We will apologize up front as this is not a very exciting post and sounds a bit negative, it is really mostly for our memories….we are in catch up mode so fun pictures to arrive soon!!
~~~~~August 6th, 2011: Time to go home!
After very little sleep, 4:30am arrived, we had all the suitcases by the door and really just needed to get ourselves ready, make coffee that we didn’t drink and then change the kids. A confused Jonathon and Madison snuggled into their ergobabies and we were able to get all the suitcases downstairs and into the car with little hassle. We rode with a woman and her teenage daughter, also from America that were on their first trip to meet siblings, 3 and 6. Our Vesta agent helped us get all check in.
The flight from Sofia to Munich was pretty uneventful and fairly calm. Then we had a 3 hour layover in Munich where Madison would whine to get down, then up and down and up and down….. We were able to entertain her for a solid 10 minutes chasing her up and down in a less crowded portion of the airport. We tried food as a distraction...fruit and a parfait…the GROSSEST ever…so sad….We also allowed them to climb on the airport ‘golf cart’ (picture below) with only a few dirty looks from passer-bys (all without any kids probably!) – don’t judge us for wanting 10 more minutes of happiness before an 8 hour plane ride!
Next we had to wait in a rather long line for the United agents to ask a whole slew of detailed questions of each passenger. The kids did okay at first, but when it was our turn they squirmed and cried and did not want to stay put during the questioning that probably lasted 5 minutes, but felt like 30! Right before boarding Madison fell asleep in the Ergobaby. We were in the middle row of 5 seats, taking the two end seats in the hope that no one would sit in the middle….but, alas there was someone who had that seat (they gladly took the aisle and let us all sit together). There really is no sugar coating it – this was not a pleasant flight. Madison made it about ½ hour after take off, and never slept again. About an eternity into the flight with crying, screams, distracting with different toys, distracting with food and walking, we realized we only made it 2 hours!! We both looked at each and said ‘I don’t think I can make it!’. The flight attendants were surprising unfriendly about the kids (just attitudes is all we can describe). Thankfully, a few of the passengers were very kind and sympathetic….one lady said “oh, don’t you worry, what comes around goes around…I use to travel like this by myself with 3 kids and you know people shuddered when they saw me coming’!” Jonathon eventually did fall asleep (after many attempts by Joe to sit down with him, only to have him wake up! Eventually Joe was able to sit down, but the way Jonathon was laying on him put his arm to sleep, however Joe said “I would rather lose my arm than wake this child!” Madison refused sleep…Myra even had her laying across 3 seats (Myra was on the floor) to try and get her as comfortable as possible…hours later and no luck. The kids would not eat hardly any of the air plane food (do you blame them?), but thankfully we packed crackers and half a loaf of bread….their favorite – talk about carb overload! Ten minutes before we landed, Madison fell fast asleep…..
Next up – customs in DC!
After landing and waiting in the customs line and showing them the envelope for the kids we were directed to get our bags, recheck and go to the customs office. What a nightmare baggage claim was! They had TWO baggage carousels with about 12 international flights…talk about over stimulating and overwhelming for the kids! There were so so many people everywhere, a bit mob like at times…thankfully we had them tight against us in the carriers – otherwise we aren’t sure what would have happened! After quite a long wait (not surprising) for the baggage we were able to squeeze into the line to recheck our baggage. Next up we headed to the customs and immigration office, there was a large sign to leave our baggage outside the door (which we did reluctantly) and then we handed our paperwork to the agent. This had to seriously be the rudest agent and we were very embarrassed that he was who welcomed people to our country. There was a lady ahead of us in a wheelchair (at least in her 80s, maybe 90s) that he was trying to get fingerprints and he was SCREAMING at her because she wasn’t relaxing her hand enough or something…afterwards he muffled sarcastically “welcome to the United States…good luck”. Then a father and son came into the room (pulling a piece of luggage) and he yelled at them “Can’t you see the sign?!?...do you see anyone else with baggage in here?!?!!....that means LEAVE IT OUTSIDE”…wow. He was okay with us, abeit mumbling under his breath about the first customs agent messing up or something. But, it was over soon enough and we were able to leave that unhappy place…hoping that he actually routed our paperwork correctly! Our kids were now US Citizens!!!
Of course looking back, we’ve forgotten the pain and we think ‘it wasn’t so bad’….our advice for those who have yet to travel (which was given to us) is just don’t worry about what the other passengers think – you will never see any of them again!