23 September 2009

The Long Way Home

It started as a short and simple itinerary on Ryan Air: Dublin, Ireland to Stansted, England to Pescara, Italy. Monday, 0630 to 1200. That changed when the first flight was delayed arriving in London, I had to reclaim my bag and recheck it for the second flight (even though it was the same airline) and the designated time for boarding that flight was closed, although it hadn't yet left and wouldn't for another 20 minutes. Since this was the only flight to Pescara and I really wanted to get home I changed my ticket to the 1815 flight to Rome and planned to take the bus to Pescara from there. That's when my adventure began.

In Stansted I noticed that my phone needed to be charged in order to call my friend who was picking me up at noon. I emailed her first and found that computer access costs 3 Pounds Sterling for 10 minutes! I then bought an adapter, found an outlet, since the ones with the comfy chairs provided by the airport for that purpose were too small to accept the adapter, and plugged it in. Nothing. I went to the fellow in the adapter store who said the airport doesn't let their outlets be used to charge phones. He whispered conspiratorially that there was one outlet I could use in the ladies room. So I stood in the (very busy) ladies room for an hour while my cell phone charged enough to text my friend.

I found comfortable places in Stansted to sit, passable places to eat, a good book to read and hunkered down for the wait. At the appointed hour I flew to Ciampino airport, Rome. When I went to find the bus for Pescara, they said it actually leaves from Termini but that there was bus service to there. I bought a ticket and off I went once the bus was full enough to leave. At Termini I saw a workman who told me the bus actually leaves from Tipiturno but that I could take the train there. Not easy with 2 suitcases one of which weighs 33 pounds and the train is down 2 long flights, up one and down a third with no escalators.

What I didn't know was that the last bus leaves at 2300 and I finally arrived at 2310. A helpful man suggested that I try the train station for a train to Pescara so I returned to the train station which looked big, dark and closed. I walked around however and found some workmen out back and the night foreman, Ricardo. It was about midnight by then and he said the next train to Pescara was 0445. I saw some benches inside and said I would wait in there. "No, no, no signora! You cannot stay in there and your bags won't be safe there." I had thought the men I saw laying on the benches were waiting for morning trains too. Sometimes I can be naive like that. He let me know they were vagrants and various dicey characters.

He was very solicitous and quickly stowed my bags in his office. He showed me a bench not far from his office that I could sit on. Unfortunately, it was located outside so I dug out my sweater and jacket to stay warm. Fortunately, it was Italy and warmer than Ireland at this time of year. A group of homeless men wandered in and decided to have a party on the benches next to me. Lots of story telling, singing, laughing and surreptitious drinking ensued. Roberto checked on me frequently, invited me to have coffee with him and his co-workers and in general took good care of me until the train arrived. He was sweet and hospitable and when I told him how much I appreciated his kindness, he said: "But of course, I'm Italian! This is what Italians do". He was right in my experience. Have I mentioned that I love Italians?

At train time he walked me through the tunnels to the train and gave me over to the conductor after telling him my story. The conductor said that the train to Pescara was actually later in the day and his train was going to Avezzano but that I could get the train to Pescara from there at 0950. So off I went yet again with the elusive goal of getting home.

Although the train made frequent stops and therefore took a long time (Pescara is only 2 1/2 hours from Rome), it was such a beautiful trip. It winds through the mountains and I saw all the lovely towns and even a castle up close that I had seen in the distance on our car trips. The day dawned sunny, clear and perfect for sight seeing. We were so high at one point that we were looking down on an old, pretty town in the early morning light. Some of the stone houses and churches along the way seemed carved into the mountains. The hills, vineyards, groves and gardens were right out of a National Geographic program and so beautiful. I'd drift off and be surprised by gorgeous vistas each time I opened my eyes. I made myself stay awake to enjoy it. I felt so glad to be living in this part of Italy. When we got to Avezzano, the conductor was replaced by someone else and he walked me to the station, showed me where to buy my ticket, where to eat and wait. Another kind gesture.

The next leg of the journey took until 1215 and did indeed get me to Pescara- just 24 hours later than I planned! A short taxi ride to Cittá Sant'Angelo brought me home with so many unexpected impressions and experiences.

When my grandson was 3 he used to start every walk outdoors with the excited exhortation: "Let's go have an adventure!". Once I got over the shock of not getting on my plane, I remembered his words and consciously decided to see it as an adventure. I did and it was! Added cost to the trip- a lot; the trip itself- priceless.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! I got my internet today, so I'm checking in.... We're settling in nicely, will check out your blog properly soon! Love to you both!


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