Monthly Archives: August 2014

First Day! First Practice!

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August 25, 2014 a day that will be etched in our memory as the day Zayne started Kindergarten!  And his first soccer practice!  Here are the pics (I only took a few).

Daddy was planning on taking more pics at soccer, but ended up coming out and playing coaching us.

Sicily – Last one

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This concludes our little trip to Sicily.  11 days on the island, but 3+ mos. to get on the blog…..seems about right.  Our last full day, we drove back to Palermo and stayed at a hotel right on  the beach, relaxing.  The next day however, was….challenging and then rewarding.

Sicily part 9

Another travel day, this time back to palermo, or at least near it.  Today we drove up along the east coast and across the north coast.  This took us by Mt. Etna, the still active volcano which dominates Sicily’s eastern side.  In fact, we could see smoke coming out of the top as we drove by, and drove by and drove. What I will remember most about our drive is the tunnels.  Lots and lots of tunnels.  At one point we lost count (somewhere around 35) and started over.  We lost count again, this time around 50.  So at least 85 tunnels between Syracuse and Palermo driving along the coast.  Finding our hotel was a challenge.  It somewhat resembled a commercial as we’re driving down narrow “roads” leading to who knows where to find hotels at the end of the road at the beach.  After driving up and down the coastal road a couple of times I had to call the hotel and get directions.  Their name and address aren’t shown on the street they are “located on”.  Turned out to be a great little hotel, and the staff took care of our gluten free needs.  Even though it did take 2-1/2 hours for dinner.  (Chatty waitress).

A word of advice, don’t, and I mean don’t take a car seat on ANY Alitalia flights.  In fact avoid taking it to Europe if at all possible.  They are not accustomed to them on airplanes, much less getting through security.  There is a real disconnect between what the people at the ticket counter tell you and what the security people tell you.  But, back to the story.  We drop the rental car off and discover we owe because of a tiny scratch from hitting another car, barely.  We get to our ticket counter to find 1 ticket agent serving the coach customers while there were 2 serving the first class or lack thereof.  After 20 minutes of getting nowhere (due to a man trying to fly his daughter somewhere without him, and him not speaking Italian) the manager stepped in and told the first class agents to take the people in line ahead of any walk up first class.  Upon getting to the ticket agent, we were informed to just leave our car seat at the ticket counter and they would take it to the plane.  We had to rush to security, where they told me I had to take the stroller back.  I informed then, the agent told me to go through security with it an my plane was leaving in 10 minutes.  After a few comments both ways in his broken English and my broken Italian, he capitulated and searched it by hand.  Fortunately the bus taking us to the plane was waiting for us, and only us.  When we boarded the plane, we were THAT family, the ONES who made everyone wait on the plane.  I now have more pity for those families as it usually isn’t there fault.  Well, off to Rome, and then Madrid and then home…

Uh, not so fast.  Upon arrival in Rome, our car seat didn’t show.  I asked the baggage claim lady and she was VERY helpful, and in fact TOO helpful.  She checked everywhere, asked everyone and radioed everyone before taking me back to her desk to fill out the appropriate paper work.  Another 20 minutes lost.  Ok, claim our luggage and off to our gate…in another terminal of course.   At least it was walkable.  When we did get to the next terminal there were a LOT of police outside the entrance and they weren’t letting people in, so we went to the next entrance.  Now to find Iberia airlines or information.  Well, we finally found it, but we would have found it immediately if we could have gone in the first entrance.  The Rome airport is laid out uniquely with the ticket counters in “U” shaped areas.  When we arrived at the Iberia ticket agent she looked at our tickets and just shook her head.  “You’ll never make it in time, the plane has boarded”.  She looks for another flight to put us on, and nothing that day, nor the next, until the following evening.  Great, except our flight out of Madrid is at 1:00pm.  She then notices than we booked our flights via American Airlines reward miles and tells us we need to call American to rebook.   Big kick to the gut.  Ok, let’s regroup and figure out what to do, there are worse things than being stuck in Rome.  We find an area to sit, right next to where they saran wrap luggage (if you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about, if you haven’t, it’s hard to explain other than wrapping saran wrap around the entire luggage) this will entertain the kids a bit.  I get out the iPad and my phone and go to work.  AA number to call….ya, doesn’t work from Italy, even using the 12 digit international number.  I manage to find it on the iPad, which only has 15% battery life left and call AA.  Over the next hour, I look up flights, hotels and other info on the iPad while talking with the AA agent who periodically puts me on hold.  I ask Mel what she would want to see again in Rome, since it looks like we might be spending the night.  She says nothing, meh, we’ll go see something!  Near the end of the houron the phone the agent says he has something going through London.  London!  Really, you’re kidding?!  Beth lives in London.  I refrain from mentioning this to Mel as I don’t want to get her hopes up if it doesn’t work out.  A few minutes later, he confirms our flight out and our flight the next day on British Airways, and then thanks ME for my patience!  We’re stuck in Rome and we get thanked.  Now I get to break the news to Mel.  We immediately notify Beth of our plans and then head through security.  Oh, and the British Airways agent escorted us personally on where to place our stroller for security.  British hospitality, gotta love it.

We spend the next hour eating stuff, and coordinating with Beth on where to stay that would be convenient for both of us.  After many options and pros and cons we opt to stay at her flat, staying on air mattresses and a couch.  This was the best scenario as it will give Mel and Beth the most opportunity to visit.

We land in London, get through security, get some money since they are on the British Pound and not the Euro of which I still had a pocket full.  We find a cab and we’re off to see Beth.  POW!  We hear a loud noise, but keep going and nothing seems wrong.  Must have been another car backfiring or hitting something.  Until….thump….thump…..thump….thump….we have a flat.  According to the cabbie who’s been in the business for 20 years, his first ever.  Congrats for picking us up!  He pulls over to the side of the road and asks us to get out.  We are on the motorway (interstate) after all and it’s dangerous….and raining.  We stand on the side of the road while he calls his cab company.  Literally 2 minutes into his call another cab stops to check on us, from a different cab company.  The two cabbies talk and our cabbie asks if we’d be ok leaving with the other cabbie?  Of course we would, but thanks for asking.  Again with the British hospitality, on both accounts.  WE finally get to Beth’s a little after 10pm, but it was so worth it.  She had a home cooked meal for us, some good wine and it was great to see her.  As Mel kept saying, “everything happens for a reason”.   And the kids got to play a bit too.  Capriana found a big black stuffed animal that Monty’s daughter left in the apartment, and was riding it like a horse or dog as she said.  Somehow I didn’t get a pic of that…

The next morning we’re up and at it.  Beth called a car service to take us to the tube station to take it out to the airport.  No problems, we get to the airport in plenty of time, walk through security and actually have a couple hours to kill.  The gift shop thanks you Heathrow security.  Board the plane find our seats, take off, they don’t have a specific gluten free meal for us, but they do really well making it up.  Land, through customs, baggage and then home.  Exhausted, elated, hungry.