June 12, 2010

In Which I Forget My Name During The LONG Trip Home

So we leave Munich at 4pm Munich Time via a taxi cab with a driver that smells so badly I have to keep my window open despite the fact that we are going AT LEAST 100 mph on the autobahn (aka German highway that doesn't have a speed limit, according to my high school chemistry professor from Germany and my brother).  I hold my breath and have a twenty minute debate as to whether or not I should close my eyes: to see Germany with the fear of death instilled in me or to let it pass by without dying of fear? - that is the question.  We arrive at the airport in 20 minutes despite the fact that it was 45 MILES (or meters? why don't i know this?) from the hotel.  (Yes, we were staying in a budget hotel - it was LUXURY to have our own bathroom in our room, but I already miss the hostels.) Brother tries to argue with the cab driver over the fare despite the fact that the cab drive doesn't speak a WORD of English.  So Brother and I squabble over the point of arguing the fare and the cab driver walks away happy.  Munich airport process takes 15 minutes tops.  Quiet time 'til we fly.

 Flight to Dublin ensues easily, quickly, smoothly, lovely.  We land in Dublin at 10pm Ireland time (11pm Munich time) and enjoy a whole 10 hours with our own bathroom again.  Yes, luxury.

Check out of Dublin hotel at 8am and take their free shuttle to the airport where I already have a tug on my heart because I am leaving a country that I have become fond of (to say "love" is too soon, "infatuation" implies butterflies, and this adoration is more of a long hug and a hand to hold) not once but now TWICE this trip.

Dublin airport adheres to US requests for homeland security, and I want to take a video of the ridiculous procedures it took to get back into the U.S.  (Is there really a preventative element to all this, does it work?  We show our passport for baggage check and boarding pass printing.  We show our passport before we enter security.  We show our passport at security.  We have our backpack carry-on searched (only in Newark was it mandatory that we take off our shoes.).  We are given a customs form to fill out.  We have our passport checked and customs form stamped.  We then go through customs before even leaving Ireland, so again, passport checked and customs form stamped.  On the walkway up to the door of the plane they are doing random bag searches.  We avoid this one, thankfully, because I have now gotten over the shock of the cab driver in Munich and my patience is running out.  Also, I still haven't had my morning coffee because we have only 1.20 euros left, which isn't enough for airport coffee, and the fees to use a credit card would make the coffee $5.00 US dollars.  Not worth it for a tiny cup of not great coffee.  So yes, those guys were lucky they didn't search our bag again.  Ha.

Two movies (Dear John and What Happens in Rome - neither good movies), two episodes of Sex and the City, four sudoku puzzles, and three chapters of Memoirs of a Geisha, and four cups of coffee later we touch down in JFK at 1pm EST (or 6pm Dublin Time, or 7pm Munich time).

Sweet mercy, we do not have to go through customs because we did it in Dublin.  We go to collect our bags.  We listen to the overhead announcement every four minutes that there is a technical glitch in transporting our luggage and it will be there momentarily.  We listen to this announcement ten times and collect our luggage forty minutes later.  I am too tired to even care.  We have to show our passport again and hand in our customs form.  We are FINALLY approved for entrance into the US.  Phew?  I'm not sure, I already want to go back...

We take the airtram to the Jamaica, Queens subway station.  The E isn't running due to Sunday repair schedule.  We jam into a hot, overcrowded city bus and take a much unwanted tour of Queens, New York.  We make it to the stop that actually runs the E.  We get on.  45 minutes later we are in Manhattan on 53rd.  We transfer to the 6.  I love the 6 because it's the familiar and the known and I finally feel home even though this isn't home.  I start to get excited about the prospect of living here, and then sad because I'm so far from a place that feels like home before I even live there.

We finally get off at Grand Central Station.  I have now lugged my HEAVY suitcase up and down no less (but probably more) than 18 flights of stairs.  (This includes the 6 flights that it took to determine if we were going to take the E out of Queens or the Long Island Railroad.  If you are ever in this situation, take the Long Island Railroad.  Trust me.)  Brother says goodbye at 3:45pm EST, or 8:45pm Dublin time or 9:45pm Munich time.  My body is so confused that it just demands coffee.  I go to Starbucks.  

I take the 4:07 train back to New Haven.  It's Sunday and MetroNorth New Haven Line doesn't run trains as frequently as they should.  It is a crowded train, and I don't have a lot of options regarding where both my luggage (1 HEAVY suitcase, 1 HEAVY backpack, 1 camera case and 1 HEAVY purse) can all sit close to each other and not take up more than one seat.  (Thank you persistent overhead announcement. I get it.  You are in English, trust me, I understand.) I find a place for my luggage in the front and sit in the closest seat.  I cringe because the seat I am in makes up a four seat area with two seats facing my seat.  This means companions of the close and personal kind.  I put in my ipod and look out the window.  A group of fourth grade girls with chaperons gets on the train.  The chaperons see that I am tiny and I have three seats empty.  They decide that one chaperon and FOUR girls can fit in this space.  We all figure out that is not possible and divide it down to three girls and one adult.  The train finally leaves.  I planned on the traditional 1hr 40 minute ride.  But this train runs express to Stamford and then makes ALL LOCAL STOPS.  So my ride becomes two hours of hangman characters from the wax museum and well-behaved but screechy fourth grade girls.  I want to ask them if they know where Dublin is and how about Munich?  Because that was the starting point of my trip, not the wax museum.

The train pulls into New Haven at 6:15pm EST, or 11:15 Dublin time or 12:15 Munich time.  I am thankful for my passport because I don't know my own name anymore. 

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