Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Queen Victoria – Mediterranean Cruise – June 3 – June 21, 2915

June 3, 2015 – Travel Day

We have a very convenient non-stop flight to Rome’s Fiumicino – Leonardo da Vinci Airport – departing at 4:45 PM., which gives us the whole morning to get last minute items ready.  I texted our “personal” taxi driver to pick us up at 2:00 PM and he was there right on time.

He asked us about our flight time because he indicated we might run into some traffic.  As it turned out, there was no traffic whatsoever and it took about 18 minutes portal to portal. 

I was unable to check in on-line the night before because of a glitch in the personal information in the flight record.  The system had the same birth date for Ellen and me (twins, I guess).  The agent corrected it and assured me that it would not an issue in the future.  Our bags were checked through and we were off to Gate K15.

Our plane was already there – Flight AA110 used an older version of the B767-300.  We were there so early that there was no crew yet on board.   The lounge was comfortable (if you don’t count the constant droning of the CNN Talking Heads) and had a nice charging station.

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AA110 Getting Ready

The flight boarded on time and the process was more orderly than the United Airlines procedure.  We had exit rows (Economy Plus) – Seats 20H and 20J.  As I checked out the way to open the doors, I noticed that the right hand armrest was blocking the exit doors and unless there was a way to pull it out (and there wasn’t), people would have to squeeze around the armrest to leave the plane.

The plane was not totally full but AA was offering a $1000 voucher and a later flight for anyone willing to give up their seat. 

We pushed right on time and this time the flaps and slats were deployed early in the checklist – before the plane started moving.  The takeoff was smooth and the climb out scenic and smooth. 

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Turning onto Active Runway

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Takeoff and Climb Out

The plane headed over the lake but the haziness obscured the lakeshore skyline (below).

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Our route took over several of the Great Lakes including Lake Erie(below).

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Lake Erie

The flight was smooth until we left land and headed over the North Atlantic – we picked up some moderate chop but the Captain opted to keep the seat belt sign on for about 6 hours of the 9 hour flight and only turned it off when we were over Italy.  That didn’t keep me or anyone else confined to their seats – fortunately, our seats were only 10 feet from the washrooms. 

Dinner consisted of Barbecued Chicken, Risotto, a small pita bread, and a sweet roll.  When the attendant brought us the dinner, she apparently forgot to heat the entree as it was frozen solid.  We finally got the chicken and all in all it was OK.  She also brought us some veggie Mac and Cheese but we had already had the chicken so the point was moot.

Didn’t get any sleep (that I know of) but I did watch the second movie - “The Imitation Game”.  What a depressing movie.  The other movies  “Into the Woods” and “Alice in Wonderland” just didn’t seem interesting enough to get into.

The plane tracked the moon all the way.

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and I also watched the sun rise over the Atlantic. 

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Sunrise and the Moon

The ride smoothed out over land and was very smooth over the usually bumpy trek over the Alps. 

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The approach to FCO took us over the Tyrrhenian Sea; we also saw the Port of Civitavecchia and a huge cruise ship docked – we found out later it was the Allure of the Seas. 

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Tyrrhenian Sea

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Final Approach and Touchdown FCO

We were on the ground a few minutes after 9:00 AM.

A little bleary eyed, we whizzed (literally) through passport control (the agent never opened our passports).  Our bags both arrived after a little wait.  We bought our Trenitalia train tickets from an agent near baggage for 11 Euros per person.  At this point, it was around 10:30 AM and the train was due in 12 minutes.

We found our way to the trains (the signage was very good) and had our ticket validated by an agent manning the entrance to the tracks.  We hopped the train (had to really work to get our heavy bags onto the train).  Fortunately, at this point, the train was empty so we could find a place for our bags.  The ride to Roma Trastevere (stop 7) took about 26 minutes.  We crossed to the other side (using elevators) and waiting about a half hour for the train to Civitavecchia.  Civitavecchia is the end of the line for the train so that made things easier since this train did not announce the stops.

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Transfer at Roma Trastevere

The temperature in Civitavecchia was around 85F with comparable humidity so the multi-block walk with the bags proved to be a tough task.  By the time we got to the Traghetto Hotel, we were dripping sweat.  We have Room 402 – the elevator is small but functional – and the room has AC.  We flipped it on (after figuring out the remote control) and just sat in the cool air to rest.

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Room 402

This is one of those hotels where you turn in your key when you leave the hotel – good thing because the key is huge and heavy.

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There were two parks visible from the our room – one of them (below) has an interesting sculpture (looks like something roller bladers would use).

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Now the challenge was staying up as long as we could to get on local time.  We decided to walk the city and eventually wound up getting dinner.

Some of the things we saw…

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Curbside Gas Pump

We also saw a building constructed on the base of a much older building (below).

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Before we left for Europe, I saw “Tomorrowland” with the kids.  It’s playing here as well but the title says “World of Tomorrow”.

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We walked to the Piazza Antonio Fratti, which was behind the Subway Restaurant near the main pedestrian walkway.  This was the site of the old Jewish Ghetto.  There is little evidence of this except for the Pizzeria Ghetto Restaurant.  I took several pictures of this historical but anonymous location.

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Piazza Antonio Fratti

We also had to check out the beach at Civitavecchia.  A brown haze spoiled a perfect picture of the seashore.

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Most of the restaurants in the immediate area are pizza places.  At around 5 PM, they were closed – people eat later here.  After walking around the center of the town and not finding anything, we went back to the pizza place – Masta Pitta Pizzeria – near our hotel. 

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We had eaten here in the past and it was open.  We ordered our tomato and mozzarella pizza (sold by the pound and sliced using a scissor).  After weighing, the slices were popped back into the oven for a few minutes.  The Coke Zeros are the most expensive item on any menu running about 2 Euros per can.  Bottom line, the pizza was very good,

We actually stayed up until about 10:30 PM and then it was lights out on a very long day.

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