Nepal is exactly halfway around the world from CO (12 time zones) so we could go east or west to get home. We found a repositioning cruise from Rome to NYC for cheap; that made the decision. We finished the Nepal tour and headed to Rome for 5 days before boarding the cruise and setting sail for NYC with planned stops in Naples, Livorno, Cannes, Barcelona, Cadiz, Lisbon, the Azores, Bermuda before finally disembarking in NYC.
We awoke to news of an earthquake in western Nepal around midnight. Mark and Susan slept thru it but Jutta felt it, heard the building creaking, and couldn’t go back to sleep. We headed out at 7 AM to beat the early morning Kathmandu traffic. Kathmandu International Terminal might win for the most chaotic airport we’ve been in.
The airport – where to begin?? Bhaskar dropped the three of us off and we couldn’t even figure out where the lines were to get thru security to get into the terminal building to check-in. We finally found the screen to tell us we needed the B line but Jutta needed to go to the A line. The line was huge! We figured it would take forever but only took 15 minutes. The one long B line broke into 2 security lines just to get into the terminal. After we showed our tickets to prove we were flying, we went through security. The mass chaos is partly caused by people seeing their friends off at the terminal.
After #1 security line, we were in the terminal and had to find the correct Qatar line – flight 649 or flight 653? Thank heavens Mark is tall enough to see signs over everyone’s head! We found the correct Business class line, checked in, got boarding passes, wound our way through the other lines and gaggles of people following the “Immigration” signs and rode our first escalator in 2 weeks after showing our boarding pass at the bottom of the escalator. The disorganized Immigration line at the top of the escalator took 13 minutes.
No gate yet but we went to security #2 which took 16 minutes in a very illogical set up. This one was belts and shoes off, computers, etc. After we cleared security #2 and put our shoes back on, we had our boarding pass stamped to prove we’d been through security #2 and then showed it to some guy 10 feet away in order to get into the gate area. Full employment! 4 people in front of us missed the stamp and had to return to the stamp guy.
Still no gate. We hung out by the TV monitor and met an American woman who was also looking for the gate. She’s from Fort Collins – Police department in Homeless Intervention. She’d done a trek to Everest base camp for 14 days.
We finally had a gate right where we were standing. When the boarding process began (no microphones, just loud voices that were not loud enough), no busses showed up to take us to the plane. We finally got to the plane and even that wasn’t organized. Told us all to line up at the steps at the back door but when we got to the bottom of the steps, that guy saw our Business Class seat and sent us to the front door. Then the flight left about an hour late because of heavy traffic. Huh?? Only one runway at this airport made for a short taxi to takeoff.
The flight landed at Doha about 45 minutes late. We went through security again to move from the A gates to the C gates but only belts taken off. They didn’t care about computers or phones. BTW … there is no one in Doha airport at 2 PM in the afternoon. Rome … here we come in search of a laundromat!
What did we do in Rome? Visited 8 different churches, ate gelato at least 5 times, bought Mark new tennis shoes after he tore the soles on the Nepal hike (Finding large sizes is hard.), did the laundry, bought toothpaste and visited the Italian version of the dollar store. John O and Sue from FC joined us in Rome before we all set sail on the Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway.
We had perfect weather for the port visits until we got to the Azores. The wind was too bad for the ship to dock. This resulted in 6 sea days in a row from Lisbon to Bermuda.
Our port of disembarkation was New York City. We crawled out of bed at 3:50 AM after the captain said we’d sail past the Statue of Liberty about 4 and joined other passengers whose cabins were also on the wrong side of the ship. It was COLD and WINDY!
Everyone asks – How was the cruise? Our answer: This was the first large ship we’ve sailed on (4000 passengers) and it is the last large ship we’ll sail on, voluntarily. Too many people, not enough space to find a quiet place. This particular sailing for NCL was understaffed, food was average at best, the buffet coffee was undrinkable, but it was cheap for 16 days at sea with unlimited drinks (part of the package through Costco). The port stop in Barcelona was long enough to figure out we want to return for a week or so, we tasted port in Lisbon, and we arrived back in the U.S. safely. One of the day tours reminded us that we really don’t enjoy touring with groups of people.
Summary – great 2.5 month trip with only 1 severely delayed flight, good friends, fun places, and a few stories to tell.