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

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

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

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

And the moon was full and beautiful!The moon in Italy ©Janine Broscious

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

My Birthday, Creativity and Gasparilla State Park

Some friends tell me that they don’t want to hear about our adventures here in Florida while they are freezing back at home. But I know there are a few that love to look at photos of a warmer place during the winter. Plus, please know that I really just wish you were all down here with me! That said, I had a lovely birthday here in Sarasota. My parents treated Matt and me to the circus. At the circus

The entire show was amazing, but my favorite was watching the Wallendas perform. You may know of Nik Wallenda, the famous tight rope artist that has crossed Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. But he is part of the Flying Wallendas, an incredible family of acrobats.Wallendas

Before the circus started and during the break, videos were shown about the Wallendas including one of them performing a seven-person chair pyramid in 1962. As we watched the video, we saw one of the Wallendas falter and the whole pyramid collapse. Three people died and two were severely injured in this fall since they perform with no nets. These videos certainly had us all prepared to watch this talented family! I must admit, it was thrilling and yet utterly frightening to see them perform the seven-person chair pyramid for us. Nik’s mother, Delilah, is the one standing on the chair. That woman must be at least  in her 50’s! They asked that everyone be quiet while the Wallendas performed the pyramid and I’m sure I held my breath the whole time.The Flying Wallendas seven-person chair pyramid

The circus was a few days before my actual birthday, so my hubby took me out for dinner at Marina Jack’s. Oh, how lovely to watch the sunset over the water, birds fly and dive for fish, and dolphins swimming. And the scallop dinner was scrumptious!Marina Jack's

Most of the time we’ve been here it has been cold and rainy, but last weekend’s weather was finally the kind we came down for. It started out with a lovely sunset on Friday night which included an unusual conjunction of the moon, Venus and Mars. Mars is a bit difficult to see in the photo, but it is there just up and to the right of Venus.Conjunction of the moon, Venus and Mars

While searching for a new place to ride bikes, I came across Gasparilla State Park. It was an hour drive away, but so worth it!DSC_1182

We have never seen a beach with so many shells.DSC_1187

Matt went out into the water and found this shell. It was still housing a creature, so we threw it back.DSC_1181

I took a break from the treasure hunt on a bed of shells.DSC_1196

We had come here for a bike ride and so far I had been completely distracted by the shells! We did ride for 6 miles and found a geocache at the range light.DSC_1202 DSC_1203

Our trusty bikes waited for us under a palm.Our bikes

We were set to go on an adventure with my folks the next day back to Fort DeSoto. But I was in love with Gasparilla State Park! So the next day, we took Mom, Dad and our friends, Ray and Nita, back to the island. We hadn’t gotten to see the light house, but we did this time.DSC_1219

You know I love lighthouses! Well, even though this one is quite squatty, it still offered a wonderful view.DSC_1211

We all had fun shelling. Here is just a part of my treasure. I’m contemplating what crafty thing to do with them.My shells

And speaking of creativity, I’ve been busy, as usual. There was a craft/art show here in the RV park. My jewelry was well received as well as Matt and Dad’s 3D printed projects.Art show at the RV park

I finished the punch needle owl project. After looking for a frame, I ended up buying a canvas, ribbon and push pins. Instead of a $30 frame, I spent $6 and like it a whole lot better.punch needle project

After deciding NOT to bring my rug hooking materials with me on this trip, that’s all I wanted to do! So, here is a new rug project I’m working on.rug project

Finally, I’ve been loving doing the Bible Art Challenge. What a wonderful way to spend time with God and contemplate his goodness. This one is for John 3:16. I wanted to illustrate that God’s great love for all mankind led to his sacrifice for us.John 3:16

Then we studied I Corinthians 13. Here I focused on the words about true love.Love never ends

I John speaks a lot about love, especially God’s perfect love for us and how we should love each other. I have watched bluebirds and they look out for one another in such a tender way. Perfect love

So, I think we are all caught up! Today, I might make yet another trip to the craft store. I’m filled with ideas for those shells! Hope you all stay warm and happy wherever you are and remember God loves you more than you’ll ever know!  Please leave me a comment! 🙂