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Trip Report Bookchick's LONG report: Journey of Personal Healing

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Our adventure begins the day after Labor Day, on September 5th. I picked this day to depart, because at work life was hell and getting worse each day. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, especially since my former boss got canned in June, but busy didn't begin to describe it. The last day I worked prior to the holiday weekend, I was in my office til 1 am! So anyway, having the whole 3 day weekend gave me time to catch my breath, do laundry, and get a manicure, too. This was uncharacteristically fortuitious timing for which I would pay dearly a short time later.

My driver picked me up around noon or shortly thereafter for the short drive to the airport, which is usually (and also was on this day) a mere half-hour away. I had a small rolling suitcase, and a matching larger one which I had checked. Inside the larger suitcase were all manner of liquids and gels, since the ban was in effect during my trip, but also another bag was within the bag. It was a shoulder-duffle type of thing, and I wisely brought it to stow my valuable purchases I'd make in Italy. I packed all black and white (and prints of the same) clothing, and if my larger pack got lost, re-routed, dumped into the Atlantic, etc., I knew I could live out of the contents of the smaller rolling bag without too much trouble, but I'd definitely be doing laundry. When I arrived at my gate in DTW, it was already teeming with folks, stunning to me, since I make it a point to arrive obscenely early for flights. Okay then, what's this? These folks were flying US Airways to Philly also, but their flight hadn't taken off yet!?? Argh!! Needless to say, due to bad weather in Philly (it was merely overcast at DTW), my flight was terrifically late. I mean seriously late. Several of us while still in DTW asked the gate agent to re-book us, but we might as well have spoken to a wall; she even mis-read my ticket and said "Why are you worried, you're not leaving til 8:40?", to which I replied, "No, I'm supposed to LAND IN ROME at 8:40 AM!". The gate agents did re-book a couple headed to Barcelona, and routed them instead to Paris, where they presumably caught a plane to Barcelona. They also showed keen interest in paging a chap bound for Venice, but the rest of us, and there were several of us, were left to chance and our own devices. When the plane arrived in Philly, I was at an E gate deplaning and the first overhead announcement I heard was the final boarding call for Flight 2 to Rome at Gate A30. Needless to say, I did not make it.

Gate agents in Philly re-booked the lot of us via various gateway cities in Europe and I ended up on a flight to Munich with a 5-hour layover there prior to catching a Lufthansa flight to Rome. I phoned the hotel on Capri from the Philly airport to alert them of this, because they were sending a driver to the Rome airport to pick me up and drive me to Naples. I inquired to the Philly gate agent about my checked bag, and he assured me it would be re-routed, since it, too, did not have time to get onto Flight 2 to Rome. **Sigh!** A rather odd Italian fellow, about my age, attached himself to me, and we had dinner together in the Philly airport. He was headed up to Liguria where his siblings and mother lived, and claimed to stay in the Detroit area for extended periods of time because his ex-wife and kids live there. Once on the plane, we were not seated together, and I actually managed to sleep fairly solidly, much to my surprise, for much of the duration of the flight.

Upon landing in Munich, however, despite the bright sunshine, I was dragging. I trudged into a pharmacy and bought some toiletries in preparation for the parting of myself and my checked luggage, possibly permanently. If I had been heading to Rome on the first part of the trip, I knew where to obtain these things, but accidently stumbling across a decent pharmacy in Munich's airport was a bit of serendipity. The young lady behind the counter asked in English if I were headed to London. I told her I'd just been re-routed from America, bound for Rome. She looked at me sympathetically and rang my purchases through, and wished me well. Next stop, something to eat. There are several restaurants in the F & G concourses, and I found one, and in rather halting German ordered a chicken sandwich and a bottle of water. Since those needs had been satisfied, I read for a bit, and then walked about the concourse window-shopping. I did not have to go through Customs when I first landed, but I realized I'd have to do it most likely prior to traveling elsewhere within the EU, and I was right. I located a monitor that informed me of my departure gate, and headed to Customs, which was only staffed by two men, but at the time was really not busy at all. As luck would have it, my Customs agent was a major hottie, and when he saw my ticket said "Re-route" on it, he asked what my final destination was, and if I were on vacation. (It seemed inappropriate to tell him "Hell" and "no, it's more like my destiny", so I was polite, and said "Rome" and "yes".) I had to walk through a Human HabiTrail into another building, down an escalator, and through security. Once in the main concourse a lady in a pantsuit who looked as though she worked for the airport walked up to me and began to speak German. Now other than some social niceties, spoken slowly and carefully, German is not a language with which I am well-acquainted. So I smiled at her and said "I'm sorry?" in English and she, looking stunned, actually backed away from me and said "I'm sorry, I thought you were German." Not sure what it was all about, but I was a woman on a mission to find my gate, and find it I did! I plunked down into a seat and began to read again. Eventually a number of Italians came and sat in seats near me, and I remembered to take a small box out of my purse. A week or so before my vacation, I went to see my internist. She prescribed for me a small box of motion-sickness patches. I've never had motion-sickness before, but I reckoned that the hydrofoil to Capri was not where I hoped to find out if I'm susceptible to it. The patches are small, round, and are to be applied behind one ear near the hairline. They deliver some kind of anti-motion sickness drug transdermally, and I luckily remembered to put one on in time for it to take effect, because the drug must start being introduced into your system a while before whatever motion you're trying to counteract will begin.

Eventually we all were boarded onto our Lufthansa flight to Rome. If everything went according to schedule, we'd be landing around 5-5:15pm. Now the planes are actually named after German cities, which I had not known. I had a window seat, and when I looked at the plane "parked" next to ours, I saw it said Karlsruhe on it. My friend Tini is from Karlsruhe, and I knew she and her husband were on a brief holiday in Ireland at the time, but I felt like it was her way of saying "Hello, BC, have a good vacation, friend, all is well". And so it was. The flight was pleasantly uneventful, the plane inhabited mostly by Italians returning home, and the flight crew spoke English exclusively the whole time.

Upon landing in Rome, I glumly went to collect my baggage, because I knew the likelihood of it arriving when I did was relatively small, given the situation. I had, however, at JOdy's suggestion, purchased those marvelous Magellen luggage tags, into which you put your trip itinerary. My entire typed intinerary, including flight numbers, dates, hotel names and addresses and various phone numbers were in there, and I'd used some day-glo pink covers for the handles of the bag. Much to my joy and shock, my bag suddenly came out and deposited itself onto the luggage carousel. At that point I almost burst into tears of relief, and proclaimed loudly in English "There is a God, and She is good!" Italians began to mill around me, asking me what the hell I was saying, so I did explain, and everyone smiled and laughed and cheered. On to find my driver...

My driver turned out to be a young guy, compactly built, with a shaved head. He informed me that the hotel had not informed him of my re-routing until it was too late, so he'd arrived at Fiumincino early that morning to collect me from US Airways Flight 2, which of course, I'd not been on. Well, we'd better get underway to Naples, so off we went, much like a rocket. He was a very capable driver, but he drove, especially once on the highway due south, as though it were the Indy 500 time trials. He stayed in the left lane, and flashed his lights, and cars moved out of the way quickly so he could proceed. At one point, he looked at me in the rearview mirror and asked me if I drove. My first instinct was to ask "why, do you need me to?", but I said "yes, I drive every day to my office". He explained that in Italy it's rare that someone flashes their lights like that, and if one does, it's taken as a sign of an emergency, and traffic clears the way immediately. He further told me that unless we made it to the pier in Naples for the 7:40 hydrofoil, the next one would not be until 9:30. His sense of urgency made me a bit nervous, and when we arrived at the pier, he broke into a huge smile and said "we made it, the hydrofoil isn't in yet!", and he left to buy my tickets. (Plural, as my luggage apparently needed a ticket, too.)

Safely ensconced on the hydrofoil, the real voyage to Capri began. The hydrofoil was fairly heavily populated, and except for a slight degree of roughness in one small area, the crossing was pretty smooth. By now it was dark out and I looked up, and lo and behold, it was a lovely, bright, yellow-orange full moon greeting me over the Bay of Naples! When we arrived in Capri, as everyone was disembarking, I could hear a man saying "Quisisana? Quisisana?" This was the name of my hotel, so I walked up to him and said "Si". He introduced himself as Lucca from the hotel, and his uniform bore this information, also. He asked if I were Signora Kelly, and told me we'd be taking a cab up to the hotel. "Cab" was a rough translation--the vehicle that transported us up to the Piazetta was a fully restored cherry red Ford Fairlane convertible, so large a sheep could have given birth in the back seat and no one would have noticed. Once at the Piazetta, Lucca explained we'd have a small walk to the hotel. Exhausted, I stumbled behind him, taking note of toney shops along the way like Ferragamo and Gucci. At last we reached the hotel, which has a stunning pink facade, and with the terraced entrance filled with tables, and lit up the way it was, I felt like I'd arrived in error on a Hollywood set. Lucca left me with the concierge. The concierge, dear man, knew I was on the verge of collapse, and offered me a seat and a glass of water, both of which I declined. He told me he'd escort me to my room, and my luggage would be delivered shortly thereafter. We took the elevator up to the 3rd floor, and when we got out, we began to walk. And walk. I'm not exaggerating, I think my room was somewhere like a third of a mile down one of the halls. When we reached my room, the concierge showed me that no one would ever knock on my room door, as each room has its own doorbell. Once inside, he showed me some of the amenities, told me they have same-day laundry service, and showed me out onto my balcony. My balcony had a table, two chairs, and two lounge chairs. I thought I probably died and had mistakenly been sent to heaven, due to some paperwork screw-up on Satan's end of things. The concierge left, and I just stood staring at that crazy full moon winking a hello at me for untold minutes. My luggage was delivered, I unpacked a few items, turned on the telly, and started to fall asleep, when I was awakened by something. Poor woman! The maid had come in for turn-down service and hardly expected to see some slovenly fully-dressed American snoring in front of the television. She apologized, I apologized, I laughed, and she left. Thus endeth my first day.

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