Wednesday, 22 September 2004 – Venice to San Francisco

My watch chimed at 6:10am. I pulled on some clothes, grabbed my camera gear, and headed to the Grand Canal. I wanted to get pre-dawn pictures again. I could still feel my coldís affects, but felt better than the day before.

The area around the train station was already active. Travelers were leaving the train station, deliverymen were making their rounds, and the water busses were running. The sky was overcast, and there was a light fog, but I was still able to take some nice pictures of the canal and a couple of churches nearby. A young woman was curled up and sleeping in the portico of one of the churches. No one seemed to pay her much mind.

At 7:00 I returned to the hotel and woke Chris. We showered and packed. Packing was faster than it had been on the Diamond, because we hadnít unpacked everything. We had another hot breakfast at the Capriís buffet.

After breakfast, we made a last check of the room and discovered we had plenty of time before our bus to the airport. We sat back and watched an episode of "Happy Days" dubbed in Italian. The voice of Fonzi was dead on, but the others seemed wrong.

We checked out just after 9:00 and rolled our bags to Piazzale Roma. We went to the ticket window to get our tickets for bus five to the airport. The ticket clerk said something I couldnít make out. I asked her to repeat it, and she said "Tickets are free today." What luck! We had saved €2.00!

A bus for line five was waiting in the parking area, and there were only a few people on it. We got our bags situated and waited for it to leave. At 9:25, right on schedule, the driver boarded and we were off. The drive to the airport took only 20 minutes, and we were quickly into the terminal and heading to the ticket counter.

As the ticket agent was printing our boarding passes, she handed us a letter – written in English – that explained a food service problem. Deltaís caterer had quit without notice, and it was possible there would be no food on our flight. After we got our boarding passes, Chris and I headed to a sandwich counter nearby. We bought four sandwiches and two bananas. We still had the toast and apple we had taken from the Capri buffet the morning before. We figured to be alright, calorie-wise.

We made it through security without problems, and we had plenty of time before our flight. Chris went off to shop at the duty-free shops and use up our euros. I powered up the computer to work on the journal. Unfortunately, there were not available power outlets, and the battery didnít last very long. I didnít get much done, and I would not be able to work on the journal on the plane. Oh, well.

At 11:15, Chris returned from shopping. She had spent nearly all of our euros (we hadnít had that many left) and taken care of some gift shopping. We headed through passport control and sat down at the gate to wait the few remaining minutes before boarding. As we sat there, the gate agent announced that there would be food on the plane. We felt over-prepared.

The flight boarded a little late. While the plane was still on the ground, we shared one of the sandwiches and a banana. The plane took off around 12:30, about 30 minutes late. The flight went pretty quickly as we napped (just a little) and watched some of the movies: 13 Going on 30 (funny enough to kill some time), Mean Girls (Chris watched it while I read, and she laughed quite a bit), and Stepford Wives (which we both ignored again). When we werenít watching movies, we filled the time with crossword puzzles, magazines, books, the rest of our food, and the airplane meal (another sandwich).

We made up time in the air and landed at JFK a few minutes early. We wove through the line at passport control. I had filled out our customs claim form in pencil. The woman at the passport desk scolded me for not using a pen, but let it go. Next we claimed our bags and handed our form to the customs agent. He looked at it, smiled at us and said "Welcome back!" That little bit of friendliness made our day.

We rechecked our bags for the flight to San Francisco. We had nearly three hours before it would leave. I found a place to plug in the computer and worked on this journal. Chris took a walk. While she was gone, a gate agent set off the alarm on one of the nearby gate doors. The alarm siren wailed for nearly 15 minutes before the agent was able to get the right code entered to turn it off. Twenty minutes later another agent set it off, but was able to silence it after only half a minute.

About that time, Chris came back and said there was a quieter place to wait. We headed upstairs to a restaurant seating area. I found a plug for the computer and set it to recharging. We relaxed and enjoyed a beer apiece, trying to relish the last vestiges of our vacation. Since Delta had catering problems on our next flight, Chris headed over to Burger King for chicken sandwiches and fries. About the time she returned, it was nearly time to board. We headed to the gate, ate our sandwiches, and waited a few minutes before the boarding began.

The flight took off on time. This six-hour flight seemed much longer than the nine-hour flight from Venice. We struggled to stay awake, afraid that we would not be able to sleep that night if we slept on the plane. The movies helped. We both watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and I watched Dodge Ball. I enjoyed both movies, pleasantly surprised by Dodge Ball. After an interminable flight, we landed at San Francisco and collected our luggage. When we had our last bag, I phoned Bruce, who was picking us up. He was nearly there. Almost as soon as we arrived at the curb, Bruce pulled up. We were quickly loaded and on our way back to San Jose.

We arrived home just before 10:30pm. By the time we got settled in enough to go to bed, it was 11:00, 8:00am in Venice. Other than a couple of light naps, we had been awake for nearly 26 hours. Our vacation was over, our cat was all over us, and we were sleeping in our own bed.

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