May 5-6

SALLY MCKENZIE’S EUROPEAN ADVENTURE – TAKE 2

MAY 5, Friday

Got up just after 2 – luckily Dom had gotten up since the alarm didn’t ring. Got to the airport way before I needed to, just in case there was a problem with the bike. Got a really nice check-in lady that didn’t charge me extra for the over-size bundle (paniers and camping sacks) or the over-weight bike box. They did open and almost empty the bike box in the over-size luggage dept as something made their ‘wand’ beep, but they put it all back in and taped it up again for me.

Dom left and I drank tea and waited over an hour to board the flight to Calgary. Had an ok flight on a two-proppper then waited about 2 hrs to board for Montreal. Didn’t get a window seat on this one.

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Barely had time to run to the correct gate to catch the flight to Rome. Left on time again and had an alright flight – watched a movie and a couple episodes of Big Bang but got no sleep at all. The chairs recline about an inch and there’s no way to stretch out. Luckily had an empty seat between me and the next guy, and did get a couple extra free bottles of wine with my dinner (questionable chicken, coleslaw – couldn’t identify what was in it).

May 6, Saturday

Landed on time – just before 9 am Italy time. Went to get my bag and bike, and – surprise, surprise – the bike wasn’t there. Went back and forth between the regular luggage place and the over-size without success. Finally the lady at the info desk told me to check at Air Canada’s ‘lost luggage’ window and as soon as I gave her the luggage tag number she said ‘oh – that’s still in Montreal and should be here tomorrow on the same flight you just got in on’! My bike was bumped!

Tried to find the ‘safe bag’ place, hoping that when the bike gets here they’d help me reassemble it – got a grand tour of all three levels of Terminal 3 being sent here, there and everywhere by info folks and other airport staff who didn’t have a clue. Finally one lady recognized the place I’d googled on my ipad – no one else until then could figure out where it was but she got me to them. The guy wasn’t there but did show up just as the helpful lady had called his posted phone number and found it was out of service. The bag guy said to come when I had my bike and he’d try to help me for 40 euros.

I was very tired and decided to hang around the airport until the next morning, but several hours after laying down on my yoga mat in a quiet corner of the 3rd floor of Terminal 3 and getting hardly any shut-eye I was more exhausted than ever. I face-timed Dom, who hadn’t gotten my earlier email about the bike – he convinced me it would be worth it to bite the bullet and get a hotel. I booked one online after checking with another info lady about how close the hotel was to the airport – shouldn’t cost too much for a taxi to take me there. By this time I was kind of crying and I think the info lady felt sorry for me – she was extra nice telling me where to go to get a cab.

The taxi drivers that wait at the arrivals level are f-ing vultures preying on the weary. The first guy told me he’d give me a deal and take me the 3-4 km for only 30 euros. When I said that was way too much he said he’d get his friend who would give me a cheaper deal – yah right – he said 48 euros! Headed outside and eventually, after walking another mile or so to Terminal 1 I was directed to the ‘local’ taxis. This one said 20 euros, and by then I was ready to drop from pushing my baggage buggy all around T-3 several times so I said ok. Got to the right place. They had rec’d my reservation online and were expecting me. Check-in was quick and easy – showed my passport (they photocopied it) and had already paid online so was good to go to my room. There was a very cute, small and friendly cat in the lobby so that somehow made me feel a bit better. Followed the elderly man (who carried one of my bags for me) out of the hotel, out of the courtyard and down the alley-street, past a blaring bar, around a corner and down another alley-street into the courtyard of a different hotel. Must be owned by the same folks. Into my room and almost straight to bed, after face-timing Dom again. The kitties could hear my voice but didn’t know how to look at the screen to see me. Had a hot shower and felt a little better, or at least a little less zombie-ish.

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Thought it was going to be an alright night and could catch up a bit on my sleep, but –  noooo. After drifting off around 10:30 I was woken up an hour later by a couple checking into the next room. What followed was a marathon of moaning, grunting and bed springs sqeaking all fucking night. A couple of times I thought – finally some peace, but then it would start up again. I suspect the woman was a prostitute from the bar that we’d walked past, and the man, well, it reminded me of the american pharmaceutical add that says ‘if you have an erection for more than 4 hours call your doctor…’ – the Italian stallion next door put that to shame.

At one point I gave up trying to sleep and decided to listen to some Italian lessons with the ear buds. When I first turned the lesson the ear bud jack wasn’t in so the lesson kind of blared out. I quickly inserted the jack and tried to fall asleep listening to Italian lessons instead of Italian sex, but it didn’t work. Then I removed the jack and listened out loud to Croation for a bit, hoping that might encourage my neighbours to tone the vocals a bit, but of course that didn’t work. Exhaustion finally allowed me to get 1 1/2 or 2 hours sleep before my 6:30 wake up call.

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