Thursday, September 11, 2014

Arrivederci Roma

Our day yesterday started at 5:30 a.m. as we got up, showered and prepared to get in a taxi at 7:00 to take us to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.

It had rained during the night. It woke me up at one point, pouring down, and I heard something that I can’t even remember the last time I heard it: thunder. Now that I think of it, the last time I heard thunder was probably at our commitment ceremony last year when a whopper of a thunderstorm rolled in just as we had completed setting everything up in our backyard.

The rain had stopped by the time Mark and I stepped outside this morning and were immediately greeted by our taxi driver, a handsome young man with closely cropped hair with dark eyes dressed in a suit who spoke some English and understood more, I think (which would not be uncommon). In fact, his vehicle was not a taxi at all. In Rome, official taxis are white. His car was black. We didn’t ask questions …

The streets of Rome were fairly quiet at that time of the morning, but as we drove toward the airport, we could see dark storm clouds heading toward us from the west, and it looked even worse to the north. Then the rain began, not drenching but steady. By the time we arrived at our terminal (which turned out to be the wrong one), the rain had more or less stopped.

We found the correct terminal and checked-in at a kiosk, then went through security with no problems. We looked for a place where we could have a sit-down breakfast that did not consist of something full of carbohydrates. I had commented to Mark that morning that we had eaten practically nothing but carbs since we arrived in Rome. 

Each day we were in Rome, we ate a meal only in mid-day or early afternoon, and we had – surprise – pasta every time, supplemented by a caprese salad of tomato and mozzarella. Rolls and pastries were brought to our room every morning at the inn, and we ate nothing in the evening except gelato at the place around the corner from where we stayed. Granted, the carbonara had a bit of delicious Italian bacon in it, but otherwise we had eaten no protein (or veggies to speak of) since the last night of our cycling tour.  

So …. After looking around, it appeared that McDonalds was the best option. We ate two sausage egg McMuffins, coffee and orange juice, plus I had scrambled eggs and bacon. I knew we likely wouldn’t get lunch in Athens, and as events unfolded, it turned out to be a very good thing we had eaten such solid breakfasts.

It was about the time that we finished breakfast that it began to absolutely pour. And it kept pouring, a drenching rain that came in torrents. As we walked to our gate, we heard an announcement that said something about a flight being delayed because of the weather. Mark and I looked nervously at each other but continued on to the gate. 

As we sat waiting, we watched a maintenance man run a machine around a column where water was running down from a leak in the roof. It was like a small street sweeper. A few minutes later, another maintenance man went by with a trolly full of mops. Then the big guns came out. A man wearing a suit and tie climbed aboard the mini-street sweeper and went at it with a vengeance. By this time, the deluge had subsided.

At this point, Mark got up to take a little walk. He came back a few minutes later and said, “You may want to go look at the departure board. Our flight is no longer listed.” I grabbed our boarding passes and started looking for someone to talk to. I found a gate agent who mercifully spoke some English and asked about our flight. She looked it up in her computer and told me that the gate had been moved to one in the B section of the terminal. We were currently in the C section. I quickly returned to tell Mark, we grabbed our bags and set off for Gate B11, installing ourselves once there in seats in the waiting lounge.

We must have been sitting there for 10 minutes or so when I got up to look at the departures board and saw that our gate had once again been moved – to the D section of the terminal. So off we went - again. There was a line at the gate when we arrived, which we joined. We stood there, and stood there and stood there, watching the screen at the gate moved the departure time back. Finally, everyone just sat down on the floor, us included.

In the end, we were almost two hours late in departing from Rome. The good news was that the weather in Athens was supposed to be sunny and … we were going to ATHENS!

But Rome, we will see you again, on the 19th! Until then …

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