Friday, January 1, 2010

Travel to Rome: Getting There

Thanks to my precious husband, my dream came true, I was able to travel to Italy this Christmas! Getting there was long and coming home was long but the in between was worth it all! I am not going to try to put it all in blog, the length would be ridiculous! So I will break it up into a series I am calling: Travel to Rome. I thought long and hard about that title! ;)

This episode is called: Getting There

We live near San Antonio, but to fly from there would have cost about $600 more than if we left from Houston. So at 10:30 AM on 12/21/2009 we left our house to head to Houston, a five and half hour drive counting stops.

Once again, I saw a sign of things to come on our way to the airport.

seen on way to airport

We made sure to have one last meal of Tex-Mex before leaving. After all, it was going to be over a week before we could taste it again! This was almost reason enough not to go!

last mexican food

The plane for London didn't leave until 8:30 PM, but being overly excited and eager to go we were there by 4 PM. This gave us plenty of time to see the George Bush Intercontinental Airport. As exciting as that was.

There are two highlights from being in the airport that I want to share. The first one was hearing a little girl speaking in a British accent. It was the CUTEST thing I have ever heard! We were flying from Houston to London to Rome, so it wasn't surprising to hear it, but I guess I have never heard a child speaking in a British accent in person, so it was precious.

The second highlight was hearing the little girl's mother asking, also in a British accent, if the little girl needed to go wee. Say it in a British accent, out loud if you need to, "Do you need to go wee? Sweetie, listen to mummy. Do you need to go wee?" Frankie and I started laughing to the point of tears. I am still not completely sure why it was so funny! We weren't jet-lagged yet or anything! It was the funniest thing at the moment though. If she had said loo instead of wee, Frankie and I would have had to walk away for a time. Again, not completely sure why!

We flew British Airways and I really appreciated some things they offered. There were movies and television shows to watch, radio to listen to, and my favorite, a channel showing how high the plane was, how fast it was going, how much further to our destination, and other peices of information. Knowing these things didn't make the trip seem faster, but not knowing them would have made it seem so much longer!

how high how fast

where are we

On the flight I sat beside this guy who was speaking to other people in what I assumed was Italian, but the more they talked the more I realized I didn't recognize one word. I got a little panicked because I just KNEW they were speaking Italian and all the studying I had done was going to be of no use if I couldn't even pick out one word! Later though, I did hear Italian and recognized it immediately and heard words I knew. I was so relieved! Turns out those other people were from Greece, so it was all Greek to me what they were saying! (Keep the bad joke groan to a minimum please!)

After 9.5 hours on the plane we arrive in London. It is 12 PM there and 6 AM back home on 12/22/2009. Gone are all signs of AM/PM time, it is all military time from here until we get back home. I kept having to count on my fingers to figure out the time so it made sense, and yes, I teach math. Sometimes the simple is just so simple that it becomes difficult. :)

I managed to sleep a few hours on the plane and Frankie did not sleep at all. Luckily, there were those movies and television shows to watch, so he wasn't just sitting there bored out of his mind. I don't know how he did it, but he thinks he can't sleep on a plane, so he doesn't even try.

The plane was a little late getting in and we knew we didn't have much time to get to connecting flight to Rome, so we hustled. Since it was an international flight we had to go through security again although we didn't leave the airport. It was at this security check that I got violated by the British equivalent of TSA.

When I went through the detector it beeped. I had nothing in my pockets and nothing on my person that would have made it go off, but beep it did. So I had to stand there with my arms out to the side while I was patted down like criminal. At one point she put her hands together and shoved them between an upper frontal region of mine. I was too mortified to feel violated until after, I turned and looked at Frankie with widened eyes and slanted mouth. My face probably looked something like this: 8 > \

I just know that it was because of this violation that we missed our connecting flight. When we got to our gate for the flight to Rome they had just closed the gates and we were not on the plane. Thanks a lot British equivalent of TSA!

We were sent to the British Airways customer service counter where there was a line of people. They had employees going through the line to see if they could help since the line was long and moving very slowly. The employee that talked to us was very friendly but said from what he could gather that there wouldn't be another flight to Rome until two days later on Christmas Eve. Tears quickly gathered despite the fact that he said we would be given a hotel room and vouchers for food. He said the best thing to do would be to stand in line to see if something else could be done. Frankie was all all right with staying in London, but but but....

After an hour we got to a man with a computer and some power. He hit a few keys, we waited a few minutes and he then said, ok we have a flight to Rome you can get on leaving at 16:00 London time. Hooray! So we sat and waited. I kept falling asleep in the chair and every time I would jerk awake Frankie would not be in the chair across from me. It was a strange feeling. He was never far though.

At one point, I was walking around and was trying to stay out of people's way. Well I was having a rough time. I was staying to the right, but then it dawned on me that in London they drive on the other side of the street so here I was going against traffic the whole time...well no wonder I was in the way! Finally, after waiting an extra hour more than they said, we board and head to our final destination: Roma!

I sat beside an Italian girl who didn't speak much English. I uttered my first Italian words to a real Italian and guess what....she understood me! I was so happy! (Patte, aren't you happy/proud for me!) I said, now careful this was earth shattering, "I taxi in Roma, posso usare un carta di credita?" Even if I butchered it, she understood that I was asking if the taxi in Rome would take credit cards! By the way, she said they did, but we didn't try it.

From London to Rome was about a 2.5 hour flight. As we got closer the excitement built, even Frankie who had not slept a wink since we started our trip, managed to be wide awake. Those flight information screens were wonderful!

geting close

Finally at 2:30 PM Texas time and 21:30 Rome time on 12/22/2009 we set foot in the Bel Paese otherwise known as Italy! I took a picture of the airport floor for proof!

we have arrived

And finally, finally, finally, I got my passport stamped! (This is actually the one we got upon leaving but it was clearer. That is why the dates don't match up. Also, the da Vinci airport is in Fiumicino, a suburb of Rome.)

passport stamped

We spent 28 hours traveling (Frankie getting no sleep) and the hotel bed at the Holiday Inn Rome West never looked so nice and comfortable. We stayed in that bed for 10 hours that first night! Rome was just going to have to wait until the next day to be explored!