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Wednesday, August 9, 2023 - We’re coming home! Eventually….

FTC Disclosure: Through business relationships with our suppliers, some may provide complimentary or discounted access to their locations and products to provide hands-on experiences to better assist my clients.

As expected, this day was a blur. While still in the 4am hour & pitch black outside, we took a car service back to the Copenhagen (CPH) airport. We easily checked-in using the Scandinavian/United kiosk and surrendered (again!) our bags. Ready to be home, we grabbed breakfast (also ordered via kiosk) at Burger King (where ketchup costs extra).

With Kara being an overly-cautious international flier, we were at the airport WAY too early for our 8:15am flight. We stumbled around the concourses, which had shopping mall-level stores everywhere (mostly closed due to the early hour), but only rare seating here or there. We finally found an actual bench and settled in to get Kara caught up with “Star Wars: Rebels” as “Ahsoka” was about to premiere.

We’re not sure if it was due to the early hour, more space, or better signage, but the CPH security was a breeze. There was plenty of space to throw out banned items and prepare your bags, along with a ton of signs with the Dos and Don’ts. There were a few seats at our gate and when it was time to board, everyone could go at the same time. Unlike America, people were respectful and patient in this civilized process.

Without issue we landed at Brussels (another place on my Bucket List). We found ourselves again, much like Heathrow, hurriedly working our way through terminals, Vegas-level dining/shopping areas, and other travelers. Again I was jogging/running down the last terminal, where pretty much none of the moving walkways were active.

In a bizarre setup, we found ourselves huffing and puffing in a long line. Due to the small space, at the end of the terminal, they had one large check-in desk for at least 5 flights departing at gates near to each other. We had just enough time to dash to the bathroom and then rudely told by other passengers there was only a single line for Priority Boarding, even though there were clearly 2 defined lines. (Thanks to Karma, those folks got stopped for secondary screening.)

I was particularly excited to be onboard, not just for our Premium Economy seats, but because I was finally getting to fly a Dreamliner. These are newer planes with one nifty feature. After fighting to find the fully hidden headphone plug, I got to play with the dimmable windows!

We realized we weren’t going to leave on-time. The crew informed us due to this plane of passengers having so much luggage, they were having to unload cargo scheduled to fly on this plane in order to accommodate all of our bags! I think we left roughly 45 minute late. Uh oh….

Knowing getting Kara’s condo packed & moved, my own unpacking, and a still-new job at a busy time all awaited me upon return. So I fully embedded myself in vacation mode, watching movies non-stop on the transatlantic flight. (Not napping here ended up being a great error.)

Landing at O’Hare, we trekked (with a number of other full international flight passengers) A LONG distance just to get to Customs & Border Protection. Clearly out of it at this point, luckily Kara remembered we’d prepared to use Mobile Passport Control for our arrival back to the states. She was having trouble with hers, but eventually got it to work. This allowed us to enter a completely different line, easily passing our guess of 200+ other passengers! With just a single issue with Kara’s phone, we zipped through Customs, having waited behind just a few other passengers.

Entering Baggage Claim was chaos with barely room to move anywhere. Every carousel was packed with more than one and/or shifting flights from one carousel to another. Luckily ours was on the end, and because we cleared Customs so fast, our carousel was empty. Knowing the distance from the plane (& now checking our AirTags), it was clear we’d be waiting for our bags a good long time. Too soon our entire carousel was surrounded, but still no bags. We also suspected there might be refugees or the like on our flight, as there were a number of larger families with numerous pieces of “luggage”, which were not in traditional suitcases, but rather boxes & bags.

At this point the nervousness of making our final flight was gone, as we knew there was no way we’d make it, especially since our bags weren’t checked through to Indy. As expected, we’d have to re-check them at our first US stop. I’d guess it was nearly an hour from deplaning to getting our bags, and seeing the last stop as ORD.

Acquiring our bags, we then made our way to the “re-check” line for United, which already had a line of 10-15. Once we were told to stay in the line to get re-ticketed for another flight, I hopped on the App. We were scheduled for the 3:35pm flight back to Indy and it was already past that time. There was another just after 5pm that may or may not have been full. At this point we didn’t want to risk it and got ourselves on the 7:30-ish pm flight.

From here we again turned in our luggage, headed upstairs, and took the tram over to our domestic terminal, where we again got to traverse through security. Sigh. Back in a familiar place we grabbed familiar food - mini pretzel dogs & cinnabites from Auntie Anne’s. By now I was past exhaustion.

The flight and drive home were blissfully eventless with the bonus of our bags dropping first at Indy. It was back to Kara’s condo, where we each dove straight into our beds after 10pm.


Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 - I think Kara met her sister halfway to get back her beloved Kona, the Miniature Doubledoodle. Meanwhile, I’d already gained approval to work from home (& Zoom our Deans’ meeting) to deal with jet lag and catch up on emails.

Friday, Aug. 11, 2023 - Still feeling runover and with a developing cough I went to work. Luckily my entire staff was either off or working remote and I had just one meeting. I say luckily because that night Kara uttered, “Might you have COVID?” My eyes bugged a bit, as I’d never even thought of it and had avoided having caught COVID previously. The home test lit up like a bright red Christmas Tree!

Since we technically had possession of our new house and all my stuff (except the daily stuff I had at Kara’s) had already been moved there, Kara suggested I begin a quarantine there. I wasn’t crazy about that idea, but knew it was the right thing. So I frantically threw items out of my vacation bag, replacing them with PJs, my laptops & tech, and everything else I’d need to “move”! Kara helped and we put in a Panera pick-up order.

We zipped to the new house & unloaded my stuff. Since our uninhabited house was empty, Kara picked-up the Panera and did a quick grocery run, I used my very last bit of energy to hook-up a small TV and shove my recliner in the den. The next morning I drug myself to the corner Urgent Care to receive my official COVID test results. And that, friends, is how I spent my first night in our new house!

So What’s Next? Well, we recently again recorded a podcast for the DCL Duo. Per their schedule and continuing growing popularity, you can listen to a summary of this trip report in January/February! On that note, now that I have a different job, we are hoping to get back to our tradition of escaping the Indiana winters for a warm climate cruise.

Finally, at the time of this writing, we are battling an unexpected, sudden significant life situation for Kara as she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. We invite you to join us in manifesting, praying, etc. for a quick and positive outcome. Especially in Summer Olympic years, we like to staycation to binge the festivities. However, presuming a positive outcome for Kara, who knows where we might be headed in 2024! Stay tuned!

Disclaimer: I (Gayle) am a travel agent with Authorized Disney Travel Planner agency - Off to Neverland Travel. Contact me today for a no-obligation quote!

As to Disney artwork, logos, and properties: ©Disney | Ship Registry: The Bahamas | CST# 2090317-40 / Fla. Seller of Travel Ref. No. ST37203

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