Saturday, September 24, 2022
The Pope is coming to town and I’m leaving on the next train!! The two events are not correlated, though it does seem auspicious!!
My gracious hotel proprietor and baker extraordinaire, Lia, assured me it would only take twenty minutes to go by foot to the train station based on her experience walking this route all the time. She urged me to still come for breakfast starting at 8:00. I wanted to give myself an hour even though I had walked the two miles (all uphill) the other day and knew it would take less. I acquiesced and had what will probably be my last HOT cappuccino this trip and as a result ended up with about forty-five minutes to hoof it to the station. My Apple Watch told me it was 2.26 miles and that 43 minutes had elapsed! I was feeling very frazzled arriving at 9:20 for my 9:24 train, walking fast, luckily all downhill! Lia must know a shortcut…. It didn’t help my stress level to be speed walking through groupings of police officers at the perimeter street corners and station entrance. AND JUST AS I WAS STEPS FROM THE STATION ENTRANCE DOORS – THE POPE’S HELICOPER FLEW OVER!!!!!! I barely had time to get my camera out let alone use the zoom feature so my snapped photos are completely inadequate looking like specks and not even birdlike…. I am relatively certain it was him though, because I knew “His Holiness” was flying in by helicopter around my departure time. He is in town briefly for a conference that in fact one of my trekking buddies is attending. “The Economy of Francesco, The Global Event”. “ EoF is an international movement of young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers engaged in a process of inclusive dialogue and young, vibrant, global change, moving towards a new economy”. (from francescoeconomy.org)
The train was a few minutes late – Pheewww!! There were several minor stops and then many, many riders got on in Perugia. Perugia?!? I hoped I had boarded the correct train!!! Handsome Hubby made this reservation for me and I was ever so grateful as pre trip planning time slipped away from me. He even printed the ticket for me! I just climbed on the train without even looking at my route and made an assumption I’d generally be going back the way we walked. I realize now that doesn’t make Any Sense At All given the rural and mountainous paths we traversed. See, you don’t have to be a genius to travel globally! It’s not required, yet having a good team and support system does help, for sure!
Today after arriving at the train station in Florence, I just needed to reverse my arrival steps of earlier this month and catch the T2 tram to the airport. Then I would fly to Amsterdam, arriving around 7:30 pm and hopefully catch a taxi with ease to my Airbnb about thirty minutes away in Haarlem, Netherlands.
So, thankfully I was on the right train, and it only took me one trip around the block to find the T2 tram back in Florence. In that five minutes the sky let loose and it started pouring! I did don my raincoat and cover up my backpack with its rain cover, which probably has the secondary benefit of detouring pickpockets. It was a brief rain and soon I was overheated and on the tram to the airport anyway.I arrived at the Florence airport with plenty of time, which is my preference, but then I had four hours to kill!! I was two hours into it when I realized that I may have an opportunity to go to a priority lounge, and in fact a pass that I had in my wallet did allow that! So off I went and had at least some quiet and a little space to myself while I waited out the next couple of hours. The departure screen kept showing that the gate for my flight would appear about an hour before takeoff, but it ended up being 15 minutes before departure and then of course it was just bedlam! And, (this has happened to me before) I do not understand the asinine process of boarding people by group and then packing them into a bus, where the last on are the first off, which is exactly how it went down! It’s a colossal waste of time and talk about feeling like one of a herd of sheep! We were let off in the middle of nowhere on the other end in Amsterdam as well, and also bused to the airport like so many sheep. The flight crew were awesome, friendly and professional – but the whole process before and after was to me, not at all efficient rather stressful and extremely chaotic.
Such a long day! Now it was 8:30 -and the sun down so I chose to find a cab instead of public transportation! Plus my Airbnb was about thirty minutes away. What was I thinking when I booked that!!?! Omari took good care of me, navigated the winding and circuitous canal streets, and got me to my destination. He also made sure I got inside which was also convoluted, because I had to either download an app or log into my Airbnb reservation to click on a link to remotely unlock the door!!?! It seemed tenuous, but ultimately I was successfully within, dumped my backpack and pretty much went straight to bed! Sometimes I feel like such a lightweight in general life skills, but man, I can sure WALK the miles!