Today started at 5:30am (Paris/Rome time zone) for us, getting ready to head to the airport. Our flight was not until 9:15 and the hotel is only a 5 minute shuttle ride away, but being unfamiliar with the airport and local check-in procedures, it was probably a good idea to give some room for error. The Holiday Inn Express buffet breakfast was satisfying as usual, although they didn't have the customary (in the US at least) cinnamon rolls that melt in your mouth. A quick check of the room, and then we caught the 6:30 shuttle to the airport.
The return trip was scheduled slightly longer than the east-bound trip (because of head winds), but more concerning to us was that it is almost entirely in daylight, landing at DFW at 8:00pm on the same day - about 17 hours total. Where we previously relied on an overnight nap for the kids over the 8 hour leg from Newark to Milan, it was very doubtful that the kids will want to sleep since they just woke up and it will just feel like a very long day. Advice from others was to keep the kids entertained with movies and they'll
hopefully blimp out.
The 8 hour flight back to the US turned out to be very easy. After lunch over the Alps, the girls drew and colored endless pictures for our scrapbook, and Alex enjoyed his new souvenir - a die cast airplane. This lasted for a couple of hours.
The in-flight entertainment on United's 767-200 consists of several channels of looped pre-recorded movies and TV shows, 2 of which were child friendly, and about half of which didn't work at all. On the previous flight, I found out that if you kicked the box under the seat in front of you, it might completely disable the monitor! Because of the looped programming, all shows start at the same time at about 2.5 hour intervals, when the last show ends. So, we were able to catch the second round of The Muppets and third round ofThe Adventures of Tin Tin for the most part, although Alex wasn't interested in either. Instead, he watched some pre-downloaded movies that we had on our tablet and iPod. During this time, mom and dad actually got a cat nap in before tuning in to our own entertainment. About an hour before landing,
we received a second 'snack' of sandwiches and chips, which ended up being dinner for us. The flight landed slightly early, even after a go-around and entended tour of the NY/NJ airspace before a second attempt.
By now, it was only 1pm EST, and our last leg to DFW left at 5pm, so we had some more time to burn. Getting back through customs and security once again took some time. We had some very intrigued security/customs officers after we told them we didn't have any checked luggage after a week long vacation to Italy. I was getting concerned that we would have to be given some 'special' treatment, but they let us go. After some more video entertainment and walks through the terminal, Alex was beginning to get fussy (as expected), but luckily he collapsed in mom's arms at the gate just before boarding.
Now we're on the final 3.5 hour flight to DFW; Alex is still passed out for the night, and the girls are doing great. It has been a wonderful adventure, and Grace has been telling us about her plans for our next vacation. She wants to go somewhere interesting, educational, different, and where
they speak a different language. Her top destinations based on this are India, Asia, Africa, Jerusalem, and Bethlahem :). Brecklyn wants to go somewhere that Spanish is spoken :). We are very proud parents right now as we are raising our kids to not only enjoy travel, but also learn how people live in different parts of the country and world. This is truly the best field trip we could provide for our kid's education.
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