On a number of occasions when I have had the good fortune to travel, I have had experiences immediately after arriving at my destination when I have thought, "Even if I had to go home after this one experience, the journey would have been worth it." I recall, for example, feeling that way after Mark and I's first night in Venice in September 2015, or on several occasions when we had traveled to Maui. After my experience yesterday evening in Alghero, Sardinia, I felt - especially after the hiccups I had encountered in my travel to get there - that if I'd had to go home today (which, fortunately, I don't), the experience would have been worth it.
My flight from Salt Lake to Atlanta had gone off without a hitch, and as I boarded my flight to Rome, they were projecting that we would arrive 15 minutes early. I was very pleased to hear this because I was going to have a tight connection in Rome. I would have to deplane, go through passport control, retrieve my bag, walk to another terminal, check in, go through security and get to my gate for my flight to Alghero. All being well, I would have sufficient time to do this.
But just as the cabin door was due to be closed on the Rome flight, they announced that they had discovered a mechanical problem. Thirty minute delay. Then thirty minutes later, they announced a further 30-45 minute delay. That's it. I knew I would not be able to make the connection.
This provided me with an opportunity to be philosophical. I had been concerned about this possibility ever since I had booked the flights. Now, that possibility was going to become reality. I could either fret about it during the entire flight to Rome or, with the assistance of a double gin and tonic, embrace the now and accept there was nothing I could do about it until I got to Rome. I thought of Mark and what he would do (beyond ordering another gin and tonic), then took a sleep aid and let it go.
|Sun rising over the Ligurian Sea|
Sure enough, by the time I reached the ticket counter in Rome, my flight had been closed. I had no choice but to come on the later flight - five hours later. I was supposed to meet my friend, Bob, at the gate and travel together with him to Alghero, but I would have to accept having lunch in the Rome airport instead of a cafe overlooking the Mediterranean.
So I purchased my ticket, then went through security. I took out all my electronics and placed my phone with them in one of the baskets. Went through. Everything fine. Repacked all my stuff. Did a last minute pocket check and discovered - no phone in my pocket. I looked around. I checked the basket I had used, or thought I had used, and it wasn't there.
With rising panic, I started checking other baskets until the security employee sternly warned me I shouldn't be doing that. I told him I had, within a matter of seconds, lost my phone. It all happened so quickly that I wondered if perhaps someone had picked up my phone. After all, my credit card (and drivers license) was tucked into the sleeve on the back of the phone. The security guy told me I would have to wait as the baskets recycled to see if my phone turned up. That wasn't helpful.
"God!" I thought. "How could something like this happen at the very beginning of my trip!" I pictured contacting - somehow - the credit card company. I thought about not being able to keep in touch with my kids while I am gone. I thought, thought, thought about all sorts of unpleasant things, all the while hoping that my phone would somehow turn up.
After what seemed like 15 minutes, but was probably only 5, the security guy took pity on me and suggested we run my bags back through the scanner because if the phone was in there, it would show up. I had already gone through my carry-on and my hand bag, but I thought I should be accommodating. So I handed him my carry-on. Then I turned around and looked at the rest of my stuff that was sitting on an adjacent unused counter. That's when I noticed four baskets stacked next to my bag. I went over, lifted the top one up and VOILA!, there was my phone. Someone must have set these baskets off to the side immediately after I retrieved the rest of my stuff. I could breathe again.
|The view that greeted me below our hotel upon arrival|
By 4:00 in the afternoon, I was at my hotel in Alghero. I met up with Bob, who - annoyingly (just kidding, sort of) - had been sitting by the pool for hours, and after a dip and showers, we headed out on the town for an aperitivo and dinner.
It was ... a perfect evening. Cloudless sky. Beautiful blue water. The magical light associated with Mediterranean sunsets starting to bathe buildings and turn the bay into a carpet of bobbing jewels.
Dinner was at Osteria Machiavello. Sitting outside on the ramparts with a gorgeous view out over the water, the sun setting behind the distant hills across the bay. Bob had fish, I had Sardinian gnocchi, washed down with a bottle of Cannonau, Sardinia's signature red. It was magical.
The journey - despite its hiccups - would have been worth it if I had to go home today. Fortunately, I don't. We start our cycling this afternoon with a spin up the coast before getting down to business tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm off to explore the old town before meeting the rest of the group at lunch.