Italy 2015 #1: Arrive in Sicily

Traveling is always an adventure and this Italian adventure began as soon as we arrived at Reagan National Airport in Washington DC. A man offered to check us in at the curb, and was able to check my bag and print out a boarding pass for me, but didn’t seem to be able to take care of Matt’s bags. Finally, after taking us inside to have someone else check us in, Matt had a boarding pass in hand. We had a short flight from DC to JFK airport in NYC. Both airports had an international feel to them. It seemed as if we were already in another country! People-watching is always fun in airports and we were hearing many languages.

At JFK, we had to stand in line to get boarding passes for the last two legs of our trip: NYC to Rome, and then Rome to Sicily. The woman at the Alatalia window quickly printed off my boarding passes, but again, when she attempted to print off Matt’s, she couldn’t do it. Three people were working on it at one point. Finally, one of them said they couldn’t get us seats together on the last flight from Rome to Sicily because we were on different flights. Oh no! This couldn’t be. That would mean that in a country where I didn’t speak the language, I would have to take a flight all by myself and wait an hour for his flight to come into Sicily. I was a bit upset by this point, but started praying and also reminding myself of my latest saying, “It always seems to work out somehow.”

Matt mentioned that it had been necessary for him to book our flights by two separate methods. His flight had to be booked through an IBM travel agent since it was a trip for work, but mine couldn’t be done that way. So, as he was booking his flight through the IBM agent, he was also speaking with an agent at Alatalia to arrange mine. He double and triple checked to make sure that all three of our flights were the same. But now the Alatalia agent in front of us in NYC was telling us that Matt must have made a mistake on the last flight and booked us on different planes.

I was surprised. Matt is a man of details! But he had also been arranging a lot of flights lately with work related travel and was quite exhausted. He was, however, able to pull out an email printout that showed us on the same flights. That’s my guy! Our helpful Alatalia agent looked at it and said, “You booked this through American Express? Well, it seems they made a mistake. I guess you are on separate flights unless you want to pay a penalty to change it.”

What?! Really?! I said, “It doesn’t seem like we should be held responsible for a fee when we have a confirmation showing the correct flights.”

She replied, “Well, take it up with American Express.”

I took a deep breath. Rather than getting more upset, I prayed more and told myself that separate flights wouldn’t be the end of the world. I could do this.  Suddenly, she said, “Wait a minute. I wonder if Delta changed it for some reason.” Our flight to NYC had been with Delta and the two airlines seemed to be working together. After typing for quite a while on her keyboard, she found a history of the reservation. Sure enough, Matt had reserved them correctly, but Delta had changed things without notifying us. I thought she would say that we still would need to pay a penalty or just deal with it, but instead she said there were seats available in my flight and changed his for no charge! Finally, we had our flights and seat reservations for the rest of the trip.

Except for a gate change that we didn’t know about at first and a night of very little sleep, our trip went just fine. Our plane from Rome landed in Catania, Sicily at 8 am but our bodies thought it was 2 am. After picking up our rental car, we drove to our agriturismo, Tenuta Giarretta, seeing cacti bearing  fruit along the way.Cacti bearing fruit. ©Janine Broscious 2015 www.joyfulwonder.com

I wondered if Clelia, the sweet woman that took care of me, would remember would us from when we stayed there last year. As we pulled our luggage up the cobblestone sidewalk, out the door she came, gasping and exclaiming. Soon we were greeted with hugs, kisses and a stream of Italian accompanied by a big smile. I’d say yes, she remembered!

This agriturismo is a beautiful relaxing place. They served us lunch which included figs and cacti fruit. We hadn’t had either before. They both tasted so sweet and wonderful, but the cacti fruit was chock full of seeds that you just had to swallow. I liked them both, but I’m a big fan of the figs!Cactus fruit and figs ©Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

We met a family from London at dinner. They were delightful and seemed to have the same kinds of adventures that we do, ones that include single lane dirt roads and road blocks. We jokingly practiced greeting each other with kisses to both sides of the face as Italians do. ©Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

That evening, the sunset was gorgeous. I loved how the steaming volcano, Mt Etna looked off in the distance.Tenuta Giaretta and Mt Etna ©Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

And the moon was full and beautiful!The moon in Italy ©Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Our Italian adventure was off and running and what a wonderful start it had been. After a day of making ourselves stay awake so that we could get over jet lag, I was looking forward to a good night sleep and a day of exploring! Let the adventures continue!

Next post: Italy #2

Great Smoky Mountains

I just realized that I never wrote about our trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was so beautiful! And smoky. I tried and tried to get a nice photo that showed the layer upon layer effect of the mountains. I was rewarded with some success, but not exactly what I wanted. We may have to go again sometime! 4-DSC_2649 2 3-DSC_2657 2 2-DSC_2468 2 1-DSC_2879 2 1-DSC_2866 1-DSC_2726 1-DSC_2693 2 1-DSC_2690 9 1-DSC_2669 1-DSC_2640 2 1-DSC_2492 1-DSC_2472 1-DSC_2468 1-DSC_2445 1-DSC_2437 21-DSC_2760 2Hope you enjoyed the photos!