Before I went to bed I apologized to my roommates for setting an alarm.
I woke well before the alarm. I had made the taxi reservation for 8:00 am, but by 7:00 am I had finished breakfast and struggled my bicycle box up from the garage. The Front Desk called the taxi company for me. A couple of calls later I had a taxi large enough for the bicycle box.
After wandering about the airport (bicycle box in tow), I used the “stand there and look clueless” technique to find American Airlines when an Information team member asked what I needed. I settled in to wait for them to open, directly in front of the desk.
A couple of times AA staff suggested I move to the beginning of the line (where I would then have to drag the box back and forth through the roped-off area), but each time they saw the light and left me alone.
Check-in began promptly at 9:00 am. I anticipated problems with box size and/or weight but encountered neither. Instead, the attendant couldn’t figure out how to enter the bicycle into the system. Thirty minutes, two calls, and three additional staff later, I was on my way to Oversize Luggage.
The box wouldn’t fit through the scanner. Mentally girding myself to cut the box down, Security asked me to open the box. He swabbed the bicycle and wandered off. The only delay came from his search for tape to reseal the box. Realizing the issue, I pointed out I carried three rolls! He waited patiently (even helping to hold the box shut) as I painstakingly resealed the box, and it was on its way. Love the Italians.
I had a luxurious row to myself on the nine-hour flight from Venice to Philly.
I had only a short two-hour layover in Philly, less than my preference. We landed early, but the initial processing through Customs took over an hour before reaching the baggage claim phase of claiming my bicycle box, walking through the last of Customs, and rechecking the box. Finding the bicycle box was easy; I asked a staff member where I could find Oversize Luggage and he replied, “Are you looking for that bicycle box over there?”
Attempting to recheck the bicycle, the box wouldn’t fit through the conveyor. Dragging the bicycle across the airport and down an elevator, I had to recheck the bicycle at the standard check-in. But they didn’t ask about size or weight. I made the flight back to RDU by minutes.
Marnie couldn’t pick me up for a couple of hours. Landing in RDU, I reassembled the bicycle, and rode home, where an exuberant poodle welcomed me home.
It was a long trip, and the struggles through Bosnia and the Croatian coast overwhelmed a lot of the trip. By the end of Week 3 if someone had offered an easy way home I would have taken it. Even after the easy wandering up the Italian coast, I have a hard time remembering the early stages of the trip. The slow, easy end helps ease that a bit, but I’m glad to be home.