Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Back to Rome...June 2010 Day One

Well, things are definitely moving ahead in this world! I want to tell you all about it but first…

We flew Delta and had a nightmare time getting an assigned seat on the plane to Rome. Something about an equipment change in New York. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find anyone in the whole airline that could override their system and get us assigned seats. My almost last try was to call them at exactly 24 hours before departure. It also failed to get me a seat so I went online, checked in electronically and low and behold, the second leg of the trip from Kennedy to Rome had seat assignments. No luck on the cross country leg and I was still locked out. Somehow, miraculously, during the day, the seat assignments appeared. We were separated three rows apart in rotten seats. At check-in, same problem, they knew all about it, equipment change, we were screwed. One possible chance, the gate has around fourteen seats at their discretion to assign, with any luck the can give us new seat assignments.

When we got there we had to wait in line (not a good sign) and when I got to the front of the line, she explained that all the flight was sold out and all seats were taken. I explained my long and convoluted story of all of the attempts I had made to obtain assigned seats starting with when I had booked the flight months earlier. She was very nice and put our names on her list. She said that she was working on upgrading two people that have assigned isle seats across from each other in an emergency exit row to first class and she might be able to get us those. We had become convinced that fate was working to keep us apart on that flight but that kind lady came through and put us in that exit row (lots of leg room). Donna immediately traded one of the aisle seats with a center seat and viola’, we were sitting together. What a relief, traveling with Donna is fun and part of that is the airplane ride. I just wanted the complete package.

So, back to what I was going to tell you about. Delta is rolling in Wi-Fi on their airplanes. This plane had Wi-Fi. As a frequent flyer I had received an email on their rollout. It was supposed to cost around $12 on flights of 4 hours, a bit more for longer flights or something like $32 for a twenty-four hour package (or was that for a whole month of usage?). Good news, once the Gods decided that our luck had needed to change, they went even further than the seats we got. I logged into the ‘gogo inflight network’ and for whatever reason, it was free for us today!

Well, the entertainment of the internet on a flight is priceless. Much better that a movie (yes I also watched a movie). We are using Donnas’ awesome Acer laptop with Windows 7, over eight hours of battery life, HDMI monitor, Wireless ‘N’, a hi-def web cam and 500 GB hard all in less than four pounds of weight. We both checked and responded to email and then I attached an external 500GB hard drive that is the size of a pack of cards and had access to all my Documents, Pictures and Videos. We proceeded to produce the invitation for our Summer Party, edited it and refined it then sent it out to our ‘Party Groups’ from each of our profiles. OK, not so special tech wise except that we were in a plane over the Central States when we did it. The second flight was nowhere near as good, I didn’t sleep much and we didn’t get exit seats. To top off the disappointments, no Wi-Fi either.

Beatrice met us at the airport and drove us into Rome to the new apartment that she and Renzo had just moved into the previous week. The apartment was very nice and it is on the ground floor with a real yard on three sides. It was good to see Renzo again and I met their daughter Micolla for the first time.

After bathing and taking a nap, Donna had left for her first day of teaching. I got up and decided to go out for a stroll. I wanted to be familiar with the neighborhood; find the closest Metro station (Cornelia on the Red Line) and make sure I could find my way back to the apartment. Leaving the apartment I felt like I was really in the middle of nowhere. This area of Rome isn’t even on my map and it is really directly behind the Vatican and close to the Via Aurelia antica which was one of the main roads (started around 241 B.C.) out of ancient Rome that led up the coast to Pisa. Up the street through a few turns I came upon a huge piazza that doubles as a transit center. No isolation here. I can get to anywhere from here. I wandered around the neighborhood for a few hours checking out the stores and the women. Basically the sites. I had a Suppli at a corner fast food place and scored some Euros from an ATM so that I would have more of the local currency. Eventually, I found a market, bought some basic groceries and some wine. This place has me confused. At first I couldn’t find a bottle of red wine more expensive than 1.95 Euros. Eventually I did find a bottle of Chianti Classico for 5.00 Euro but that was absolutely the most expensive bottle in the market. Wow!

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