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Posts Tagged ‘American Airlines’

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We are airborne and headed for Lisbon FINALLY.  There’s not much to say about the flight except that the seat and space are more comfortable than American Airlines but TAP does not serve snacks.  We were in the air for probably 45 minutes and then they brought around coffee, tea, juice, wine or beer.  Sorry Peter, no gin ☹️ and we even had our mini shaker with us.  According to the captain the serving of alcohol in the air is regulated by the government.  OK but what does that have to with peanuts, pretzels or blue corn chips? Remember how disdainfully you thought of those meager offerings?  Well we had breakfast around 9:30am and nothing else to eat except for coffee and a few chips Peter bought pre the nose bleed incident. We were starving!

About an hour later dinner was served; it was chunks of beef, mashed potatoes, green beans- I ate it all.  Then the entire plan went to sleep, but not us.  I forgot to bring an Ambien with me and because in Newark the flight was so full they checked our carry-on luggage for free WHICH I reminded the manger at JFK, so by being Miss Smarty Pants I kissed my Tylenol PM bon  voyage – it was now in the baggage compartment.  I watched a movie but you know, you can only shift your weight around so many times; I couldn’t find a comfortable position and it was a loooonnnng  night.

We had only minutes to spare to catch the flight to Rome but we did and soon we would be on terra firma, Italia.  Landing, luggage retrieval all went fairly routine and we went off to find the car rental office.

At the Hertz desk I immediately remind them that I called several times to insure that I would get either a Fiat 500L or a VW Golf. Yes they had one if I could wait a bit, it was being washed. When we got the keys and went into the garage to get the car I was SHOCKED, UPSET, DISTRAUGHT, anxious, okay, overtired and really carrying on BECAUSE the Fiat 500L is a BIG CAR!  You don’t know how much time I spent online researching the cars available and calculating the length. That’s how I came up with those two models which looked so small online and were listed  as both economy and compact.  Wringing my hands, walking around and around the car, saying over and over again, oh this is awful, this is too big. This car is way too big for Guardia.  Look at that Fiat Panda Peter, that’s the size car I wanted, even smaller, OMG what are we going to Do?  You can see how easily sleep deprivation and starvation can make a prisoner crazy because I was crazy at that moment.

I decide to march back in and freely admit I made a mistake, I need a smaller car!  Which I did to no avail. Madam this is the car you ordered, look here on the slip. Yes I know I asked for this car but I thought it would be much smaller.  You want a smaller car? Yes I want a smaller car, This is the smallest car we have. How can you say that when I saw a Fiat Panda out ther?  Ahhh, but you requested an automatic transmission. The Fiat 500L is the smallest with automatic transmission.

Totally defeated and despondent I return to the garage to inform Peter, who tries logic by telling me it is like a mini SUV – clearly an oxymoron that only this moron ordered. We have an SUV at home which I am quite comfortable driving IN AMERICA.

The problems with the FIAT and me are: Guardia and surroundings are in the mountains; narrow, hairpin curves, steep climbs, no shoulders, and most of all Italian drivers who literally drive up your ass and pass on the right on a curve, a straightaway or in a parking lot!!

We had no choice but to hit the road since we had a 2-3 hour ride ahead of us.  I had no idea how Peter was  going to be able to drive after our 24 hour no sleep trip and we both were not looking forward to navigating the mountains of Campania in the dark.

We had to stop for a piece of pizza at roadside rest stop which in Italy is actually a real treat since the food is always great and the places are like mini malls.  But that did put us into dusk and then dark. However, at the car rental place I made a last minute decision to rent the GPS because the car didn’t come with one. Originally I planned to use Google maps on my phone but the data plan offered by Verizon was pricey, I couldn’t get the SIM card I wanted till I arrived in Guardia and in the end Hertz discounted the rental. I carefully budgeted this trip and in about 27 hours I blew it with the ride from the shore to Newark and from Newark to JFK so in the state of mind I was in 5pm on Monday evening in Rome’s airport, paying more $$ for the peace of mind to get where we needed to go tonight and everywhere else for the couple of weeks seemed like a good idea and it was….we arrived in Guardia Sanframondi at about 9:30pm. We looked like we felt. Said hello, hugs, kisses and got the key to Nonna’s House where we crashed. Good night.

To be continued…

 

 

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Ah but before we get to the land of ruins and romance we still have to get to the airport on time.  And before that somebody had to put in a significant amount of time planning and planning and planning  every detail of this adventure in Italia.

The hardest part was coordinating the flights so we could fly out together but return at different times.  In the early 1990’s I wrote down about 25 goals I hoped  to achieve and one of them was to spend 3-6 months in Italy.  Well as you know life takes over and here it another year in another decade so…okay it won’t be 3 months – I’ll spend one month in Italy and really try to learn some more Italian.  And that’s why we are flying home at different times LOL – it’s my dream, not Peter’s.

My sister-in-law Juanita was kind enough to agree to stay in our apartment and feed out cats and move our car for alternate side parking.  Luckily for us it coordinated with some NYC doctor appointments she had. So far she has reported that the luck of the Irish has been with her because the 2 times she went down to move the car, the street cleaner didn’t show up in the designated half hour you must be in your car and prepared to move it. Luck of the Irish??? She’s Spanish and Italian!!! 418DAE9B-3225-43EF-9A33-EEC8BEEAF863

Then there was the housing arrangements n Guardia San Framondi where we decided to return. It’s a small village in the mountains of Campania.

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View of Guardia Sanframondi. You can clearly see the old town and parts of the new town built around it.

Last year we came as tourists, this year we live here.  Also a car rental, train tickets to and from Florence ( YES we spent 3 nights in Firenze), two hotel rooms for two nights in Rome because return flights to NYC are early morning and Guardia 3 hours away! Cell phone plans, cancel newspapers in NYC and NJ,  hold the mail, cover myself for real estate ( more about that later), sign permission slips for key entry to our apt for Juanita and then Jade, who is coming in for 4 days to take care of the cats and visit her mom and also our cat sitter wo will look after the fur babies for 2 days until Peter returns. Exchange currency, WHEW!

I did all this planning throughout February and early March AND THEN on March 8th, I broke my right foot 😫!

A Nor’easter was raging outside so I stayed inside and was cleaning. Vacuumed the den, left the vacuum cleaner in the doorway, picked up the brass waste basket and walked barefoot out of the room – tripped on the cord, dropped the metal can and must have  have landed on my own foot and broke (not fractured) the fifth metatarsal.  At this point I didn’t

really believe it was broken but I can now say I brought my boot to the boot. Does the cliche, “…the best laid plans…” come to mind?

But the next day after a hobble to City MD and brutally revealing X-Ray and a visit to an orthopedist , I added this to my pack list; 8FEE8EB9-48A9-49D8-A7EE-3A65B57FE6AD

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7 HOURS and 4 MOVIES

I always prefer an aisle seat, in fact I really want an aisle seat because I have this totally ridiculous abhorrence of asking the person next to me to get up so I can go to the restroom.  I know it’s a bit neurotic but I only feel comfortable if I know a bathroom is nearby and accessible.  Added to that craziness is my Germanic insistence of following the rules, so when anyone gets up to use the restroom when the seatbelt sign is still on, I look at them in both wonder and distaste.  Well I guess at this point we are way beyond TMI.

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Can’t They Read? You’re Not Supposed To Get Up.

Back to aisle seat choice;  my need to feel comfortable about the restroom comes with the discomfort of the inevitable ex-college football player sitting in front of me. Invariably a LARGE man sits in front of me and the moment the plane lifts off the runway, he pushes his seat back.  Sure enough, there is a giant parked in front of me, he has already pushed his seat back, I’m kissing my kneecaps. We are packed into this particular airplane so tightly that I can’t even bend down to access my handbag.  In fact midway through the flight I tried to take my sneakers off and I couldn’t really reach the shoelaces!

The plane took off about 5:45pm, however, our cheery-voiced captain assured us he would get us to Italy on time.  Soon we were cruising along at high altitude and we settled in to see what was available on the TV screen in front of us.  Wow, things have changed-no longer are the airlines selling you earphones, they give them to you.  There are no longer just one or two choices of a movie, now you can pick from several categories.  I’m happy and Peter is in heaven.  He always says how wonderful it would be if everyone just left him alone so he could watch TCM (Turner Classic Movies) all day.  This came pretty close to that nirvana.  

Being able to sit quietly, if not uncomfortably, to watch a film of your choice is a wonderful way to while away the monotonous hours.  Then again, for some reason, the whole experience begins to take on a zombie-like experience.  The fact is I watched 4 movies and am not sure I can remember them all.  I know I watched Hacksaw Ridge because twice during the movie I sort of jumped in my seat and made a sound as a particularly scary scene evolved.  Peter grabbed my arm and asked me what was wrong! I’m sure I also watched All We Had, a movie about a mother-daughter relationship and their sad journey through poverty and bad boy friends – I looked it up today on IMDB – it got 2 1/2 stars!

After they served dinner, a “interesting” chicken meal with the requisite cold roll, pathetic salad and crackers with a blob of cheese.  LOL I sound derisive but I ate the whole thing including the blueberry muffin. 

Soon most of the plane is sleeping but not us.  Given we usually keep vampire-like hours at home, I can’t imagine trying to sleep at 9:30 at night.  I have to admit at some point I thought it might be wise to try to sleep.  I blew up my neck cushion, took off the earphones and tried to settle down. Not happening!  Better to just give up and play Crossword on the screen.   Every now and then I would glance over at Peter who was deep into some 1940’s movie and revealing in it.  I’m at the point of checking my watch and trying to figure out just how much longer 7 hours really are.

Peter decides he needs something from his carry-on, so in the wee hours of the night, he attempts to open the overhead bin (the one that is above his former seat) and in the course of removing his bag, he knocks a pillow down which lands on the head of the sleeping Dario.  Oh, I forgot to tell you that the very good-looking Italian man who switched seats with Peter was named Dario?  Oh well, more about him later.

                                                                                                             to be continued…

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THE TAXI TO TICKETS – OH NO!!!

Didn’t have to wait very long for a taxi to come by, so we piled our bags in the trunk and hopped in.  “JFK sir, American Airlines terminal”.  There was a lot of traffic on 1st Avenue as we made our way to the FDR drive but our driver knew we were in a hurry (probably when he heard me in a high-pitched voice) say over and over again “OMG we are not going to get there on time”.  We were cruising along the Van Wyck Expressway when I received a text from my friend, Rosemarie asking me if I had my tickets and passport.  LOL – I wrote back to her in Italian that I had “i begligetti, il passporto e mid marito” – which translates to “the tickets, the passport and my husband.

We were about 15 minutes away from JFK and Peter and I were talking about taking photos and I told him I planned on using my iPad.  “MY iPAD! OMG I forgot to take my iPad :(.  OH NO! I forgot all the folders too”  Peter says, “What do you mean you forgot the folders”?  ” I mean the folders with all of the information I need AND the airline tickets! 😦 .  From that point on I was a total madwoman, I must have gone through my handbag 5 times and of course they were not in there.  I already knew that. I’m frantically grasping at solutions. 1) let’s call an Uber car and have them bring me the iPad and folders and meet us at the airport. N/G we would have to check in before the car could make it through the rush hour traffic. 2) What if I ask Jade to take the stuff to FEDEX and have it sent to the B&B. N/G I called FEDEX and found out it would cost around $600 to send an iPad. 3) I call Jade and ask her if she  can to Manhattan Mailroom and have them fax the paperwork to the B&B, she says yes she can now that she has located the folders in the kitchen!!?? N/G In order to fax, I need a fax number.  I hastily attempt to reach Pasquale through WhatsApp under the title URGENT.  He writes back saying why don’t I scan them and send to him through WhatsApp. WHY? Because I don’t have a scanner and Jade who is at my apartment doesn’t have WhatsApp!!  Pasquale sends me a phone number but never says whether it is a fax or not. I call Jade and give her the number, the store tries but it won’t go through. I write to Pasquale again and he reminds me that is very late there and the office is closed! 4) I have an email from my cousin Kathi with some of the documents. N/G That’s not going to work since I don’t have a printer. 5) I ask the taxi driver if he thought a taxi would take the stuff to the airport N/G Being worked up to frenzy is probably the reason why I a) forgot we had to check in and b) the taxi would never make it now that is was full blown rush hour traffic. A few more calls back and forth with Jade and I finally say Thank You and resign myself to NO iPad, NO documents and NO Airline tickets.  Peter remains calm as I have gone from upset to crazy-mad – Naturally.

American Airlines Terminal JFK Airport

We’re Here

The driver drops us off at the American Airlines terminal and out of guilt and embarrassment I give him a good tip!  We go into the airport and the American Airlines counter are NOWHERE to be seen. I am sweating because I’m still the aforementioned frenzied, wearing a jacket and long sleeve shirt because I’m sure the plane will be cold.  I find someone with a dangling badge and she points to the far other end of the terminal and says that’s where the American Airlines check-ins are located.  When we finally reach the area, it is a madhouse of people, suitcases and check-in kiosks that have a line of impatient passengers waiting.  

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Where’s My Boarding Pass?

We’re planning on checking in two bags and carrying on two.  After a while I get to a kiosk that’s working and begin to fumble around in my bag for a credit card to try to login and get the required check-in stickers.  Seriously I must have answered about 10 questions and after each answer the screen told me to wait while they processed my transaction.   Got ’em!  We get in line behind a woman who is literally standing 15′ back from the counter and there is one guy up there and he is futzing with his bags and shaking his head no and the American Airline clerk is also shaking her head – you just know this isn’t going to go well.  The clerk leaves her counter and is assisting the young man with the kiosk!!  The woman in front of us stands patiently.  THEN, the American Airlines person walks away and does not return to the counter.  I tell Peter to wait in line and I’ll go after her, but she disappears into the crowd.  When I return, Peter is already in another line and he is up at the counter.  He’s waving me to hurry and when I get there he says, “She needs the Boarding Passes”.  WHAT Boarding Passes?  OMG I never got them from the kiosk.  I race back to the kiosks and you know what they say, “they all look alike”.  I can’t remember where we were so I start reaching in front of people and looking into the trays.  I don’t find them but I found someone else’s.  Back to the counter and the woman tells me I can go through the process again on the kiosk get 2 more Boarding Passes – REALLY? Why didn’t she say so in the first place?  

After all that we’ve been through, it was a pleasure to board the plane even though our seats were way in the back which meant negotiating business class, then the first economy section, then to the back, literally.  When I booked the tickets I knew we each had an aisle seat but I thought they would be across from one another – NOT!  My seat was a double and Peter was 2 rows in front of me in a triple on the aisle. I planned on asking my seat mate if he or she wanted Peter’s aisle seat so he could sit with me.  Well, as it turned out, my seat mate turned out to be a young woman with her husband and she wasn’t too happy that he would be sitting behind her next to a very good-looking Italian man.  I decided to take charge and see if I could negotiate a settlement.  I politely ask this man (in Italian) if he spoke English and as he did, would he mind switching the seats with my husband who will switch seats with the young woman and then everybody will be happy.  He smiles a most charming smile and says he will.  

                                                                                                           to be continued…

 

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