Traveling to Italy
The forecast for Wednesday night in Denver showed rain that was to have been heavy at times, but as is usually the case in Denver, the forecast was wrong, at least it was in our neighborhood. After a very warm day, the temperature upstairs in our house was north of 80 degrees, which wasn’t very conducive to a restful night prior to a long day of international travel.
We all must have slept some though because we woke early and worked through our morning routines for the events of the long day ahead. As usual, I was ready first. I gathered my luggage that I had packed the previous night and took it downstairs to load in the car. Then, I made some sandwiches, cut some apples, and set out granola bars. For breakfast, I fried up some eggs for everyone. Once we had eaten, we made sure everything was turned off and unplugged and closed up and loaded.
Then it was time to go.
During my preparations, I had learned that I could leave my car at the RTD Flatiron Park-n-Ride for the week for just $2.00 a day. After doing the cost analysis, I decided it would be cheaper and, not to mention, way more convenient to take the bus to and from the airport, and we drove north to the bus station to catch the Skyride.
The ride was efficient and pleasant, dropping us off right at the base of the world’s longest escalator (that’s not official, it just seems like it, because it’s very long and very steep) leading directly into the main terminal.
We noted the length of the security line at the south end of the terminal, so we walked around to the north checkpoint, which was much shorter. The security process was thorough but fast and we were soon waiting at our gate for an hour wait until we boarded our American Airlines flight to Charlotte, NC that would act as the departure point to leaving the country to Rome, Italy.
As I boarded, the primary flight attendant smiled at me and said, “you look familiar to me.” I knew we had never met, so I said the first thing that came to my mind, “that’s because I’m a celebrity,” I said and I winked at her. I heard her laugh on my way to the back of the plane, “that man just told me he was a celebrity!” I smiled to myself.
The flight to Charlotte, NC was smooth and uneventful. The most exciting part of the flight was being seated right next to the bathroom, which made Amy pretty happy.
Charlotte, North Carolina – the Jump-Off Point
We landed ahead of schedule in Charlotte where the weather was partly cloudy and warm. This was North Carolina, so it was much more humid than we’re used to in Denver, even in the air-conditioned interior of the airport. Amy is very aware that her hair will respond as it always does in a warm, wet climate. With the humidity in Italy north of 60%, we’re pretty sure she’ll end up spending the week doing her best impression of a poodle. After deplaning, we decided to stop in the central terminal’s food court to enjoy the lunch we had brought along. The table that was open happened to be right next to a man playing a baby grand piano, so we sat and enjoyed the music for an hour.
After the food we brought was gone, Amy and Leah decided to go find a Wendy’s for nuggets and fries. I stayed behind talking to my brother, Jacob about our parents’ affairs. The girls returned bearing gifts from Wendy’s which we enjoyed before making our way to our gate for the next and longest leg.
With lunch consumed, we noted that there was just an hour before the scheduled departure of our flight to Rome and decided to make our way to the gate.
Our boarding documents showed us in group six and it wasn’t very long before our group was called and we got on the plane. After getting ourselves settled and as comfortable as we could be in coach before a ten-hour flight, we departed the gate and before long we were airborne winging off to Rome.
Anyone who has been on one of these international flights knows that while they may sound glamorous, in reality, they’re anything but. The truth is that international travel, regardless of the class you’re seated in, is uncomfortable, loud, stuffy, and, in our case, freezing cold.
The exterior temperature reading on the in-seat screen showed -75 degrees and it felt like someone had rolled down a window. Despite two blankets, I was chilled just a couple of hours into the flight and only got warm again after we had landed cleared passport control, and walked outside into the morning sunshine. Dinner was pretty good though. American Airlines served a lovely Cajun chicken and cheese sauce with a very fresh green salad with a tasty olive oil and vinegar dressing. There was a triangle of soft gruyere cheese, crackers to spread it on and a decadent brownie for dessert. All in all, it was filling and delicious. The inflight entertainment was broad with something for everyone, although Amy’s headphone jack didn’t work very well and she finally gave up on the last Avengers movie because she couldn’t hear it.
As the evening wore on, Leah and Amy took out their contacts and we all settled in to try and get some sleep. The operative word here is “try” since sleeping on a plane seated in coach is next to impossible. I made the best of it though and I think I managed to drop off a few times. My Fitbit showed nearly four hours of sleep, but I don’t think that’s completely accurate since I remember much of the night.
Next… Click Rome