I got packed. That is, perhaps, one of the most major accomplishments of this trip. Believe me, it was no small task. We got all of our luggage loaded into trucks. Marc, unfortunately, went back early, and Dr. Gene was taking a later flight to go to Dubai, so it was just Miss Carole, Andrew, Michael, Rick and me. We got to the entrance of the airport and through metal detectors, then had to get a taxi to take us the rest of the way to the airport. Once there, we went through metal detectors again (these are not just metal detectors, but the kind of checkpoints where your bags get x-rayed and searched, and you have to take off your belt and all). We got to the Austrian Airlines ticket window and Rick, Michael, Andrew and I breezed through. Just before Miss Carole was to do her business, their computers went down. It was quite a while before things were back up and running, but eventually, we were all on a plane headed to Vienna. Of course, that was not before I had 3 paperweights I had bought for gifts that morning confiscated (I think they saw in me the potential to bludgeon someone to death with 3″ x 5″ piece of acrylic). The flight was without incident.
We arrived at our hotel in Vienna. It was fine. Very different from our hotels in Iraq. Not that much better . . . just very different. Sort of a culture shock. Of course, I wasn’t thinking ahead. I checked my bags through to JFK so I ended up in Vienna without a toothbrush or a change of clothes. Would you believe that this whole city is closed by 8 p.m. on a Monday night except for the cafes? Oh well, at least dinner was amazing. Andrew, Carole and I ventured out to a wonderful sidewalk cafe. We had melon with prosciutto, I had grilled swordfish served over grilled peppers, tomatoes and zucchini. I also had a wonderful wine called Frescobaldi–very fun because there was a great Italian composer of the Baroque period named Frescobaldi.
After breakfast this morning, we’ll head back to the airport and get on our flights. Andrew is staying in Vienna for a few days, Miss Carole is flying into Chicago, Rick and Michael flying into Washington DC and I, of course, am going back to JFK in New York. I’m dreading the wrestling of bags (an extra bag due to the oud, so that makes 3 checked bags, a carry-on and my camera bag). It was so difficult to leave Iraq, so difficult to leave everyone there, but now that I’m on my way home, I just want to get there . . . and now!
As I was saying goodbye to John yesterday, he said to be sure and not make any plans for the whole summer next year. He said it looks like a tour of Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq. Lebanon? That’s new. Whatever . . . I’ll gladly go!
I’m imagining that I will probably write one more blog entry when I get home and have a chance to rest and reflect a bit. I’ve had a wonderful time writing this online journal. I’ve loved all the comments you’ve made because it’s kept me from feeling homesick. I know that I may be halfway around the world from the people I love, but they’re still very much with me.