Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Point of (we hope) no return

So here's me and Madam Neu, flopped in the departure lounge at Lambert. Flight's late; we've only got half an hour layover at Philly now—that's cutting it damned close. We're keeping our minds off a possible missed connection by playing with technology, and loading up her travel vest.

Madam Neu tackles a nearby Starbucks, and returns with two coffees and a slice of lemon pound cake. Sharing the cake, we're talking nearly as hard as the girl behind us, catching up on mutual friends and details of Cindy's new job, so it seems like no time at all until we board.She's got one of those high-tech things with a million zippy pockets, gussets, and lanyard moorings—when she dug it out and put it on, I had to jam a fist beneath my jaw to keep from addressing her as 'bwana'. (Not an unsuitable word choice in many ways, not the least of which is the fact that it comes to English from Swahili.)

Around us are an elderly lady reading to what looks like her granddaughter from a magazine, a couple watching a shoot-'em-up on a laptop, and half a dozen folks deeply engrossed in iPhones. Three teenage boys to our left are getting through prodigious quantities of chips and soda, and some poor chick behind us, fresh from a job interview, is chattering nineteen to the dozen into her cell about the job interview she'd just been to.

The flight to Philadelphia is uneventful, until the pilot announces that, thanks to a storm, we're being diverted to Allentown—so much for our connection to Venice, we think. Another announcement from the cockpit tells us we don't have enough fuel on board to get as far as Allentown, so we're now second in line to land. (No, I can't imagine any other circumstances under which I'd be happy to hear that an aircraft carrying me is dangerously low on fuel.)

On the ground, we may just still make our connection, but it leaves from terminal A, and we're at terminal F. We catch the shuttle, along with the rest of the passengers from the puddle-jumper on which we came in from St. Louis. Arriving at terminal A, we're down to minutes from departure time. Only possible course of action: RUN. I kick off my sandals, and run barefoot (*broad grin*) and we make it to the gate just in time to see the plane taxi off to the runway.

Nothing for it but to head for Special Services, where we stand in a line that's slow as a dead turtle. The mood is turning ugly—one older guy in a hat is heckling the hapless staff at the desk, and people are grumbling restively. Technology to the rescue: seconds later, thanks to the marvel of a simple cellular phone call, our travel agents in St. Louis are on the case. By the time we reach the desk, we are able to tell the now-bellicose lady behind it that we're booked on the 8:30pm flight to Frankfurt, with a Lufthansa connection on through to Venice. Her face goes blank for a second, but, checking our reservation, she finds it's already been updated, and prints our boarding passes—kudos to Cathy and Katie at Tiger Travel....!

Back to the gate, board the plane (an Airbus A330, for those interested in aircraft), and we're in the air again in minutes.

Maybe I'm a complete wacko, but I enjoy the unexpected twists and turns of travel. Bravo for life's little ironies, as G.B. Trudeau once aptly put it. Next stop: Frankfurt.

Frankfurt is a quick stop, one plane straight to the next, a small Lufthansa, and in the air again to Marco Polo. An hour and a half later, we find both suitcases are still in Philadelphia. Paperwork ensues, with the Lost Baggage office, then a short bus journey onto the island.

It's only 3:00pm, so we spend the next several hours just walking—feeling—the town, before we finally (after an intense hunt for it) arrive at the hotel. We're on the 4th floor, with our own small rooftop terrace, overlooking a small courtyard.

Absolutely adore the city—looking forward to further exploration!


  1. I feel as though I'm tagging along. Watch out for Giuseppe and Roberto!

  2. Love the updates! Glad you both made it there! Enjoy =)

    Be warned:
    Frances: Do traffic lights mean anythng around here?
    Marcello: Sure. Green light - avanti, avanti. Yellow light - decoration.
    Frances: What about red light?
    Marcello: Just a suggestion.
    -Under the Tuscan Sun