Sunday, October 07, 2007

European Vacation - Episode #1

(Please click any of the photos to enlarge, some are taken far away!)

Well, I have been meaning to get started posting about my trip. Sorry to have neglected it for so long. There's just so much to talk about and all!

I'd first like to start out by sending out a huge "Thank You!" to everyone who supported me in planning and going and also everyone who gave me gifts too! Can you imagine, people just gave me love gifts to enhance my trip all that much more.

Among the love 'gift-ers,' my friend A that I went to visit has sent me a few packages over the past few months full of brochures and travel information as well as a travel care package complete with travel tp and toilet seat covers, I'm telling you, she thinks of everything! Also on this generous list, my cousin and her husband who surprised me by saving their change in a mason jar decorated with vacation stickers! So thoughtful!! And my Great Aunt Daisy, who sent me a card wishing me a great trip accompanied by a check so I could 'get myself something special' with it. Bless her heart, she's my grandma's sister. And well, since it was the kind of thing my grandma would have done if she were still here, it was a thoughtful gift that both touched my heart and reminded me how much I miss my 'Gamma.' My Secret Sister at church gave me a card and a new travel alarm clock! Thanks, whoever you are!!!

September 14, 2007
There were a few things I wanted to do before I left, including dinner with my family, seeing my friends that one last time and things like that. My friend Shell stopped by after work and visited with me for a few minutes while I packed. See the clothes everywhere??? I was deep into the outfit planning stage of packing at this point.

I really did take way more than I needed, I have just never been gone for 2 weeks before, I wasn't sure how much of some things and what variety I'd need of anything! I had an idea of what the weather would be like, but as it turns out, most of my clothes are for the summer, since I got them on sale on the after summer clearances. The weather in Italy was perfect, so I packed perfectly for there, but England on the other hand...was another story. Literally, I'll get to all that later. I'm not even done packing yet! LOL

Here's one of my mom who was helping me pack (until 3 am, I might add!) she was trying to express her sadness at my leaving. I should also take this opportunity to thank her for taking care of my babies both furry and wet while I was gone. She is staying with me for right now, but still. I appreciated it! Thanks, Mommacita!!

So, I packed until 3 am, couldn't fall asleep and had to be up at like 6 am. I only got about 2 hours of sleep total. I kept saying, yes, but I can sleep tomorrow night on the plane. Oh boy...but I digress. I'm getting a bit ahead of myself now.

September 15, 2007
So we got up super early, got ready, did the last minute packing and off to the airport we went. We went a little early so I could show my mom just where to park for picking me up. I don't know about the airports where you live, but the St. Louis International Airport can be a bit confusing. Especially for old ladies....I love you so much, mom!!

Dropping me off at the airport was emotional. Both for me and for my mom, of course. She kinda broke down a little and said, "I don't want you to go." Her voice broke when she said it and yep, for a split second there, I had a thought to ponder. But of course, I wouldn't stay. Here's a pic of us hugged up for a self portrait.

Yes, she took a couple of shots of me walking in loaded down with luggage. I had my purse over my shoulder, my carry on over my shoulder, I was pulling my small suitcase in one hand and the large one in the other. I took way too much, did I mention that?

I had done the online check in, so I didn't have to wait in line (Blessing!). The weight limit on any one checked bag was 50 lbs. My big suitcase was, are you ready? It was 49.5 lbs! (Blessing!)

So I checked my 2 suitcases and began the walk to security. They've changed a couple of things since I last flew. You have to put all your liquids in a quart size zip lock bag and such. It's fine, I don't carry a lot of liquids so it was no problem. Going through security was really no big deal. I stopped at a store past security on my way down the concourse to my gate to hurry up and wait to buy one of those 1/2 moon neck pillows. You've seen them. I was afraid I shouldn't get it, thinking it was an impulse buy and I had a thought about how I was spending my trip money already! But I got it and now I'm so happy I did! It came in quite handy throughout my entire trip!

The last stop before my gate was a Starbucks. Now, I normally get super offended when I spend $4.50 on just one cup of coffee, but I was very tired from being up so late and all, so I ended up getting 2 before getting on my 1st plane. While waiting for boarding, I struck up a conversation with a nice gentleman who lives in New Jersey (my first destination). After talking to him, all of my thoughts for a fun but short New York adventure on my layover were shot down. And after I got to Newark Airport, I could see for myself it would have been a bad idea. The security takes way longer there.

(Click to see NYC)

The flight to Newark was good. I took lots of pictures (of course!) from the plane, one of my favorite things to do, actually. I even saw New York City from the sky!!!! It's gi-normous! I'd love to go back there someday. I was on sorta the wrong side of the plane for better shots, I just couldn't tell what was what from my view. From inside the airport, you could see the Empire State building. Very cool. I took this one as the sun was setting. It made me happy to see a pinnacle such as this, but I felt a sadness at the missing towers. I wondered how or even if I could have seen them from here. I will never know.

When I took off again from Newark, we did fly sorta along the city over the water, but it was too dark to take good shots. I did take a few, but they are just blurry lights. So I'll spare you that LOL

This was a trip of firsts for me. Maybe some day I will finish the list of firsts and share it here. There are so many, including going pee at 39,000 feet! My first time to, and I did! LOL For now, I'll leave you at me being in Newark airport. Yep, I'll pick up from there in Episode #2. There's lots to talk about there believe it or not! :-) Thanks for tuning in, until next time, take care of yourselves and each other.


Alison said...

Those pictures are cool! I've never been on an airplane before...I'm afraid of heights. I'm thinking I would get on there and right as the plane was taking off, I would want off and you know they wouldn't stop the plane for that so...

Alison said...

The picture of you and your mom at the airport is so sweet! I'm sure it was hard on both of you even though you knew it would be wonderful! We bought our house about two minutes (if that) away from my parents. The longest I think I've ever been away from them is a week.