by Melinda Gallo

Flight to San Francisco

Everyone told me how I should know that flying out of Heathrow would be a nightmare. I found, however, that things went quite smoothly. We checked in at the self-service area, checked in our luggage, went through security, and that was it.

I did have one glitch with my carry-on, which just barely fit in the small metal hole that they made me force it in to. They said that because it was probably two centimeters too long (thanks to the handle and wheels), I had to check it in. They initially told me that I'd be turned away at the gate and would have to check it in anyway.

One woman was going to let me go anyway, but another guy said I couldn't pass. I had to buy a bag to carry a few things and check my luggage in.

When I went through the second time, they just waved me by. It all went rather smoothly and we found out that we could buy more things (except liquids, cosmetics, etc.) at the duty free even if it didn't fit in our carry-on.

I, of course, bought books. I can't seem to go past a book store without buying something. I tried to get some lip balm, but the woman at the pharmacy that if I'm going to the US, I can't take it on the plane.

When we were boarding the plane, we went through another security check. I was happy that they were taking all these exceptional measures. When we were in Pisa yesterday, the guy called out to the security people that we were going to London and we got patted down.

We were all asked if we had any cosmetics or liquids on us and they looked through our bags. And, many of us got patted down again. It was amazing to see how few things were in the overhead bins; I had never seen them so empty.

Our flight was very pleasant and actually didn't seem that long. We arrived in San Francisco where it was cool and sunny. Since I'm so used to the humid weather in Florence, San Francisco seemed almost dry to me.

The last thing I did yesterday before leaving for the airport was go to the Santa Croce church. I wanted to find a peaceful place to sit and be with my city before I had to leave it. I sat on a pew taking in all of the church's beauty and said, "A presto!" (See you soon!)

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