I’ve been in Italy for a month now, and realize that I haven’t been posting any new blogs about how things have been going here or how I’m settling in. Not that I’m presuming that anyone has even been wondering, but just in case someone has, I figure I better put something up so that one person doesn’t feel left out in the cold.
I’ll have to start by recapping our quite interesting tale of the journey getting here. We knew it was going to be a long trip with lots of connections and places for things to go wrong, so we were all praying that it all went as planned. It was one of those times where you hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I don’t want to say that the worst happened, but it was probably pretty darn close.
We flew from Seattle to NY with no problem, met up with Brie in the JFK airport and then made our connection to the international flight; so far, so good. We flew Swiss air from JFK to Zurich, Switzerland and then had another connection to take us to Florence. The plane landed in Switzerland and when we boarded the plane to Florence I was in a window seat, so I could see them loading the bags. I immediately looked for mine, as that was one of the things I was most worried about. To my surprise, it was right there, on the last cart. I recognized my bright blue tag on the handle. I couldn’t believe our great luck at having everything work out so smoothly…probably the wrong thing to be thinking about.
Just then, they stopped loading the bags and started driving away with the baggage trolley. The only problem was that my bag was still on that cart. I could see it driving away from me and there was nothing I could do about it. There was a moment of panic, but then I realized that it’s not really that bad, at least I know that my bags made it to Switzerland. How hard could it be to get them to Florence? There would probably be another flight that same night…ha, right.
So, the plane takes off and I forget about the anxiety of losing my bag as I realize that we are about to land in the place where I am going to be spending the next four months of my life. I have to say that the decent of the plane was one of the roughest that I have ever experienced. Even being in some wind storms in Alaska aren’t as shaking as the landing coming into Florence. Then, just as we were about to touch down, the pilot make a drastic pull up and we’re back to circling around the city. What could go wrong now?
The captain comes on the intercom and says that there’s just too much of a tail wind in Florence right now and the plane is too heavy, we’re going to have to go to our alternative landing point: Bologna. First thought: Where the heck is Bologna? I thought that was a lunchmeat? Second thought: If they already had an alternative landing spot, does that mean that this kind of thing happens often?
Either way, we make our descent and land. I get off the plane and take my first steps in Italy to the Bologna airport. Funny thing is that no one who was working at the airport seemed to know anything about who we were or what our situation was in trying to get to Florence. They unload the baggage, but of course, my isn’t there. I go to the baggage claim counter; thank goodness they speak English and begin to explain what’s going on. After a few minutes they say that I need to make my claim in Florence, because that is where my final destination was originally. OK, great, but right now I’m in Bologna, so how do I go about getting to Florence?
Just then a lady comes over and says that the airline is providing busses to Florence, we just have to go meet them in the parking lot. We go to the parking lot, load on the bus and ride to Florence. We’re all extremely jet-legged, culture shocked, and really have no idea where we are.
Two and a half hours later we are dropped off at the Florence airport. First stop is to the baggage claim. I wait in line for a good half hour, then am finally able to make my claim. An hour later, I have my receipt and they say that the bag should be delivered to the school in the next day, maybe, could be a couple of days, no one really knows for sure. At this point, I don’t really care, I just want to make sure I get it eventually.
Now, we have to deal with the problem of where we are going to sleep. Due to the delay and redirecting of out flights, we had missed our appointment to sign in for our apartment and also had no way of contacting the agency that we went through. In fact, we didn’t even know how to go about getting into the city of Florence. Thank God for information desks. We go to the desk and they tell us that we just have to take the bus to the city and gave us a name of a hotel that had an open room.
We board the bus, get to the hotel (which turns out to be more of a bed and breakfast type thing) and then set out in search of food. We saw a McDonald’s on the way, and as sacrilegious as it sounds, we were so tired that something familiar sounded really good. After a McChicken burger, we found an Internet café to tell our parents that we were still alive and went to bed.
Luckily, the next day wasn’t quite as bad, but wasn’t great either. We spent most the day walking around the city trying to get in touch with the school and check into our apartment. Thankfully, my bag showed up. Unfortunately, this also meant that I had to drag it all through the city the rest of the day.
However, we eventually got our apartment keys and got moved in. Of course, this is after we were stuck outside the door of our apartment for five hours thinking that our key didn’t work when really it was just that we didn’t know how to open it, but that is another whole story in itself.
So, that was the adventure of arrival. Since then there have been many more stories, some of which I may find the time to write about later. As of now, we are four weeks into classes and I’m beginning to settle into the Italian life. Although there was a rocky start, this is turning out to be a rather interesting adventure and it all just adds to the story.