Saturday June 21 - Monday June 23
I checked in for my flight at home (with only one quick moment of panic after realizing that I initially typed in the wrong passport number). The only line I encountered at the airport was the agriculture screening (where I had to wait for 4 other people to put their check in bags through first). No line at the kiosk where I checked in my bag and amazingly no line at the screening area. In fact, I was the only one there. At first I thought must have been at the wrong place because on one else was there. And, I guess because I was the only one there and they had nothing better to do, I was the lucky recipient of a full pat down in the special pat down area. After collecting my bags, putting my shoes back on, and heading towards my gate, I realized that I forgot my pillow in one of the gray tubs at the screening area. I raced back, retrieved my pillow and then headed back to the gate.
My flight from Honolulu to Newark had to be one of the best flights I have taken in a long time (except of course the few times I flew first class). I sat next to a nice couple from Germany. We chatted a little until the food arrived. I decided on Kosher meals for this trip after having one of the best Kosher airline meals on my last trip from Newark to Honolulu. I always order special meals, since they usually seem to be a little fresher and I get my meal first. On my last trip, they messed up on my order, which is how I got the Kosher meal. Well, on this flight, they messed up royally once again. I was given some sort of sandwich with frozen mystery meat inside. I could have sworn it was ham, which puzzled me since I am pretty sure ham is not Kosher. I ate the bread and left the frozen mystery meat on the plate. My meal also came with a chocolate whipped dessert that looked wonderful, but I could not eat (chocolate = migraines for me).
Continental always gives out free headphones for the flights from Newark to Rome or Milan and back. I have a big collection of them at home. I realized once on the plane that I packed the my regular over the ear headphones which look similar to the airline headphones instead of one of my pairs of airline headphones. Fortunately, I brought a coupon with me for another free pair. After my meal, I watched about 5 minutes of some movie and then fell asleep. I slept for 6 straight hours!
After arriving in Newark, I spent about 5 hours wandering the airport. I love my new rolling bag. It made such a big difference walking around the airport not having to lug a bag on my back. I had a wonderful raspberry and cheese filled pastry at Au Bon Pain and a pretty good espresso at Jakes and later a slice of pizza which was just ok. Once at my gate, I checked in showing my passport to get a special mark on my ticket saying documents were shown and a little security sticker on my passport. I surveyed the area and saw babies and little children! Now I love babies and little children most of the time, just not on planes.
As the boarding process began, I went over to the boarding area to wait since my row was going to be called next. As those in the very back of the plane started to board, it started to hail. Boarding stopped and those on the plane were asked to get off the plane. This was not a good sign. I spoke to this guy sitting nearby and he said that the storm, which caused many flights to be canceled was heading our way. The hail was loud and lasted about 20 minutes. We could see the hail bouncing off of the windows on the ceiling. For some reason, hail is always associated with Italy for me. The only other encounters of hail I have had besides hiking in Colorado many many years ago have been when I have been in Italy. Fortunately the hail at the airport stopped and we were once again allowed to board the plane. As my row was called, a group of Italians started pushing their way through the line. I am always amazed at how waiting orderly in line is something that Italians seem to have missed in school.
On this flight, I sat next to a very nice older Italian man. It looked like it was going to be another peaceful flight...until the two rows of families with their babies sat down. The crying began even before we took off. It continued throughout the flight. The babies took turns so that there would not be more than 15 minutes of silence throughout the flight. I was not able to sleep longer than an hour on this flight. I even tried blasting my iPod to drown out the crying. And to add to the crying, a grown man who sat behind me kicked my seat off and on throughout the flight. The feature movie starring Kate Hudson and Mathew McConaughey was not working. The other choices were pretty bad. I ended up watching a movie called Penelope twice, first in English and then again in Italian. It was a LONG flight.
Although we were delayed for 90 minutes because of the hailstorm we onlyarrived 30 minutes late. We arrived at 8:30, I retrieved my bag by 9:20 and was on a bus heading to Milan at 9:30. We arrived at the train station at 10:30. There was construction blocking the main train station entrance, which meant I had to walk around the building to a entrance on the other side. Again, I was thankful for my new rolling bag. After waiting in line to purchase my ticket (the automatic ticket machines were either blocked off due to the construction or were in a location that was a mystery to me), I headed up to wait for my 12:10 train. I bought a bland eggplant and cheese sandwich and had my first espresso machiato.
My train was one of the newer IC plus trains with comfortable first class seats and plenty of room for luggage. I sat across from a very chatty Italian woman. On any other occasion, I would have been thrilled to practice my Italian, but because of my lack of sleep and it being 12:30 - 2:30 in the morning Hawaii time, I could barely keep my eyes open. Trying to understand Italian requires my full attention, which was quite a challenge and this woman continued to talk to me until she finally departed in Genova. Because my eyelids were heavy and I was nodding off, I got up and stood for the rest of the trip. I chatted with a very kind older Italian couple while waiting at the door for my stop. The man helped me with my second bag as I departed the train.
My hotel was a short walk from the train station, mostly downhill. It was easy to find. When I made my reservation, all of the single rooms were booked for my first night in Santa Margherita Ligure. Because I was going to move into a single room the following day, I only unpacked a few things. The double room was clean and quite large, with a nice bathroom and comfortable bed.
After a wonderful shower, I headed out to explore Santa Margherita Ligure. It was a beautiful day and still quite warm. I walked from one end to the other end of town by the ocean, taking photos along the way. By this time, I was fading fast. I found a bar that served pasta and asked if it was possible to order some dinner early. It was 6:30 and the earliest most restaurants serve dinner is 7:30. The man in the bar told me that the cook would be arriving in 5 minutes if I could wait. I ordered a pesto dish with trofie pasta (a typical Ligurian pasta) which was wonderful! After dinner, I headed back to my hotel and was asleep by 7:30. I did remember to eat some cherries before falling asleep. I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and was finally able to go back to sleep about 4:30 or so and slept until 8am.
I am so happy to be back in Italy once again!!!