Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Arrivaderci, Roma

10:16 a.m. Looking out the window of Gate 6, Terminal 5 of Rome's vast, sprawling Fiumicino airport.
Caught the 8:22 train to the airport. Took over half an hour to get here. (An irrefutable fact of travel, either by train or plane: the gate/platform you want will be the absolute maximum distance from wherever you happen to be.) The train lets you off at Terminal 3, from which you take a 5 minute bus ride to Terminal 5, from which you walk six or seven miles (okay, so I exaggerate a bit) to check in at American Airlines which, surprisingly, has only 4 baggage check in points. U.S. Air has about three times that many. Checked in. Was directed to another bus which took me to the general vicinity of the gate I needed.

And here I am. Rather typical of Rome's mornings during my stay, it started off cool and overcast...actually raining a bit by the time I reached the airport. I wore a hoodie just to be safe. It warms up fast in Rome, but I didn't want to haul anything more than I had to, so opted just for the hoodie. I may roast on the plane, but I have no idea what the temps are in Chicago, and I put my light jacket on the top of my suitcase so I can get to it if I need it.

Odd how airport security differs subtly from airport to airport (I had absolutely no delays btw). As you know, I like to take photos of everything, so started to take a picture of the security point and was sharply dissuaded. Some confusion on their part about my boarding pass, involving the calling of a supervisor, but it all worked out and I was on my way.

Turning on my computer to write this, I saw indications that there were two free wi-fi-networks available. There weren't. Surprise?

Said it before, but it is so much easier, when it comes to jet-lag, traveling from east to west, where you travel with the sun, rather than traveling west to east, where you leave early evening and arrive early morning, totally deprived of a night (and regular sleep).

Hard to believe, in a way, my journey is over. What do I do now? The circles have been closed, the doors shut. I'll just have to establish a new set of dreams. (I'll be doing a blog later on completed circles and closed doors anon.)

Well, to spare my computer's battery, I'll sign off for the moment. Stay tuned. The next paragraph begins in the blink of an eye.

11:33 Okay, okay, I admit it. I am a hopeless, hopeless romantic. I'm on American Airlines flight 0111 and the plane has just begun to move. Listening to "New York, New York," and soon to be in the air heading home. Now, if that isn't an exhilarating moment, I don't know what is, and once more I am six years old. There have been several of these moments on my journey, and I am thrilled beyond description by each of them. A 10-hour flight lies ahead.

TVs are set above the center aisles...not easy for me to see. But there is no one sitting beside me, so I'll be able to move over to see better, and also be able to move around freely.

We have now begun taxiing.

So long,'s been fun.

2:22 p.m. Somewhere over the Atlantic...clouds below hiding the ocean. Still on Rome time, will probably stay on it until we land in Chicago. Just watched "The King's Speech"...I' always avoided it for some unexplained reason, but decided to watch and am glad I did. Excellent film and deserving of the Oscar. Lunch was spinach and mushroom lasagne, with salad, roll, butter, crackers, very nice cookies. I of course ate almost nothing...but I did eat the cookies.

3:47 30,000 feet+, looking down at the endless, cloud-speckled Atlantic ocean, listening to Puccini on the earphones. (I never can wear earphones without them constantly falling out; but it's worth it.) Same channel...there are 13 in English and switched to "Guys and Dolls"'s a tribute to New York's varied music. Enjoyable.

4:30 5 hours and 37 minutes to Chicago...almost exactly halfway. I was just looking through the ubiquitous "Sky Mall" magazines, offering wondrous, absolutely cannot live without items, most of which run $199 up. I went through it carefully, wondering "What? Who in the hell would possibly buy any of this crud?" I think my favorite, on page 20, is a futuristic looking banded device guaranteed to eliminate headaches and neck pain. About 30 pages on, what appears to be exactly the same device which promotes hair growth for balding men. Maybe balding men with headaches can buy both and wear them at the same time?

6:40 Rome time. Just made landfall (Newfoundland...snow covered). 3 hours 30 minutes to Chicago. Just watched another movie (can't think of the name...Steve Carrell film really silly but kind of grew on me), now watching "Top Chef". The airline has an arrangement with NBC and its many networks and features them throughout the flight. Chicago draws closer.

8:03 Rome/2:03 Chicago. Outside temp at 36,000 feet, -58. Still over Canada (they show the plane's location and progress on the tvs when shows aren't running). They'll be serving a "snack" shortly. I got a free drink (bourbon and seven) courtesy of the stewardess for no reason. Suspect when I get my bag in Chicago I'll have to take my jacket out. And I'll have to find an ATM. I have 3 euros to my name (all the American money I brought with me was stolen by the pickpockets in Paris. When I packed this morning, I put my billfold in my pants for the first time since the incident.

Landed in Chicago at 3:18, exactly on time. And so another door closes. Now to find a new one to open.


Nigel said...

Your feeling of homecoming is exactly what I feel as I get closer to Oz.

London Heathrow, then the plane flies north over Scandinavia and Russia. Wake up and below is desert, wrinkled mountains, dried-up watercourses. Pakistan? Afghanistan? Then down the Straits of Malacca (such a romantic name!), Thailand and Malaysia on our left, every hour bringing us closer to home.

Singapore. So efficient. So dull. New crew, and it's early evening local time but I'm bushed. But home is ... just over the next ridge.

Over the Indonesian archipelago, then OZ landfall, somewhere over northern Oz; more desert. But invisible. No lights, it's empty.

Early morning. Brekkie!

Then below I see a recognisable shape -- the town Of Kyneton which has a crooked high street -- and 20 minutes later the jumbo jet starts its descent into Melbourne.

5 am, local time. But the customs and immigration people are the usual friendly Ozzies, and it's lovely to hear the accent again.

And my lady is waiting for me outside customs, and at home the little dogs leap and cavort with happiness.


Dorien/Roger said...

Nicely put, Nigel. No matter how wonderful other parts of the world may be, as Dorothy says in the Wizard of Oz (The Wizard of Australia?) "There's no place like home."