Europe 2002

Below is the journal for our self-guided trip to Europe, taken October 15, 2002 through October 28, 2002. The journal is divided up by day, and most sections include links to related pictures taken with Ken's Kodak DC3200 digital camera. (This isn't a fantastic camera, but for $60, we're not complaining. Besides, using the two compact flash cards we own, we can store almost 400 pictures in the space of two matchbooks, which makes this camera great for light-weight traveling.)

Ken works for Northwest Airlines, and because of that, he gets free standby flights anywhere Northwest flies, and reduced-fare standby flights on other airlines (on NWA flights, we fly space-available, including business- or first-class if we can get it). The money we saved on airfare allowed us a lot of flexibility in our vacation plans.

Our trip took us from home (Minneapolis) to Amsterdam, then Rome, Venice, Vienna, Frankfurt, and Cologne before returning back to the States. The choice of destinations was arbitrary; we just looked on the map for interesting places, and then tried to figure out how to get there. We've always wanted to see Rome and Venice, so those were easy first choices. Vienna fit nicely into the train routes we had available to us (and we're always looking for places to listen to good music); Frankfurt turned out to be a good place to meet Julie's friend Tina for the day.

We followed Rick Steves' "Europe through the back door" philosphy of travel, and for luggage we each packed only a single carry-on pack. The pack we chose is the MEI Voyager, a weatherproof nylon pack with a built-in minimal frame and hide-away harnesses and straps (so it looks nice enough to travel first-class). We bought the pack from California Outfitters.

If you'd rather slog through the entire set of pictures we took while on our trip (there are around 250 of them), you can check out the Gallery page.

Day 1 - Tuesday, October 15

Lesson learned #1: buying foreign currency at Well Fargo involves bringing cash or a checkbook. They take a credit card, but it's considered a cash advance (including lots of fees).

Went to the airport, took our chances on parking in Northwest's Building F lot (which Ken can technically park in, but only for "work" purposes), and made it on the 3:00pm flight to AMS [ 1, 2 ]. Business class is so nice! The meal was nicer than many at home, you can watch as many movies as you want, and there's wine with dinner, etc. Julie slept a little, Ken didn't.

Day 2 - Wednesday, October 16

We arrived in AMS around 7:00am (feels like midnight). Then, we waited in a huge line at the "Transfer Desk" to get our KLM boarding pass for the flight to Rome. Our bags were searched at customs - the customs people thought we were trying to sneak in a load of watches (these were really just all of the little zipper locks we were using).

The KLM flight was uneventful - and the food service was great. They even asked if we wanted a second drink.

We arrived in Rome around 11:00am. There were large German Shepherd guard dogs and guard people with machine guns in the airport. We took a train to downtown - taking the train was easy, but finding the hotel wasn't [ 1 ]. After a couple of wrong turns, we figured out that in Europe, the street signs are on the buildings. That made things easier.

Upon finding our hotel, we took a nap for a few hours, then took a stroll, had not-so-good sandwiches for dinner at some bar, and then wandered back to the hotel. We accidentally set our alarm clock ahead by an hour, and went to bed at "7:00pm".

Day 3 - Thursday, October 17

1:00am: Julie wakes up, thinks it's 2:00am. Never gets back to sleep.

5:00am: Ken wakes up. Since we think it's 6:00am, we slowly start getting up, taking our time. We're finally ready for breakfast at "8:00am" (ahem, 7:00am) when the hotel breakfast starts. Breakfast was very good - hardrolls, cereal, jelly, croissants, strong coffee, tea, etc. Julie misses skim milk (only whole is available, for the cereal).

8:00am: Arrived at the Vatican via the subway. St. Peter's [ 1 ] is enormous and spectacular (especially when empty) [ 1, 2, 3 ]. We looked at Michaelangelo's Pieta [ 1, 2 ] (Ken really wanted to see it). We had planned to attend mass there - instead of a regular daily mass, we ended up at a mass presided over by a bishop (or cardinal?) and about 30 priests in red robes, plus a bunch of nuns [ 1 ]. We didn't say much besides "Amen", since there was no printed order-of-worship and we had a hard time following along. The only song we knew was the gospel acclamation. Julie took communion - the host on the tongue was a new experience.

After mass, we wandered around the church, then took the stairs to the roof ($5 each) The view from up there is really neat (both the outside and the inside of the dome). Looking down about 10 stories inside the dome gives you the willies (especially Ken) [ 1, 2 ]. The view from the top of the dome is spectacular, and you can see most of Rome from there [ 1, 2 ]. We bought a few souveniers from nuns on the roof [ 1 ]. The church was pretty crowded when we came back down - we were glad we arrived when we did.

We had lunch at a Rick Steves-recommended restaurant near the Vatican. We walked a few blocks past it before we realized we had missed it - oh well, that seems to be how it works for us around here.

After lunch, we went to the Vatican Museum, home of the Sistine Chapel among other things [ 1, 2 ]. It was surprising how many beautiful rooms were in the Pope's house. The Sistine Chapel was cool, although many people were talking even after being told (loudly, via the PA system) not to.

We had dinner at another Rick Steves-recommended restaurant near the hotel. Ken liked his first course (cannoli) a lot. Julie liked her second course (veal) a lot. Overall, it was a good meal. We met some people from Toronto who were sitting next to us.

We went to sleep pretty much right away after dinner - we were pretty wiped out.

Day 4 - Friday, October 18

Julie woke up at 1:00am again, and Ken at 3:00am. We sat up and read for a while, and eventually went back to sleep around 6:00am.

During the day, we saw the Coliseum [ 1, 2, 3 ], St. Peter-in-Chains Church (home to Michaelangelo's Moses) [ 1, 2, 3, 4 ], and Gesu Church (how could we pass this up?) [ 1, 2 ], Gesu is the base of operations for the Jesuits, and St. Ignatius is entombed here. We also found the Pantheon [ 1, 2 ]. which was originally a temple (pan-theon, literally "house of many gods") and was converted to a church in ancient times. This is the oldest building in Rome that is still in day-to-day use.

In between all of this, we just generally did a lot of walking and got a feel for what Rome really is. As usual, we got lost a few times. We're still getting used to Rome traffic [ 1 ] - if there are no big holes, stick like glue to a local, who is willing to step out in front of someone and stop traffic. Romans drive unpredictibly and don't look for pedestrians. They also try to squeeze their vehicles into small spaces [ 1 ]. Motorbikes (mopeds) are everywhere - and they're even less predictible than the cars. We can see the advantages of having one - you can drive between lanes, park a lot easier, and (get this) you don't have to stop for red lights.

After an easy dinner, we went for a nighttime walk. We found several teen hangouts - the Spanish Steps [ 1 ] and also Trevi Fountain [ 1, 2 ]. Trevi Fountain is the front of a building - huge. A nighttime walk was a lot of fun - everyone is out, and the city looks different.

Day 5 - Saturday, October 19

We got out of the city for the day - we took a subway and bus to the San Callisto catacombs. We weren't sure where to get off the bus line (like everyone else) but there was a "catacombs" sign at the end of the line.

These catacombs have been around since the 3rd century A.D., and they were open to all Christians (the idea was that the Christian community provided a place for all Christians to be buried, free of charge). The tombs are carved into the soft rock of the area. There are over 500,000 people buried in these particular catacombs, and there are other similar ones scattered around the area. Paintings and carved symbols were still visible. The catacombs were forgotten for over 1000 years, until accidentally rediscovered in the 1850s.

We had lunch at a local restaurant with a waitress who didn't speak any English. We tried to ask "Is the pizza big enough for both of us?" She thought we meant "We want a really big pizza." It was HUGE. We were only able to eat about half of it. Ken really learned the meaning of the word "gigante". We saw a kiwi bush/vine near our table, too.

We spent the afternoon walking part of the Appian Way [ 1, 2, 3 ], the old road the Romans built across Italy. Parts of it look original. People drive their cars on it (slowly, though, since it's made out of large volcanic stones).

After reaching a stopping point, we thought we would have to double back to our starting point to get back to the city, but we found a bus stop that went to the subway. We were pretty happy that we could find our way back into Rome without a map. We even saw some aquaducts on our ride back into town.

That night, we went to a free chorus concert by a British group on tour. Their tone was excellent, though the first pieces weren't very polished (we'll forgive them, as they had tried to get on five or six different flights to Rome the day before, apparently). They did all English acapella music.

After the concert, we went for a walk and said to ourselves, "Isn't it refreshing to not need a map all of the time?" Of course, we got lost. We were quite a ways away from the hotel. We finally made it back (around midnite), assisted by some McDonald's food [ 1 ]. This was the only time we ate at McDonalds - the menu is similar, but slightly different. A quarter-pounder is a "McRoyal".

Day 6 - Sunday, October 20

We slept in a bit, and checked out from the hotel. We went to the Baths of Diocletian and also the National Museum Massino. The museum had a neat coin collection in the basement. In fact, the entire basement was one big vault with movement sensors everywhere and doors that were over a foot thick. You could see from the displays that "modern" issues like inflation and devaluation were issues even in ancient Roman times. Also, it seemed that coinage changed pretty frequently.

At 5:00pm, we got on our train to Venice. This worked fine once we realized that "Venice" would not necessarily be listed in the departures board - we checked by departure time, instead. (A lot of rail stations don't have particularly great documentation about departing trains - we were looking for a "flight number" or the equivalent, and it simply wasn't there.) When we got on the train, we hadn't realized that our reservations assigned us a particular seat on the train. We ended up in the wrong second-class seats on the wrong car, instead of in our own personal seats.

The train ride through the Alps was neat [ 1 ]. For a short trip like this, the train really beats flying.

We arrived in Venice at 9:00pm, got some food and took the boat bus ("vaporetto") to a stop near our hotel. The hotel was supposed to be right near the stop, but we got really lost trying to find it. We think that what probably happened is that the stop moved due to some construction, so the directions in Rick Steves' book were wrong.

Day 7 - Monday, October 21

This was our big day to tour Venice. We basically followed Rick Steves' "Venice in one (very busy) day" plan.

The first thing we did was to take two of Rick Steves' walks, first from the hotel to St. Mark's square [ 1, 2, 3 ], and from there to the Rialto [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ], (where we ate lunch) and Frari Church. We toured Frari church, and then got some ice cream before walking back to St. Marks.

At St. Mark's [ 1 ], we bought a combo ticket and toured the Correr Museum, which is an art and history museum [ 1 ]. We were pretty exhausted by the time we got out of the museum, so we decided not to do the other combo ticket site (the Doge's Palace) right away. Instead, we toured St. Mark's church, and then walked around the area behind the square some before heading back to the hotel.

Julie thought St. Mark's church was neat - different. Ken didn't really like it a lot - it was kind of overdone and dark (but maybe that's because it was cloudy outside). It's an unusual Catholic church in that it's decorated in a mostly eastern or Byzantine style (circa 800 or 900 A.D.).

Before heading back to the hotel, we looked for a gondola ride [ 1, 2, 3, 4 ]. We figured we couldn't leave Venice without doing one of these, even if it cost a lot. The first person we found wanted $120. Eventually, we found one for $65. It was a short ride (only 20 minutes) but it was neat. We even went right past our hotel [ 1, 2 ].

After a brief rest at our hotel, we headed out for dinner. We ate at a cafe in a square (not a restaurant in Rick Steves' book). Ken had ham and cheese crepes and Julie had a salad. For dessert, we split a chocolate crepe, and Ken had espresso.

After dinner, it was drizzling, and as we headed away from dinner, it started to rain harder. Since Ken had left his rain jacket at the hotel (and was just wearing his wool sweater) we decided to head back to the hotel. On the way back, Julie suggested a "shortcut" that took us 20 minutes out of our way. Ken learned that his sweater sheds light rain pretty well, though.

Day 8 - Tuesday, October 22

After our walk home, it continued to rain all night. This was a lot of water for Venice to absorb, especially considering that it was a nearly full moon so that water levels were already high. When we got up, it was still raining. We killed some time at the hotel, since we were going to be wearing our packs all day, but we finally started out around 9:00am.

We headed on foot to St. Mark's square to go through the Doge's Palace, and found a surprise - the square was completely flooded [ 1, 2, 3 ]. All of the "risers" that were in the square yesterday, which we just used to sit on for lunch, turned out to have a different purpose - they became sidewalks to get people around over the calf-height water. What a mess - it took us forever (15+ minutes) to work through the square to the palace.

The palace [ 4 ] was an interesting place to visit. We spent a few hours there. Fortunately, we were able to check our packs and avoid the clumps of tour groups.

Unfortunately, leaving caused problems during a "traffic jam" in the square. We spent another 20+ minutes trying to get out of the palace into the square. We were intending to walk back to the train station (Venice isn't very big), but rising water along our planned route blocked our path. We gave up and took a 45-minute vaporetto ride instead. This wasn't a bad deal, because we got to see the main canal.

We grabbed lunch at a train-station restaurant, and then got on the train to Vienna [ 1, 2, 3 ]. The ride took almost 8 hours. We had a six-passenger "cabin" to ourselves for most of the trip, which was nice. Food was an issue, though, as we didn't have much with us (we had finished off our granola bars). Early in the ride, we bought some "pringles" to snack on, and then later Julie went to buy "club sandwiches" - which turned out to be white-bread sandwiches with no crusts, stuffed with (we kid you not) sweet mayonnaise and shredded carrots. Ick. Neither of us finished this "meal".

Getting to our hotel was again an adventure. We came into Sudbahnoff (the south train station). There were essentially no signs telling us how to get downtown to our hotel. After a half hour of walking around and trying to figure things out, we bought a commuter rail ticket and took the commuter train one stop before getting onto the subway to downtown. When we got to downtown, we walked in circles a bit, but found our hotel with few problems.

Day 9 - Wednesday, October 23

For our first day in Vienna, we mainly stayed in the Innerstadt (the "inner city" or "old city"), and we mostly walked. We bought a $17 "Vienna Card" that got us a 72-hour bus/tram/subway pass plus discounts to a lot of hotels and other things.

Vienna was chillier than Venice, and we found ourselves bundled up when we were outside (it was probably 50-60 degrees F all day), but at least it was sunny.

To start out our day, we visited Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Church), a Vienna landmark with a really tall spire [ 1, 2 ]. Stephansdom is in the middle of Stephansplatz ("Stephen's Square"), which is pretty much the center of the Innerstadt. It was just a few minutes from where we stayed.

We visited the Vienna Natural History Museum [ 1, 2 ], which was started in the 1880s, and then we went to the Neueburg Museum (formerly an Imperial palace) where we saw an exhibit on armor and arms and also a large exhibit on the history of musical instruments [ 1 ]. We especially enjoyed the instrumental exhibit. After this, though, we were burned out and had lost enthusiasm for museums.

We had lunch at a little restaurant which had an English menu and took a credit card. Both of us had a potato pancake sampler of sorts (the "specialty of the house" was potato panakes with various fillings). This was really good food.

After this late (3:00pm) lunch, we went back to our hotel room and wrote postcards and relaxed. We were exhausted.

At 8:00pm, we went back to Stephansdom for an organ concert. It turned out to be a choral and organ concert, and it was fantastic. The chorus did some incredible polyphonal pieces that Ken listened to in rapture with his eyes closed.

After the concert, we got "supper" - Ken had a Vienna-style bratwurst (two skinny brats, a roll and a dollup of mustard) and we both had ice cream, which we carried home in the heavy rain that started right about when the concert ended. Then, we headed off to bed.

Day 10 - Thursday, October 24

This was our least-busy day in Vienna. We started out with a visit to Schonbrun, the Hapsburgs' "summer home" [ 1, 2, 3 ]. It makes the U.S. Capitol Building seem smallish. We didn't actually go in (by this point, acute museum aversion had set in) but we did spent several hours walking around the immaculate gardens, and we walked up a big hill for a great view of Vienna.

After leaving, we took a walk into a Vienna neighborhood and found a grocery store to buy lunch (we were running low on cash at this point). We conducted the whole transaction in German! We bought bread, pretzels, coke (only $0.60, versus $2-$4 in restaurants!), cookies and ham & cheese. We only had two problems: the cheese wasn't sliced, and the bread was only half-baked (it was "parbake and serve"). Oops. It was pretty good anyway, and we had leftovers for the next day.

After this, we went to the Vienna Technical Museum. All of the exhibit explanations (well, most of them) were in German, so this could have been dull. However, there was a big "kiddie" section with lots of experiements (conductors, circuits, power generation, etc.) and we amused ourselves in this area for at least an hour, once untangling a display (5+ minutes of effort) just because we didn't understand how it was supposed to work [ 1, 2, 3 ]. Cool!

When we were done here (and again, we didn't make it through the entire museum), we headed home to relax for a while and then we went out to dinner at a "real" Austrian restaurant that felt a lot like a dungeon. Both of us had traditional Austrian meals.

After dinner, we kicked back again, wrote some postcards and did some laundry, which made for a fairly relaxing evening.

Day 11 - Friday, October 25

This was probably our "longest" day of the trip. We had to check out of the hotel in the morning, but we weren't going to leave until 11:25pm, on our train to Frankfurt. We left our bags at the hotel in the morning, with the plan to pick them up later before leaving.

First, we took the U-Bahn (subway) out to the Alte Danau (the "old Danube"). (The subway system, by the way, is very extensive and easy to use, once you figure it out.) The Danube, once notorius for its floods, was "tamed" in the late 1800s, and is mostly just a series of canals now. The "old Danube" is a horseshoe-shaped old river bend that was maintained as a recreational area. There wasn't a lot to see here - we just walked around a bit [ 1, 2 ].

After walking around, we got back on the subway and took it to a tram stop (trams are essentially two- or three-car electric busses on rails, kind of like streetcars [ 1 ] ). We took the tram to Vienna's Ratzkeller [ 1 ], sort of their city hall. From there, we wandered by the Parliament building [ 1 ], which brought us back near the Natural History Museum from the first day.

Out in front of Neueburg, the Austrian military was putting on some sort of demonstration. We wandered through it a little. (Ken was fascinated by the concept of "Volkswagen van as military vehicle" [ 1, 2 ].)

From here, we walked back to Stephansplatz to eat our leftover lunch. When we were done with lunch, we spent an hour and toured the Vienna Theatre Museum [ 1, 2 ].

Then, we started wandering. We had to kill time until around 6:00pm for supper, and then we had to be at the Vienna Musikverein (symphony hall) for a 7:30 Vienna Symphony concert.

Our wandering started out kind of aimlessly. We picked up our symphony tickets, then headed through the city, taking a break at a Russian war memorial. After that, we walked to Belvedere Palace [ 1, 2, 3, 4 ]. Again, we didn't go in, but mainly walked in the gardens. Then, via walking, tram and subway, we got ourselves back to Stephansplatz for supper.

We ate at Nordsee, kind of a Scandanavian fish fast food place. It was cheap and easy. Then, we got back on the subway and headed for the symphony, just two stops away.

The symphony hall was fantasic - lots of baroque gold decorations everywhere. It wasn't large - maybe half the size of Minnesota's Orchestra Hall - which was kind of nice. We were on the side in the cheap seats, but that worked out OK.

One big difference at this concert, though - lots more applause than one would expect at home. These people are spoiled. :-)

When the symphony was over, we took the subway back to the hotel to get our packs, and then got on the subway again to head to the train station (Sudbahnoff) that we had arrived from originally. (By now, we had figured out how to do this, which involved a ten minute walk rather than a commuter rail ride.)

We had about an hour to kill, so we bought a few snacks, and generally relaxed. We had a hard time reading the train arrival/departure boards (again, no "flight number" on them) so we were a little nervous, but we figured we were OK since our reservations were for an 11:25pm train, and there was an 11:25pm train scheduled.

Unfortunately, we were wrong. We had gone to Sudbahnoff (the south train station), where we had arrived from, but our train was leaving from Westbahnoff (the west train station). Damn. We were surprised when "our" 11:25 train was a 5-car commuter train, and of course we missed the real train, along with our $100 sleeper car. We stumbled around for 20 minutes trying to figure out what happened before we realized all of this, though.

When we figured it out, we quickly called our hotel and luckily got another room, and then caught the 12:10am subway back downtown (the subway stops running at 12:20am, whew).

After we checked into the hotel ($120 later) we used the free Internet connection to figure out how to get to Frankfurt. We decided to salvage as much of our reservations as possible (Frankfurt-Cologne, Cologne-Amsterdam), so we decided to take the 8:16am train from Westbahnoff to Frankfurt.

We went to bed around 1:00am, and both slept fitfully.

Day 12 - Saturday, October 26

We got up early, checked out of the hotel and made it to the train station (this time the right one) around 7:15am. We tried to get a reservation (= guaranteed seat) on the train, but couldn't, so we grabbed some quick breakfast, called Julie's friend Tina (who was supposed to meet us in Frankfurt) to tell her about the change in plans, and ran to search for two seats on the train.

This Saturday train was crowded. We were lucky to find two seats together in a 6-seat cabin (not even next to each other) and we settled down for our 8-hour ride to Frankfurt. We were both tired and we mostly just slept and read.

Tina [ 1 ] met us at the Frankfurt station. It was a relief to see her. We went two subways stops away from the station for dinner, after stuffing our bags in her new car (a VW Golf TDI). For dinner, we had traditional German fare (sausages and sauerkraut).

After dinner, we all piled into the car, and Tina drove us to Cologne. (At some points on the autobahn, we exceeded 170 km/h - woo-hoo!). When we got to Cologne, we walked around a bit , looked at a big cathedral right by the station, and then Tina dropped us off for the night. We were both nervous about missing this final train leg, and we wanted plenty of time to figure things out. We had also learned that contrary to what we had expected, the main Amsterdam train station wasn't at the airport, so we took out a $100 cash advance to pay for a cab in Amsterdam, just in case.

The Cologne train station is much better organized than most of the other stations we were in. TV monitors showed every scheduled train, its time, its train number ("flight number"), the track it would arrive on, and even the shape of the train and the location of each car on a given train [ 1, 2, 3 ]. They push a lot of trains through this station, so three trains came and went on our track in the half-hour before our train arrived around 9:15pm.

We got on our (very modern) train and shared the entire car with about six other people. The trip was about 3 hours.

By the time we got to Amsterdam, Julie was feeling really sick, so we scrapped plans to try to get to the hotel via bus or train, and took a cab for around $35 including tip. Our hotel was touristy, but that was OK since we intended to spend just 8 hours or so there.

Day 13 - Sunday, October 27

We got up, had breakfast, and checked out of the hotel in time to catch the 8:45am shuttle to the airport. On the way, we saw saplings bent half- over in the wind, but didn't think much of it.

When we arrived, we waited about an hour in line to check in, and then found out our AMS-MSP flight was so overbooked (due to weather problems the previous day) that they couldn't even give us a standby boarding pass. We had the agent book us on an AMS-IAD flight (the only thing available) and headed immediately to the gate for pre-boarding (pre-board was at 9:55am for an 11:25am flight).

We waited 45 minutes in the pre-boarding line (metal detector and x-ray again) and finally got to sit down and wait for the flight to board.

When Ken went downstairs to go to the bathroom, he got a look at the plane (a DC-10) and saw it visibly shaking and shuddering in the wind. [ 1, 2 ], Wow. That wind was strong.

Boarding got delayed due to a problem opening the cockpit door, and then delayed again due to the wind. Finally, we were given a boarding time of 1:30pm. Then, the authorities debated closing the entire airport from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. Finally, they decided against closing the airport, and instead moved our plane to another gate that was sheltered somewhat from the wind, so they could load food and luggage, and we went through the whole pre-boarding process again.

This was was nerve-racking. Eventually, we got the last two seats on the flight (whew!) and we pushed back from the gate around 2:30pm. We were about to take off when a private plane with mechanical difficulties blocked the runway. We waited until around 3:15pm for that to be cleared, and then took off. The captain told us that the only reason we could take off was that the wind was blowing roughly down the runway. We later learned that the entire airport closed, and we were the last plane to leave that day.

The flight time to DC (IAD is Washington-Dulles) was over 8 hours, and we got in around 5:15pm local time. Unfortunately, we were not yet booked on the last NWA flight out (6:00pm to MSP) and we didn't even get out of customs until 5:45pm. What a mess.

Since we were stuck in DC, we called (Ken's brother) Mark and eventually rented a car to drive to his place in Annapolis for the night. This was close to a 75-mile drive, and because of a Redskins game, it took us more than two hours. We got to Mark's a little after 9:00pm, utterly exhausted and hungry. (Ken had mis-remembered where Dulles was, and hand't been expecting the drive to be so long).

Mark took us for dinner at Wendy's and then we came back, booked ourselves on an IAD-MSP flight for the next day, and talked before going to bed around 11:00pm (at which point we had been up 22+ hours).

Day 14 - Monday, October 28

We managed to sleep off "most" of the effects of jet lag and woke up around 8:30am on our own.

Mark had class at 11:00am, so he wanted to leave a little before 10:00am. We repacked and showered before he left, and then left the house a few minutes later [ 1, 2 ].

On the way back to the airport, Ken showed Julie the house in Hyattsville, MD where he lived when he was co-oping, which was kind of fun.

At Dulles, we checked in, got confirmed first-class seats right away, and killed an hour or so in the terminal waiting for our 2:30pm flight. We got on with no problems, and the rest of the day was uneventful. Ken's car was even still in the building F parking lot, with no ticket attached. Not a bad ending to a fantastic trip. :-)