Thursday, September 8, 2011

BIttaly. (And it's only day one.)

My day started out on September any other travel day. Running around, trying to get the last minute things done, barely remembering the brand new strawberries in my car (no longer brand new as I'd already forgotten them for 2 days-whoops), and hoping I'd packed everything. Jump in the car because my Momma Bear is the best. She drops me off at the train station and I'm on my way...wondering what I've forgotten. At the Asbury Park station this, hmmmm, SNAKE? Gets on the train. And I don't mean creepy person, nor do I mean a real boa, I simply mean this wooden snake. Too windy for a walking stick, I have NO idea what it was!

Moving along. I get to the airport, pretty late as there are still some residual flooding issues affecting the tracks. I book it, get to the Alitalia counter, and mean Jasmine informs me that the flight is running 15 to 20 to well actually an hour late. So is it 15 or is it 20 or is it an hour? It's an hour. She pauses. At least. GREAT! But she assures me I'll make my connection in Roma-no problem. I almost asked her if she'd ever been to Roma. I refrained. Too infuriated at having to take out 14kg from my suitcase. I'd read somewhere that morning that 32kg was acceptable, turns out it's 23kg. I didn't flip my numbers, but I did read the wrong thing. Thankfully they made me feel stupid about it, which is always a bonus. (Moral of the blog here is to never fly Alitalia if you want to skip the rest!) I took the 14kg out and made it into a second carry on. For those of you doing the math? That's a 30lb carry on, that's IN ADDITION to my already 22lb back pack. Yay. So, I go down to my gate, surprisingly TSA wasn't too much of an issue, he did swab my bag, but as usual, paid no mind to my liquids-none of which are in their appropriate "baggies". I found a sushi place, I had time to kill, I ducked in. Awesome. Yum. And then? Stephen Walker waltzed right into where I was having my sushi. WHAT?! Friends in the airport?! I tell you, it's a small world all the time. I say, are you going to Roma!?? He says YES! Are you!? I have a friend for sushi, for waiting, and for ROMA! Granted, I go on to Milan-but whatever! Who is Stephen Walker?! Well, he's another guide, and I met him in France when we were both doing a tour COLD (having never done it before) and we were a two bus move, and we had some adventures for included a late lost night in Avignon. Oh good times! Last time I saw him was for dinner in Paris with another awesome guide Molly, and some friends Christy and Karyn that I was traveling with. So I've never seen this cat in the country, and I certainly hadn't seen him in 2.5 years. It was awesome. So then...we board, we aren't near each other, and the plane is full. Boo, but I'm sure we both got more sleep because of it! Though, the plane had static music pumped loud enough through it, mainly opera, the whole time, and my seat slid back whenever it wanted to. More plugs on why never to fly Alitalia. We arrive in Roma, I'd said my goodbyes to Stephen on my last run to the bathroom as I'd have to sprint if I had any hope of making my flight.

I bolt. Bolting, as it turns out, doesn't work for cattle getting onto a car or into a pasture, and really, that's the best example I can give you for what security looks like in Roma. If you aren't bold or brazen, they'll mow you down. It's a fierce, evil game, and I was late for a flight, that I was making. I was kind, I prayed, I prayed a LOT! God's got this I told myself, vs. doing the heavy sighing that the lady behind me/trying to cut me was doing. Was I prepared to throw down and defend my spot!? Yes. Was I literally breathing down the neck of the kid in front of me!? You bet I was. So, I make it through, and I still have to get through customs. Bonus to Italy is that signs mean close to nothing so regardless of what countries passport I had, I picked the shortest line, and she stamped it, and I ran. (Let's clarify. I was not running. I do not run holding 55lbs of bags. I barely run with less!) So, walk quickly, pray, and mow down the Italian that thinks it's A-OK to stop in the middle of the walk way. Seriously people. I MADE IT! All grace of God. I boarded at 9:07, my flight was to leave at 9:10, too close for comfort, and I did not smell delicious. Didn't care. Made the flight. Did we leave at 9:10? Nope. We left about 45 minutes later. What was the hold up? FRATERNIZING WORKERS OF ALITALIA! Are you feeling me people!? Seriously? We had some non-revs on board, and one by one they'd come on, greet every one of them, try and find room for their luggage, and then try and find a seat. Seriously. Landing in Milano was so nice, we did it twice. The second bump/landing is what woke me up, a la "throwing me out of my seat". Arrival. Milano. To luggage? NOPE! NO WAY! NO LUGGAGE! So I go to the counter for lost luggage...this photo is an accurate description of what happened when it was my turn up. Oh, you don't see anybody either!? She eventually saunters in, as the other 4 people at the other end of the counter were apparently for a "different" sort of lost luggage!? It was on the next flight, that was landing in 15 minutes, but by the time we were done with paperwork, 5 minutes later? The story changed to it was on the ground. I still waited another hour. FINALLY! I leave the airport, head for my hotel, and I NAP! Never nap, you should never nap on day 1...but, well, I napped. Granted, I was woken up when a strange man simply used his card to open my door. NO BIG DEAL!? Um? WHAT!? I get up, I do paperwork, and then I am determined to not let my BIttaly get the Best of me. BIttaly. My new word for Bitter at Italy equals Bittaly. Since I am, or tend to be. Outside is a gorgeous sky, and as I go to take a picture of it, I see that my camera screen is broken. Yes, the brand new one, apparently it's cracked somewhere between American and Italy. You know who I blame. There's nothing I can do about it, and it's not worth my tears. It still takes pictures, I just can't see them, or any of the settings or whatever. Kinda old school, yet still new school prices! UGH! I proceed to dinner, I walk down dark roads that my mother would question were safe or not (except I know well, as this isn't Alitalia's first punch at me, striking on departure day forcing me to find food/shelter/transportation for 40+ people!) and I found this gem of a restaurant, Samarcanda. Sweet from the outside, where I dined in perfect weather, and fun and pubby on the inside where I steered clear of. I had a prosciutto and mushroom pizza of perfection, and an entire liter of ungassed water. Bliss. Also, affordable at under 11 Euros. Pizza...making Italy bearable for centuries. The Italians should look into that slogan... I leave you with this life lesson. Avoid Alitalia at ALL costs. Give your self 6-8 hours of transfer time within this country. Pray-a Lot, since you still have to maintain that whole LOVE thing! CHILL cuz they don't care. And when all that fails? Have a nap and some pizza!