Monday, June 15, 2009

Saturday-Sunday: Traveling to JFK to GTW to Rome

Quick Summary

We got here okay by Sunday afternoon and enjoy the city.

Check-in and JFK

We changed airlines in JFK, so we had to shuttle around bags. JFK is huge. I read that some people pay for a taxi to get between terminals, but I didn't believe until today. We arrived at terminal 8 and walked what seemed like a mile to get our bags. We were very fortunate to find a free cart right at the gate. We then went to terminal 1 to hold our carry-on bags while we were in Manhattan . Then it was off to terminal 7 to check our big bags with British Air.

Our check-in agent was like Dieter from Sprockets. "This interaction is cumbersome and bores me. This conversation is terminated," was his attitude.


Then we got back on the airport train to the Long Island Railroad transfer station. Then 20 minutes to Penn Station in Manhattan and another few on the subway to the Port Authority. We walked to the UN and took the M27 bus back. So we enjoyed almost every form of transportation today, from escalators to airplanes to trains(no ferries or rickshaws).

We walked around the UN visitor area for a little while. There were some cool photographs of animals from around the world. Showing my lack of refinement, I was thrilled to see the UN's support of ice cream technology with its ice cream vending machine, which is the kind that uses a vacuum hose to deliver the ice cream, in the basement.

We enjoyed the city, and it gave us a little trial run of navigating a busy city, albeit in English this time.

Back to JFK

Requirements for a good restaurant:

  • It has the name McDonalds
  • It has cheap chicken McNuggets
  • It has free wifi
  • It has CNN in high definition playing in the market
  • It has free refills

Helpful, but not absolutely essential:

  • It has a large table where ten old guys of various ethnicities sit around and argue for hours, in a way that you can hear what they are saying but not understand 90% of it. To be fair, only the Roxboro/I-85 McDonalds meets this requirement.

The JFK McDonalds fails on all but one requirement. Nevertheless, my last American McMeal was tasty and filling.

Flight to London Gattwick

We got an upgrade to World Traveler Plus from economy, right before we boarded the plane. We did not know why or even what it meant. It's one level up from "economy" or "commoners"-we couldn't tell with the accent of the stewardess and all. I quickly walked back to economy to see how much better we had it. We have a little more leg room. We get nicer headphones. I was a little surprised at that quick instinct to feel better than others.

We get a curtain. I've seen the first class curtain before, but I've always been behind it. We still are behind the black first class curtain, but a blue veil separates us from the truly unwashed masses. In reality, it just makes it hard to see when the loo is available.

Speaking of for-n-r speak (no offence meant to for-n-r's) , from the British paper, I deduce we are taking a break, not a vacation. Holiday seems to be okay as well, and it sounds less romanticaly disastrous. "We are taking a break" doesn't sound encouraging for a tenth anniversary trip.

The satellite phone in the seat cost $4 + $0.15/second. PER SECOND. So it might cost $10 to call and say, "Guess WHERE I am calling from? It is actually tempting. In fact, the phone also serves as the TV remote control. So it's always there, tempting you.

When I went to the WC in the economy section, I was afraid to cross the curtain. I went back around before realizing that my seat was beyond the great wall of blue.

Good conversation with my wife made the ride seem shorter!

Listened (accidentally) to Sunday, Bloody Sunday while approaching Ireland and heard Beautiful Day as the sun came up

London Gatwick to Albio Laziale

The 2 hours we spent on the runway waiting to take off at JFK almost led us to miss the connection to Rome. It took a lot of walking without much help from escalators, to do the rail transfers to get to our town, Albio Laziale. We asked some Nuns for their cell phone, when the pay phone wouldn't call. Without speaking their language, we gestured that the pay phone was kaput while they kept pointing us in that direction. They let us and refused a Euro as payment.

Our host picked us up at the train and delivered us to our apartment. We relaxed a little then hunted for food. A nearby pizza place closed when we initially passed. Very friendly people at a pharmacy helped us to find a restaurant after initially thinking we were looking for food in the pharmacy.

It turned out they had pointed us back to the pizza place, which was on siesta and would reopen at 5 pm. In the mean time we followed people to a neighborhood yard sale. Eight track tapes and George Michael records were available, and I was tempted. 100 year old antiques were next to 4 small animatronic feet that danced to "Unchained Melody." They had a lot of Italian books. I should have realized it earlier, really instantly, but the books drove it home that they really do speak a very different language here. Not just for fun between friends, but all the time.

At around 5, we went back for pizza. They were friendly but not in a hurry (it was really opening 5ish). After only snacks all day, we were very hungry and the pizza was good.

I was very tired by 9pm Sunday. From Thurs Noon to Sunday Noon EDT, I had about 6 hours of sleep.

You can tell I had a lot of time on the plane with the old pocket PC to write this all. I haven't written this much since writing VB code in 2005



  1. I'm laughing out loud. Glad to hear you made it safe and sound. "Taking a break" might not sound right for a 10-year anniversary, but it sounds like the perfect tag line for my upcoming trip.

  2. Glad you got to enjoy the luxuries in front of the blue curtain (even if you had to remain behind the fancier black one). Those crazy Italians - speaking a "farn" language all the time. Rest well, friends.