OK, so this is a bit belated, but I’m back—safe and sound—in the US again!! And I’m happy to be back… which is good because I was worried in the beginning of all this that I would end up falling in love with another city or country and then not want to return to the US!
My trip to get back to the US was a LONG one that consisted of four days and 5 flights! Ouch! Funny enough, I was pretty patient through it all… I guess after 10 months living abroad and tons of trips later, you get used to traveling and all the problems you face along the way!
The moment I woke up that Sunday morning of December 14, I burst into tears. It was time to go. It was time to leave Martti and Finland.
After last-minute packing and preparations, and after dealing with a sick and whimpering dog that morning, I was teary-eyed and off on a bus from Lahti to Helsinki to catch my flights to Spain. My original ticket from the US to Spain that I booked a year ago was a round trip ticket to/from San Sebastian, so that’s why I had to book a separate flight from Finland to return to San Sebastian to catch that flight. I know… complicated!
Anyway, since my flights were two days apart, I had to spend Sunday night and all day Monday back in San Sebastian. You would think I might be excited to be back in Spain… but I really was NOT! I mean, I TRY hard to be positive about things in general especially when traveling, but Spain just really keeps confirming reasons why I don’t really care for it. As soon as I arrived in the airport in Spain and made a beeline for the bathroom, I waited in line as girl after girl streamed out of the bathroom WITHOUT WASHING THEIR HANDS. Ick. Welcome back to Spain! Fortunately, I DID get my luggage this time, just to head outside and wait for a bus in the POURING RAIN. Another 2 hours later I’m back in San Sebastian, navigating the city buses with a shivering little dog and pretty much drenched from head to toe. The next day I had the whole day and night to do whatever, but with the rain and cold I didn’t really feel like going anywhere. I still managed to get out to buy a few souvenirs, but ended up having to wait around forever until after 4pm . . . because—–remember afterall—–EVERYTHING IS CLOSED from 1pm to 4/4:30pm for stupid siesta. And even after I went out to some stores, a few were closed because it was Monday. Apparently some places are closed on Mondays in Spain too. Fun.
I went to the San Sebastian airport early that Tuesday morning, December 16, excited to be on my way back to the US, but was fearful that I would have some kind of problem there, because EVERY DAMN TIME I’ve gone in or out of that airport in the past, I’ve had some kind of BIG problem! (arriving in that airport for the very first time from the US, they lost ALL of my luggage for over a day, then on a flight to Rome with my sister, they denied me of my booked ticket because I didn’t have the original credit card that I booked it on, and then upon returning to that airport from Rome, I sat outside at night for over an hour (very unsafe!), waiting for a bus that never came!) Well, this time was no different. I wont get into crazy details, but basically I had problems with Sonny and sat and argued with two different stupid Spanish women about it for like 20 minutes… and in the end, didn’t get ANY satisfaction out of it. SIGH.
I walked up to the plane thinking, I HATE THIS COUNTRY, I’m glad I’m leaving. Maybe not the best way to leave Spain… but oh well, nothing is perfect.
I had an hour flight to Madrid, then two hours layover, and then I was off on a 9 1/2 hour flight to the US! I was pleased that I ended up sitting down to this nice older guy who was just returning to the US after 2 years in the Peace Corp in MOROCCO! Crazy, eh? It was great to share so many cool stories, and between talking, movies, and eating . . . the 9 or so hours surprisingly flew by.
I actually had to take Sonny to the bathroom in the airplane several times in an attempt to get him to pee on his potty-pad (a flat diaper type of thing that are made for dogs to pee on) since it was such a long flight. Sonny easily pees on this all the time at home and while traveling, but apparently the noises & vibrations of the plane and the SMALL SMALL area we had on the floor of the plane bathroom wasn’t comfortable enough for him. It took a few attempts but he finally peed, success! And man— I can just imagine what the people waiting outside for OVER 15 MINUTES were thinking, as I chanted in a high pitch voice from inside the bathroom, “Go potty! It’s OK! Good boy! Gooooo potty!” hahaha!!
I arrived in Philadelphia on time, and had to get my luggage from the claim and go through customs with all of my stuff. Since I had Sonny, they had to do an extra search, etc, and after they confiscated some of Sonny’s food (don’t ask– I don’t really understand why dog food that contains meat is such a “threat” to our country, haha!), we actually got through customs pretty quickly.
Things were going OK, and I was so excited to officially be back in the US! AND I was SOOOO excited—and culture shocked—that everybody was speaking English! The store clerks, the restaurant servers, English English English! It was a bit startling to me to just SPEAK ENGLISH and have people approach me and speak English and I didn’t even have to stop and think about how to say “Do you speak English?” in Finnish, or try to think of how to say something in Spanish!
This excitement faded quickly when I found out my flight to Milwaukee WAS CANCELLED due to mechanical problems . . . but it was only a couple hours longer for a different flight, so “oh well!” However, and hour later I soon found out that the new flight I was booked on WAS CANCELLED TOO!—-this one due to the weather conditions at the Milwaukee airport. Hours later, and a ton of running around at the airport from one side to the other, it turns out that due to a huge snow and ice storm across the Midwest, all flights to Milwaukee and Chicago were cancelled for the night. Fortunately, because my original flight was cancelled due to mechanical reasons, the airline had to put me up in a hotel for the night. At this point, even though I was anxious to get back to Wisconsin and see my family and be at HOME, I was OK with staying in a hotel overnight… and actually somewhat excited!
And it made things easier that I made a “friend” along the way with all this craziness: this girl, Sarah, was a 20 year old girl from northern Wisconsin who has been living in Germany for the past two years, and she was booked on my original flight too. — so her and I had to deal with the same cancellations, re-bookings, problems, and airline workers, etc, and we stayed at the same hotel that night, and even had breakfast the next day together before we took the same flight back to Milwaukee (and sat next to each other on the plane and watched a movie on my laptop), so it was nice to have some good company for awhile during all this commotion.
But then OF COURSE that last flight we were re-scheduled on the next day WAS DELAYED – like THREE HOURS— so it was a long time before we finally touched down on that Milwaukee runway.
SO— in the end, I was SUPPOSED to arrive in Milwaukee on Tuesday, December 16th at 7pm, but ended up FINALLY arriving almost 24 hours later!
But at least Sonny and I both got home safe WITH ALL OUR LUGGAGE, and have been enjoying family and friends in Wisconsin ever since!