Happy New Year to one and all from the Maples family! Sorry for the delay in posting. We've been back home since 11:30pm on Tuesday 12/15 but there just never seemed to be enough time to get it all done. I've worked on this post 3 or 4 times before but haven't finished it, so I'll finish up the adventures of our travel day and then update what's been going on since we got home later this weekend.
Let's start with our travel day experiences. We woke to several inches of snow in Belgrade on Tuesday morning, so the concern of would we be able to even leave was in question. A quick check of several websites showed that so far everything was still on time, and per Sarah we were leaving even if I had to get out and push the plane. :)
Our car arrived around 10:20 but the driver had to park a block away, so we got our first adventure of hauling bags and a stroller through the snow. The drive to the airport was pretty slow, lots of cars and pretty bad conditions didn't help make it a quick trip. Luckly we had planned in some extra time so we still made it to the airport in plenty of time. The parking lot at the airport was still completly covered in about a foot of snow so we had another fun time dragging and pushing all our stuff around. The driver and I had our hands full of bags and Sarah was having a hard time pushing the stroller even when sticking to the ruts from previous cars. Thankfully a kind stranger helped her get to the section of sidewalk that had been cleared. We had an easy time checking in at the airport, checked our large bags and even had some time for last minute souvenier shopping (also useful for using up the remaining dinar we had).
From Belgrade to Munich was a pretty quick hour and a half flight, Grace managed pretty well. She enjoys the feeling of movement and wasn't even phased by the rough take off. We landed in Munich on time but had to ride a bus from the plane to the terminal, up a couple of floors and then over to our gate. The gate attendents helped us find the elevator and get down to our plane. Because of our last minute flight changes Grace had a bulk head seat while Sarah and I had seats in the last row of the plane. Thankfully a kind young woman in the bulkhead row agreed to switch with us. This allowed us to have a bassinet for Grace to sleep in during the flight which was a real blessing. Grace was pretty fussy for the first hour or so of the flight as she was tired, but not comfortable enough with her surroundings to let herself fall asleep. Eventually she did fall asleep and slept for most of the rest of the flight off and on.
Finally we made it to the states when we landed in Chicago. As this was our port of entry into the US we had to claim all of our luggage and go through passport control, customs and immigration for Grace's paperwork. Being that it was evening by this time the immigration desk had only one staff member working on paperwork and with several groups ahead of us we doubted if we would be able to make our connecting flight. We talked to one of the custom agents nearby and told him about our connecting flight and I think he rearranged the order to get our papers processed next, so big thanks to him.
After we got through with the immigration paper work we quickly ran to the recheck area and learned that we had about 30 minutes before our flight. The clerk told us if we hurried we "might" make our flight, but that our luggage would not make it to the plane on time. At this point we just wanted to get home and there was nothing in our bags that we had to have, so we went for it. To get to the gate, we had to take a train to a different terminal, we were in terminal 3 and we had to go to terminal 1, which took about 10 minutes. Then in the terminal we had to go through security again and have all our stuff checked, which took 15 minutes, so we were running close on time. We raced from security to our gate without even putting our belts back on. As we ran to the gate, the gate attendant called out to us asking if we were the Maples and to hurry as the door was closing! Thankfully they held the door for us and I think if we had been any later, there was a gentlemen on "stand by" waiting to take our seats. But we made it, settled in for our last flight of the day.
We landed on time and and we were back in the land of Minnesota. Our friend Sue meet us at the baggage claim, and our other friend Kristin drove our van from Rochester to pick us up. I quickly verified with the baggage claim attendant that our bags were not on our flight, they were on the next flight, so we made arrangements for them to deliver our bags the next day which was nice. The drive back to Rochester wasn't to bad, Grace seemed pretty at home in her car seat and didn't give us any problems. We stopped to get some snacks and coffee to stay awake and eventually arrived in our driveway at about 11:30pm. Home Sweet Home!
Sam came upstairs soon after we arrived to greet us, it was sure great to see him and he had the biggest smile on his face. We quietly went around and kissed Ian and Iris who were very much asleep. Ivy did wake up but you could tell she was basically sleeping with her eyes open, she didn't even remember talking to us the next morning. We talked to Holly for a little while to get the updates on how everything went, and her sister came to drive her back to her house, were I'm sure she enjoyed sleeping in her own bed. A great big thanks to Holly for watching the 4 amigos, I know they all loved her and had a great time, we couldn't have done this without her.
Then it was time for Sarah and I to go to settle in to our nice cozy bed, safely at home at the end of another wild adventure.
All packed up and ready to leave
The snow covered street outside our apartment
Our plane arriving to pick us up at the Belgrade airport
They had the snow plows out cleaning the terminal area
Sarah and Grace all settled in on the plane just waiting for takeoff
Here we go!
So long Serbia!
Sleeping in the bassinet on the flight from Munich to Chicago
I'm tired of being in an airplane now.
Holly and the Kids made us this great Welcome Home sign.
Grace having her first bottle in our house, she hadn't eaten much during any of the flights.
That's a lot of snow to come home to! Thanks to Holly, Nate & Kristen, and our neighbors for cleaning off the drive way and sidewalks!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!