Back in the USA

Trip Start Mar 31, 2011
1
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Trip End Jul 05, 2011


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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Well, I thought that I would simply write about our peaceful return to the United States, but it turns out that we had quite an adventure getting to the airport. Might as well talk about it to end on a more exciting note. 
 
We left Ann Marie's house with a little over 4 hours to get to Heathrow. Theoretically, we just needed to take the Bakerloo line to Piccadilly Circus, then take the Piccadilly line to the airport-- should have taken about 45 minutes. WRONG! There were "signaling problems" westbound on the Piccadilly line (the direction we were going), so the stupid train stopped for five minutes at literally every station. It took us over 2 hours to get to the airport. By the time we arrived, we were in a full panic because our flight was due to depart in a little over an hour. We ran through the airport (with our big backpacks, little day backpacks, and three extra satchels full of crap we've purchased, mind you) and made it to the United bag check with exactly an hour left. Luckily, we had already checked in online and the lady at the desk was very nice and competent. She sorted out our bags in a few minutes and sent us to the least busy security point. It took us less than 10 minutes to get through security, so we arrived in the terminal with extra time!
 
Since we had time, Jeremy bought a few last minute souvenirs at the duty free shop and we hit the bathroom before heading to our gate. The gate was about a 20 minute walk, but we arrived exactly as they were beginning to board. We snuck on with the "boarding group 1" and got our bags in the overhead bins without any problems. We got to sit in Economy Plus, so we had a ton of leg room and really nice TVs in the back of the seats in front of us. We were sitting pretty close to the front of Economy Plus, so we could see into the first class compartment. We think that there must have been some pretty famous celebrities flying first class, because the flight continues on to LA and they made a strange announcement explaining that walking anywhere near the first class compartment was forbidden. Plus, they erected strange metal bars between the Economy Plus and first compartment and put up blackout curtains. I hope it was Beyonce. 
 
After 8 hours on the plane, we arrived in Washington DC. Luckily, we were near the front of the plane, so we got to exit the plane in a reasonable amount of time. We breezed right through immigration-- the guy didn't even look at my pictures. I was worried because I had to abbreviate all of the countries that I visited on the immigration form and they still didn't all fit. Plus, I had a giant Russian visa in my passport, so I expected at least a few questions. Nothing-- just asked me how long I had been gone. Easy! Once we picked up our bags, we went through customs without any problems either. Then we had to go back through security... the guy made us totally unpack our souvenir bag because there was something inside that "resembled bullets." This definitely stumped us, so we just let him search the whole thing. He finally found the culprit-- little magnets in the shape of London's red telephone booths! Then he proceeded to inspect each one to make sure there were not bullets hidden inside them. I told him that there were no bullets inside and he told me to "not use that word" in the airport. Apparently the word "bullet" is taboo, even if you are having an active conversation about them with an official. Oh well, at least our layover was 3 hours long so we were in no rush.
 
Once we cleared security, we went to the only restaurant we could find. It turned out to be a BRITISH PUB, which was the absolute last thing we wanted, so we just ordered drinks and ran away. After walking through another terminal, we found another restaurant and got pulled pork sandwiches and salads. The food came in American sizes (huge), and the waitress was very attentive. At 10 PM Eastern time (3 AM in London), we boarded the plane and left for Denver! Very tired by this point and not looking forward to navigating the Denver airport in 4 hours.
  
We landed in Denver at midnight Mountain time (7 AM in London) and were totally exhausted. The flight wasn't bad, but I thought it was too cold. We got our bags without any problems, and Aaron/Jeremy's parents were waiting to pick us up! Horray! After a 45 minute drive, voilą-- we are home!
 
Now we are officially settled back in Colorado-- quite bittersweet really. Very glad to be back at Hamilton house with my friends and the dog, very glad to see my family, but pretty sad to have left beautiful Europe and all of our wonderful European friends behind. We've compiled a list of all the reasons we are glad to be back, in contrast to the reasons we love Europe more than the US. 
 
Reasons we are glad to be home:
  • Family/friends that live in the US, although perhaps a few of them would be quite taken with Europe as well
  • Free bathrooms with toilet paper and toilet seats
  • Being able to plug in as many electronics as we want because we don't need plug adapters
  • Sinks with a single tap that dispenses luke-warm water, rather than two taps that each dispense boiling/freezing water, respectively
  • Less people smoke, so our clothes/hair don't smell like shit all the time
  • Everyone speaks English (which is a con if you can understand a terrible conversation that you would rather avoid, but usually a pro)
  • Unlimited cell phone and internet access everywhere we go
  • Superstores like Target and Walmart
  • Not living like a nomad out of a backpack with no place to spread out your stuff
  • Fewer obnoxious protests and strikes
  • Being able to go to a restaurant, split a one course meal, eat in 40 minutes, and not be ostracized for it
  • Barack Obama
  • Being able to straighten my hair with a flat iron. I suppose I could have purchased one abroad that was European voltage, but that seemed ridiculous.
  • Free bread/chips/water/refills with meals at restaurants
  • Television that is not dubbed in German
  • More attractive men (in Colorado at least... Italy, East Germany, and Holland being the exceptions)
  • Hamburgers/Chipotle
  • Good customer service (sort of a generalization-- we did have some nice waiters, but the majority were substandard)
  • Good health care, however expensive
  • Unlimited earning potential
 

Reasons we want to stay in Europe forever:
  • Charming foreign friends with different customs and cute accents
  • Inexpensive cafes and bakeries on every corner
  • Getting paid in the Euro (good for now, might not last)
  • Less violent crime/guns (but more pickpocketing...)
  • Interesting architecture
  • No Sarah Palin
  • No obesity (except in Germany and Hungary, but I think the trend is changing for the worse)
  • Waking up in a new place almost every day
  • Delicious food 
  • Fabulous trains that take you all over the continent in record time
  • Meeting other travellers
  • Cheaper higher education
  • Beautiful cathedrals on every corner
  • Kebabs/ fish and chip stands/ food that you can get all night long that is not Taco Bell
  • Tax already being included in the price, so it is not an unpleasant surprise when you get the bill 
  • Only having to tip 5-10 percent
  • Inexpensive flights to wherever you want to go (in Europe, naturally)
  • Delicious beer
  • 7 weeks a year of paid vacation
  • Inexpensive and fabulous wine with every meal
  • WAY better music
  • Ridiculous fashion, so you can wear whatever you can think of and look as stupid as possible, and you will fit right in! Except in Russia...
  • Better nightlife, both because it is more fun and because it continues until mid-morning
  • Being allowed to drink freely on the streets (no open container laws)
  • Lower drinking age so the teenagers are not so ridiculous
  • Not having to drive/public transportation
  • World News
  • Nobody rolls their eyes in disgust when you say you are from Europe (sorry, America)
  • Free health care
  • Unlimited travel opportunities (no restrictions on Cuba, Brazil, Bolivia, etc.)
 

Funny enough, Europe has more pros than the US. Maybe I should rethink medical school... just kidding. Pretty sure a career in medicine will be more rewarding than gallivanting around for the rest of my life.  I'll just have to settle with seeing as much of the world as possible whenever time and money allow. I'm thinking Asia next... or maybe some medical work in Africa-- we shall see! First, I guess I should pack up all my stuff in the next two weeks and move to St Louis on July 22nd, then start medical school in early August... that will have to be enough of a new adventure for now! Thanks for following the trip-- I hope you enjoyed it even a tenth as much as I did. Expect more spam emails the next time I find myself abroad. Goodbye for now!
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Comments

jackie on

welcome home!! look forward to seeing you next thurs! i admit i am a bit behind on your blog-amazing since i was home and you were running around the world!! but i really like to take time a read everything and study the pictures. you have an amazing eye for art! you will have memories for a lifetime! jackie

Mom on

Welcome home, darling! I missed you and I'm so happy you're home, if even for only 3 weeks. Love the pro/con list, and I'm looking forward to your stories and asking questions regarding details from the blogs. Thanks so much for all the lovely photos and your insightful journalism. And congrats on have so many of your photos chosen by the travel blog company to post on their home page.

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