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European travel journal – Day 10: A plane, a train, a bus and an automobile

The airport

The plane dipped up and then down like the Thunder Run roller coaster at Kentucky Kingdom. I pulled down the arm rest by the empty seat next to me so I could grip it tightly. Whatever happens will happen I told myself as I breathed deeply in and out. You are not driving the plane. You are not creating the winds. It is out of your control. The plane jittered and bounced as it hit the runway. Then it swerved slightly to left and right. If we crash into a ball of flames at the end of the runway, at least I’ll have seen Europe. And then the plane stopped and there was silence broken by the sound of the whole plane applauding. “As you can tell, we have most definitely landed,” the copilot announced over the intercom and finally I breathed out and was relieved to be back on the ground again in the US of A.

Any complaints I might have about spending 21 hours traveling are dampened by the knowledge that 100 years ago such a trip would not have be possible. Instead of riding planes and trains and automobiles, I would have crossed the ocean in a boat. Instead of two days travelling back and forth, I would have spent at least a week on my journey instead of only 20% of my time.

There were other bumps, besides the ones I felt upon “landing.” The French proved they do not understand the concept of coffee-to-go when a barista handed me a steaming drink in a plastic cup without any insulation ring. I was so excited to barely hop on the latest Metro train that I didn’t notice it was the wrong Metro train until the doors had closed. When I did get to the right station, a cute boy on the platform gave me a smile and tried to talk to me in French, but all I could say was, “Where were you four days ago? I would have learned French for you!” before hopping into the railcar. In the line at airport security I suddenly remembered I had a water bottle in my purse and chugged 16 ounces of water in 3 minutes to get through the gates. After I arrived in Chicago, I got lost trying to find the CTA to ride downtown to catch my bus to Indianapolis, proving that I don’t just get lost in international airports but domestic ones too. Once I boarded my bus, after running towards it madly because I had been waiting on the wrong corner, I got an honest-to-God migraine, complete with nausea and unilateral pain on the left side of my head, but only after I’d stowed my luggage under the bus with my abortive medications. Then finally I was back in Indianapolis, dragging my suitcase four blocks to the parking garage, hoping no one from the Wheeler Mission tried to mug me before I got there. Thankfully, my car had not been towed and it started like it was supposed to and I drove back to my apartment.

Upon opening the door and stepping into the living room I said to the empty space, “Oh right. I live here.” For I had been gone an awfully long time and seen lots of pretty and old things, and had forcibly pushed any thoughts of my “real” life out of my head whenever they tried creeping to my attention. But here I was again and those were my plates in the dish rack and there were my curtains I’d bought at Big Lots and there was my long tube of toothpaste I could not take on the plane. Here was my life just as I had left it. The only thing that seemed out of place was me. The girl stepping in the door was not the exact same girl who left 10 days ago, but she would assimilate soon and take over the life the other girl had left behind. There were bills to pay and emails to respond to and cable internet providers to contact about the lack of service. And there was another trip to plan, perhaps for next year or the year after that, for this continent or another, but undoubtedly there was some place to go because once you’ve been elsewhere it is hard not to return.

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BrightAngel • May 24, 2009 at 9:44 am

I have so enjoyed reading about your Travels. Thank you for sharing them here.


Faye • May 24, 2009 at 9:44 am

You’re exactly right–going elsewhere just makes you want to go to another elsewhere. Todays newspaper had a Vancouver/Victoria B.C. section so I’m thinking about beautiful gardens and Roger’s Chocolates. You’re a great world traveler–hope we get to enjoy your next trip with you as we did London and Paris.


Johanna • May 24, 2009 at 10:17 am

You could always look for a job somewhere in Europe… pretty please!!??


Diana • May 24, 2009 at 10:49 am

I have loved traveling around Europe with you. If your current gig doesn’t work out, you could always become a travel blogger. A new career perhaps?

I love that you’ll be traveling again. I can’t wait for your next adventrue.

Welcome home!


Katrina • May 24, 2009 at 11:06 am

I have really enjoyed your travel blog. I’m sad too that it has come to an end. But I guess we all have to return to the real world sooner or later! Thanks for sharing; it’s been nice to see someone on a fabulous adventure while I am working away! :)


Donna • May 24, 2009 at 11:22 am

Thanks for sharing your adventures. Your blog made me want to return to Europe, big-time!


Lee • May 24, 2009 at 11:47 am

You have proven that you’re a good writer period (not that you needed to prove anything).

We leave for London on Tuesday. Excited we are!


Deb • May 24, 2009 at 11:51 am

Welcome home and thanks for sharing your trip with us.


Nina • May 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Welcome back! What a great trip.


Elke Sisco • May 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Thanks for letting us travel with you! That was wonderful. And wow!, that’s a mighty departures board! Yikes!

Where were your kitties while you were away?


Merry • May 24, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Woo hoo! Welcome back and merci une mille fois for the vicarious vacation!

If you need another trip, I have to say that Oregon is looking particularly beautiful right now. Especially at the beach, but also at the mountains, or at Powell’s, or indeed in my now mostly weed-free backyard.


Meagan • May 24, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Awesome travel stories. And yeah, as someone currently abroad for a year, it gets to be an addiction. Where might you head next?


Tanya • May 24, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Awww, our vacation is over already? But we’ve only just begun! I can’t wait for your next adventure. I hope you take us along!

If only I had a blog when I went on my honeymoon (which was a Mediterranean cruise)…


BB • May 24, 2009 at 1:42 pm

I’ve enjoyed your traveling updates too. It’s really making me me want to go somewhere-anywhere. Money is the main concern so I’ll have to wait, but at least I can dream and plan.

By the way….how was the long flight? In my younger days I don’t think it would bother me. Now I think I’d have to take up drinking!

Welcome back


Lynn • May 24, 2009 at 3:38 pm

I’ll bet your kitties are glad to see you! Thanks for taking us all along.


ChrissyS • May 24, 2009 at 4:03 pm

I’m sure you need some recover time. That was quite the holiday—some of it seemed more like a workout. =) Wow. I guess that is how it often is on a vacation..exhausting but fun! Harldy any sleeping in…It’s work seeing all those cool sights and sites!

I couldn’t help but think of the Jennette that started this blog, or even the Jennette pre-blog. I wonder if she would have tackled this cool experience. ? SO glad you are doing stuff like this. I’m guessing you barely gained anything either. Go, J.


Lirpa • May 24, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Welcome home! It is an adjustment after travelling. Don’t work too hard. You gotta ease yourself back into real life slowly. Daydreaming whilst looking at all your cool uploaded photos helps soften the blow. Thank you again, so much, for sharing all your travel adventures with us! I so enjoyed your daily travel journals!


JudithNYC • May 24, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Dear Janet, I have enjoyed reading about your trip so much that I am traveling to Europe this fall–for the first time at the ripe old age of 60!!! I have read a lot of travel stories plus my family and friends are constantly traveling but you are the only one who has inspired me. Thank you.


Mom • May 24, 2009 at 6:24 pm

@Elke Sisco – The kitties were with me. Java Bean was shy for the first 2 days but after that he was cuddly as can be. Krupke and I are old buddies–no adjustment period needed there. JB did manage to figure out how to open the bi-fold door of the closet where the cat food was stored towards the end of their visit–both cats were on half rations that night!


Karen • May 24, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Oh my goodness — I know that feeling of disorientation after a long trip VERY well. I spent 5 months in Italy in 2004 and when I came back not just my house but EVERYTHING about where I live — the people, the way people talk (in The Bronx), the food, etc. — seemed SO STRANGE. I got used to it pretty quickly, but geez… it was strange.

My husband and i are gearing up to spend a month away in August in Turkey, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro… I wonder how strange everything will seem when we come back this time…


Rebecca Hoover • May 24, 2009 at 10:40 pm

I can’t believe you’re home so soon. I loved, loved, loved your travels. I think I’ll stay a little longer when I go. ;)


Pauline • May 25, 2009 at 4:07 am

I love the cute cat purse you bought in Marais!! Thank you for sharing all your travel stories, I enjoyed them very much!


dg • May 25, 2009 at 4:38 am

Ahhhh that was all so fabulous. If you ever fancy a wee jaunt to Scotland you could stay at ours for free, it’s a great base camp for traipsing about the country :)


RG • May 25, 2009 at 11:07 am

Wow, I’m beginning to wonder what’s wrong with me that I don’t like travel. Maybe it’s the guilt-trip that awaits me when I get back, maybe it’s my travel companions. I”m currently turning down a cheap opportunity to travel with my family, and I have friends abroad who have offered to let me stay with them…


Shannon • May 25, 2009 at 12:26 pm

@Karen – I remember returning from a year overseas, six months of it spent in Southeast Asia. Shortly after my return, as we were walking down a street in downtown Toronto, I turned to my brother and said “Wow, look at all these people who speak English. We’re in a seriously touristy part of town.”


Johanna • May 25, 2009 at 2:59 pm

@dg – Scotland is a good idea! Such a lovely place, such lovely people. You can start by reading Alexander McCall Smith already at home!


gp • May 25, 2009 at 7:13 pm

sounds like true adventures .. you oughta write a book about it… .. always good to be back on terra firma tho :)

happy travels



kathy • May 25, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Welcome to the dark side. :) I guess I got my gypsy blood in childhood, moving around the country as my dad chased university after university degree (finally ending in a PhD) but once you get the bug, there is no turning back.

I visited Europe in the early 80’s, drove to Alaska in the mid 80’s, dropped out and traveled around southern (no further north than Peru) South America for 3 years late 80’s to early 90’s, back to Alaska in 93 and then 4 kids later hit the road in 2004 and toured North America. We’re now living in Mexico and the youngest has been either on the road or living in Mexico more than 1/2 her life.

I’m growing gypsies. :)

Can’t wait to read of your further adventures.


sue • May 26, 2009 at 10:41 am

Thank you so much for sharing your adventures!

My friend sent me this the other day:

“She heard tales of distant lands

Where dreamers were in demand

She packed her bags”

Wanderlust is a wonderful condition.


Kelly • May 26, 2009 at 1:08 pm

So true about it being hard not to return! I went out of the country for the first time ever in January 2008. My husband and I traveled to India and Paris and on the flight back to the US we were already asking each other, “Where are we going next?” While it doesn’t look like we’ll get out of the country this year, there’s always next year!


nazilam • May 26, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Jeanette —

I loved your last paragraph as it sums up quite nicely travel and coming back home. I travel a butt load and honestly, am quite blase about the whole thing, but your travelogue through London and Paris were lovely.

I’m happy you had a chance to take something negative to many – a furlough and turn it into something positive.




MB • May 26, 2009 at 9:49 pm

I had so much fun tagging along on your European vacation. It is time to plan your next vacation so you have something to look forward to. Welcome Home!


ChrissyS • May 27, 2009 at 11:42 pm

@Mom – haha love the pic of MOM peeking over the post!

I figured the grandcats were probably w/Mom. =)


Anita • November 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Just found your blog today and LOVE IT! My DH and I did the London/Paris sojourn in May, 2001 and almost had your exact itinerary except we went to British Museum. We ALSO fell asleep the first morning in town on the HOHO bus. This time on the upper deck. I can’t sleep anywhere, but I fell asleep there.

Just this past July we went back to France for 14 days and saw Versailles this time. The accordion player is still on that train. It made me laugh. Oh yes, and had my first Laduree (yummm) but no Angelina’s.

Your description of walking back into the house is so true. The house is the same, but you’re different! Happy travels to you for your next trip.


Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog at JennetteFulda.com.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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