My Italian Adventure part 3

As you know, nothing about my trip (adventure) so far had gone as planned.  Arriving in Italy was no exception.  Well I did arrive, AND both of my bags arrived, so there is that.  I had a little over an hour before I would need to catch a bus Daniela’s hometown., so I headed for the caffe, and successfully ordered a tall black american coffee.  Not perfect but, I said “caffè americano senza crema o zucchero”,  what I received was a small cappucino…. I would like to say that coffee is coffee, but I would be lying.  I drank what was given to me and after 20 minutes went back to the line and just asked for 3 shots of espresso in English.  The girl responded, “are you sure?”…. Yes I was sure.  and this time I got what I asked for.  YAY!

I went outside to catch my bus and fortunately did so without issue.  Within 20 mins of our departure, I had to laugh when I saw this…..silly parking

I have never seen cars parked facing opposite directions on the same side of the street other than in Europe.  Is this an all over Europe thing?

I arrived in Bergamo without issue, other than being a 1/2 hour late.  After the hugs, kisses etc though I knew my First order of business a nap for a couple of hours!… Ok well after making it into the house….lol

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Daniela thought it might be easier for me to come DOWN the stairs, rather than try to climb UP them, so they parked at the top to drop me off. (I am sure there is a youtube video out there somewhere of the nutty American climbing down the steps with a boot on.)  YES everyone came out to watch and for some reason, EVERYONE also seemed to know I was an American without me even opening my mouth…Maybe it was the white socks?

A couple hour nap was just what I needed to get on track.  I went to bed at a normal time that night and was good as new the next morning!  That is until I dropped my damn phone in the toilet….smh

The views from my room and the balcony over the next week…..

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Tomorrow I will share some of the very big differences that I observed in Italian Culture versus American.  If you have a moment please check back because I would really like to discuss some of the things I saw.  Are the differences Italian vs. American?  Are they young  versus old?  Is this city versus country etc?

 

 

My Italian Adventure part 2

As soon as the door to the plane closed, I quickly texted THING ONE to ask her to find a hotel for me, for as few of my travel points as possible, between the airport and the Statue of Liberty.  And then my phone died.

Luckily I was able to charge my phone a little bit on the plane. (yay 20% battery)

When I arrived in NJ, I went in search of my suitcase that HAD made the 11:30 flight that I didn’t.  Customer service advised me that it was already loaded on the next days flight to Milan, but if I really needed them to retrieve it they might be able to assist me within the next 4 hours.  Yeah no.  I made a quick reservation for a hotel and contacted a lyft driver to take me there.  I finally arrived at the hotel around 11:30 pm, where I promptly proceeded to pass out.

The next morning while eating breakfast, I talked myself into and out of going to see the statute a hundred times.  I spent a lot of time reading the Statue of Liberty Website.  I learned that it would be impossible for me to climb so many stairs with a broken foot.  The website stresses that you should allow a full day to visit.  On the other hand,  I realized this was probably going to be the only time in my life that I was here, so I might as well give it a go. 

The hotel agreed to keep my baggage for me and to take me to the airport when I returned.  I used the LYFT app to hire a ride to the Statue.  After all of the walking to get to the ferry, I decided to just see the Statue and the Ellis Island Hospital from the Ferry.  I’m glad I went.

This is probably the best picture that I was able to take of the Statue of Liberty.best pic

It’s certainly a lot larger than I had envisioned.  Here is another picture from behind.

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When the cruise returned to Liberty State Park, I spent some time wondering through the New Jersey Terminal of the Central railroad, before stopping to rest on a rock outside and requesting a Lyft back to my hotel.  As I waited, I kept looking at this “piece of art”, thinking how unusual it was to have something so modern surrounded by all the other ancient historical pieces.

memorial

When I got close enough to read the writing on the wall, this “modern artwork” took my breath away and sent a chill down my spine.

memorial one

 

It’s hard to read the words in the picture, but they say “On the morning of September 11th, 2001, with the skies so clear that the Twin Towers across the river appeared to be within reach, the very essence of what our country stands for – freedom, tolerance and the pursuit of happiness – was attacked. This memorial is dedicated to New Jersey’s 749 innocent loved ones who were violently and senselessly murdered that day at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA. ”

I remember that day, as I am sure, most American’s do.  Wow, just Wow!

My Lyft arrived shortly after.  The rest of the day went as planned.  I returned to the hotel to pick up my bag.  Then took the airport shuttle to the airport.  I made it through Security without any hassles, and I even managed to figure out how to order food at the airport through a system I have NEVER seen.

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I only stood there waiting for someone to take my order for a few moments before I realized that no “BODY” would be coming.  I placed my order on the little tablet to the right, which emailed me a receipt.  A message popped up saying that I would receive a text when my order was complete.  15 minutes later I did.  I took the food to a self pay machine on the edge of the food court, scanned the receipt, paid for my sandwich, and headed to the gate.  All very impersonal.  I’m still not sure what I think about it, but I did manage to do it myself, so there is that.

I boarded the 6:30 flight without any hassle.  At 8:40 am I arrived in Milan.

My Italian Adventure part 1 of 5?

Before I begin to talk about my “Italian adventure”, it is important that I stress that all of my travel plans were with airline buddy passes.  If you aren’t familiar with these, let me briefly explain.  When you travel using a BUDDY PASS (an employee benefit), you are able to fly for free or dirt cheap on flights that have unsold seats, but you are on standby. This means you don’t know if you have a seat on the plane until moments before the doors on the plane close.  I was aware of this before I started my trip.

Monday morning 5/20/2019

I woke up at 5 am. (actually I think 5 am is more the time I gave up trying to sleep, and began moving.) I “Coffeed”, showered, put on a DRESS , and…wait for it….a little bit of make-up. This is another thing about the buddy passes, you have to “dress up” . I threw a couple of last minute items in my carry on, TRIPLE CHECKED that I had my boarding pass, passport, and bus ticket for when I arrived in Italy. Check, check, and check.

I checked the standby list and was still at number 2 (my chances were good that I would make it on the plane.) Whooo hoooo!!!!

My dear friend Brian arrived at 7 am to take me to the airport. We spent the hour plus drive catching up on all the things that had been happening in our lives since the last time we were able to “hang out”, almost a year ago. Traffic wasn’t bad, in fact we arrived early. He dropped me off at a door that had wheelchair access and assistance was just inside the door. ANOTHER win.

I checked a large suitcase.  Having a medical condition makes traveling for any amount of time with just a carry on, very impractical.  ( Pads, diapers, waterproof pads, medication, surgery shoe, etc)

Going through security was a breeze, other than a small oversight on my part which COULD have been very embarrassing. I was able to STAND in the scanning machine instead of having to be completely felt up. I didn’t have to take off the boot, and the lines were relatively short. WIN WIN! The moment that could have been embarrassing was when they had to open and inspect my carry on because I forgot to remove my laptop. DOH!

I arrived at my gate at 9:15 and immediately checked the standby list again. Number 17?!?!?!? What the hell had happened in the last 2 hours? Did everyone suddenly feel the urgent need to travel to Milan?

After people watching (active listening) for about half an hour, it was more than obvious that the standby list was going to continue to grow. The 9 am flight to NJ (My first stop) was cancelled because of the storms that were pounding the east coast.  So all of the customers that missed the 9 am flight would be squeezed onto later flights.

As a NON PAYING CUSTOMER, getting me on a plane was of very little importance to anyone but me.  Ok, I knew this COULD happen, let’s make the best of it. I chatted with several other passengers which made the time pass pretty quickly.  I looked up other flights that were leaving for NJ, and there were several, before my flight from NJ to Milan would leave at 6:30 pm.   Chicago to NJ is a 3 hour flight, and there were flights leaving at 10:00 am, 11:30 am (my flight) and 2:15 pm that would allow me to make it to NJ on time.  CLOSE, but still on time.

I waited at the airport and watched the 10:00 and 11:30  flights depart without me.  The airline personal said that it was only going to get worse, and may feed over into the next day. I was number 45 on the standby cue for 2:15, so  at 2 pm I  “gave up”. Again, I KNEW this COULD happen but  I certainly didn’t expect it.  I had asked my friend Marisa a couple of weeks ago if she would pick me up if ended up stuck.  I made the bail me out call now.

She picked me up from the airport and we went back to her house where I could use my laptop to explore any other options that might be available. During this time I began searching the airlines for flights to NEW YORK, PA, or Dulles that might allow me to still make a connection to Newark in time for the 630 flight to Milan. While I could fly from O’hare to any of the other states without issue, the lists for flights into NJ were all full.  Hmmmm what if I rented a car and drove to NJ from one of the other airports?  Probably not a good idea considering my right (driving foot is still in a boot).  It’s one thing to drive with my left foot  on country roads where I know how to avoid the traffic, but not very smart and probably illegal to do in a big city.

After researching all the options, we decided that I might as well try to catch one of the 4 other flights to NJ that night.  The flight to Milan had over 30 seats available for the next 2 days, so if I could at least get to NJ, half the battle would be won. I would just need to stay in Newark for the night.  ( yay hotel points)  So back to the airport we went.  If I didn’t get on one of the flights, Marisa would come back and get me at 9:30 pm and I would just crash at her place.

The trip through security this time did not go as smoothly.  (not terrible, just not smooth)Inkedbody scan_LI

While I remembered to take my laptop and tablet out of my carry on bag this time, I forgot to take off my sweatshirt, and to remove my cigarettes and lighter from my pocket.

So this is how I appeared on the scanner. ( lighter on my hip and zipper from my sweatshirt in my groin)

The sweatshirt and cigarettes had to go back through the x-ray machine, and the poor TSA agent had to reach between my legs.  She grabbed the poise pad I was wearing and asked, “what is this?” As we looked into each other’s eyes….We had a moment…. kidding.  I said ” a pad”, she said, Ok” . Kind of awkward :/ .

She finished her inspection of me. I re-packed all the items as quickly as possible in my carry on bag  and quickly moved away.  10 minutes later I realized that I had not recovered my cigarettes and lighter.  YES, we had to turn around.  No one in security could find them, so I shrugged it off :(.  As we were approaching my gate, the security girl came running up to me with my cigarettes and lighter.  This time, we did have a moment.  I even told her I loved her 🙂

When we arrived at the gate, I immediately checked the standby list and learned that I was number 33.  😦  I spent the next hour and a half catching up with the “new friends” I had made earlier in morning ( the other people that were stuck at the airport).  At 6:10 I heard one of their names being called to make the flight (#8) and went over to “congratulate” him.  As I leaned against the counter, I felt something move behind me.  It was his laptop falling off of the counter.

broken-laptop

(This is not his laptop, but it did look as bad as this 😦 )

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What had I done?!?!?!  How do you apologize for something like that?  He said, “don’t worry about it”, as he picked up the pieces and rushed to board the plane.  How do you not worry about it??!?!?  OMG I was going to go to hell for this.  I was going to be stuck in the airport for days. I was…… hearing my name being called.  I had made the flight!  The other 20 something people between this man and I had given up, or found another alternative.  I was actually boarding the plane!

Have you ever flown standby?  Do you have any security mishaps you’d like to share?  I would love to hear your stories!