Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Zagreb to Knoxville

At 9:30 we went down to the cafe for coffee and milk with little flower designs in the foam. It's time to leave Croatia. We packed up everything and headed for the airport, just a few kilometers away. We were barely on our way before I had to dig my camera out for what must be Jana World Headquarters, topped by the biggest “Jana” sign yet. What a happy send-off!

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Me World Headquarters!

The rental car return was funky. FLEET doesn't have its own parking spaces (I don't know where they're keeping the cars), so Tom illegally parked near Avis and stayed with the car while I ran in and asked at the counter where the heck we should park. Someone was sent to meet us outside and take the car, and we brought the paperwork back to the counter. Final driving tally: 2,919 kilometers/1,751 miles.

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Now it's official

We checked in at the Croatia Airlines/Lufthansa counter and received boarding passes all the way to Knoxville. It was so quick, we went back outside for a while before going to security. Security and passport control was a breeze, and we soon found ourselves in the ONE tiny waiting area from which ALL flights leave. I say flights, but really you take a bus to your plane, which may explain why the filthy, crowded space seemed more like a bus station than an airport. I was very hungry and spent my last 30 kuna on a gross raw (cured) meat sandwich that I barely managed to gnaw through.

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Zagreb Plane Station

In Munich we had an absurdly long bus ride from the airplane to the terminal, even inexplicably traveling out on city streets. When we finally got off the weird bus, passengers traveling to the U.S. had to undergo additional, very vigorous security screening – x-rays for passengers and baggage, pat-downs for everyone, hand inspection of every piece of luggage, and many people, including Tom, had to undergo what they called a “special test,” I assume checking for gunpowder residue. They did not rush this process. But even with all this scrutiny, we didn't have to take off our shoes. The Germans are only going so far!

Between Germany and Washington Dulles, I watched two movies, two TV shows, took a nap, was served a meal and later a snack, and we still weren't there! We were chasing the sun west, and it made for a looong day.

Getting off the plane in Dulles, we had to ride another clown bus to the terminal, go through immigration and customs, and then go through security yet again. Trust me, TSA: If Germany didn't catch the contraband, you ain't gonna catch the contraband, whatever that might be. I had a few words with a moronic old woman in the immigration line who didn't understand how lines work. I told Tom, “If she's going to Knoxville, I ain't going.”

Our flight to Knoxville was delayed a couple of hours, which gave us time for a couple of good beers at Old Dominion Brewing Company. At this point in our long day, they were very needed. Finally, we boarded our flight, and just after midnight, we arrived in Knoxville, where damned if I didn't see that old lady again, and damned if she didn't cause us to miss our shuttle to Days Inn where we had parked. She is now my nemesis. I called Days Inn a second time, and they sent their driver back for us. We finally arrived home at 1:20 a.m. on Thursday, September 12, 21 hours after leaving our hotel in Zagreb.

It was a great trip. My only regret: I think I overdid it with the 1,359 photos I now have to sort!

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THE END.



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