Traveling Home

We left about 8am for a long day of travel back home. Sadly we did not get to try the guest socks during this trip. Maybe next time.

On our prior three visits to Salzburg we took a train to Munich and flew home from there. This time we found tickets from Salzburg to Frankfurt to Chicago to Milwaukee. The middle flight is about 9 hours long. We are now about 7 hours into the flight and Everett is getting punchy. He hasn’t slept and hasn’t eaten much other than junk food. Still he has been amazingly well behaved so far. We aren’t sure how it’s going to go once we get into Chicago and have to go through customs and then hopefully make our connection to Milwaukee. Chris tried to explain to him the importance of sleeping during the flight, and the fact that when we got to Chicago there would be no place to sit down while we were getting off the plane, going through customs, getting our luggage, going through security and getting to our next flight. Everett replied “Oh, I know where there is a seat!” as he tapped Chris’ shoulder with his finger. The kid is pretty funny, and as a result he probably gets away with even more than he would otherwise.

Update: Everett finally fell asleep about 4 minutes before we landed in Chicago. His body was like a rag doll so Melissa carried him off the plane while Chris carried his rolling frog suitcase. However, he woke up a few minutes later and was able to walk on his own! We walked and walked and walked (someday I will look into how it’s possible to walk so far within an airport after an international flight) and finally arrived at customs. As many of you know, going through US customs is not a welcoming experience for anyone whether you are a US citizen or not. The line at customs appeared to be at least an hour long. As we reached customs Chris had an idea that we are not going to describe here except to say that it’s completely legal and allowed us to get through customs even faster than the flight crew. Otherwise we would have spent a long time in line with an exhausted four year old and would have missed our connecting flight home to Milwaukee.

Reflections from our trip:

During many trips overseas we come back with contraband, aka food and drinks that we can’t get in the US. As time goes on we are able to get more and more of these at home. Beers that we were once only able to get in certain parts of Europe are now available in the grocery store near our house. It’s great, but our list of specialties to bring home is getting shorter. Things that are still on the list are choucroute, cassoulet and certain kinds of chips and peanut snacks. This time we came back with a few Duplo bars and a back of Erdnuß Locken, the classic variety mit frisch gemahlenen Erdnüssen. A final note: the Hacker Schorr Octoberfest Märzen was very good! But we didn’t get a chance to bring any home.

One common experience in our trips to Europe is that both drinking water and bathrooms are difficult to find reliably. The best coping strategy for this seems clear: don’t drink and don’t pee. In an attempt to adopt this approach Chris started traveling with a 200ml water bottle instead of his usual 1L Nalgene. The smaller bottle fit perfectly in the side pocket of his new Royal Robbins travel pants that Melissa bought for him, and this worked ok after a couple days of dehydration headaches in the evenings. The only notable exception to this approach has been in tiny villages in Switzerland where Chris stopped at a tourist office during a bike ride to get his water bottles filled. The woman working there replied that she would be happy to fill them, but that it was the same water coming into the public fountain in front of the building and he could fill his bottles there.

Everett received a steady supply of treats on this trip. Most days we would give him a couple Euros to spend during the day, with which he bought an eraser, a combination fan/lollipop, a trolley car snow globe, etc. While we were at the Hohensalzburg he was building a castle with a Japanese girl. When they were finished the girl’s Mom handed Everett a small gift, which was some kind of stuffed animal keychain. Later we ran into them again in the castle and got a picture of them.

He received small gifts from virtually every Austrian airline employee we were in contact with: a foldable frisbee, a deck of airplane cards, a book. And he received a steady supply of chocolate and cakes from his parents and our hosts. Lastly, Melissa wrapped a bunch of small gifts for him to open during the long flight each way. So he probably associates travel with more treats than usual, but we really doubt this fully explains what a good traveler he is. As a result of this trip I have an even higher opinion of him, if that’s even possible. He is a better traveler than many adults I know. Beyond his ability to travel well, being with him at this age is one of the best experiences of my life. It’s difficult to imagine a better age than this. I want to tell everyone that I feel he is exceptional, but I don’t because it might be perceived as parental bragging.

Since we returned home Everett has adopted some behaviors from Anna, such as lying flat on the floor while doing artwork and doing elaborate dance routines.

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