My original flight situation back to the States was not excellent, but bearable. Bacau (a city 2 hours from my city with a small airport) to Dublin, stay overnight with a friend, then the next day fly Dublin to Charlotte to Chicago to Seattle. I'm so used to going to the east coast, that it just seemed to far and long, but alas.
It's a long story, but due to a mistake that U.S. Airways website made that they refused to acknowledge as their fault and thereby restore my original itinerary, I ended up having to fly Dublin to Charlotte to Chicago to Phoenix to Seattle. Read that again and visualize the itinerary on a map in your mind.
Definitely the long way home.
But I decided to have a cheerful attitude about it, and see it as an opportunity from the Lord. If God is sovereign in all things (which he is!), he had allowed it for a reason, and so I just needed to open my eyes (tired and jetlagged as they might be!) and look around to see why I needed to be on those flights. In particular I prayed for an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with someone.
My trip to Dublin was actually harder because I didn't expect it to be... but then it was. I had to take a 2 hour maxi-taxi to Bacau, which I have done before, and my roommate even came with me (thus the thinking that it wouldn't be so bad). However, it was about 95 degrees that day, and they don't so much have AC in the maxi taxis, which are small buses that seat 18 people. I anticipated this, but I did not anticipate what it would be like with 22 people in an 18 seat van in 95 degree heat and the only open window being that of the driver... waaay up front. You see, many Romanians believe in the "curent", aka WIND. I believe in wind as well, but I believe it's refreshing and helpful when it's hot and stuffy. They believe it causes headaches and illnesses. Thus, no open windows to create deadly cross breezes. *sigh* Needless to say, when we got OUT of the maxi taxi dripping with sweat into the 95 degree heat in Bacau, it felt incredibly refreshing.
Then we had a taxi driver who was trying to be sneaky and scam-y, and then I had an argument with the airline people about their stupid baggage policies and fees. So. I wasn't in the greatest of spirits. But in the end I made it to Dublin and had a wonderfully easy time getting into the city and back out to the airport the next morning.
Then began my U.S. Airways Insane Itinerary. The check-in lady kindly informed me that she could only check my bag through three flights, so I would have to go out and retrieve my bag before the fourth flight and re-check it. I kindly informed her that was not a possibility, as that last connection was only an hour, and just... no. She was actually really helpful (sad that I say "actually" because I have dealt with so many unhelpful airline people), and made a call to see if there was a way to check my bag all the way through. Turns out (surprise surprise!) there is, it just needs to be done manually. Excellent. This kind lady also helped me get Exit Row seats on 3 of my 4 flights. Score! So Long-Legged Lizzy wouldn't be so cramped in her 19 hours of flying. What a blessing!
The first flight was the long one, and then it was just on and off and on and off for the last three. I have to give credit where credit is due- all of my flights were on time, and my bags got through. This is nothing short of a miracle, as far as I'm concerned. By Chicago I was really tired, by Phoenix I was exhausted, and by Seattle I was delirious. But I made it. On time. In one piece. With my luggage. AND I got to share Jesus with a guy on the way to Phoenix. Which I wouldn't have if my itinerary hadn't been changed. So. It was worth it.
I decided to take photos along my journey to keep things interesting. And to keep me awake. The first one is my gangsta ticket collection:
This one represents my trip well... lots of standing around and waiting in crowded airports. Every plane I was on was completely full. It was crazy.
When I arrived in Charlotte I was pretty tired, as 9 hour flights tend to make one rather tired. I had also been nauseous for 4 hours of the flight and developed a headache at the end. So. I was not too thrilled about having 3 more flights. So what did I get for myself to help with my tiredness and headache and give myself a little Welcome to America present? Starbucks Vanilla Latte. Lovely.
My dear friend Carrie lives in Charlotte, and being the wonderful gal she is, she came to visit me at the airport on my layover and brought me Chik-Fil-A (!!!!!!). I hadn't seen her in more than 2 years, so it was a treat to see her, a boost to my morale, and deliciously filling.
At some point in some airport I got hungry because, oh right, you now have to pay for food on airplanes. So after Starbucks and Chik-Fil-A I added Auntie Anne's to my list of Welcome Home foods.
At long last, 26 hours after leaving Dublin, I arrived in Seattle at the house of dear friends. And this was what greeted me when I walked in the door:
I was indeed truly HOME.