Monday, June 22nd/Day of departure:
What a crazy Monday. I had an early morning doctor's appointment in town first thing in the morning to follow up on my shoulder/arm, which is still bothering me. My doctor thinks I might have a small rotator cuff tear and ordered an MRI (which will obviously take place when I return from Italy).
I asked him what he thought my best packing option would be. He said to go with the 2 little roll-ons and to ask for help. He wrote me a prescription for Ibuprophin 800 to be taken 3 times a day. He also offered to write me a prescription for some pain pills. I told him that I had plenty left from last November. I packed a few of them just in case but am hoping I won't need to take them so that I won't be walking around in a zombie state from them while in italy.
It's a good thing I mentioned to the nurse that my medical insurance is changing as of July 1st when she was setting up my MRI. Otherwise I would have either shown up without realizing that I needed to get preauthorization and would have had to cancel it or even worse yet, had the MRI, which would have cost me thousands of dollars out of pocket if no one said anything. In order for the nurse to send in the preauthorization, she needed my medical insurance number, something I had not yet received.
Last week when I talked to the insurance company, they had no idea when they would be mailing out the cards. They still did not have numbers for any of the 13,000 public school teachers who are all being switched into this program. My plan was to call them one more time and if they still did not have my new medical insurance number, I was hoping that they would agree to email me the number. I would then email the number to a friend who would then call the nurse with the number. This was not what I needed to deal with on th day I was leaving for Italy!
After picking up my prescription at the pharmacy downstairs, I went home and made another call to see if they had assigned me a number. After being put on hold for a few minutes, I was given my number!! Yay!! That was one worry I would not have to deal with while in Italy.
I was pretty much done with packing and only had a few minor things left to organize. I went down the list of meds on my packing list and realized that my inhaler was missing. I spent the next hour and a half searching everywhere for my inhaler. I even went through my trash! Finally when I gave up looking (which is generally when I find missing things), there it was sitting on top of my check-in bag inside of one of my little ditty bags.
Time flew by as I frantically went over my packing list one more time. I ended up not having enough time to print out all my train schedules. I also encountered some last minute iPod Touch problems due to loading the new OS3 system that just came out. Friday night, I realized that I lost all of my songs and videos. That took a big chunk of my time trying to redo all the playlists I made. YouTube also wasn't working. I figured that one out after about an hour of research. During my flights, I have found more glitches. These I will just have to live with until I return home.
About an hour before I needed to leave for the airport, I realized that I was not able to connect to air sharing to transfer all of my documents. This freaked me out since I was depending on transferring a bunch of stuff onto my iPod Touch for my trip. I eventually resolved the issue but could not tell you how I did it now.
The one thing I did not have time to do was to print out all of the train schedules. I feel much more secure having all my train schedules in my hand when taking the train. Even though most of the train schedules are on my iPod, my trip will be interesting without having printed out schedules with all of the various options. I don't think I mentioned that there is a scheduled strike on the day I will be traveling from Bologna to Stresa. I have not figured out what I am going to do if the strike does take place.
The other thing I forgot to do was to grab an English/Italian dictionary. I hope my Italian will carry me on this trip, especially if I end up at the train window without a printed out schedule to purchase a ticket. I will soon find out.
I did take a picture of my updated 3-3-1 bag (especially for Chiocciola), but I didn't have time to post it before heading to the airport.
Heading to the airport/departing Honolulu:
I ate my dinner on the way to the airport while my dad drove. Eating in advance turned out to be a good thing because that meant I didn't have to stay awake to wait for my dinner (or should I say snack) on the plane).
I did the pre-check in online but was not allowed to print my tickets because they had to do a passport check at the airport. No line at the kiosk. I breezed right through. My check in bag weighed 24.5 pounds an my carry on weighed 23.5 pounds.
The line at security was very short. New rule - shoes no longer go in the bin. One of the TSA guys was barking at everyone like an army sargeant. Power really goes to some poeple,s heads. I felt sorry for this older couple who were so confused.
The flight attendant helped me lift my bag up into the overhead bin, but not too enthusiastically. A cute young guy sat next to me (talking to his fiance on the phone). Cute guy turned into rude guy. He ignored the announcement to turn off cell phones and continued talking for another 10 minutes loudly for everyone to hear.
A young woman from japan (who was wearing a Yankees shirt) wagged her finger AT ME about him talking on the phone as if I could do anything. She then got out of her chair, marched down the aisle, and found the flight attendant to tell him to turn the phone off.
After he finally turned the phone off, very rude guy turned to the young girl sitting on his right amd introduced himself to her. He talked nonstop and flirted with her and did not even acknowledge that I existed. I had no desire to join in on the converstation, but a hello or even goodbye when we arrived in Newark the following morning would have been polite. The flight was pretty quiet (except for the guy gabbing away). I slept most of the flight for the first time in a long time.
Tuesday, June 23rd/Hanging out in Newark:
I spent the first few hours of my six hour layover walking around, checkinhg out some of the stores, and enjoying my favorite raspberry and cream cheese croissont at Au Bon Pain. Because I was dozing off while eating my croissont, I walked around some more and then headed to the gate once it was finally announced.
The flight boarded on time. I was able to find a guy sitting near me to lift my bag up into the overhead compartment. A very polite young guy who said hello and introduced himself right away sat next to me on my second flight. We chatted briefly. I waited for dinner, which was suprisingly very good ( chicken & rice & veggies), and then went to sleep. I slept again for most of the flight.
Wednesday, June 24th/Arrival in Roma:
We arrived in Roma on time. The line was very reasonable at the passport control. I was worried that I would have a problem with my new passport because I signed it with my middle initial instead of my full middle name. No problems so far. I was thrilled to get my first passport stamp. My bag arrived shortly after I got to the baggage claim area. I was a little confused about the location of the train station since there were signs with train pictures pointing in two different directions. I stopped and asked someone who worked at the airport. I am getting much better at understanding directions. I understood just what he said and found the train station quite easily. After buying my train tickets to Roma Termini & Firenze, I stopped in a bar and had my first caffé macchiato and crema brioche. Soooooo good!!!
There was a big crowd waiting for the train. I headed down toward the other end and easily found a seat. A nice man helped me carry one of my bags on board. When we arrived in Roma, another nice man again helped me with one of my bags. It took me a few minutes, but I was able to figured out a way to get to the main area of the Termini train station without having to take any stairs.
My 10:30 AV Eurostar train was on time. These trains are so easy to board now because there are signs pointing to each carrozza or train car location along the way. When getting on the train, a nice woman helped me with one of my bags. I really am amazed with all of the help I have been offered so far.
I am finishing up this post on my iPod Touch. I have been writing a little bit every now and then using my yahoo account email. Even though I cannot connect to the internet, I can save this as a draft.
I have a nice seat in first class (a little more money but not as crowded and plenty of room for luggage witout having to lift anything overhead). We are traveling through the beautiful Tuscan countryside as I 'peck'. Once I have wireless access, I am able to cut and paste my draft email entry right into a new entry page on my blog right from my iPod Touch.
**I am now in Florence at my wonderful B&B spell checking and editing my post. I am thrilled to be here but also crashing from the jetlag. I quit spell checking about half way down. I apologize for any glaring errors. I have not decided yet if it is easier to write the entry using my iPod Touch or if it is easier to type the entry using the Italian keyboard. I know it will all come back to my eventually, but right now it is pretty much a tie. I will need computer access though and not just wireless using my iPod Touch to write any entry that is longer than a few sentences because I can't seem to scroll up or down in the little box where I paste my entry in the blog template.
**Highlights from Florence so far: My first gelato at GROM and men in tights.