Thursday, July 4, 2013

Aeroplani, Treni e Automobili (e Autobus): Scalea to Rome (7/2/13)

I went through the security checkpoint, the military dressed member of Italian TSA said: “Water?”

Crap, I thought.  I took my bike water bottle and he let me take it into the bathroom to dump out.

Upon my return, military dressed member of Italian TSA said: “More water?”

Oh crap. Sure enough I had a 1.5 liter bottle of what Andy Griffith would have called an Italian Big Orange Drink – an Italian Fanta.   That, I had to just throw out.  He gave me a “good grief” sigh.  It thought about using the old: “Scusi, I didn’t know I couldn’t do that” line, but karma states I should only use that for situations where the potential cost is far greater than a 1.5 liter bottle of Big Orange Drink.  I said: “Scusi, thought I was going to take the treno.” 


Urvi and I had to leave Grand Hotel de Rosa in Scalea early.  The alarm went off at 4:30.  After check-out we were back on State Road 18 that we had taken up from Amantea; now heading south to Lamezia Terme.  The plan was to return return the macchina at the Airport in Lamezia; catch a cab to the train station and catch the early treno to Rome.

We drove through familiar territory, as we had driven most of it two days earlier from Amantea to Scalea.  Now the sun was rising over the Mediterranean and sparkling yellow against the sea’s bits of aquamarine and turquoise. 

[We noticed cyclists on the road on in the early morning.  All were brown – probably North African – and riding various quality hybrids and mountain bikes.  Urvi and I assumed they were probably the kitchen and cleaning staffs of various places who were the only ones who needed to be at work so early.  Like immigrants in the US, left to ride whatever bicicletta they can scrape together with their under minimum wage under the table income dangerously and anonymously on the side of a busy two lane road with but bright yellow and orange vests to protect them from the uncertainty of injury and being shipped back to Sudan or Libya.  I’m sure there are Italians in the exurbs of Roma or Milano who complain about all these immigrants on bicicletti in the beach towns who are stealing their tax dollars…]

Esso Station

Anyone who has had a rental macchina is well aware of what gas (or diesel) prices they charge when you don’t return it full.  So about 15 km from the Airport, we stopped in Farina Marina at an Esso station.  While it was not “open” yet, it did have 24 hour self-service.  Perfect!  “Perfect” that is if you have ever operated an Italian gas pump.  Two degrees from the University of Michigan and one from Harvard… couldn’t figure it out.  So, fuck it, we said.  Back into the car, hoping that the next gas station would be open with an attendant who we could just pay.

Urvi tried to turn the key.  Nothing.  Tried again. Nothing.  It appeared to be safety locked.  Maybe the trunk is open? Nope.  Maybe the gas tank is still open? Nope. 

Aha! The hood is open!  So we closed the hood and hopped back into the car.  Tried to turn the key… Nothing.

So now what?  It’s 6:30 in the morning and we’re in Italy stuck at a closed gas station without a cellphone and neither of us speak Italian.  Fortunately for us, our savior was the front desk woman at Hotel Euro Lido across the street.  She allowed us to call the Italian AAA (IAA?) and get someone to check it out.
Hotel Euro Lido

Of course before IAA could arrive, the gas station had opened.  Now the attendant looked as us weird as we came over and tried to explain how we could start the car.  He got in futsed around a bit and found the magic combination.  BAM! Automobile is started!  Of course by now it was too late to catch our 7:45 treno from Lamezia.

So, I returned across the street and cancelled IAA.   In the meantime, Urvi got the attendant to pump gas (diesel) and got the car parked.  The bar had opened at the Hotel and we got two cappuccinos.   After getting our bearings, we got one hour of internet from the hotel and tried to get treno tickets for the 11:00 Lamezia to Roma Termini. Well, the best laid plans of mice and men…

Let’s start with Trenitalia has the worst website ever invented.  It makes the Oatmeal cartoon examples look like google for ease of search.  After being forced to register just to look at timetables, it then forces you to change your password.  That is AFTER you have confirmed your registration which as an English speaker you probably didn’t because the it’s buried in the email that is all Italian.  So, once you have done all that, you can FINALLY look at the timetables and pick a treno. Then, you get your tickets and you checkout only to have it not accept the payment for unknown reasons since the error message is once again in Italian, despite switching everything else to English.

Well, Fuck you Trenitalia and the website you rode in on!

Urvi and I decided to check out an aeroplano to Roma Leonardo da Vinci instead.  Of course it was an old laptop in rural Calabria running Internet Explorer 7, so the two times we tried Kayak crashed instantly.  However, prior to the last crash, I made out that Alitalia had an 11:15 to Roma.  Back to the macchina and we were off once again (after many gratzies to the attendant).

We parked in the Thrifty lot, turned in the keys and grabbed two tickets heading North.

After the checkpoint and the issues with water, Big Orange Drinks and what-have-you, we got to the gate and waited for an hour.  As our flight boarded, it turns out Lamezia doesn’t have jetways!  So we walked out onto the tarmac and boarded through the rear door.  Urvi slept through most of the flight and I reread the Roma section of the Lonely Planet, looking for lunch and gelato options near our hotel at Trevi Fountain.

Lamezia Airport


We landed at Leonardo da Vinci and to my surprise, domestic flights don’t get jetways.  On top of that, they don’t even park near the terminal.  We all unpacked from the aeroplano and were repacked into autobus.  After a two or three minute drive from the parking spot, we all unpacked out of the autobus and into baggage claim.

Autobus Roma Airport
Well, we had now made it to the airport in about the amount of time we would have made it to the treno station.  But, the airport is actually further than most from the city – more like Zurich than Boston.  We had to go to the airport treno station and catch the fast treno into Roma Termini – the Leonardo Express. 

Leonardo Express

Oh, that's perfectly obvious...
Apparently there are drawing of Leonardo’s where he designed a treno that would take people from Flumincio into Roma Centro.  While the actual plans would not work – being pulled by geese and all – the basic concept is the same.

A half hour treno ride into Termini and a half hour walk we were finally at our cute and comfortable hotel less than a block from Trevi Fountain (don’t believe the guide book; it doesn’t get any less packed at night.  Trevi Fountain is only not packed at 6:30 am).

I laid down on the bed and thought Man I could go for a Big Orange Drink…

No comments:

Post a Comment