Travels (or should we say Travails?)

The course of true love never did run smooth. I am sitting at a stop at the end of the the Torino airport bus line. Our nine pieces of luggage, stroller, and two gigantic car seats are piled all around me. Actually, Axa is sleeping in one of those car seats. Tony has a sleeping Raj on his back and is off in search of a hotel. I must make a funny picture sitting on an overstuffed suitcase, typing away unconcernedly on my laptop as if I didn’t stick out like a tie-dyed giraffe.

We’ve had quite a day of it. Or maybe it’s been more than a day in the psychedelic universe of jetlag. It began at 2:30 this morning when we piled into the car with Grammy for the two-hour drive to the airport. After standing by the deserted Lufthansa check-in counter for a half hour, we realized we must be in the wrong place (although I did take advantage of the unused official scales to fine-tune my packing job, ending with four suitcases, each weighing in at fifty pounds, with an error-margin of only a few ounces). Luckily, Grammy was circling the airport, making sure we got checked-in O.K., so she came back to transport us to an entirely different terminal, where United was checking in our flight. Neither Lufthansa nor our booking company had gotten around to mentioning to us that United was to be the carrier on our first leg.

Our first flight (L.A. to D.C.) was uneventful, and we had reason to thank both grandmas, who provided us with food for the journey, since United was resolved to starve everyone on the four-hour flight right through lunch time into buying their food. and they also made no provision for pre-boarding families with small children (they’re looking as bad as Ryanair!).

Fortunately, Lufthansa really was operating the remaining two legs of the trip, and they treated us nicely and fed us well. The overnight middle leg went VERY well, considering the two small children and the length. Unfortunately, the flight arrived slightly late, leaving us only an hour layover to walk to the next terminal, go through customs, go through the security check, and have nearly every bag we had opened and inspected.

Axa had to go to the bathroom as Tony was supervising the second-to-last bag’s inspection. The bathroom turned out to be four gates away, right next to our departure gate, where the last stragglers were then boarding the shuttle to the tarmac. Axa and I raced down the stairs to help Tony with the luggage, and then raced back up. Unfortunately, Tony somehow got ahead of us and then got lost. We left our bags at the ticket counter and ran back down the stairs to retrieve him. By this time the Lufthansa employees (who run their company like an atomic clock) were nearly beside themselves. They rushed us down four flights of stairs (bumpity bumpity bump) to a shuttle bus they had called specifically for us. We raced to the bus, and flung on our bags.

The shuttle bus driver, who was Middle Eastern, not German, told us to slow down. Then he sauntered out of sight. He reappeared after a moment to tell us we were on the wrong bus. We hurried onto the next bus and were driven out to the tarmac, expecting all the time to find that our plane had already departed without us.

To our profound surprise, the plane, a cute little commuter, was still there. We managed up the stairs with our heavy bags, three of which refused to even fit in the overhead bins and were wedged into empty seats by the flight attendants. Neither the crew nor the passengers (most of whom were Italian) seemed in any hurry to leave. After a few moments of settling in, a flight attendant brought little packaged warm washcloths to everyone.

Several minutes later, another brought orange juice. There was still no talk of departure, and nobody seemed bothered. Finally, the captain came on over the intercom, and we got a chance to practice our Italian comprehension for the first time in a long time. I understood that there had been an earthquake and that the plane was to be fifty minutes late in arriving, neither of which turned out to be the case when he repeated himself in English. Oh, well.

An hour later, we had landed in Turin and were ready to hop off the plane and drive off into the Tuscan sunset. Except that wasn’t quite what was in store for us . . .