That is about all I have to stay concerning my attempt (eventually successful) at getting to Rome. Did things go as planned? Well, yes and no.
Okay, so I arrived at Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc Airport at about 6:15 — close to two hours before my flight. I walk up to the WizzAir desk, show them my boarding pass which I printed online, and said, “I already did the online-check in, and I only have a carry-on, and I have my boarding pass. Where do I go?”
She pointed to my right.
“Oh, just go straight through security?” I asked.
“Yes yes, you can go.”
So, I headed through security, no big deal. It took about two minutes. I put my stuff back on when I got back out and headed into the main lobby to look at the screen and find my flight and boarding gate.
The number of the boarding gate will be displayed 40 minutes prior to departure. Oh, okay, I can wait. But there’s something you should know about me — just because I finish something doesn’t mean that I stop thinking about it. I was stewing. No one even checked my passport. Something is wrong with this. Are they going to do that when I board?
I crossed into Terminal B and headed for passport control, and then just explained to the woman what was going on. She told me that my flight would depart out of Terminal A and that I didn’t need to go through where she was. The problem was that she was the only passport control desk, and she wasn’t in my terminal. So my bad feeling about the passport wasn’t in any way resolved.
I went back to Terminal A and approached a woman standing at an empty boarding gate (which would begin boarding shortly). I asked her if it is typical for a passport to only be checked once someone is boarding, and I was astonished when she said, “Yes.”
You can’t be right.
Finally, I found a WizzAir lady at a boarding gate and told her that I was slightly confused. It was now 7, an hour before my flight. When I explained, she looked at me curiously and said, “You European?”
“No…” I said, sensing that there was an issue with that.
“Oh, well you must get a stamp on boarding pass then. Go to WizzAir check-in.”
“Where is that?”
“Back there.” She pointed the direction I had come from.
“Back through security?” I groaned.
So I rushed back through security and found the same WizzAir flight person I had spoken to first, then asked her where this supposed desk was.
“You must go check in!” she said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. I don’t know, the fact that I checked in online, coupled with the fact that I have no baggage to check and that you told me not to go check in kinda made me feel like I didn’t have to. No? “Where?”
I take a gander over to gate 44…that menace of a gigantic line that hasn’t moved for half an hour. Oh no.
Long story short, I did get through the excruciatingly long line, just to get the lady to write a few words on my boarding pass. Then I zoomed back through security — it was now 7:57. And my flight leaves at 8. And I still have no idea which gate it leaves from, because it does not say on my ticket and I stood in line where there were no screens to display that for the 40 minutes that my gate was supposed to be displayed.
When I entered the gate areas, I rushed over to an attendant and said, “Do you know which gate the flight to Rome Fiumicino is leaving from?” She pointed me to a nearby screen and directed me, saying “A2.”
“THANK YOU SO MUCH!” I shouted as I ran back the way I came again. That was one of only a few gates to be downstairs in a little corridor that looks more like a cleaning closet, so I may have missed it otherwise. So I rushed down there, having run so hard in the past ten minutes that I was gasping for breath and felt like throwing up. Everyone was staring at me, but I didn’t care. I made it.
We were squished into a bus in order to take us to the airplane — this is the first time I’ve boarded a plane from the runway. It was interesting. By now, the flight had been delayed, but only by 15 minutes.
Please do keep in mind that the flight is about an hour and forty-five minutes, and I am not allowed to check into my hotel after midnight. And I still have to ride a train and a bus and then walk in order to get to it once I get to Rome. Time is not my friend this night, and he would rear his ugly head much more as the night wound on.
We get on the plane (which a simply lovely pilot is controlling) only to be told that there has been a power blackout. That was exactly what I needed. So, we sat on the runway until 9:45. When we did take off, though, the pilot gave us a smooth, expert ride — I was impressed with how well he controlled the plane! It was better than many Delta and Southwest flights I have been on. Not bad, considering that WizzAir sometimes gets complaints that the pilots didn’t seem to know what they were doing.
So, long story short, the view was beautiful at night; Budapest’s organized streetlights looked like a pac-man board, but the more sprawlingly random cities showed off their lights like glowing golden veins. It was obvious when we got to the coast of Italy — it’s shape is clearly recognizable. I kept looking down, thinking, “Is that Rome?”
Oh. That’s Rome. It was pretty hard to miss once I saw it.
So, I got into the airport, and there were no signs telling me where to find the Leonardo DaVinci train. I rushed to the information desk to get some help, and he was absolutely wrong in what he told me, though I discovered that too late. Eventually, I “captured” a German couple who were also looking for the train and teamed up with them. We got to the terminal after much searching, and I rushed over to buy a train ticket just as the man was closing his window.
“You go to Termini?” he asked.
“No, I need to go to Trastevere.”
“Oh, Leonardo DaVinci train does not go there.”
“I know,” I said (I only wanted to find the train because my other train is in the same terminal), “but I need a ticket for the Sabina-Fiumicino train.”
“Ah,” he said, printing one out. However, he didn’t take debit cards, and my endeavors to use the ATM so far had been a total failure since the “English” button on the previous ATM had been broken and my Italian is not that good (though I did try!). I ran over to the ATM across from him, but this one had no option for English. I dashed back to him and knocked on his door, because he had shut his window screen.
Thankfully, he came out. “I can’t read the ATM,” I said. What a superbly kind person he was — he actually came over and did the ATM with me (although he did not watch me put in my PIN number!), and I was able to take out the money to buy a ticket. He gave it to me and told me to validate it quickly because the train was leaving in two minutes.
How wrong he was. It was leaving in 30 seconds.
I validated my ticket and rushed toward the train. The doors were closed, but I saw the little button to push to open them. Thank goodness, I thought to myself. I can still open the doors.
What I learned today — it doesn’t matter how many times you hit those buttons if the train starts moving.
So I was left standing on the platform, having missed the train yet having been able to touch it. I called over a janitor and asked if this train was coming again. He said, “Eh, 11:20, 28.”
Shoot. I’m not going to make it to my hotel, am I?
So I stood there for 20 minutes. And then I stood there for 30 minutes. And then I went over to a different janitor and explained my problem.
“Oh, this is last train of the night,” he said, pointing to the Leonardo DaVinci that had just returned. “After that, no more train until tomorrow.”
I should have seen that coming.
So I had stood there and watched a Leonardo leave, not knowing that I should have gotten on it? Peachy. I told him, “But I have a ticket for that train,” gesturing to the abandoned track 3.
“Eh, you get on this one,” he said. He batted his head around as if he were talking to himself in his mind. “This one? Yes, it will be fine. I say you get on this one.” I realized he was arguing with himself over whether to tell me to get on the train which my ticket expressly says that my ticket is not valid for. Did I mention that the fines for bad tickets here are between 100 and 500 euros?
Still, he told me to get on and that everything would be fine. At this point, faced with the prospect of sleeping I-didn’t-know-where, I decided to chance it too and take the train to Termini, even though I needed to go to Trastevere.
The ride took half an hour. Let’s do the math — I got on at 11:38. My hotel won’t check people in after midnight.
When I got to Termini, I was like, I’ve had enough. I’m getting there. I heralded a taxi, told him where I needed to go, and he booked it.
This was the first time in my life that I was happy that these Italians drive like maniacs. No offense to you Italian people, of course. 🙂
When it was all said and done, it still cost me 2 euros less than I would have paid to get to the hotel the way I was going to. Yeah, that’s called I’m awesome. And Someone provided for me. 🙂
That taxi driver was very kind, and I didn’t feel at all nervous, even though it was my first time riding a taxi (alone, no less). He got me right to the front door of where I needed to be at 12:27. Then, I saw the most fantastic, heart-wrenching sight of my life.
Michela (the bed and breakfast owner) and her husband were sitting on their front steps waiting for me, dashing up to me with worried faces the moment I stepped out of the taxi.
I knew there was a reason that I booked this bed and breakfast, even though I could have gotten something cheaper.
I had always heard of Michela’s excellent reputation, and it proved quite true. Although she said that she would not allow check-ins after midnight, she was so worried about me since I had told her that I planned to be there around 11 that she couldn’t help waiting up for me.
Guiding me to my room, she showed me around. This place is beautiful.
It’s her house. I know, bed and breakfasts are usually people’s houses, but this is literally like she let me into her bedroom and she’s serving me breakfast in her kitchen like I’m her daughter. I am thoroughly impressed.
Well, I don’t really know what today holds, but I think that, when it’s not dark and I’m not on as much of a time limit (only for my first sight, the Vatican), I won’t be nearly so helpless. But we’ll see.
I plan on blogging again tonight, so stay tuned for a record of my travels after I return to the bed and breakfast!