My Trip To Italy travel blog


Tuesday, the big travel day back to the US:

I woke up around 4:40am after my alarm didn't go off but the light on my phone did wake me luckily. Turning on Do Not Disturb on the phone disables the alarm as well which is not good. I got up and showered and dressed by 5:20. I headed downstairs to check out and was told by the guy that my room charge didn't go through when I originally booked it. I said it looked like it went through but he showed me a paper that said the charge didn't go through so I had to pay again for the room. Luckily, it was less then the charge online. I couldn't tell for sure but didn't see my dinner from last night on the bill so I asked about it and he said that there was no dinner. I am concerned about double-billing for the room though as every charge it seems in southern Italy has had problems and they have tried to overcharge me on things and want to check on it when I get home. When we were done he said that the taxi was here and when I looked out the door I see the kid getting out of the passenger door and know that Guido is driving. Immediately I say no, please call me another taxi and that I don't want to go with those two. The kid comes in and I tell him I'm not going to pay 30,00 euros again and pointed out the rate on the card at the front desk that says it would cost 15,00 euros. Guido comes in and he and the desk guy talk in Italian until finally the desk guy says something about it being before 7am and that it's 20,00 euros which I know is total BS. By now though the time is getting later and I want to be at the airport so I say fine, just get me to the airport.

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Guido never seems to take a main road as we hit every back road even though the hotel is right next to a main road. It's still dark out as we are racing down these back roads in the country and at one point wonder if I will get to the airport alive. Luckily we arrive there at 5:45 and I'm thinking that should be good since my flight leaves at 7:30. When I get out of the taxi, Guido acts like we are best friends now shaking my hand and all like I'm coming back for some reason. I'd much rather walk the next time if there is a next time.

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I walk inside and over to the ticket counter to wait in line. When it's my turn, the guy takes my passport and I put my luggage on the weigh station. He looks at it and after several minutes of not doing much at all tells me that I have to pay 35,00 euros for the luggage since it was not included in the price of my ticket and I have to go to the office behind to pay for it and then come back. That may be true but now I'm irritated to have to go to another area to pay and then stand in line again. I go to the office and stand there while the woman talks to someone and then finally asks me to step forward. I tell her that I need to pay for my luggage and hand her my credit card. She tries to run the card and it doesn't work. She tries several times but no luck and even tries to do it manually but for some reason that doesn't work either. Now it's been 15 minutes and I'm watching the security line get more busy. She asks me if I can pay cash and I say I don't have the cash on me so she points to the ATM and says that I can get money out of there. I didn't want to pull more money out as there will be additional charges but at this point I don't have any other options. I get out 40,00 euros, pay her and she says she has no change but tells me to get in line at the ticket counter and she will bring me the change. As I'm waiting, I don't see her anywhere and wonder if I'm going to get my change before I leave. It's my turn at the ticket counter now and a few nervous moments of silence before the tickets are printed up and my luggage tagged for the flight. The other woman brings my change to me as I am headed to the security checkpoint which is busy now. Luckily I do not have to wait too long but of course I have to go through twice because I had set off the alarm. The second time worked though and I walk downstairs to the gate. There are a lot of people down there and it's not too long of a wait before they start boarding the plane. It's old school of course and we walk outside and climb the stairs to get into the plane.

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Inside I find that I get a window seat which is great for taking some photos. Finally I am on a flight with someone else who has to go to the bathroom so after the drink service goes by, he gets up to go and so do I. When I return I dive into my backpack to get the rolls from last night. I only need it to hold me until Rome which won't take very long. The landscape is really pretty as we fly over it.

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We land in Rome and it's a pretty good landing. The airport is busy with people getting food and coffee. I really wanted to bring a scarf home and went looking for one plus something for Aaron and Mason. There are no soccer scarfs or any other ones so I settle on 2 bottle opener key chains which seemed like a good idea. When paying though, the guy asks for my passport and when I ask why he says it's policy which seems very fishy to me as no one else has asked for it while paying for anything else. I then grab a "breakfast" muffin with fruit in it, some orange juice and an espresso. I find a spot at the counter and try to get the attention of the guy behind the counter to get my drinks. The woman next to me says in broken English that she had a hard time getting his attention too. Finally he gets my drinks and I eat the blueberry muffin which ends up having blueberry jam in the middle which is interesting.

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I have almost 4 hours before my next flight so I wonder off looking for my gate but it's difficult since it's so far away but looks like B13. When I get there, I sit down and check FB and email. I notice an email from my credit card company saying that the charge for my luggage was approved at Calabria. Now I'm really pissed because I'm thinking I paid twice again. Once again, I felt like I was screwed over in Calabria and need to contact the credit card company about that one also. After a while I decide that I should eat again so I wonder around and end up at the same place I bought breakfast but pick out a ham and cheese sandwich with thin bread like a focaccia and it was heated up. I walk back to the gate but decide to charge my phone and stand at the charging station while I eat my sandwich. I look across and see an attractive woman who is the salesperson for the nice looking Jaguar sitting there. I then see this guy walk up to her and starts talking to her but clearly he is not into buying the car and he doesn't seem like her type either. He is there for a while then gets a call and walks away, then he comes back and starts chatting her up again. A couple of guys come by and are checking out the car and the first guy leaves. When the guys looking at the car leave, the first guy comes back to chat her up. I am amused by all of this and after I finish my sandwich I decide to go sit down and see if I can nap. I checked FB and email and responded to a few emails and it's getting to be close to noon now. I see someone at the ticket counter now and go up to see if I can get my seat changed but she says the flight is full. I start walking around to stretch my legs and see that Casanova is still at it. What does this guy do for a living that he can just hang out at the airport and chat up pretty women? I make a quick pit stop and then back to my seat to wait for the line to move. There was nothing special about the plane load and soon we are on our way to Amsterdam. The couple in front of me are kissing like it's their honeymoon so I decide to rest up and take a nap but the next thing I know the food and drinks are being served. They hand out cheese sandwiches and funny enough, they offer canned beer and small bottles of wine for free! I definitely like KLM airlines and would recommend them.

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I decide to save my sandwich for later as I'm not really hungry but I do get and drink a sparkling water. I hear the pilot announce that we will be landing at what sounds like 4:12pm so I freak out knowing my next flight leaves at 4:25. When the stewardess comes around I ask her about it and she says we will land at 3 and taxi until about 3:15 so I will have plenty of time. Wow, what a relief that was. Now I just need to make sure I get to Paris in time to get on the plane to NY. The Amsterdam airport was great and I had no issues there. My gate was easy to find, they had plenty of spots to plug in and charge phones and the food looked really good. Soon we are boarding and on our way to Paris.

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We arrive at the Paris airport and I'm anxious about getting to the gate in time. Well it wasn't easy but I made it. The luggage was very slow unloading so I was getting very nervous as it was now 15 minutes late. I also need to get to the correct Terminal as we landed at 2 and I need to be at 1 which means I have to ride the damn shuttle again from one end to the other. I stop a guy before my luggage shows up to verify where I need to go to catch the shuttle and where Terminal 1 is at. Finally the luggage shows up and the shuttle ride goes smoothly. I need to find ticket counter 5 to check my bag and that all goes well luckily the line wasn't very long. But then I had to get to gate 14 which is 2 floors up. There were no instructions on how to get up there so I asked at the information booth and the guy said that you have to go to the escalator and get your passport checked first. Of course that line is longer but luckily it moved pretty quickly. Then there was the security checkpoint which again luckily wasn't bad and I finally made it to the gate which was full of people waiting. I head to the bathroom and see a vending machine with snacks in it so I decide to use some of my change. As typical, the snack got stuck in the machine and I wasted 1,20 euros! Damn you Charles de Gaulle airport! At least I didn't miss my flight this time because of your stupid Terminals and shuttle so now we are tied and I'm done with you and you will not get the upper hand on me! They announce early boarding shortly so yes, I barely made it and I see that they are doing random searches of certain people. Luckily I am not selected and we board the plane. I am just happy that I am on the plane at this point and now we will be heading to the US.

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The plane is delayed from takeoff due to weather conditions in France but finally we are on our way. Shortly afterwards they deliver my meal to me and it's pretty good. It was chicken with green beans, broccoli, a roll and some sort of applesauce. After eating I didn't really feel like sleeping so I checked the movies on the TV. I watched the Nice Guys which was pretty funny actually. Then I watched something I can't remember and then Two Weeks Notice. I then tried to sleep but by then the sun was coming up and the guy behind me kept kicking my seat. Pretty soon another meal was brought to me, OJ with a weird, dry sandwich with turkey and veggies plus the applesauce thing again. Then another roll showed up which was weird. I decided to watch Good Chef/Bad Chef which was interesting and tough for the Chefs.

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We landed and taxied to almost the point of docking but it was still occupied so we had to wait about 10 minutes which felt like a long time after sitting for around 7 hours. When we finally get to the terminal the plane unloads pretty quickly for such a large plane. Then we have to go through customs and there are a bunch of machines that you have to use but it's confusing so I ask for help. Luckily having a US passport gives us an advantage just like the French did at Charles de Gaulle airport. It's all a blur now but we had to go through a checkpoint before picking up luggage. Finally I was able to hit the bathroom before walking through the gamut of friends, family and taxi drivers. It was so late now, around 11pm that I wondered if I really wanted to stay in a hotel knowing that I needed to wake up around 4:30 to get ready to go. I didn't actually book anything because I just wasn't sure what I was going to do and it seemed like an excessive charge for a few hours. I was feeling pretty cruddy though and tired so some sleep in a bed seemed like it was better then none. I checked and found a hotel that wasn't too expensive and had good reviews, the Sleep Inn JFK which was only 3 miles away from the airport. I walked out of the airport and immediately a guy asks me where I'm going and he walks me to his car. I ask him how much it will be and he says $50 so I say no thanks and no, I don't want to go to an ATM! I call the hotel and find out they have a shuttle but they are not allowed to pick up people at the airport (WTF?). The guy says I have to ride the AirTran shuttle (oh no) to Federal Circle to be able to be picked up. I am not happy about this whole thing now and don't want to ride a shuttle train to someplace I don't know anything about plus waste more time I could be sleeping. I find out it's free at least and the train shows up. When it takes off I'm not even sure it's going in the right direction. Apparently we landed at Terminal 1 and there is something like 8 Terminals so we have to stop at every one of them before arriving at Federal Circle. I get off and call the hotel and the guy tells me that the shuttle bus is on the way. I walk down to the street level to wait for the bus. It's cold out and I'm wondering if he has arrived or not because I don't see a shuttle for the hotel and it's been at least 10 minutes now which is how long he said it would take. I decide to call the hotel again and just then the bus shows up. He's a nice guy and I'm grateful for the ride so late. He tells me that he will pick me up in the morning too (wow, I feel bad that he won't get much sleep either). I give him a couple of dollars and I walk in to check in.

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Everything is fine and I had tried to sign up for the 5am shuttle but it was full so I had to sign up for the 5:30 one which made me a little nervous as it didn't seem to give me much time to check in especially not knowing what Terminal to go to and if I had to ride the Airtrain again. I take the elevator to my room which is a pretty nice room. I get ready for bed and get everything ready for the morning but find I am kind of wired now and it's close to midnight. I washed up and laid in bed making sure my alarm was set and checked a few emails and FB. I was out in no time since I was totally exhausted.



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