by Melinda Gallo

The longest day

We got on our flight in San Francisco at 2PM and settled into our seats with two full bags of magazines, our new PowerBooks with a few movies we copied onto them, and my video iPod onto which I downloaded a few new shows, like Lost and Desperate Housewives. Thanks to Apple, we can now pay $1.99 for each episode to download.

With all of our distractions, we couldn't fall asleep for more than a few minutes. The airlines showed two movies, of which we only watched one. We got spoiled on our last flight to the US because they had little TV screens in all the seats in front of us, so we watched for almost all of the flight.

We sat next to a guy who got a special vegetarian meal although he wasn't alone, there were at least twenty other people who ordered special meals in our section. For dinner, he waited until we got our meals before he began eating. I assumed that maybe he was waiting for drinks, which came right after our meals were served. But, then at breakfast, he did the same. I felt bad that he waited so long before eating, but I wasn't completely certain until our last of two meals.

We arrived in Frankfurt at 9AM (earlier than scheduled). Our flight to Florence was at 10:55AM, so we checked the monitors to see where we had to go. On it, I saw the word "Annulliert" next to "Florenz." I figured that wasn't a good sign. We went to the transfer desk and he said that he didn't even know that the flight was cancelled. He said that our plane had technical difficulties and that we would be on the 12:30PM flight. "Normally, the wait is much longer," he said.

We walked around the terminal, following the signs to get to our gate. We went through passport control three times and twice through the metal detectors. We made at least one wrong turn although we did have the privilege of going outside to the somewhat fresh air. The sign outside the airport says it's non-smoking, but all we could smell inside was smoke. There were small booths where people were standing to smoke, but the smoky air still lingered everywhere.

The third time we went through passport control, the man seemed too upset to yell at us. He just said, "You've been through passport control already today!" and just waved us to go.

We got on our Avro RJ85, which seemed quite small after our 747 from SFO. Dave watched a movie on his PowerBook while I finally dozed off. The flight was a little bumpy, but I didn't care because I was so exhausted.

We arrived in Florence at 2PM and were happy that our luggage all made it too. We had two suitcases each and the one policeman standing at the door looked at me and asked me in English, "Where did you come from?" "San Francisco," I responded. He said to me smiling, "Are you sure you're American?" "Yes," I said as I rummaged through my purse for our passports. He looked at Dave's picture and then Dave, then he looked at my passport and said, "Ah, your last name is Italian. Parla italiano?" "Sė," I responded sheepishly. I know not to get too friendly with customs agents as one false move and I'd be unveiling all of my books, clothes, cameras, etc.

We hopped in a taxi and paid only 12 Euros for the trip to our front door! I was surprised as I always thought we paid more. The man left us with our luggage on the sidewalk, so we opened the door and put it in the hall. We lugged our luggage up piece by piece with one person watching the pile downstairs and one person lugging a few suitcases up the two flights of stairs.

We really need a new apartment is what we both said to each other as we looked at our suitcases as they filled up the living room. We opened a few of them up to get to our toiletries and then took showers. Dave was kind enough to go to the grocery store to get a few necessities, and we ended up taking a nap from 4PM until 10PM!

We woke up and I cooked dinner or lunch and we stayed up until about 4AM so we wouldn't somehow wake up at 4AM wondering what to do. Although I have enough books to keep me busy.

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