The trip home after 85 days of galavanting underneath backpacks…
::London, England | July 30th – July 31st, twenty.12:: to ::Toronto Airport, Canada | August 1st – August 2nd, twenty.12::
Still in a daze from Tomorrowland, Stace and I are now at the bus station in Antwerp waiting for the greyhound-style bus to take us to London. Yes, with the help of a ferry you can take a bus from Belgium to the UK. We were definitely not looking forward to this bus ride as the trip was going to take 8 hours…. yippie
Once we reached the coast we boarded the Spirit of Britain. The ferry ride was pretty cool actually. The best part was that we got to get off the bus and stretch our legs.
We grabbed a couple of Costa coffee’s and wandered about the decks for a little while…
Once we docked, we had to go through customs and have the bus inspected before we could continue on to London. Now, in case you’ve forgotten, the Olympics were just getting underway at this time, so London was….lets say… a bit congested. It took forever to make it through each stop light as we got closer to the Olumpic venues (and our bus station).
Stace and I had booked a night at Palmers Lodge which is where we stayed when we first arrived in London. It felt a little nostalgic being back in London after having done so much travelling. The nice thing was that we knew how the tube station worked and where we needed to go. We enjoyed some dinner and relaxed as we were going to have an early morning!
We got up extra early, bid adu to the hostel, made our way to the tube and prayed that it wasn’t packed with Olympic spectators and people going to work. We had read about 45min to 1 hour delays during peak travel times. Luckily, we had just beaten the morning rush of people. The tubes are packed as is in London, but when you have a huge backpack on you feel like the hunchback of Notre Dame among ‘normal’ people… trying your best to wedge yourself in a corner where you a less of a nuisance…
We made it to the airport, checked our bags and boarded the plane for Canada! We arrived in Toronto to thunderstorms that ended up causing a ton of flights to be cancelled. Our flight from Toronto to Denver was one of them. I can’t even begin to describe the chaos that ensued.
For whatever reason, the good people at Air Canada decided it would be a logical idea to have every single person book accommodations and re-book their cancelled flights from about 4 check in counters… We are talking thousands and thousands of people here!
Stace and I decided to stake out a nice little place to sleep in the airport. We figured the line would die down by morning and we could then re-book our flight home.
We barely got any sleep (for obvious reasons) so I decided to get some coffee at about 4:30am and try to figure out what we were gonna do. The line did nothing but grow throughout the night so that option was out. At least our view was good :-)
These pictures show, maybe, half of the line. A line that never seemed to move. It literally took hours for people to move 20 feet! We talked to a couple of people who stood in line for over 6 hours throughout the night and were still not up to the counters yet!
The line went around the corner and then snaked through the traditional “airport-cattle-hearding-ropes”…
Stace and I decided to call the customer service phone number and wait on hold for a representative who could re-book our flights. We took turns waiting on hold while the other one got coffee, snacks, used the restroom, etc. As you can see in the pic below, we just let the phone dangle where we would hear it but didn’t have to hold it…. I credit a healthy dose of caffeine for the ingenuity…
I started this process before Stace got up and had to pee so bad that I just left the phone unmanned as I went to the restroom on the other side of the terminal. I returned to the same “soothing” on-hold music I left… After over 4 hours of being on hold we finally got a representative and booked some seats on the next flight to Denver.
When we went to check in our bags and get our boarding passes, we realized that the representatives at the airport and the representatives at the call center didn’t quite see eye-to-eye on how things should be done. We ended up having to spend another couple of hours getting our tickets changed, tweaked, altered and baptized before we got our boarding passes. All in all, we spend 27 hours in the Toronto airport!
Upon touchdown at Denver International Airport, our EuroTrip Twenty.12 had officially come to an end. Wow. Here’s a couple stats from the trip:
- Departed: May 9th
- Returned: August 2nd
- 85-days of travelling!
- Getting engaged in Nice, France
- 3 continents, 12 countries and countless cities
- 12 separate flight legs
- A ton of tram, bus, train and taxi rides
- Formula 1 races in Monaco
- 1 hitchhiking episode
- Concerts in Barcelona, Ibiza, Ljubljana and Boom
- 5 or 6 pairs of shoes for Stace (because hers continuously broke)
- Too many beers, cocktails and desserts - Not enough protein and workouts
- A couple of missed connections (numerous close calls)
- Hundreds of kilometers of walking
- A handful of injuries a couple of hangovers and one unidentified bug bite
- 8 hours of video and well over 10,000 pictures
- Tons of new friends and a gazzillion priceless memories…
Where’d we go?
Denver > Vancouver > London > Marrakech > Pisa > Florance > Cinque Terre > Nice > Monaco > Barcelona > Ibiza > Dubrovnik > 9-day sailing trip to Split > Rakovica > Zagreb > Ljubljana > Lake Bled > Venice > Milan > Lake Como > Prague > Cesky Krumlov > Amsterdam > Rotterdam > Eindhoven > Brugge > Antwerp > Boom > London > Toronto > Denver
These are just the places we spent nights in and doesn’t include any of the countless cities, towns and regions we passed through or ‘day tripped’ to.
And to think, it all started with a single decision made at Prime Bar in Denver: to not renew our lease or sign a new one. Instead, a decision was made to do whatever it takes to be able to travel. We set this decision in stone with a couple dirty martini’s and a cheers.
Stace and I spent over a year and a half sacrificing, saving, planning and dreaming about our trip to Europe. The result was the was the most amazing 3 months you could imagine.
There are those who dream about traveling and seeing the world and then there are those who actually do it. The greatest part? This is just the beginning for Stace and I ;-)
The only thing that is holding you back from setting out on your dream trip are excuses…