Arising at 3 a.m. to catch the 4 o’clock shuttle to the Vienna Airport was the easy part. There were 19 in the first group, and in the airport lobby we bid a fond farewell to our amazing Anselmo, promising, as grateful tourists always do, to keep in touch. I gave him a heartful hug, and told him, meaning every word, that he was a true Italian National Treasure. He left us standing at the ticket counter, to return for the second of three shuttle transfers this morning.

Unfortunately, when the ticket counter opened at 4:55, the clerk informed me that my checked bag was over the weight limit.

“By how much?” I asked.

“Five or six kilos,” she responded without expression.

“How many pounds is that?”

She shrugged.

I hastily looked at the long line forming behind me and then at my travel companion. “Help me!”

We quickly bent and zipped open both large suitcases. I grabbed bags of my heavier souvenirs and toiletries and we crammed them into the second suitcase. I kept one bag out to either stash in my carry on, or pretend it was “lunch” so it wouldn’t count as my one personal item, since I already had a purse with me.

Both our suitcases now met the weight limit, but again unfortunately, the limoncello I had carried for 10 days, all the way from the Amalfi Coast, happened to be in that extra carry-on bag, and it was confiscated by security and tossed unceremoniously into the trash. So much for that souvenir!

The city hop from Vienna to Amsterdam was quick and uneventful, but we deplaned at the very farthest gate possible from our flight connection. The very farthest! We had about an hour to walk the length of the terminal, and wasted no time, but the passport check in the middle took half an hour. Individual security scans are in front of each gate in the “E” wing, and by the time we cleared that, we didn’t even sit down, just walked directly onto the plane with no time to spare.

Gratefully, the Delta plane was a little larger than the Air Italia plane coming over, and I wasn’t quite as cramped for the 10-hour return trip. We arrived in Portland at noon, having crossed back over the nine time zones, and I had enough adrenalin running through me that the 2 ½ hour drive from PDX was no problem at all.

My cat Alvin was thrilled to see me, and my bed that night was a very welcome sight. No unfamiliar rough linen sheets, no bidet in the bathroom, but home is home, and I slept quite soundly for a few hours, awaking still on Italian time, and immediately began this series of blog posts chronicling my Italy/Austria Adventure.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along, and if you’d like to see more of the trip photos, check out our tour group’s website in progress at

Also, if any of you choose to book a tour through YMT Vacations (, please mention me as your referral so I can get a small discount on my next trip, because you can bet your boots, I will absolutely be traveling with them again! And besides, I threw coins into the Trevi Fountain! I have to go back!

Until next time, Arrivederci, Ciao, and Auf Wiedersehen!