. I completely forgot that it is illegal to bring plants, fruits or vegetables from a foreign country in to our country. The officer said that when we got our bags, we'd have to follow her "down to the US Agricultural Department." At that point I said, "Can't I just throw it away?"--thinking that I had no idea how far "down to the US Agricultural Department was and how long that line would be. She immediately said, "Well, if you do that, it's an automatic fine of $350!" Okay, then, US Dept. of Agriculture, here we come!

The officer walked us a bit and then pointed to another officer. She handed me this:
Turns out, it was really close and not a big deal--there were just two people ahead of us. It took a bit of time, so Butch was starting to get a little "antsy." When we were released from that area, we had to re-check our luggage and go back through security. Now that is usually really easy for us because several years ago, we paid for TSA Pre-check. If you travel a lot, that makes it a breeze--you just walk through without any hassle. Butch said that we didn't have pre-check on this leg of the trip, so we got in the regular line. That's when he realized that we DID have pre-check. We tried to turn around, only to have another security officer tell us that we had to stay in that line. Now I was getting steamed! OH! MY! GOSH! I knew it was a hassle, but I had forgotten how much of a hassle it was: take out all electronics--for me that meant my computer and iPad. I had to put my little roller that holds my electronics on the belt along with my purse and scarf. I went through the scanner--you know the one--where you have to lift up your arms--and was told I had to take off my shoes. I said, "they are rubber." They are my travel shoes for that very reason--there's nothing to set off the alarm. Still, I got out of the line. I started back through and was told I had something in my pocket. I said it was my Fitbit. I have NEVER had to take that off. I had to go back out and remove it. Next, it was kleenex in my pocket. OMGosh! A friggin' Kleenex? I guess all that coming and going caused me to be "flagged" because then I was chosen for a "pat down." The agent--female said that she was gong to be checking my armpits and upper thighs. Okay, fine. Finally I was "done." And boy, do I mean "done." After walking around on that nasty carpet in my footies, I was not happy with Butch!! In fact, I gave him the cold shoulder for all of five minutes until I saw the Starbucks! I stopped for my first iced tea in over a week. That calmed me right down. We got to our gate with a half hour to spare!

The rest of the trip went off without a hitch. Then we saw this:
We have seen many beautiful sunsets, but I guess I've never seen one from the clouds.
The pictures really do not do it justice.
The sun was a bright red ball! We've NEVER seen that. It was really quite striking.

Once we arrived in Nashville--a little after 7 p.m., I texted my brother, Matt and two sister-in-laws, Sharon and Janet, that we had gotten home. They flew through Newark. My brother responded back that they were delayed 3 hours!! I felt so bad for them as when you are coming home, you just want to get home. Finally, he said that they had to get off the plane--already after the 3 hour delay--because of an issue. They had to wait for another plane. I'm not sure when they got home, but it had to be well after midnight. I felt so bad for them. The flights are always the "un-fun" part of traveling.

On the birhgt side, here are twelve things I learned while in Portugal:

1. I learned my sister-in-law, Sharon is a saint. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

2. I learned that apparently, I’m not meant to use make-up mirrors in hotels.

I always say they don't make things for "short" people--and I'm not that short! I used to be 5'3" but I think I've shrunk a little. Don't be fooled by the tilt down--it still isn't right.

3. I learned that "selfies" are not a good look for me. That "upclose" is just plain frightening--as shown in the picture above!

4. I learned that there is still such a thing as a cigarette machine.

It sort of looks like I'm inside the machine, but I'm not. It's just that now you don't exactly see the real packs--it's an electronic version.

5. I learned that Pepto Bismal can be your best friend! Considering I’m using it for the first time at age 70, something tells me I’ve suffered needlessly for more years that I can count. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

6. I learned that however many euros you plan to bring—you need to double them. This is the last time Butch needs to learn this lesson. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

7. I learned that taking a bus tour is an expensive way to get 2 free bottles of water a day.

8. I learned that there are always going to be rude people who “stiff” the guides, bus driver and tour director of their tips.

9. I learned that I really like the back of the bus. Otherwise, you have to rotate seats every day so everyone gets to sit up front. Apparently no one likes the back. We do, you can spread out--we each had our own row!

10. I learned that I really missed my iced tea. I was pretty mad at Butch about the whole TSA thing, but as soon as I got my Starbucks tea, I calmed right down. When I take that first sip, I literally say “ahhhh!”

11. I learned that I missed my local newscasters! Turns out they are the friends I never knew I had!

12. I re-learned how nice it is to get home after you’ve been traveling!

PS We took Covid tests this morning to be on the safe side since the family is coming for dinner tonight. We were negative!! Yippee!


  1. All that stress over a banana! They are so strict aren't they? I guarantee that the underwires on my bra will set off the metal detectors 9 times out of 10 and then I end up having to go into that scanner machine. My friend was marched off by German security men a few Decembers ago, it turns out that the heated insoles she had in her boots had caused an alarm to go off!
    Porto is on my list of places I'd like to see, we have been to Lisbon and The Algarve in Portugal but Porto is supposed to be even better than Lisbon.
    Pleased you had a good trip

  2. Sounds like there were some interesting moments on your trip - and some unspeakable ones, apparently. '-) Glad you are home safe and sound.


Thanks for commenting. If you would like a response from me, then please leave your email address.