Getting from A to B is usually pretty straightforward. But sometimes I find myself with a two ticket combo just to get to one place – probably as the result of getting a two way ticket somewhere I’m only going once. It makes for a long trip, but can be very cost effective, if all I need is another ticket someplace nearby. Case in point: the last few days.
I’m not a big layover person, meaning I don’t try to make the most of my eight hours in London or whatever. I just sit and wait. Exceptions apply. If I’m taking FlyDubai, I definitely need to catch up with some friends! 24 hours between the flights is all they will give you, and I happily took it.
The alarm tore me out of bed at 5:30am on Sunday in Bahrain. Some hours later my friend picked me up in Dubai. I accompanied her to two bellydance classes that she was teaching, stretching through the first and participating in the second. (I’d always wanted to learn how to bellydance!) Afterwards we made a quick trip to the Mall of the Emirates. I was like a cousin from the countryside, visiting the big city. Coming from Bahrain, Dubai felt just astonishing. At night I watched my friend’s show, and another one came by to say hello. What a fun day it was! Red Bull helped by giving me a small pair of wings.
With Shayma and Sabriye. Guess which girl wasn’t working that night? 🙂
The alarm went off at 5:30am again. Was there a newborn baby that needed to be fed or something? Why couldn’t I sleep more than two hours at a time? Right, I had to get back to DXB.
Next stop was Beirut. I had a few hours to drop off a bag at a friend’s hotel. In three weeks I would be back in town to pick it up. Sure, going back and forth with the luggage was a pain in the butt. But I would be grateful to have just half of my usual weight once I got to New York, my final destination. I saw my friend for only a few minutes, she needed to run out for errands. (At this point I felt like I was speed dating my friends around the Middle East.) I took a quick shower and felt like a new person.
My travel pillow. It was Winnie the Pooh’s first time in Lebanon!
Another check-in followed, this time with Alitalia. That should send shivers down anybody’s spine. This airline is just notorious for lateness, rudeness, and losing luggage. Just recently, they arrested like fifty Alitalia employees for stealing passenger’s stuff from their bags in Rome. It’s the third world airline of Europe! Well, lucky for me most of my precious stuff – dance costumes – was now safe and sound in Beirut.
Now, this ticket came with a long-ass layover in Rome. I hadn’t made any grand plans, as it was impossible to predict how dead I would be at this point, after little sleep and wrestling with the bags. Going to town was a tempting idea – but I might just find a cozy bench inside the terminal and call it a night.
I arrived feeling surprisingly good. I’d gone in and out of consciousness on the plane, and it helped. I should have been looking for the transit desk to get my boarding pass for New York, but somehow I drifted towards the immigration line. Seeing the sign “EU Citizens Only” makes me smile each time. Not to be mean, but I just walk through, while many others stay in long, slow lines. In my defense, most of the time it’s me in those other lines, answering all kinds of questions. It gets stressful sometimes. So I do enjoy the EU passport color control. That’s right. The lady just saw my innocent face, and a burgundy passport in my hand, and didn’t even check to see if it was mine.
It was still bright when I stepped outside at around 8pm. The weather was something amazing. No humidity, no heat, just a perfectly pleasant breeze. After the Gulf, the soft Italian air felt like a kiss. I took the train to central Rome, and had a pizza, which was great for a first real meal of the long day. The trains back to the airport had already stopped running for the night, which was the perfect excuse to stay and find a hotel. It wasn’t the cheapest six hour sleep I ever had, but man, it hit the spot. The alarm went off at 6am – isn’t it somebody else’s turn to feed that baby? – and I headed back out. I thought I was an early bird but I was hardly alone. Oh! Rome was already up and looking way sharper than me. The daytime life is something I tend to forget even exists.
Ask for coffee, and you get an espresso? The Italians’ idea of a morning cuppa Joe dramatically differs from mine…
Now it was Tuesday on all continents. JFK was just nine more hours away and I was feeling good. It was definitely movie time. Show me the coffee!