… HOME!

We kicked off the long travel day with a 5am wake up call, leaving us enough time to get ready, finalize packing, and eat breakfast (except I didn’t eat because there were literally only mini loaves of bread) before our cab arrived. Katy and Kayla were on the same flight us so together, we all headed to the Athens airport. Everyone else in the group booked their flights through AESU so they flew out together later in the morning.

We got to the airport just before 7am and was told the baggage check didn’t open until 8am so we sat on the floor in line to wait. I had a chocolate croissant because I was hungry and there weren’t any hot options. We were first in line which was great because the queue filled up fast. They ended up opening just after 7:30am so we were able to check our bags and get through security by 8am. Boarding didn’t start until after 9am but with the crazy luck we’ve all had this trip, we all preferred to get here early and wait versus be nervous about not having enough time. We had been on so many long bus and boat rides by then that we were all pretty good at keeping ourselves occupied. I sat on the floor and napped using the chair as a pillow.

We boarded at 9:30am and the flight lasted about an hour and a half. I finished watching ‘The Intern’ (I started it on my flight to London) and it was terrible. I don’t think the writers remembered what the movie was supposed to be because by the end, the main focus had totally changed and in an odd way.

They brought us lunch which I was happy about because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to eat between flights. It was just a cheese sandwich but it got the job done. I also started the movie ‘Concussion’ with the intent to hopefully finish it on the next flight.

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Our flight landed in Istanbul at 11:10am. We exited and we had to take a bus to the terminals. The plane had 2 exits and 2 buses and somehow we lost Katy and Kayla. The flight status board didn’t have a gate for our plane to Houston yet so we sat and waited there until one was assigned; luckily we didn’t have to wait long. We had our gate assigned and headed over. It was quite a long walk over to our gate and we stopped to exchange our money to USD while we were at it. We couldn’t buy snacks or a keychain (ugh) for me because we didn’t get Turkish money and I didn’t tell my bank I’d be in Turkey… I didn’t want to get flagged if I used my card.

We had to go through passport control right in front of our gate… and then another security check. When we were in line, a couple in front of us recognized Victoria’s St. Thomas t-shirt and we got to talking which helped pass the time. As silly as it sounds, I originally thought, “oh, what are the odds they’d know Houston?” when they said something but then remembered the flight was TO Houston so the odds were pretty good. That’s what exhaustion does to you. We were both very anxious to just get on the plane and head home. We boarded the plane later than the boarding pass said but were in our seats by 1:30pm and the air by 2pm.

We rode British Airways on our way to London and it was comfortable; I had no complaints. Turkish Airlines though… they know what they’re doing. The seats, in-seat head rests, blankets, and pillows were all so much better. There were also foot rests which I love. The in-seat TV screen had similar movies but worked better and was clearly better quality. It also had more flight information so we could stay informed. The flight to Istanbul was Turkish Airlines too and it was great but this flight really spoiled us. We received Turkish Delight (a gelatin/peanut snack that was okay), drinks, and hot towels shortly after takeoff. Next came the ‘care kits’ which contained socks, slippers, ear buds, an eye mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and lip balm. The seats also had AMERICAN outlets so I was able to charge my phone! We also got 2 full meals.

I finished ‘Concussion’ early on. It was good but I did have to pause it in the middle and take a break from it. All of the brain talk was making me queazy and the last thing I wanted to do was pass out on the plane. It was scary and concerning information but it was a good movie. I’d like to think there are more protections and rules in place these days to help prevent CTE but I doubt it’ll ever be enough. I’d be fine if my future kids didn’t want to be football players, though!

I started ‘Into the Woods’ next and halfway through, dinner was served. It was a chicken and rice meal with salad, green beans, bread, and a coffee mousse and it was all pretty good. I was also starving so that could’ve influenced my opinion. I inhaled it.

I tried to stay up to finish the movie but failed and took about an hour nap. It wasn’t a good nap but it was still a nap. I used the provided sleep mask and I think it helped quite a bit. I finished the movie when I woke up and loved it. My brother’s friend was in the play version at Sam Houston and I really enjoyed it so I was confident I would like the movie. Plus, I love a good musical… and Meryl Streep.

Next up was ‘The Big Short’ which I LOVED. If you ever want to learn the details about the housing crash in 2008 and the economy problems, I really recommend it. It was so well done and showed just how flawed everything was. It’s crazy to me that people were so… careless? irresponsible? neglectful? to allow that to even happy. It’s actually kind of scary because the end of the movie definitely implied that the same practices have resumed so who knows what’ll happen in the future.

Continuing my serious/not-serious movie pattern, I chose ‘Hello, My Name is Doris’ next. It was really bizarre and not my favorite but it wasn’t bad. It had some awkward/uncomfortable moments and I think that was my biggest problem. I don’t like feeling that type of uncomfortable while watching a movie. Also, Sally Fields played an older, single, cat lady with hoarder tendencies and I have a fear that that’ll be my future and no one likes to see their future like that.

By the end of this movie, my contacts were burning, I had to pee, and I was starving. There were still 3 hours left in the flight and I was just hoping there’d be a snack soon. Ask and you shall receive because just a few minutes later, they brought us another meal: pasta, bread, hummus, and pudding. I’m not a fan of hummus but the rest of it was good. I also have this weird thing where I always want apple juice when I’m on an airplane so I finally had some. I also inhaled that meal… I’m not proud of it.

The next movie I watched was ‘Selma’ which was really good. I know our society sucks today and we’re still really flawed but I just cannot imagine being there during the Civil Rights movement with all of the ridiculous rules and regulations that existed. The scene with the marchers getting assaulted on the bridge during the first march was gut wrenching and it bothers me that people like those cops existed (and still exist) today. It was a very sad but powerful and touching movie.

All of the movies successfully helped pass the time because by the end of the last one, there were only about 40 minutes left until we landed. I watched 2 episodes of the Big Bang Theory and filled out my landing card.

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We landed safely and made it through customs and baggage claim pretty quickly. Dad and Suzette were there to pick me up but I was feeling pretty blue and kind of in a mood because of it so I was unintentionally not very polite to them. Sorry, guys. I said goodbye to Victoria and then headed back to dad’s house (sobbing in the back seat the entire time, super cool and not at all embarrassing) to see Elliott. Elliott seemed excited to see me and I was definitely excited to see him! They drove the two of us back home in my car so they could help me carry things and because I was so tired. I really appreciated it!

I got home around 8:45pm and am now doing some laundry and unpacking. I’m not good about leaving a suitcase packed for a long time, no matter how tired I am.

So… our day started at 5am (Greece time). We had a 1 hour flight from Athens to Istanbul and a 12 hour flight from Istanbul to Houston. We landed around 6:40pm Houston time which would be 2:40am in Greece. Including the extra hours involved for customs, baggage claim, and driving home, that’s over 24 hours of travel! Yikes. I’m thankful everything went smoothly and we made it back safely though.

If you read yesterday’s post then you already know I didn’t sleep well last night. I was so exhausted all day today and constantly felt like I was on the brink of tears for 100 reasons. I’m happy to be back but I’m also not coming home to what I thought I’d be coming home to so at the same time, I don’t want to be home. It makes everything (the trip, the relationship, work, responsibilities, etc.) more real. It will surely be a fun week trying to adjust again. I am excited, though, to be back with Elliott and sleeping in my own bed.

Wish me luck!

Jillian

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