Thursday, November 09, 2006

It Was Sunday in Italy

I didn’t realize how much I depend on eavesdropping when I travel, until there I was in the airport outside Trieste, Italy, and I had no Italian. What Italian I had as a child, failed me. Something was wrong. My plane wasn’t boarding. It was supposed to have left a half hour ago, but no one was going anywhere.

I wondered what to do. I couldn’t call. The airline only had an 800 number, and 800 numbers don’t work in Europe. This wasn’t a place where English was spoken or necessary. I listen into conversations, but I got no information, only sounds I didn’t understand.

Finally I got lucky. A handsome Italian man going to Rome explained in English that the plane I was supposed to be on had had a small fire. There would be no plane again until tomorrow. My choices were slim. I could stay in the Friuli Valley. I could take a taxi to Venice and try to make connections there. I finally reached my airlines by telephone through my cellphone company’s International number. Arrangements were made to change my flights to fly out from Trieste the next day. My Rome connection to London was rearranged.

I found a taxi to take me to the nearest hotel. It was now 2:30 p.m. I had been at the tiny airport since 9 a.m. to make my morning flight. I was hungry and tired, and so ready to have a place to call my own. When we pulled up to the hotel, I asked in English, “Is this right?”

The taxi driver ran to the door. He knocked and read a sign. He came back and somehow communicated that I would have to wait because the hotel wouldn’t open until 4:30 p.m. or so − another 2 hours. He suggested that I wait on the patio. What other choice did I have?

When the owner came, she was lovely and most gracious, but she also had no English. She checked me in swiftly. Gave me a key. I asked about food. She shook her head slowly. In broken English, she let me know the restaurant was closed on Sunday. She was sorry. She pointed me in the direction of a restaurant down the street.

I headed out walking to find a patio under tree on a cool night.

It was a Chinese restaurant. That explained why it was open. I asked for a glass of their best Italian white. Then I opened the menu to look for my favorite Chinese foods. The first word I saw was Antipasto.

I ordered the pizza instead. It was Sunday in Italy.
−me strauss Letting me be

6 comments:

Dawn said...

That saying comes to mind, When in Rome . . .

ME Strauss said...

Ah Dawn,
It was Sunday and I sure seemed to do just that as much as I could. :)

David Zemens said...

Ah, Italy. How I love it. My wife and I visited in 2004 and cannot wait to return. Memories such as yours are what makes a trip interesting...

ME Strauss said...

Yes, David,
And they're the ones that make good stories too!

Chris Cree said...

Hey Liz! I've been to Trieste no less than 4 times. Back when I was in the Navy we were flying over Bosnia in the early 90's. Trieste was the port call of convenience, I guess.

And yes, I have stories. No. I'm not going to share most of them! ;)

ME Strauss said...

Hey Chris!
I'm not going to share my stories either :) But it sure was a lovely place even if they don't have Parmesan cheese.