Italy 2004 – Day 1-2

March 19, 2004  7:00am

 Last night I finished up all my packing..even using the little zip bags for my ‘fluffy’ things that allow you to press out all the air, saving room in my luggage.  Packed and ready to go.. all that’s left is driving to Birmingham.  We make really good time to the airport.. my flight leaves at 11am, and I’m through security with no problems..well after getting undress (which will be the first of many security checks to come).  Seems my shoes must have something metal inside them, so they come off.. then the belt, jacket, fanny pack.. you get the pictures.  Later that day in NY the belt, jacket and pocket change will end up in my carry on more undressing.

Our flight leaves on time from Birmingham.. A couple hours later (2 1/2) my flight lands in NYC at La Guardia.  Well since my international flight leaves from a different airport I need to claim my bags and find transportation out to Newark Intl in New Jersey.  Bags claimed and I have three hours before my next flight. 

Well I wait around with four other folks headed to Newark for our shuttle bus to arrive. This is when all the fun begins. $25 for a hour drive over to the other airport..not a problem, as I’ve heard taxi fee’s are higher. Our driver arrives.. he helps us with our bags, and we’re all in the van waiting to go. Now we start wondering where I driver is.. time’s a ticking… This is when we realize he’s lost the keys to the van! He informs us (in his Jamacian type accent) that he can’t find the keys. After searching for about 30 minutes he finds them under our luggage in the back of the van.

Now we’re off.. relieved we’ll be at Newark with plenty of time to recheck our luggage.. go through security..etc. We’re several blocks from LGA when he gets a call.. someone else needs to get to Newark too. He turns around. He says “Don’t worry.. we’ll make it”. Late passenger picked up and we’re off. Now I know what he meant by ‘We’ll make it”… I now understand what I’ve only seen on TV.. NYC drivers! We almost got hit twice.. we almost hit someone else three times.. but we did get a round about tour of Soho, Little Italy, and China town. We had no clue if we were headed to the right place or not!

Fourty five minutes later we’re being dropped off at our specified points at Newark airport.. whew..

Checked in.. through security (#1) now we’re standing in line to get into the terminal. Check in is one hour before your flight.. we have about 15 minutes to get to our gate… this line we’re in is HUGE.. we can’t even see security! Then this ‘little angel’ in a uniform arrives.. taps me on my shoulder and asks “Air France? Air France???” (Later I realized she knew we were Air France from the tags on our carry-on bag) I say yes, and she says come with me. She asks four other people waiting with me at the back of the line and grabs them too. She takes us to the very front of the line.. about a block walk away, and puts us there. We’re at our gate in 15 minutes.. just on time. I can’t say the others around us were too happy that we got to ‘break’ line, but there weren’t on Air France

A little before 5pm I’m on the plane.. in my seat. This plane was nice..very nice for coach. We each had our own LCD tv to watch with 8 different movie channels, 18 music channels, video games, and my favorite.. the channel that shows our location, speed, altitude, air temp and arrival time.

Dinner time arrives… and a flight attendant comes and asks me if I ordered a ’special diet’ meal. I said yes.. low salt (if you order special, its usually fresher than the others..did you know that?) He said ok.. but we have a problem. The problem was the meal was sent ‘Hindu’. But I was told if I didn’t like it, I could ask for something else. Later I found out Hindu meant spicy.. really spicy! That was an experience. Special meal also meant I got my dinner before everyone else. My neighbor, Luca (Italian guy headed home from work), said, “Why did you get yours early..and that’s not on the menu??” I explained and he said “Oh.. I’ll remember that, because yours looks better than regular plane food!”

The rest of this flight was very long (a little over 7 hours), I tried to sleep, but couldn’t and instead watched “The Last Samurai”.. played video games.. and watched us cruising at: 37,000 feet, 635 mph, and -67 F outside.

Did I mention that on this flight I got champagne.. no coke, juice or coffee for me. Plus it was free.. Go Air France!

Seven and half hours later and a day later flight arrived at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris.. time to catch my flight to Venice.

To be continued…

Another one bit the dust..

For anyone that lives in my area.. remember the radio station Star 98.9?? Well while I was gone last week it went Country!!  Geezz.. now the majority of stations around here are country, oldies, 70’s-80’s, jazz…none that play current music, or if they do, the songs are few and far in between.  I guess I’ll be listening to the ‘Tiger’ out of Auburn from now on.  -(

Well I’m hanging out here for a while this morning. The gutter guys are supposed to be out this morning around 8 or 9am to start installing our gutters. I don’t have to leave for class until a little after 10.. so maybe they will be on time.

Off to work on some new pictures for the albums!