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    Pack In Spain: The Return Home
    Lorenzo Brown waits for the bus to take him to plane.
    Lorenzo Brown waits for the bus to take him to plane.

    Aug. 16, 2012

    "Home." No word sounds sweeter to a weary traveler.

    While our entire travel party truly enjoyed our trip to Spain, we all welcomed our return home on Wednesday. A return to our respective homes and the familiar comforts that we all know and love.

    Wednesday was another early start, but there was little need for wake-up calls for anyone in the travel party. Most of us were up and ready to begin the long journey home.

    Check-in at the Madrid airport seemed to be more hectic on Wednesday than the previous three occasions. Maybe it was the anticipation of going home. 

    In addition to the normal security screening, you had to pass through another security checkpoint where they reviewed your boarding pass and passport. If your documents were in order, your passport received a stamp marking the date of your departure from Spain. After a leisurely stroll to the international gates, you were greeted with another checkpoint ... this time to recheck your documents and conduct security screening for randomly selected passengers.

    Soon it was time to board our flight home and take another bus ride to our plane. Now there's not much excitement to a nine-hour plane ride! A good portion of our group used the time to catch up on their sleep. Others read, listened to music, played cards or games on their iPads or watched the in-flight movies.

    Eventually, an announcement was made over the P.A. system, welcoming everyone to the United States, followed by the pilot's announcement that we were 30 minutes from landing.

    Once we reached our gate in Charlotte, we were greeted with the announcement that we needed to wait a while longer on the plane until customs was ready to receive us. Fortunately, it wasn't a long wait and our processing through customs was quick. Most important was hearing the customs agent say "welcome back to the United States."

    Then it was off to baggage claim to grab our luggage and head to the buses for the ride back to Raleigh.



    The bus ride seemed relatively short, and soon we were pulling into the parking lot next to the Dail Basketball Center. For the players, the reality of being back on campus set in as Thursday would be their first day of classes and, for the rest of us, Thursday would mark our return to work.

    While it's great to be back home in North Carolina, the experience of traveling to Spain will be indelibly etched into our memories.

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