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adventure travel

Headin’ Home Arrivederci Roma – Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

“I’m leavin’ on a jet plane…” was running through my head as we finished packing, checked out of the hotel, and waited for the taxi to the airport. Adriel was hearing ‘Arriverderci, Roma!’ from the movie ‘Seven Hills of Rome‘. Either way, we’re headin’ home.

Arno River at dawn as we're headin' home
It was barely sunrise, cool and felt like rain.

Our taxi was a pleasant surprise…a Tesla! We noticed the moon roof halfway to the airport. It was a lovely vehicle and a nice ride.

Check-in consisted of a bit of a line, but then security was a breeze. An Italian security agent about my age winked at me as he monitored my walk through the scanner. I laughed as I reclaimed my bag. Italian men are, well, Italian – no matter their age.

Later, I mused that TSA folks don’t do that sort of thing, but then I realized that I don’t want them to, either! I’m pretty certain that it would be a totally different vibe!

One last croissant and cappuccino in the airport snack bar and we were on our way to Frankfurt.

I was apprehensive about our transit through Frankfurt airport. On our way to Italy, we’d endured a long, slow security line, and walked what felt like a mile through the airport. The fact that we had less than an hour between arrival and boarding of our flight to Orlando had me worried.

I shouldn’t have worried…everything went great. Immigration was fast. As it turns out, you not only check in to the EU but back out also. Our plane was literally around the corner from immigration. On the way, we even had time to grab this photo of Adriel with Einstein.

Albert Einstein statue and Adriel at the Frankfurt Airport

We were at our gate with fifteen minutes to spare.

As we stood with our carryons, waiting to board, Adriel mentioned that it looked like we were booked on a ‘geek flight’. I looked around. OMG!…he was right! Being a couple of techies ourselves, we were intrigued.

Hundreds of men, mostly in their thirties and forties, surrounded us, most wearing t-shirts, hoodies, jeans, tennies, and many carrying backpacks. What the heck was going on?

I asked the guy standing nearest to me. A Microsoft ‘thing’ in Orlando started next week, he said. Seriously, they occupied 90% of the flight. Maybe more.

Visiting the restroom a couple of hours into the flight, I had to lower the toilet seat. When I reached for a toilet seat cover, I saw that the box hadn’t been opened yet. Yup, I was on a flight with a bunch of guys.

MicrosoftIgnite logo
If only they could teach them to lower the toilet seat.

We were on another Lufthansa 747-400 in Premium Economy. There was no cheap upgrade to Business Class available this time – probably due to the full flight. However, it was daytime so getting some shut-eye wasn’t nearly as critical as it was on the way over. As promised on the website, the seats had a fairly nice recline and there was a footrest.

Lunch, served two hours into the flight, consisted of a deliciously tender chicken breast with creamy spinach sauce. Dinner came two hours before landing and was a nice pairing of an enormous meatball in an incredibly tasty German gravy, alongside mashed potatoes and red cabbage. Both meals included complimentary wine and were served on dinnerware with real cutlery and glassware.

The wifi on the flight was nothing to get excited about. I’d paid the $20 fee so that I could use the long flight to finish up the blog, but the wifi was spotty and sluggish at best. We wondered later if perhaps it had to do with a full flight of techies simultaneously playing/working on their laptops.

Adriel in dimly lit airplane cabin heading home
The plane was pretty dark after they turned down the lights… great for napping.

We landed in Orlando on time, ten hours after liftoff. Immigration was a breeze since most of the flight was non-US citizens. However, we waited for what seemed like hours at the baggage carousel, made to feel longer by a cell phone prohibition. Over an hour later, our lone checked bag appeared. On the shuttle ride, we pondered how, on future trips, we could whittle down our baggage to only carry-ons.

About 19 hours after leaving our hotel in Florence, we pulled into our driveway, thoroughly exhausted and with the sense of emerging from a surreal dream.

Nevertheless, we’ve started discussing our next trip … maybe Portugal? Stay tuned….

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