Okay, I’ll admit it- I am jet lagged, cranky, and my ankles look like balloons after what was one of the worst travel experiences we’ve ever had on our way home from what was one of the best trips we’ve ever had to the cities of Brussels, Bruges, and Ostend, Belgium, and Copenhagen, Denmark. Isn’t it funny how that dichotomy can exist? Sometimes I think that travel is like giving birth; in the end you remember the wonderful memories you created and the people you met, while the pain of modern day air travel blessedly fades with time. If that pain didn’t fade, most of us would stay locked in our homes tighter than a tick on a hog.
A fascinating dragon spire in Copenhagen…
Our trip home from Belgium took a rather circuitous route thanks to an attempt to save money and choosing the most inexpensive flight that we could find. We left Brussels in the evening to fly to Copenhagen where we would have a seventeen hour layover. We decided to get a hotel to grab a few hours sleep before getting up and out early to explore as much of the beautiful city as we could before heading back to the airport.
When we’d finally found the correct place to check in at the Brussels Airport before our stop in Copenhagen, we were told that we’d been ‘randomly chosen’ for extra security screening- just want you want to hear while in a foreign country. I found it all quite ironic, as Dan and I are two of the most goody-two-shoes people on the planet. We watched our bags head down the conveyor belt wondering if we’d ever see them again, especially with our long layover and multiple flights.
Flying over snow-capped mountains and ice…
The airport in Brussels was beautiful and huge- more like a large shopping mall. That was a good thing, as our flight was delayed, getting us into Copenhagen at midnight. The Copenhagen Airport was even more filled with shops and last minute opportunities to spend your last Danish Kroner.
We went through a total of five security checks on our trip home. By the last one I was about ready to scream, “Just take a kidney and be done with it!” and prayed that the person examining my $10,000 clarinet would be gentle (he was, thankfully). US Customs at Chicago O’Hare was the absolute worst; after the efficiency we’d experienced coming into Belgium and Denmark, the chaos surrounding entering our own country was frustrating. Thanks to that and security in the next terminal, we almost missed our final flight, making a mad dash across E and F gates to make the boarding call (and being told our bags wouldn’t make it)…only to find that the flight to Birmingham was delayed, too. And- once on the plane we sat at the gate for forty-five minutes while a minor repair was done. The flight was scary, as we passed through a strong storm with hail pelting the plane and lightning all around us. By the time we stumbled off of the plane in Birmingham, we were absolutely wiped out.
But then…even though Dan’s bag was still back in Chicago, even after all we’d been through, all was forgotten when we walked into our cozy old house and were greeted by the animals, all so excited to see us- even Shiva. We felt the peace envelop us as we took in the lovingly familiar surroundings. My heart sings when I walk through those doors every single time. Home. Jet lag must be contagious…
I’ve let the frustrations go- it was totally worth the stress to visit such beautiful faraway places. So many wonderful memories were made and will always be cherished. Travel changes us, opens our minds and hearts, makes us better humans. It also makes me even more grateful for our little slice of the world we call home. Maybe we’ll stay here just a little while.
Oh, the wonder of this beautiful world.