Tuesday, May 22, 2012
I started out worrying about this trip when late last night I was charging the company international cell phone so I have a way to call the office, tour manager, etc. I plugged in the phone in my kitchen and sat down to relax with my wife. About 30 or 40 minutes into charging the phone my kitchen lights go out. The breaker is fine yet I have no lights at all in the kitchen or the outside porch! I have 2 left thumbs when it comes to electrical work and I have to get up in about 6 hours to catch my flight…yeah, I am not going to work on this tonight. I left for my trip and texted my dad asking him to come and repair my lights so my wife and kids could see while I am gone!! I was hoping that the power problem would not be a sign of things to come!!!
I very rarely sleep real well before a flight as I am always concerned about sleeping in and missing the flight. Still when that alarm goes off, I feel like throwing it out the window even more than every other day of the week. Once I get my eyes open, I am starting to get excited about the trip and have no real problem getting motivated.
Our flight does not depart until 10:30 am however I need to be dropped off at the airport before 7:30 am so my wife and kids can get my daughter to school by 8 am and my son to Grandpa & Grandma’s by 8:30 am and my wife to work before 8:45 am. (This is just the beginning of a busy 2 weeks for both me and especially my wife!!)
We arrive at the airport a good hour before we expect the group to start arriving. My 3 year old son, Drew, is fascinated by airplanes and wants to come inside with me. I bring both him and my 7 year old daughter, Grace, in for a look around. To my surprise, there are 2 of my group members already sitting inside waiting too. I introduce them to my kids and then have to say goodbye so they can get on their way too. Drew starts crying, not because he misses daddy but because he wanted to ride on the airplane. Maybe next time little buddy!
While we told the group 8:30 am, most of the members start arriving and some have only met once during our pre-departure meeting 2 weeks ago so they are reintroducing themselves. Delta Airlines are still about 20 minutes away from beginning to check us in so we just visit and wait.
Check-in begins. Mustafa Saraclar from our office, who planned and orchestrated this trip, has arrived to bid everyone farewell. It was nice to have his help as we worked together to get everyone ready. Kudos to Delta Airlines agent, Pablo, as he was very helpful in making the process a smooth and problem free experience.
Everyone is checked in and most have made it through security already. Mustafa and I discuss a few last minute things and then we say goodbye and I make my way to security as well. I notice that one of our group members is still being evaluated in security so I wait for her to make sure everything is ok. It turns out that she had a sweater on with metallic stripes and that set off the sensors like crazy. Finally they cleared her and we are ready to go.
Our flight schedule to Rome is departing from Canton-Akron Airport with a short flight to Atlanta Georgia before we board our plane for the 10 hour flight to Rome Italy.
Up, up and away. We are on our way just about on schedule. Flight is very smooth and arrives on time.
We have about a 3-1/2 hour layover before our next flight. I am very happy with that as I am still getting to know how fast everyone can walk and how the group functions with directions and so forth. I would not want to have a very quick turnaround and be missing half of my group!
In Atlanta, we need to go to the center of the concourse and go down the escalator to the tram area. We arrive in Concourse C and we need to make our way over to Concourse E which is the International Concourse. There is a walkway with a people mover or a tram and we decide to take the tram. We arrive at Concourse E and head back up the escalator to the main area. We still have plenty of time so I show everyone where the gate is located and then let them go find some lunch. There is a big food court area and I decide on Arby’s and enjoy my lunch sitting with Chuck and Barb Kiko along with his sister Pat and her husband Henry Schwerzler.
After lunch, in anticipation of the long 10 hour flight over to Rome I decide to walk the concourse to stretch. We are supposed to be boarding our flight now but it was late arriving to Atlanta so they are still prepping it for our flight. We just hang out watching them unload cargo and load on the new food.
We are on board and about 45 minutes late departing but no worries. We are wheels up and just settling in for the long night ahead. The Airbus A330 that we are on has 8 seats across with 2 aisles and holds about 300 passengers. They have built-in TV monitors in the headrests in front of you so each person has their own entertainment center. Movies, games, flight route info, etc with most of it complimentary.
Our first in-flight meal! They are getting us ready for all of the pasta we are going to consume in Italy as they serve tortellini, salad, bread and cheese. Not bad for microwave airplane food but I am anticipating much better pasta in Italy!
Here comes a late night snack!! Turkey & cheese sandwich. Yummy. After my snack, we still have about 5 hours of flight left so I decide to check out the entertainment system. I play a couple games of some jewel matching game but my eyes go crossed eventually so I switch to movies. I first watch Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and really enjoyed it a lot. Then I switch to a comedy and watch Tower Heist and enjoyed that as well.
This is the last time I remember seeing the clock as I begin to doze off a little. I don’t sleep real well on flights. Guess I must think that I will sleep through landing and everyone will let me sleep and I will miss my next flight or my transportation at my destination. Duh! Anyways, I don’t fight the sleep as I want to rest before our first long day in Rome!
Goodnight for now….
PrimeTime Seniors Group Trip to Italy
Palmer Vacations provides group planning and travel services for Aultman Hospital’s seniors group called PrimeTime Seniors. Exclusive and one-of-a-kind trips are planned and escorted by Palmer Vacations and for the 12-day trip to Italy, I had the honor of escorting the group. While I had yet to travel to Italy I have had international travel experience and have planned and escorted groups in the USA. Therefore I felt confident leading this group of 23 around the beautiful country of Italy.
This tour visits most of the major highlights of Italy all in a mere 12 days of travel. An ambitious itinerary but once completed you have enjoyed a true taste of Italy. We will begin our journey with an overnight flight to Rome with 2 nights there, 2 nights in Florence with a stop in Orvieto along the way, 2 nights in Venice with a stop in Pisa along the way, 1 night in Assisi, a stop in Pompeii on the way to the Island of Capri for 2 nights, a quick stop in Sorrento before returning to Rome for 1 night to prepare for our flight back to Canton. Wow…are you still with me?!
Again, it sounds like a lot and while it is a lot, the nice thing is that it is a private tour for just our 23 people and therefore a wonderful way to experience everything this tour has to offer. We became a close family for almost 2 weeks and enjoyed each other’s company along the journey.
I certainly hope you enjoy reading about our adventures and enjoy the journey too. I will be posting a day by day itinerary of the trip so you can experience everything right along with me/us. I will post a few photos too on here but I have uploaded a couple dozen on our Facebook page…www.facebook.com/palmertravel
Todd Langenek, CTA.