Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rome Again Rome Again

After 2 1/2 months in Italy and lots of life-changing and cultural experiences, I’m back again.  This time is going to be a completely different experience because A: I have much more freedom and a limited amount of time to see everything, and B: The greatest world traveler and best friend around (Connie Hoover) is joining me in this adventure.  The plan is to meet up in Rome and take the train straight down to Naples and Pompeii for the start of our trip, and then work our way back up the country and over into France.
For those of you that know me, I like to wait for the last minute for everything, and I rarely plan out details in advance.  I know it drives some people crazy, but it’s just the way I am.  Everything generally works itself out anyways, so why waste time planning the nitty gritty details??  Welllll...sometimes this habit of mine comes back to bite me in the butt.  Connie practically had to force me to sit on the computer a month before this trip and purchase our plane tickets home together.  No easy feat, seeing as how she was halfway around the world and a full 12 hour time difference away.  But, alas, it all worked out.  Finally, few weeks ago I decided to start looking for a plane ticket TO Italy.  A flight home from Paris was great, but I needed to get there somehow.  Being the obsessive internet ticket searcher that I am, purchasing a plane ticket generally takes anywhere from 4-24 hours.  No joke.  Maybe that’s why I put everything off for the last minute...because I know its going to consume me for the greater part of the day.  So I work my magic and find a single plane ticket to Newark, and then another ticket to London Heathrow, and then on to Rome.  Seriously, I don’t know how British Airways didn’t lose money on me.  I sent Connie my itinerary, and she wrote back a day later something along the lines of ‘Don’t freak out, but I don’t fly in until the next day.’  Umm....Oopsies!! 
After a little panic attack from mom, and reviewing all my options, I decided (as we all should about everything in life) to make the most of it and find something super cool to do on Tuesday when I arrive.  Before we get to that, though, lets recap the trip over here.
I flew from Orlando to Newark, which I thought was in New Jersey, but everything on the plane tickets said New York, so now I’m not really sure.  Since this was a single ticket not attached to my British Airways flight, I had to check my bag, claim it at the Newark airport, and then re-check it with British Airways.  With that being said, I have now officially become a master plane traveler.  By the time we got to the airport in Orlando I had less than 30 minutes to check my bag, go through security, and make it to the gate before they started boarding, and I’m proud to say I made it there with 15 minutes to spare.  I lugged my 11kg backpack around the Newark airport until I found British Airways (they’re doing construction so it was a little hard to find) and then went off in search of some lunch.  When I was riding the train between terminals, I caught a glimpse of the New York City skyline, complete with the Statue of Liberty.  A little bittersweet for me, because on November 1st of last year I ran my very first marathon through the streets of New York, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I didn’t get in on lottery this year, but on the bright side, that meant I was able to go on this trip!  I made it to the Newark gate with about 15 minutes to spare...just enough time to load a new book on my Kindle and call home.  The flight from Newark to London was from 6pm to 1am according to our time in Florida, but by the time we landed in London it was 7am...just in time to see the sun rise.  The flight really felt like it was 2 hours long because I slept practically the entire much so that the lady I sat next to complemented me on my sleeping abilities.  I started watching Sex and the City 2 (I know, terrible choice), but apparently one of the in-flight entertainment systems had some electrical issues and started smoking while we were flying, so they had to shut down the entire thing.  But, because of this, everyone received $25 British Airways vouchers for our next flight.  Again, I don’t know how they made money off of me.  And, anyone looking to travel to Europe, I am completely a fan of British Airways.  Much more so than Lufthansa.  The seats are bigger and more comfortable, you have more foot room, nicer blankets, pillows, eye masks, socks, nicer flight attendants, and an overall more relaxed experience.  The Lufthansa planes seem nicer/newer, but the overall flying experience is uptight and a bit stressful.  So we land in London and I head out in search of breakfast, since I slept through it on the plane.  The London airport is by far the nicest airport I’ve ever been in.  You can tell it is brand new or newly remodeled, but there are also other little things that make it a pleasant airport.  For instance, in order to keep the noise down and the terminals more quiet, they only announce final calls for flights over the speaker.  No gate numbers, changes, or other useless information that nobody listens to anyways.  To make up for this, they have strategically placed computer stations where you can check your flight status, gate, time, etc.  The airport also had a wide range of healthy food choices, which I greatly appreciated.  Organic soy latte and all natural fruit salad for breakfast is a major win in my books.  Oh yeah, and I watched the sunrise while eating.