We made it!
The chickies arrived at my place right on schedule and they were greeted with Italian music, prosciutto, cheese, fruit and Prosecco. They got a kick out of it that! The limo arrived on time and got us to the airport in plenty of time. No line up for check in. What’s a gal to do when she has time before her flight? We headed to the Plaza Premium Lounge.
The flight was a little longer than anticipated due to the severe thunderstorm last evening that delayed us boarding, but nothing too bad. It was nice to see Señors Martini and Panno at the airport with their significant others.
We spent 2 hours in the Air Transat lounge before heading down to board our plane. Dinner was a soup and salad and of course, drinks!
Aisle seats for us all and we quickly settled in to the rolling carts, boxed meals and crying babies! My seat mate, Rosie, a Philipino grandmother from Etobicoke was lovely. She slept the entire trip. Considering she chases 3 grandchildren all day, no wonder.
Jennifer, Jo-Ann and Yordie were able to sleep, but alas, this one stayed up.
The flight was really non-eventful which is what you want. Well there was one funny thing that did happen. When you can’t sleep, you walk up and down the aisle. I was on my way to the back of the plane around 6 am when I came across a woman in the middle section who was frantic as the sun was coming in on her face. The people in the window section had their sleeping masks on unaware the sun was beaming into the faces across the aisle. I asked her if she wanted me to close the blind, and she said yes please. I gracefully leaned across the laps of the husband and wife reaching for the blind. I guess the wife sensed there was something in front of her, gasped and began waving her arms, waking her husband. I was precariously balanced with one hand on the blind and just was bringing it down when the plane pitched and this graceful lass ended up in their laps! Glad I could be of service! Flight attendants, your careers are safe! LOL
We touched down in Rome at 1:05 pm and then the fun began. First is passport control and then luggage. The handsome Italian announcer said to keep moving to the left and we kept moving to the left DIRECTLY into the Euro passport line. People were playing red light, green light with customs, and me holding a Canadian passport decided we should go back to the moving herd of non-Europeans. Jennifer, however, decided she was going to stay and take her chances. We said we would see her on the other side. We were waved through. I don’t think they wanted to bother trying to communicate. Over at the luggage area we grabbed our bags – no sign of Jennifer. We saw Transat Vacation signs and headed over. The little, bald man with the sign seemed so stressed. When I tried to give him my name, he said, NO! We asked again, and he said NO. Off we went searching for our contact. I met the contact from Montreal, Mexico, but not ours. Imagine throngs of people, shouting, waving hands, pushing, and indecipherable signage. It was beautiful! We are in Italy and I’m already in love!
We decided to make our way to the exit with rolling luggage. As the doors opened, it felt like Hollywood with people yelling and raising signs. Would I see my name? Not a chance, but I think I got a marriage proposal. We stood at the Meeting Point, called the tour operator and finally found our contact. It turned out to be the little bald, stressed man who then began yelling at me. I guess, the best defense is a good offense. He told us that Jennifer was inside. That was good news.
With all of us together, we hopped into the van and headed to the Hotel Torino. We drew straws to see who was sleeping with Jennifer…just kidding I volunteered. You see Jen has one of those CPAP machines and I’m a very light sleeper. Anyways, as it turned out, the room didn’t have sufficient power outlets for her machine, and she managed to get us 2 single rooms. Excellence! Energized from the bring in Rome, we freshened up and headed out to the train station to get our train seats. We waited in line for 30 minutes and I was laughing at the customer service guy’s face as we explained we were there to arrange our seats. Puzzled, checking our voucher 3 times, he announced we already had seats! Geesh! It was time well spent as we now knew were we needed to go to catch our train to Florence.
Traveling makes you hungry, and we were no different. Off we went in search of a shady, non-touristy ristorante or cafe/bar. We found one across from a beautiful square. We ordered 2 pizzas and a bottle of wine for $20 euros and another bottle. LOL. I said to the girls that the only thing missing was an accordionist. Presto! Along comes the accordion and he was playing Hava Nagilia of all things. We said, Itsliano per favore and he began playing O Sole Mio. I sang along with him and we laughed and clapped….off he went with a few euros for his trouble.
Walking up and down the narrow cobblestone streets we came across a gelateria and each gorged ourselves on beautiful, rich and yummy gelato in a cup. Might as well skip the cone and save the calories for the pasta!
We headed back to the square where live musica was playing and then back to the hotel. The party was in Yordie and Jo-Ann’s room. I have no idea what time we went to bed but the 4 of us sat on the bed looking out to the impressively-lit architecture across the street and the moon.
I will sleep like a baby tonight dreaming of this beautiful city.
PS. Pictures will come soon as soon as I figure out the wireless feature. Wifi is sketchy over here too.