DAY 1 – Sunday, June 23 – Chicago >> Prague
EUROPE – 2019
Drei Madchen im Europe – Three Girls in Europe
MY FAVORITE THINGS
On June 23, 2019, I set off for Europe with my friends, Barbara and Marlene – and 26 other people I’d never met. Well, that’s not entirely true, I know Marlene’s daughter and son-in-law, and I met about half of the others at a trip planning meeting a few months ago. Dick is our fearless leader. He and his wife are former schoolteachers. He planned this trip with the help of Misa, an English teacher from Czech Republic. Many on this adventure have traveled to Europe in the past on trips that Dick and Misa have planned.
Forrest drove me to the Park and Ride. Dick was trying to get the bus driver to load all of our group’s luggage under the bus at the same time. When Forrest placed my bag in the pile. Dick freaked out and said, “you’re not with our group!” Forrest explained, “but my girlfriend is – and this is her bag!” I’m off to a great start!
The bus ride to Chicago was uneventful. A few more travel companions met us at O’Hare. Dick commented that “our group always stays together; we never leave anyone behind.” Dick’s wife, Linda, repeated this sentiment.
Our flight was delayed leaving Chicago. Once on the plane, they fed us dinner. My beef ragu and polenta with cheesecake dessert was actually very tasty. And, we had free beer – Quallfrisch – on that flight, too. I slept for about two hours after dinner. When I woke, they were serving us breakfast – croissant and yogurt. I felt like I had just finished my dinner.
When we got to Zurich, our group gathered at the arrival gate for Dick to count us. Actually it was kind of a cluster … we counted ourselves off, but there weren’t assigned numbers, so at times people shouted out the same number. We eventually assumed we had everyone and headed as quickly as possible to Customs. Of course, some moved faster than others. There were several different line at Customs. There was a small number of our group waiting on the other side of Customs when Barbara, Marlene, and I made it through. We knew some of our group had already gone on ahead to our departure gate. We had no idea who or how many were behind us. Our boarding time was approaching; eventually, someone made a decision that we should get moving to our gate. By the time we got there, the earlier passengers had already boarded; we walked right on to the plane that would take us to Prague. A few minutes later, Dick and the final stragglers from our group boarded the plane. Before take-off, Dick chewed out our entire group for not sticking together after Customs. Oh, boy!
Have you ever traveled with a group of strangers? What was your experience like?