Phew…It is time to write about our trip to Europe. You know how everyone has that one travel story, well here is ours…
Itinerary : Phoenix Washington Brussels Stockholm
We left from Arizona at 2 am in the morning. We didn’t sleep the night before because we were packing, doing last minute laundry (of course) and since we had to leave at 2 am we thought it was better if we don’t sleep at all. (It was not better. It is never better)
We got to the airport and went to the check in line. The lady at the counter saw Ben’s passport and she said, it is still valid but since it is about to expire at the end of September make sure he gets a new one as soon as we get back. She printed our tickets and we headed to the terminal..
oh wait…she printed the tickets but we didn’t grab them…right, we will probably need those, so we rushed back and luckily she was waiving them from far away. I think this was a sign that this trip was not going to be a simple one
We looked really well rested…not
We arrived to Washington around 2 pm. Our flight wasn’t until 6-ish so we walked around the airport to stretch our legs and I grabbed a coffee, hoping it will help me wake up. I found the coolest Starbucks wall decoration ever so I had to take a picture of it
Then around 4 we headed to our gate. I went to the counter to see if we can get our seats switched but when she looked at Ben’s passport she said they can’t let him on the flight. We told them that we are coming back in the middle of July and that the lady in Phoenix said it is still okay. She said her boss wouldn’t let us on the flight because the date we arrive in the States in July is within 3 months of the expiration date. We, during this entire time, thought that the 3 months counts from the time we would leave the country and not from the time we arrive back in the country.
I understand it was our responsibility as travelers to know this but why is there an expiration date on the passport if it expires 3 months before that date? They said you can still use your passport within the country until it expires but who travels domestically with their passports?
They put our tickets for the same flight next day and told us we can go to the passport agency in downtown Washington and try to get a new passport for Ben. They gave our luggages back and waived us goodbye.
It was 5:30pm and we had to sit down and talk about our new plans a little bit. Where to sleep, how to sleep, what to do, where to go, what happens if we don’t make the flight tomorrow.
Ben has a friend in Washington DC, they went to the same high school who was kind enough to let us stay at her place that night. We took a bus to her place, then went out for dinner and relaxed a little bit. They had a nice talk about high-school years. It was great to get our minds off of all the craziness and we are so thankful for all her help. After dinner we took a shower and passed out, we had big plans for the next day.
ADVENTURES IN THE PASSPORT OFFICE
The office opened at 8am in the morning and started seeing people at 8:30. We woke up at 6 so we can get there nice and early and stand in line. We got there around 6:45 and there were already at least 20 people in front of us, hoping to get their passport issue solved.
We stood in line and waited patiently while the line behind us started growing like crazy around 8. They let us into a gathering area in front of the office and all of a sudden in was about 100 people. A lady came out at about 8:30 and said everyone who has an appointment stay in line and everyone without an appointment go to the other side. Since there were more people without an appointment, including us, all hell broke lose. Everybody was rushing to get to the top of the new line, people who arrived later and didn’t deserve it. Ben and I couldn’t even move because we had both of our huge luggages and no room to move. So by the time we got to the other side of the room we were almost last place. Other people started yelling at the lady saying how they have been here since 6 just to be first in line and thanks to her idea now they are behind. She realized it was a horrible move on her part so she made it worse: ” Okay sorry, let’s just everyone go back into the original line where everybody was standing”
Lady, what are you new? It’s like she has never done this before.
Of course, all of a sudden everybody said that they were first in line, even the 5 member family that I literally saw come in at 8:20 because they couldn’t fit through the door and made a huge scene. This kind of sh*t makes me mad.
So we all went back to the original line but way behind everybody who came after us. The officials said: We will see everybody who is traveling within 24 -48 hours. Nobody moved. Nobody. I asked the guy next to me when is his flight, he goes: Well, next Wednesday. What the heck then? Why don’t you move out of the line??? So long story short, it was a chaos in there. We weren’t yelling, we weren’t pushing people out of the line like some people did. We stood there and was hoping it would work out. We met couple other people who were in the same shoes as we were (kind of made us feel better that we weren’t the only ones not knowing about the 3 months period)
In about an hour Ben went through the checking gates and I left the building with our luggages like this…
There was a coffee shop across the street and after I made it out the spinning door it was not a problem to walk around like this at all. But the spinning door…man that was an adventure. There were ton of cameras in the building, you might see me online later.
Ben spent about 45 minutes in there and came out saying his passport will be ready by 2:30pm.
It was past 10 am so we had a lot of time. We grabbed a sandwich at the coffee shop and rolled our luggages all the way to the White House.
Well…you might not think about this at first but this is how we looked like…right in front of the president’s house..with two gigantic luggages…we received some dirty-nasty looks from the 700 police officers and body guards that were strolling around the building.
After our photo shoot with Mr. President we made our way to the Washington Monument.
But on the way we saw the National Christmas tree. Poor tree was in a rough shape but if you look at the photo you can see how it looked like in its prime time…been there done that tree, I feel your pain…
We were getting closer to the Monument…
When we arrived it was time to sit down a little bit and adjust our outfits to the extreme heat and humid weather. My big adjustment included rolling up my pants.
Then this happened:
We took a little break, sat in quiet for 5 minutes, looked around and enjoyed our wonderful view of the Lincoln Memorial…
When we got some energy back we rolled over to the WWII Memorial.
Where are we and how do we get back?
Next stop was the Reflecting Pool where I made some duck friends. Ben tried to take a picture and a duck showed up right next to me so I turned.
This area is gorgeous. I am so glad we got to see it
We got to the Lincoln Memorial and sat down at the bottom of the stairs on a bench.
We didn’t want to drag our luggages all the way up so we took turns. So I took a selfie with Lincoln…and with another 15 people…
The view from the top is breath taking I just stood there and couldn’t believe how lucky I was to see this view.
I went back to Ben and gave him a big hug. Even though our situation was not the most comforting and we were still worried he would not get his passport, we both stayed calm during the entire time. We laughed at our misery and looked at it as an adventure. I am so happy that we both were able to do that instead of screaming and arguing the entire time. Rolling our luggages through entire Washington was hard but I guess it was a good workout and we got to see something that has been on my bucket list for a long time. It was not the most ideal and easy way to do it but who cares, this was something we will remember for for the rest of our lives.
On our way back we went to see the Vietnam war memorial with all the names who lost their lives during the war. It was beautiful but also very painful to see so many names on the walls.
When we walked through the memorial we stated walking towards the passport agency and passed our new FRIEND because…luggage.
Ben got his passport by 2 pm and we called a cab and went to the airport. We had time to change into clean and nice clothes (luckily we did that but more about this later) and got in line to check in…
********** TO BE CONTINUED HERE**********
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Have a nice day!