After a final stop at our gelato place for the epic 8 euro cone we got ready to head home.
The train ride was easy and we (finally) found the exit from the train station by way of Terminal 3 in the Rome airport. And really that is when the travel troubles began. Apparently, taxi drivers at the Rome airport only want to drive you one place. Rome. They will not drive you 15 minutes to the hotel where you will be staying one night before catching your plane home.
So we walked from taxi stand to taxi stand trying to find the local taxis. Eventually, we stopped in the shade and Jim went to ask some questions. When he came out, he said, “According to the directions I just got, the local taxi stand should be right here. Are you at a taxi stand?”
Jim walked the other way to look further. Then I realized we were standing behind a sign. And upon circling to the front discovered that, yes, we actually were standing at the local taxi stand. We didn’t know because there were no taxis. Finally, a local taxi pulled up. Problem 1 solved.
Our hotel was on the banks of the Tiber river in an area that is both a working fishing port and a place where other tourists like us stay before heading to the airport. It was a cool hotel, except the sofa bed for the kids was a single bed. There was no way they were going to get any sleep in that bed. After a walk along the river, including a couple of cool bridges and the Italian version of the dollar store, we decided to let Ethan sleep in the seemingly giant other bed. Problem number 2 sort of solved except somehow only Jeremy really got a good night of sleep that time.
Thursday morning I made the clearly grave error of telling the kids that in 24 hours we would be home. We headed back to the airport, got to our gate and settled in to wait for our 11:45 flight to London. And then Ethan (who is our permanent sign watcher) ran over to tell us that the flight was delayed until 2:00. That would put us at Heathrow as our San Francisco flight was taking off. Damn.
Jim and I spent the next couple of hours calling Expedia, who booked our tickets; British Air, who was making us late; and Virgin Atlantic, who operated the flight we were about to miss. There was not a British Air employee to be found in the Rome airport. We made no progress. A good lesson that sometimes you really do not have any control over your own situation. I am not a fan of that.
We had a good flight and as we taxied to the terminal in Heathrow are pretty sure we saw our SFO flight take off. Really.
I spent some time talking with the experts, the British Air flight attendants, who told us to go to the Connections desk. Those were the people who would fix the problem. We waited in that line for an hour along with everyone else from our flight who had missed connections. There was some yelling. Not by us.
The British Air customer services is really good. In a few minutes we were booked on a United flight out at 10:25 am. We spent the night at the airport Holiday Inn with the new friends we had just met in line. After a British buffet dinner, worse than it sounds, and a good night sleep we woke to find that our new flight was already delayed until 6:00 pm. It was looking bad for us to get home once again.
We headed downstairs and as Jim got off the elevator the doors closed on the rest of us. When we hit the door open button they opened an inch and closed again. And again. So I did the “lift the car off your child adrenal fueled mom thing” and pried the doors open, got the kids out and headed to the airport again.
We waited in line, again. And British Air customer service was fantastic again. They got us on a British Air flight leaving at 2:00 that day. They threw us some pounds for lunch, which we thoroughly enjoyed at Gordon Ramsey’s Plane Food, the best airport restaurant we have ever experienced. Even the British Olympic team was eating there.
Then we had a very easy flight home and finally arrived SFO Friday night around 5:30 — an extra 24 hours from when we started.
The adjustment back is challenging and at the same time we appreciate home. We are ready to get back to work, camp, school and life. Thanks for following our adventures!