I have finally arrived in Rome. My flight from JFK to London was delayed an hour in departing from the gate. Once everyone was finally settled on the plane, there was a young girl who refused to be consoled by her parents and they were removed from the flight. However, we could not leave with their bags still in the cargo hold, so we had to wait for them to be removed. By the time we finally taxied down the runway it was 9:30 and I knew that I was not going to make it in time to catch the coach to my next flight.
By the time I landed in Heathrow and made it through customs, 10 o’clock was fast approaching. I ran through the airport to the bus station, bought another coach ticket to Stansted airport, and boarded the bus just as it was about to leave. It seemed luck was on my side. We even arrived at the airport ten minutes early. When I entered the terminal I had to check my bag on “Jalopy Air” as my mother calls it. The line was ridiculously long and my ticket said that my bag must be checked forty minutes before departure and that the gate would close ten minutes after. I was panicking. Luckily, there was a very kind (but very large) family from Spain waiting in front of me. Using my extremely rusty Spanish skills, I told them that I was in a rush and asked if they would permit me to go before them. They very graciously allowed me to do so.
I checked my bag by 11:55 (my flight left at 12:45) and ran to security. I placed my life in the bins to be scanned and proceeded through the metal detector. I had forgotten my camera in my pocket and was thoroughly patted down as a result. But that’s not all… Because my life was and is in my backpack, it was quite full. It was deemed a security hazard in the process of being scanned. A very helpful and patient woman went through my belongings, pulling everything out of my very carefully packed backpack. She swabbed my phone and camera (testing it for what, I do not know…), and when my time seemed to be running out, she declared that I was clean and may leave.
I very hastily and unceremoniously shoved my life back into my backpack and ran, literally ran, through the airport, attracting many odd glances in the process. As fate or karma would have it, my gate was at the very end of the farthest concourse. Run, Forrest, run! It was now approximately 12:13 (I remember because I looked at my watch and thought, “Oh, shit!”). So I kept running. When I finally reached the gate I thought was correct, I discovered that, while I was running through the airport, Ryan Air was busy changing the gate that my flight would depart from. The helpful, but confused, flight attendant pointed me in a new direction. And I was running again. The gate was close, but I was out of time. So I thought… but when I arrived at the new gate, there was a queue of 100+ people waiting to board. Luck was on my side after all.
I boarded my flight and was on my way to L’Citta Eterna. I was exhausted and there was no one sitting around me who spoke English, so I went to sleep and did not wake up until the pilot was announcing that we were beginning our descent into Rome. The initial feeling of an airplane descending is wonderful. For that one instant, you feel weightless and free. After being in airplane after airplane, that sensation was much welcome. Looking out the window, I could see that we were passing lakes and dormant volcanoes. Even from that distance you can see the abundance of vineyards that dot the countryside. I must admit, I was pleased to see them, my surname being what it is…
After a rather bumpy landing, I was in Rome! I disembarked and made my way through customs, again… This round was much quicker, however, as the attendant simply stamped my passport and waved me through. Hey, I wasn’t complaining. I picked up my bag, made my way through the fairly small airport to the bus terminal and caught my coach into the city. Riding along (on the right side of the road, I might add), I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Rome, particularly the outskirts, and Mexico or the Southwest. And boy is it hot… and humid. I walked from the station to my hostel, about five minutes away. And here I am! In Rome!
There’s free pizza at the hostel bar from 8:30, so I’m going to grab a quick shower (it’s been a while and some 4,800 miles…) and hit up some free food. Then I’ll see wander around the hostel area, get a map, and prepare for a day of adventure.