Friday, April 29, 2016

. . . And So It Begins!

Well Thomas and I are off on another adventure. This time we are headed to Southern Italy and Sicily. We are traveling again with a letterboxing group and this is another Pinecone Adventure hosted by Mark and Sue Pepe. We are really excited about this trip because it is a place we have never been. The Pepe's posted an event sign up (Southern Italy & Sicily with Pinecone Adventures) quite a while back. We immediately signed up for it. It is a food and wine tour and should be fun - the itinerary looks great. You can read more about Pinecone Adventures at Pinecone Boxing: Pinecone Adventures and Pinecone Adventures - Facebook.

Our day started early this morning in the neighborhood of 3:00am. We got dressed and took care of a few final details before leaving the house sometime around 3:40am. I love driving to the Albuquerque International Sunport at this time since there is no traffic. After parking at Airport Parking we got the shuttle to the terminal. We are flying Delta and we got through check in quickly. Security was also fast as we had TSA PreCheck (so no emptying pockets or taking off shoes or pulling things out of our carry-on bags) and in less that five minutes we were done. We made our way to the gate and found some seats. We read for about 30 minutes and then the flight started boarding. This took so long - they started boarding at 5:40am and didn't finish until 6:25am and then finally took off at 6:30am. The flight was a non-stop flight from Albuquerque to Atlanta and turned out to be a quick and comfortable flight. We read and talked with a guy sitting in our row. He was extremely nice and we had a great conversation.

We arrived in Atlanta ahead of schedule at 11:00am (we were scheduled to land at 11:16am) and found ourselves with seven hours to kill. We hadn't had any breakfast so our first priority was food. We ended up at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant where we had some great sandwiches and a relaxing lunch, since we weren't in any hurry. After eating we walked around the terminal and did some window shopping before getting on the Plane Train to the terminal where our next flight leaves from. There are eight terminals in the airport - we arrived in Terminal A and we needed to get to Terminal F - the Plane Train seem to be the best way to get from point A to point F. We then found a spot to sit and relax and read, play on the computer and take a couple of cat naps. We also took walks around the Terminal to stretch our legs. Our original departure time from Atlanta for Rome was 6:36pm (Thursday 4/28), it was pushed back to 6:56pm because the plane was late arriving from another airport. As it got closer to 7:00pm we kept getting overhead announcements that they still weren't ready and then around 7:16pm we started boarding. By the time we got everyone on board it was 7:49pm - about an hour later that the original take-off time.

Once settled in our seats and comfortable Thomas and I read for about an hour. Then we got a few things from our carry-on to keep us busy. Through out the flight we had snacks and meals - a snack of a drink and cookies, then a meal of chicken, salad, roll, fruit, brownie and a drink. Sometime in the middle of the night we got a small sandwich and a drink for a snack and then finally we got breakfast (yogurt, muffin, cookie, orange juice and coffee. We also had a selection of movies and TV shows that we could choose to watch. So we would watch a show and then read and then watch a show and then read - this went on most of the night. We also tried to take a nap but neither of us could sleep. Our original arrival time in Rome was 10:15am but with the late take-off we didn't arrive until 11:10am. We needed to pass through Customs in Rome before being able to get to our next gate. Thankfully it was quick and easy so that we didn't waste too much time.

Our next flight to Catania was scheduled to take-off at 12:30pm so we didn't have much time to get from the plane to our gate. It took a while to get off the plane and then we had to walk down some stairs to a bus and then taken to the Terminal. Once in the Terminal we had to find a board to see which gate our flight was at. We needed to be at Gate B12 - so we started walking following signs for the B Terminal. We kept walking and checking the boards, walking and checking the boards, walking and finally arrived at B12 only to find an empty area and a sign over the desk for a flight to Geneva. So we went back to a board and saw this time that our flight was at gate B3. So we back tracked (thankfully not too far) and found the gate and the other passengers. Thankfully this flight was delayed so we made it on time. By the time all the passengers were on the plane it was 1:00pm and then take-off was at 1:15pm. Originally we were to arrive in Catania at 1:45pm but didn't make it until almost 3:00pm. Once in Catania we got our bags and then found our tour guide to get the shuttle to the hotel. We waited another hour for one more passenger to arrive and finally around 4:00pm we headed to the hotel. We are now in Sicily and the vacation can really begin.

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