Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1114: Bergamo, Venice, Lerici, Piemonte, Friends & World Cup Mania
By girasoli from Hawaii, Summer 2006
Page 3 of 23: Departure, Jet Lag Haze, & Bergamo
Flying is so much easier with the e-ticket system. After printing out my ticket at home, all I had to do was input the e-reservation number and a person came by to ticket my bag. No long lines! I did much better this year with packing - my check-in weighed 28 pounds, my carry on weighed 20 pounds and my small backpack weighed nine pounds. I think this is the lightest I have ever traveled! All went smoothly on my first leg of my trip - Honolulu to Newark. I sat next to a friendly guy who now lives in Ireland. Interestingly, he also was not a fan of flying. As I took my Ativan before the plane took off, he took his Zantax. I was able to sleep at least half of the flight.
Once in Newark, I spent the next five hours wandering through the airport from one end to the other end, stopping in the little shops along the way. My connecting flight gate was initially listed on the board as a gate located at the other end of the airport. Once I finally arrived at my "scheduled gate," I found out that they changed gates and my flight was now departing from a gate one gate away from the original gate where I arrived. SO, I walked all the way back through the airport to the same point where I started. At least this filled some time for me.
The flight was over booked and so a bargaining session began as Continental begged three people to give up their seats and take the same flight the following day with hotel accommodations and $500.00 coupon each for a future flight. This went on for a while and with no takers the price slowly went up. I would have considered it if they were offering a first class ride. The final price was $900.00. Because of needing to “kick” three people off the plane and then because of some "baggage problem," we sat on the plane for an hour before departing. The person sitting next to me on this flight was a very unfriendly man who did not say one word the entire flight.
I arrived in Italy 23 hours after leaving Honolulu, about 8:30 am Wed. morning (8:30 pm Tues night Hawaii time). There was no line at the passport control spot, the baggage came out pretty quickly, and the bus was ready to go when I went outside. One of the smoothest transitions ever! I took a bus to the train station in Milan and then a train to Bergamo. From the train station in Bergamo, I took a bus to the funicular and then the funicular to Bergamo Altŕ.
I was pretty jet lagged when I arrived. My room at Hotel Agnello d’Oro was not yet ready and so I headed over to Caffč del Tasso, a cool little bar in Piazza Vecchia, to have an espresso and a quick bite to eat. I wandered the town for about an hour and then went back to my hotel to check in. I went up to my room, unpacked, and then took a long long nap. I woke up five hours later, just in time for dinner. Everyone always says, "don't take a nap" and "get on local time." Well, I have always followed this advice in the past, but this year, my body just needed the sleep ... AND the sleep felt wonderful!
The following day, I spent some more time walking around the upper town, taking pictures, and looking in some of the shops. While admiring the beauty of Piazza Vecchia, I met this interesting lady that apparently delivers free papers around the town all morning. We had a short conversation about the newspaper and then she went on her way. I was hoping she would move her car as it was blocking the picture I wanted to take of the piazza before it filled up with people. No luck, the car was there most of the morning.
After spending some time in the upper town, I decided to take the funicular back down to check out some of the lower town. I did not have a map of the lower town and had no idea where to go but decided to take a chance hoping that I would find my way back at the end of the day. I remembered that the route the bus took from the train station to the funicular was pretty much one long street and so I started walking towards what I thought was the center of town, hoping that I was headed in the right direction.
About half way to the train station, I hit the jackpot; I found a great street with tons of stores. I shopped for a while, mostly in clothes shops. I saw a few cute things but decided to wait, as I did not want to lug the stuff around Italy for a month. At one point I became really hungry. I stopped in a little "fast food" type shop and bought a panino for lunch.
After eating my panino, I decided to walk the rest of the way to the train station to see if I could find the Internet place which was supposed to be located nearby. When researching Bergamo, I read that there were only a couple of public Internet places and one was very close to the train station. Of course, if I had remembered to bring the street name with me, it may have helped. I was not able to find it and instead bought my train ticket for the following day. By this time I was pretty tired and so I took the bus back to the funicular to head back to the upper town. My jet lag was taking over again. I took another long long nap and again woke up just in time for dinner.
On the way back to my hotel after dinner, I noticed that the Duomo was lit up. I went to take a few pictures and saw that the church was open. I could hear beautiful singing but was no sure where it was coming from. There were only a few people inside the church. I thought it was quite strange that the church was open so late at night (it was about 9:30 or so).
After taking a few pictures, I started heading back to my hotel. On my way, I noticed a policeman blocking traffic at an intersection. I looked up the side street and saw a procession heading towards the intersection. It was a procession of priest, nuns, townspeople, and at the end, the more important priests dressed in red and one older man with an important hat.
After they all walked by, everyone who was watching the procession followed. I also followed and stood near the entrance of the church again watching as everyone entered the church. The entire time, the most beautiful songs were being sung.
Inside the church, there must have been at least 1,000 people. It was the festival of celebration for the church, which I believe happens once a year. The service was very interesting to watch and also very moving. There were a few prayers and more singing and then it was over.
I went back to my hotel and caught the end of the Sweden - Paraguay World Cup match. It was a pretty exciting match. Sweden got a goal to win 1-0 right at the end of the match. It was a pretty dramatic goal. I don’t think they were expected to win. The fans went crazy in the stadium.
In my jet lag haze, I did not jot down any notes about my two dinners in Bergamo. I remember that I sat inside one night and outside one night. I had something and a pizza one night and something and a caprese salad that was just okay (not great mozzarella) the other night.
My hotel was convenient, clean, and comfortable for my two-night stay except for the loud noise that went on outside my hotel both nights until about 3:00am. Interestingly my room was decorated with photos of Hawaii!
Bergamo is a lovely little town and a perfect way to spend the first couple of days in Italy.
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