Back in the USA

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 @ 02:07 pm from United States United States
Wow, what a day. I'm writing this a day late because yesterday was such a mess that I didn't even have time to compose a post.

It started off fine. I had a big continental breakfast at the hotel, did the final packing of my bag and then caught the free hotel shuttle to the Madrid airport. There was no one at security so I got through that pretty quick. I had 5 euros left in my pocket so I bought a sprite and some Jamon Ruffles (the ham flavored ones) so my family could try them when I got home.

I showed up to the gate and hung around for a while. When it was time for boarding to start, they told us that there was a maintenance issue on the aircraft and they'd get back with us soon. About forty-five minutes later they finally said whatever the issue had been was fixed and they started letting us board.

I got my window seat and fortunately the plane wasn't full so I had the entire row to myself (to start with at least). When we finally got into the air, the pilot came on the speakers and said there was a strong headwind so we probably wouldn't get into JFK until about 2:30pm (we were originally supposed to land at 1:15pm). My flight to Indy left at 3... not good. Anyone who's dealt with customs in the States knows that unless you've got at least an hour and a half to get through customs and back through security you're not going to make your flight.

We were served a really nice lunch and then I got a small bottle of wine since they were free. After they cleaned up the meal service some lady asked if she could sit in my row since no one else was. I said sure, then she asked if she could lay down in the two open seats. WTF? I was in a bit of a crappy mood due to a few nights of bad sleep so I just gave her this look of "are you freaking kidding me?" but said fine, whatever. The rest of the flight I had this woman next to me who kept trying to sleep but failing at it.

I was really hoping we'd get into JFK earlier than predicted but we didn't. We touched down around 2:15 and as soon as I got off the plane they were asking people with connections to go see a guy who would handle it. A lot of people got passes to get through security quicker but since my connection was too close they rebooked me on a flight to Indy (via Charlotte) from LaGuardia airport (about a 45 minute bus ride away).

They forgot to print off my bus voucher to transfer airports so I got rushed through customs and got my voucher and waited around for the bus to LGA. Meanwhile, it's snowing / raining pretty heavily and flights are getting canceled left and right. On the bus to LGA I checked the new flight I was scheduled for and it was already marked as canceled. Great.

I got to LaGuardia and went to the desk and fortunately they booked me on a Delta flight that was scheduled to leave at 9:15pm (it was only about 4:15 right now). There was a 6:15pm flight on Delta as well but the gate agent said the standby list was full. Bummer.

I got through security and figured I'd go to the gate of the 6:15 flight anyway and see if there was any way I could get on it. With the way my day had been going I really didn't want to stick around until 9:15 only to find out my flight was delayed or canceled again (plus it wasn't scheduled to get in to Indy until 11:30pm assuming everything was 100% on time).

I waited at the desk for about 45 minutes until a gate agent showed up a few minutes before boarding. I asked if I could be put on the standby list and she said I was #1 on the list. I guess the original person misread something because the list was empty. I was about to go get some food thinking there's no way I'd get on the flight but as soon as I started walking away they said that everyone on standby was cleared for the flight!

By now I'd already been awake for 17 hours and being on a flight with Indianapolis as the destination was great. What could go wrong now? Well, remember all the snow and rain I mentioned earlier? There was an hour and a half backup with the de-icers at the airport so we didn't actually leave until 8:15pm (2 hours after we boarded the flight). Apparently they can't schedule you for de-icing until the flight has already boarded.

Anyway, we were finally in the air! I tried to sleep but I was too whacked out from the stress of the day to really have that happen. We finally touched down in Indy around 10pm. I'd been up for about 20 hours by now.

I met my parents and we drove home. I don't think Canyon was expecting to see me. My beard and no smells she was used to really confused her. I ate a really late dinner and then got situated for bed. I finally fell asleep around 12:30am, 23.5 hours since I first got up in Madrid.

13 hours of sitting on planes, 2 canceled flights, 2 delayed flights and 4 airports later I was back in Indy. What a day and an absolutely crazy way to end what was such a great adventure in Europe.

Thanks everyone for following along during my 6 months of travel. Over the next few days as I mentally digest the trip I'll be posting more thoughts, stats, favorites, least favorites, etc of the trip.

Where this entry was written:

Sunset in Newquay. #newquay #europetrip2013
Koeleweimolen. One of the 4 windmills still surrounding Bruges. #bruges #europetrip2013
Top of the Pantheon. #rome #europetrip2013
Another shot of Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre. #riomaggiore #5terre #europetrip2013
Charles bridge. #prague #europetrip2013
Shrimp, spinach, green beans, red pepper, olive oil and spices with some cheese and bread. #europetrip2013
The wine from one week in Paris. 11 bottles (one was drunk and trashed at the Eiffel tower). #paris #wine #europetrip2013
Bristol. #europetrip2013 #bristol
#amsterdam #europetrip2013
Creepy eyes. #birmingham #europetrip2013

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Where I've been:

Good Evening… Planet Earth
All the countries I visited on this trip (in yellow).

What's this about?

Traveling is something I've loved doing for as long as I can remember. I've been lucky enough to travel out of the US a few times but never longer than 2 weeks at a time. I decided that I should go see the world and experience all it has to offer. I booked a one-way ticket to Dublin, Ireland to depart on June 26, 2013. After I get to Europe I'll let serendipity take hold and see where I end up. No schedules and no itinerary… just go with the flow. That's as close to a plan as I'm making.

Who am I?

My name's Brandon O'Brien and I'm a travelholic. Before this journey I've been to 11 countries and put over 17,500 miles on various motorcycle trips through the USA and Canada. I'm a self-employed web developer so I'm fortunate enough to be able to work anywhere there's an internet connection. That's what truly made this experience possible.

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