Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Day Two-- and into Three

Thursday, May 28, 2015 into Friday, May 29, 2015

When last I left you, Steven and I were sitting in Toronto’s Pierson Airport, waiting for our Air Canada flight to Rome. The boarding went well and everyone settled in for a long flight (7 and a half hours). Once again we went west in order to go east, taking off on time at 8:15 pm, right into the sunset. Once turned around over Lake Ontario, we flew over the water, picking up the St. Lawrence Seaway and, for the most part, staying in Canadian airspace. By the time we got to Montreal, the lights had come on in the city. Ottawa passed by in a twinkle of lights as well and then the shades were pulled, the lights dimmed and we settled in to sleep.

Yeah. Not so much. I dozed off and on for about an hour, even though I could barely keep my eyes open. Had taken a sleeping aid and it was working but I couldn’t get comfortable so didn’t really fall into a deep sleep. Steven was awake longer, but when I woke up around one AM Eastern, he was asleep and stayed that way while I watched Enchanted. Something light that didn’t make me think very hard. J Fell asleep after for nearly an hour.

They’d fed us dinner of a sorts shortly after take-off – a choice of Shepherd’s Pie or Baked Chicken. We both chose the latter. The brownie for dessert was good. Come morning, they also gave us “breakfast” which consisted of one slice of a really awful banana bread and a juice of our choice. I ate half before giving up but Steven ate all of his slice.

Snow-covered Alps
We made good time over the Atlantic (I say as if I had anything to do with it!). The shades went up just in time to see the snow-topped mountains of the Alps. Unexpected surprise and a fun way to start the morning. I changed the time on my watch and Steven changed his phone so we’re both on Rome time now.

Because we made such good time, the Rome airport didn’t have a gate for us so we had to sit on the plane for a while. I didn’t mind, actually. I fell asleep. Deep asleep. A restful sleep. Turns out we were stuck for 45 minutes and even then they didn’t have a gate for us, so we deplaned out in the middle of nowhere and they bussed us to the airport proper.

Customs was easy; I now have a stamp in my Passport! It’s pretty unremarkable, though. Just a date stamp. No country, no emblem. Just a few numbers. I’m tempted to write “Italy” next to it, but that might get me in trouble.

It was at this point our adventure started. We had booked a ride from the airport to the hotel; he was supposed to meet us a half an hour after the plane landed. He’d wait for an hour and a half and then go onto his next assignment. Well, we sat on the runway for 45 minutes, then took nearly 25 getting through the customs line, then waited another 45 minutes for our one checked bag to come circling ‘round on the carrousel. By the time we got to the meet-up point, he was gone. We called the number we were given and got a message “that number is not in service”.

A taxi driver approached Steven and poached us. We were happy to be poached. He brought us right to our hotel, pointing out a few sites along the way (we passed Palatine Hill…a spot I didn’t think we’d get to see!). Cost us, of course, but we were here! In Roma!

A note about the traffic and the cars: okay, a few notes. First off, there are a LOT of cars. Mostly little ones (Smart Cars can fit sideways along the curb and take up the same room as a pick-up truck, did you know that? I saw it today!) and a lot of motorcycles. A few Vespa-types, but a lot of regular motorcycles, but a lot quieter.

Park wherever . Note the sign for the Trevi Fountain on the right.
Second, where Toronto was super-organized with its “Collectors” and “Express lanes” – Italy is the exact opposite. There are no lanes. For anything. Even the expressway in from the airport are more suggestions than real lanes. Drivers go wherever the car will fit. So you go to make a left and three cars (our taxi was one of them), are all pulled up in a line. Not an end-to-end line like you’d see at an American intersection where the first one there is the first one through. No. These three cars are pulled up SIDE-BY-SIDE and it’s a race to see which one’s going to go first.

Third, blinkers are optional. I think our driver put them on just to make us feel better. Mostly he put it on as he was making the turn, not before it to warn others…but as he did it as if giving a confirmation of something already taking place.

But we made it to the hotel Residenza Antica in one piece and only a few white-knuckle moments. Its crazy, but it works for them!

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