Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rome, Italy to Rome, Georgia November 18, 2009

Just imagine! We journeyed from Rome to Rome in a day! Waking in Rome, Italy, we went to bed in Rome, GA 20+ hours later.

We docked in Rome (Civitevecchia) at 4 AM Wednesday after departing from Naples at 6 PM the night before.

I am glad that we've been to Rome twice before and have seen the Vatican, The Sistene Chapel, the Colloseum and other attractions there, because today allowed for not even a glimpse of the city of Rome.

This time, our flight left Rome at 9:45, so we were among the first passengers of the Grand Princess to disembark so that we could get from the seaport to the airport and catch our flight out at 9:45.

Let me tell you a story:

The loud 4:30 AM (that's 10:30 PM the previous night to those at home in Rome, GA) wake-up call jangled both Jim and Joan out of the few minutes of sleep they'd enjoyed all night. Up and at 'em, Kiddos! They showered and threw on the clothes they had kept out for today when most of the luggage had been set out the night before. After a hurried breakfast in Horizon Court Buffet, they quickly crammed the rest of their belongings into the carryon luggage, checked to be sure the paperwork was in order, and went downstairs to the Explorers Lounge to await the call for disembarkation. Promptly at 6:00, they and about 100 or so of their best friends were the first to disembark. They filled up two shuttle busses and started the l-o-n-g trip that would find them finally back in Rome, GA 20 hours later.

The bus trip from the harbor to the Leonardo DaVinci airport in Rome took about 50 minutes. Check in at the airport was painless and quick, and the pair found themselves seated at Gate 4 well before boarding time. The 12 hour flight involved sitting in the cramped airplane seats for about 13 hours, since the boarding began an hour before the flight was to leave. Again the airline, in its infinite wisdom, had decided that people who know each other should not fly in adjacent seats. But resourceful passengers prevailed against the system, and Jim changed seats with another passenger so he could serve as Joan's pillow for part of the trip. Our protagonists watch the lights of Rome, Italy recede in the distance.

Squirming in cramped airline seats, the passengers steadily rode back in time. When they landed in Atlanta an hour earlier than scheduled, their watches registered only 5 hours of travel after west-bound lift-off from Rome, Italy. Their seats and legs, however, knew the truth. Eleven hours of actual flight and more than 12 hours of inactivity on the plane was clearly written on the faces (and other body parts) of everyone in sight. The elaborate entertainment system (individual choices of games, movies, music, and TV shows available at the touch of a finger) built into the headrests for each passenger promised distraction but failed to live up to the promise. This failure was acknowledged by the airlines in the form of a voucher for future travel discounts distributed to each passenger as she/he departed the plane.

The Atlanta Airport experience was also an ordeal. Two hours after touchdown in Atlanta (yes, you read that right) - TWO hours later, our two zombi-like heros exited the airport!! After going through customs, passengers had to claim luggage at the international terminal, recheck it to be claimed again later in the domestic terminal. The security to get into the domestic terminal from the international one was the same as it is for a flight: shoes and coat off, laptop and C-Pap machine out of cases in into a bin, 3-ounce plastic containers in a quart-size bag, stand in a long line, walk through the arch, and reclaim belongings. Then the tramride to baggage claim and ground transportation! Yea! our heros conquer the airport just in time to reclaim thier car and join the Atlanta work traffic streaming out of the city!! Finally the lights of Rome, Georgia, appear to welcome our travelers; the car goes on autopilot and finally delivers them into their very own garage.

Thus ends the story of "The Long Day from Rome to Rome." The story was relayed to you in the third person because I didn't wish to relive the experience. It was the single most tiring plane trip I have ever endured. The first night at home offered little rest as both Jim's and my muscles loudly protested the abuse of the long period of enforced inactivity -- frequent and severe leg, toe, shin, hip, and calf cramps kept us getting up and down all night. This trip gave us a number of good experiences. We saw a lot of God's great creation and man's use of it through history, spent some quality time together, and unloaded a "passel" of money. But, after standing on 3 continents and 5 countries and sailing on 4 seas in 13 days, we are grateful to be home in Rome, GeeAy again!!!!