Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 – Venice, Italy – Mostly Cloudy – 84F

Total Voyage: Civitavecchia to Venice: 2497 Nautical Miles

A cloudy day in Venice…

We have a late walk off at 9:45 AM so we can get a leisurely breakfast and relax a bit before we leave the ship.  Our bags are ready to go (below).

 Packed and ready to go (Small)

All my bags are packed…

Breakfast was not as crowded as it generally is on debark day (perhaps a large number of passengers had early debark).  We were able to enjoy our last breakfast on board and it was good.  We retrieved our bags from the room and went to our meeting place to get the call to leave the ship.  We wound up sitting right next to Table 514, which had been our dining spot for the last 13 days.

Table 514 on debark day (Small)

I’m ready to go… (Table 514)

The bus ride to Marco Polo was quick and soon we were ready to check in.  After a long wait in the Alitalia Line, we were told that our flight would now be handled by Delta.  Finding the Delta check in line, we checked our bags through Chicago (even though we would have to recheck them at JFK).  Security was a little slower than it should have been but soon we were in the waiting area.

We had some lunch (items we had packed) and the obligatory Coke Lite (trying to use up those last precious Euros).

The flight – still designated Alitalia 7616 - did arrive at the gate on time.  It was a Delta 777-300 and operated by a Delta Flight Crew. 

Delta AZ7616 (Small)

Alitalia 7616 being reading for flight

There was weather in the area (rain) and the flight boarded a little late – probably not an issue since we have a long layover in JFK.  We eventually made our way down the longest jetway and on to the plane.

In Jetway read to go home (Small)

Ellen on the Long Jetway 

The flight was full and we were in the center section about mid plane.  All of the washrooms were in the back of each cabin on this jet so that was a bit less convenient than usual.  The Delta Crew was very helpful and courteous.  When Ellen’s entertainment system would only operate in Hebrew or Arabic, the flight attended reset her system from the main computer.  Although we had standard seats, they were not as uncomfortable as I thought they might be. 

The transatlantic crossing was relatively smooth – with an occasional bout with “rough air” (as our pilot and attendants called it).  All in all, a pretty pleasant flight.  The washrooms stayed clean, there were scores of movies to watch (I watched “Haywire” and “Snow White and the Huntsman” (both very good) and re-watched portions of “Prometheus” and “The Avengers” and tried some other movies as well).  Our Kosher Meals were pretty good (a chicken “Schnitzel” plus some veggies and a tasty dessert for lunch and a Lox Sandwich (no cream cheese) for a snack).  We also tried the regular Veggie Entree – Grilled Veggie Panini (I liked it).  I also had some of the complimentary white wine). 

It was raining in New York when we arrived – pretty much on time.  We went through immigration – pretty quick – but waited about 45 minutes for our luggage to arrive.  Just as we got the luggage, we were informed that our Delta flight to Chicago had been cancelled and we would have to take a morning flight.  The thought of having to sleep in the Airport was just not going to work.  Besides, i had to be in Chicago in the early afternoon.

Even though the situation seemed hopeless, we told the agent at the rebooking desk that we had to be in Chicago tonight.  After some tapping of keys on her computer, she said that we could get a flight out later tonight – from La Guardia.  She said she would give us a transfer voucher.  We lugged our bags up to the taxi area and after some wrong turns, found our cab and we were on our way to La Guardia. 

I was a little dismayed (euphemism) that we were sharing our cab and that a drop off at a hotel would be the first stop. We had about a hour to get to La Guardia because the flight was going to be delayed but we were also in some heavy traffic.  I was afraid that the plane would get a gate clearance and depart before we could get there.  The Cabbie assured me that we would get there on time.  We did get there in about 40 minutes only to find our that our plane was leaving instead from the “Marine Air Terminal”. The shuttle we hopped on did not go there but the driver was convinced by another shuttle agent to take us to the Terminal.

At the Marine Air Terminal, we discovered that our flight was delayed even further so we had an hour until boarding.  All other flights to Chicago had been canceled.  The Marine Air Terminal is more of a lounge than a terminal – there are chargers for phones and computers at every seat and a cute little cafe serving sandwiches and drinks.  The place was full of business travelers.

We boarded a little late and waited about a half hour in the “penalty box” until we got the go sign.  I had been watching the radar and I knew this plane had to fly through a band of thunderstorms on the way to Chicago.  The plane was a twin engine Embraer RJ170 (a mini-737 type plane).  We took off through a bumpy but manageable sky and were on our way. 

The entire flight was bumpy – seat belt sign always on – and some portions of the flight were downright scary.  At one point, the plane experienced considerable vertical ups and downs and, during some major shakes, I saw lightning outside the window.  I couldn’t read or do much of anything because of the severe rocking of the plane.  The flight attendants were still moving about  - providing some minimal comfort and assurance.  There was no way to get to the washroom safely.  At one point, when it got a bit smoother, I made a run for it.  I barely got back to my seat before the next round of “rock and roll” started.  I am going to go on record and say that this flight was the bumpiest in my flying experience.  The crew – while silent throughout the turbulence – did a good job of keeping the plan relatively level. 

I was very happy to see Chicago out the window. 

Final Approach ORD 1 (Small)

Final Approach ORD

We landed about 11:00 PM and this time, our bags came quickly.  We got our cab and headed home.  As we did, the weather got worse – lighting and thunder.  I guess we just snuck in.

Tired, shook up, but home.

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