Tuesday, June 12, 2012

From the Mitten to the Boot

The Tuesday I left Grand Rapids was bittersweet. On one hand I thought about all of the wonderful opportunities that the next few months would bring, but on the other I couldn't help but be saddened by the thought of leaving my family for almost seven months. So as I made my way past security at Gerald R. Ford, I waved back at my parents with a heavy heart.

Grand Rapids' final reminder of the life I've momentarily put on hold for Italy.

The flight from Grand Rapids to Cleveland was, in retrospect, incredibly pleasant. I sat next to an Asian woman who had flown out to Grand Rapids with her son to drop him off at Michigan State for the summer. After arriving in Cleveland's airport, I made my way toward the gate from which my flight to Toronto would depart. As I walked past groups of frantic people, I looked over at the screens displaying arrival and departure times for different flights. There were three flights for Toronto on the departure screen, with only one reading "Cancelled." Naturally, it was my flight.

At the Customer Service desk I was told that I had been re-booked for a flight that went like this: Cleveland - Chicago - Newark - Rome. On top of that, I wouldn't be departing until the next day. I probably stood at the desk for about an hour as the lady waited to reach someone at Air Canada. She had found a way for me to skip the trip to Chicago (thankfully), but apparently I couldn't be re-booked for the new flight until I was unseated from the first. In essence, it was a mess. But that's the story of my life with airports...

Instead of arriving in Perugia on Wednesday May 30th as planned, I was now scheduled to arrive a day later. The airport in Cleveland put me in a Days Inn for the night (which was nice of them!) and early on the next day (May 30th) I got up to head back to Cleveland's airport for my 11:00 am departure to Newark. This time, luckily, there were no flight cancellations! 

After exchanging my dollars for Euros, eating Chinese food, and calling home with my US cell phone one last time in Newark's airport, I hopped on the airplane at 5:30 pm to fly out to Rome. This airplane was massive compared to the last two...and it also lacked air-conditioning. The lady who sat across the aisle from me was not happy! The eight-and-a-half hour flight consisted of me watching a movie in Spanish, tracking the flight path, watching two episodes of Louie, eating dinner and breakfast, and attempting to sleep. All in all, it wasn't a bad flight after we got in the air and the temperature of the cabin cooled considerably. 

There was a lot fog surrounding Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport when we arrived. I followed the herd of people heading toward the carousels so that I wouldn't get lost. At 8:30 am in the morning (2:30 am in Grand Rapids), there were very few people at the airport. I waited twenty minutes for my suitcase to make it onto the carousel, then navigated through customs, asked in Italian where I could find the Sulga bus which would take me to Perugia, and proceeded to get lost a few times. Finally, a guy in a bright yellow vest pointed me in the direction of the Sulga bus stop: right in front of me. 

The bus left around 9:30 am from Fiumicino. All in all, it took about 4 hours to finally arrive in Perugia, including a few stops and a change of buses. I definitely can't complain about that, though. Looking out from the window, the scenery was spectacular. The bus winded through the narrow streets as it made its way up Perugia. My first impression of the city was that it was large, beautiful, and disorganized. Small streets fed into larger streets from all angles, the graffiti on the walls was accented by the rich green shrubbery and vines that surrounded it, and there were people everywhere.

Italy's weather was nice enough to be beautiful on the day I arrived. Thanks, Italy!

We were dropped off at the bus station, and from there I walked around in circles trying to find a taxi. After asking a local where I could find a taxi and subsequently being pointed in the right direction, I caught sight of two taxis waiting for customers. Unfortunately, the taxi driver was unsure what location I was looking for when I gave her the address "Via Pascoli n. 4" and mentioned "San Francesco." This led to her driving to the wrong place originally. After I mentioned a church being beside my place of residence, she finally understood. 

As I approached the gates of Collegio San Francesco al Prato, my 20-hour-turned-48-hour trip from Grand Rapids, MI to Perugia, Umbria, Italy was complete. I'd gone from the mitten to the boot.

No comments:

Post a Comment