Monday, October 4, 2010

Traveling to Milan

The notice that the British Underground was striking on the day we were leaving was heart warming. I had never thought I had that much influence on the Underground.  There was no doubt though that this threw a wrench into our getting to Heathrow. 
We checked out of the Westbury Hotel.  It was a really fine place though for 3 nights we heard a soft radio all night, BBC news. Mind you it was the BBC news that told us the Underground had struck.  Fortunately the Underground wasn't communicating with the Overground so we were able to get on the C1 Bus to Victoria.  Unfortunately our luggage blocked aisles and caused near riots.  Were it not for the baby trams which were joining us in solidarity we'd likely have been lynched. 
We barely reached Victoria because the Underground traffic came up Overground and everyone with a car, truck or motorcycle was using them to the chagrin of the bus driver. 
At Victoria we switched to a Coach Bus, the British equivalent of Grey Hound.  This wasn't as easy as it might seem because all the rest of the travellers in London were thinking the same thing. Victoria Station became the centre of the exodus to Heathrow.  We stood forever and then some in a line waiting for tickets all the while the intercom system warned us about gangs of theives and pick pockets passing as street people.  We thought several were in the line itself and held our luggage tightly.
The coach made the trip to Heathrow in good time with us aboard.  Still it was only 10 minutes before gate closing that we actually arrived at the plane 5 hours after leaving the hotel room.
The British Airways plane was packed.  Laura and I were separated and I was settled in the middle of two very serious men reading spreadsheets and such.  I nodded off a couple of times, their reading being that boring.
At Milan, Laura accompanied me while I had my first Italian Cappucino.  Yes, the coffee did taste better.  Yes, it did.  While I was savouring the coffee I realized I had left my itinerary on the plane. All we had was the hotel name and address.
We were tired still and rather than taking a bus I opted to take a taxi.  The fellow was dressed in khaki carrying an AK47 and didn't speak English.  Every few miles he'd look over his shoulder and give us a toothless grin and say suicide, suicide with a nod of his head.  If he'd said suicide in English I might be more concerned but he spoke it with an Italian accent and while it sounded like Suicide I ignored it because the hampster running a treadmill connected to the rate meter was obiously doing crack.  The price just kept rising while we seemed to be orbitting the planet.  86 Euros later, he let us out of the car. 
The Ibis Hotel, Best Western, Milan was a joy to reach. For one thing all the reception spoke English.  The menus were in English. The rooms were somewhat minimalist furniture design but all clean lines and new.  When I lost 2 Euros in the coke machine the very pretty receptionist gave me two more. These were promply swallowed by the coke machine without any return at all. She quickly restored my money laughing and pointed me to another coke machine across the hall.  We had our meal at the hotel restaurant too.An Angel from the British Airways phoned to say that they'd found my itinerary. They called the hotel without my even calling them and I made arrangements to get it back with the departure tickets etc.
In the hotel restaurant, Laura finally had her Italian pizza while I had Italian sausage with quacamole sauce.  Just the Italian ambience towards food caused my saliva to become operatic while my stomach sang 4 part harmony and my bowels rejoiced with Hallelujas.
Now it's time for bed.  I'm at the International Society of Addiction Medicine tomorrow.  They've booked seats at an opera with dinner for Wednesday night. I don't know what the show is but it's good to be part of a group that likes Opera. 

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