Italy trip, Day one!?!?
The day began at around 6AM Pacific standard time in the swankiest hotel in Seattle. The W hotel is an experience! Everything is high-end, from the sink to the I-pod stereo provided for your yuppie convenience. I particularly enjoyed the mood lit corridors.
Breakfast in the hotel restaurant was passable, and a little below what I felt we should be getting for the location and the price paid. The staff was nice and helpful though.
The taxi ride to the airport was relatively un-eventful, except that signals appeared to be optional and the speed limit a mere suggestion. In retrospect, not bad, but more on that later.
The airport was a fiasco! They told us we had not booked Miwa in and would have to pay extra to get her on. We were sure we had and her name was right there on the e-ticket printout. It took about 30 minutes for the service lady, who was quite personable I will admit, to figure out that, yes, we had booked and paid for Miwa, but due to the change-over from Northwestern to Delta, information on infants was stored in a different place and thus ignored. So, we carried on our merry way, leaving 20 people in the line whoÕs problems were no doubt more serious and urgent than ours, at least judging by the expressions on their faces as we smiled and laughed as we stepped away from the counter. Well, there was still one little hitch, they couldnÕt book Jill’s seat on the Amsterdam leg of the trip, and we would just have to figure that out ourselves when we got there. This made Jill worry; I was okay, I had a seat.
The flight went very well, Miwa-wise. I think she was the best-behaved baby on the plane. Everyone enjoyed her squeals of delight, and no one took us up on our offer of free earplugs.
There were only two minor hitches along the way. The first was trying to change a baby in an airplane washroom. ThereÕs hardly room to turn around in there, never mind turning around with a baby in one hand, diapers in the other whilst simultaneously attempting to operate an unfamiliar release handle for the change table and shrieking ÒOww!!Ó as the next person tries to open the door because the attempt at the first part has taken so long and you havenÕt had a chance to put diapers and baby down so you can turn around again and lock the door.
The second hitch was when Miwa grabbed my coffee cup and hurled into my lap. I, of course, shrieked a profanity, which made Miwa cry and didnÕt help the whole thing much at all. Shortly following this, I got to learn that changing oneself in an airplane washroom is only slightly less difficult than changing a baby. There should be a mile high club for this kind of crap.
Amsterdam proved to be less eventful than feared. After waiting 10 minutes in line, we were directed to a computer, ÒItÕs the way of the future, you know.Ó And resolved the problem in 2 minutes.
Cloudy the whole way to Rome, except for a brief glimpse of what may or may not have been the Alps.
Rome Airport was a bit of a joke. Had to deplane on the tarmac and get bussed to the terminal, but half of the jet-ways I saw at the terminal were empty. I think the Italians tried to charge more for Jet way access and the Airlines just said, “Whatever.Ó
Big rush from bus to baggage claim, followed by typical half-hour wait for luggage. One day IÕll learn.
If the airport was a joke, Customs was a full-blown stand-up routine. The customs agent (singular) was standing to one-side such that it wasnÕt precisely clear that he was actually responsible for customs, and he was fully engaged in conversation with the security guard and paying absolutely no attention to the gate.
Jill had arranged for a car and driver to pick us up from the airport and I think that was a very good move. In Rome, it appears that signal lights are to be used only when no one is actually looking, driving while NOT-talking on a cell phone must be illegal, and the white lines on the road belong below the centre of your car. Speed limits are not even posted. Why bother?
Despite the traffic chaos, we arrived at our destination safe and sound. The accommodations are small (as expected) but clean and very, very, very well located. We went for a walk to stave off jet lag and ended up seeing Campo del Fiori (1 minute from apartment), Piazza Navona (5 min), and the Pantheon (10 min). We also searched in vain for a grocery store, despite being told on two separate occasions where to find three of them. I suspect they keep a low profile to avoid the hassle of restocking.
The sights weÕve seen so far have been great, though a bit hazed by jet lag. It is currently 7:40 PM Rome time, which means I have been awake for about 30 hours now. I can affect on a wee bit. Plus I spent heavily and bought myself a 3.50 ($5) bottle of Chianti, which is mostly gone now.
Cheers from Rome.
Day 1.5 began at around midnight when Miwa woke up and figured the rest of us should too. After 3 hours of delighted squealing, intermittent crying and occaisional bits of unsolicited advice from Mitzi, ÒBaby should be sleeping!Ó We decided to go for a walk. At 3:30am.
I figured it sounded like a news story in the making, ÒCanadians mugged in Rome.Ó You know, one of those stories that leaves you wondering, Òwhat were they doing out there at that time of day with a baby?Ó
At any rate, the walk actually turned out to be pleasant and productive. The stars were out, the moon was shining and we found the grocery store! Turns out we had walked past it about 5 times yesterday, but hadnÕt gone quite far enough down the side street to see it. It only remains to be seen of it is still there in the light of day, or if it was just a dream.