“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life” — Michael Palin
After my first solo adventure I can truly say the travel bug bit me, and have yet to find a reason not to travel. In 2014 and 2015 – I celebrate my birthday in my adopted city London, happily enjoying the sights and meeting new friends.
2016’s adventure was a little different. This year the “Have Passport … Will Travel” Club wasn’t a solo excursion. This year, my good friend Laura De Leon decided to brave my endless planning and “Green” personality to join me for what became an AMAZING experience.
We decided to visit two places on both our bucket lists — Rome and Vatican City. After booking the hotel and airline reservations, we sat back and waited until, finally, travel day arrived. Yet, no adventure is an adventure without a few hiccups. The first hiccup came when our flight from LAX to Chicago was delayed.
Now a flight being delayed is a pain, but not unusual. There are many different reasons why a flight is delayed — weather, no flight crew, air traffic, overselling of seats — but never have I ever heard of a flight being delayed because the “plane was in the hangar.”
Seriously! Of course, your first thought is something is mechanically wrong with the plane, right? No, our plane was in tip-top flying shape, it was just stuck in the hangar because LAX air and flightline traffic was so backed up our plane couldn’t get to the gate.
Finally, we boarded and after an uneventful flight, we arrived in Chi-Town, forty-five minutes before our connecting flight was due to depart. So we rush from one end of the terminal to the other, only to find our connecting flight had been delayed as well.
What a way to start an adventure! Oh well. We used the time to grab some lunch and a few Chi-Town souvenirs.
After a two-hour delay, we boarded our flight to London Heathrow. Other than a sad attempt at trying to get some sleep, the trip was smooth and uneventful — just how I like it. We arrived around 11:10 p.m. Most normal people would probably get a hotel for the night, but since our flight to Italy left at 7 a.m., and would have to be back at the airport at 5 a.m., we thought it best, and cheaper, to hang out inside the airport.
Coming from LAX, a place still jumping at 2 a.m., we weren’t use to seeing a major international airport closed for the night, but London Heathrow was no doubt closed for the night. We were more or less “trapped” in a major international airport. Luckily, the vending machines were still working.
Yes, we could’ve left at any time, but as I said, it was cheaper to hang out inside the airport. The experience wasn’t a total bummer though because we were in the same terminal where they filmed a scene from “Love Actually.”
The next day, we boarded our flight to Italy and arrived at Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport. We breezed through customs, (seriously the agent didn’t even look at my passport), and eventually found our car hire for the ride to our hotel.
Our hotel, Palazzo Soriano, was located about ninety minutes from Rome in Soriano nel Cimino town and comune in the province of Viterbo, Italy. The car ride to the hotel was pleasant, although I don’t remember much of it. I fell asleep during the ride but I assumed Laura and the driver had a nice conversation. The only thing I heard was “Nutella.”
Even though I’m a seasoned traveler, I still have yet to find a way to curb jet-lagged.
We arrived at the hotel, no problems. Now when the hotel mentioned the town’s steep hills and recommended being in good physical shape, I laughed.
I won’t do that again.
Those hills and steps are no joke. Nevertheless, check-in went smooth and we were escorted to our palatial accommodation for the next five nights. The villa we were in spoiled us for the rest of our vacation as none of the other places we stayed could compare. I mean does having breakfast in your own private garden in a villa in the heart of Italy compare to breakfast in a hotel in downtown St. Louis? For me, heck no!
As we didn’t have much plan for that evening, we stay local and explored the town. Mind you, afterwards my legs were killing me. Dang them hills! Beautiful town, and the people were lovely and very helpful, but dang those hills to heck!
Now of course we came to visit the typical tourist sites, but we also came for the food. The first night, we ate at the hotel restaurant simply because it was a shorter walk back to the room afterwards, ha ha!
The food Chef Roberto prepared was magnifico and delizioso. Affettati misti to start, Tortellini with bacon as the main course, and a nice glass of fizzy orange soda (I’m a teetotaler) is not a bad way to end your first night in Italy.
After a splendid dinner, a night of rest was needed because the next day —
As always …
HAVE PASSPORT, WILL TRAVEL!