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Published: April 21st 2015
I don't think that I am a fan of these middle of the night/very early morning departures. We have been on the go since about 8.00am Sunday morning so it's been an 18 hour day by the time our flight starts boarding ... at about the time that it should have been departing! Just before the flight started boarding all of the passengers started to arrive in the gate lounge. We were lucky enough to have a large (family?) group take up seats near us and then a member of their party proceeded to cough up her spleen. Oh, just wonderful, if we don't catch her cold/fu from the departure lounge we'll be getting it recirculated through the plane's a/c for the next seven and a half hours!!
Finally we were all loaded up and on our way to Kuala Lumpur an hour later than we should have been. We were given a snack - a croissant and a muffin - almost as soon as we were in the air and then it was lights off. We were obviously expected to sleep on this leg to KL so we both dozed off for the majority of the flight. Bernie tells
me that he slept for as long as all of the Enya albums that are on his iPhone!!
We were fed again a couple of hours out of KL. Bernie went the rubbery scrambled eggs and I had the yellow foam block frittata!! Airline breakfasts are always disappointing as egg dishes just do not hold well. Why do they only rarely offer a cereal option? After an uneventful flight we landed smoothly in KL still running about an hour behind schedule. Even though we are only transiting through KL we still had to disembark ... only to re-board the same plane after half an hour in the transit hall.
After a walk to stretch our legs and use the facilities while on the ground we joined the queue to be screened again. Some of the flight crew cut into the queue ahead of us so Bernie asked if we would be arriving on time in Dubai. The crew seemed to think that although we would be departing late from KL there was a good chance that the time would be made up during the flight to Dubai.
As we passed through security screening we both set off
the metal detectors so had to be patted down. Seriously, if we're not being pulled over for the bomb screening test we set off the metal detectors and have to receive special attention because of that!! Why can't we ever seem to pass unobtrusively through airport security??
We had another uneventful flight from KL to Dubai. We alternated between eating and sleeping interspersed with some movies/TV and reading. We only made up some of the hour that we were running behind but, with a four hour stopover in Dubai before our connection to Rome, we had some time to spare. Due to some renovations taking place in the Emirates Lounge we had a little bit of trouble finding it but, when we located the temporary entrance, we were admitted without any trouble. Thank goodness, it is much nicer filling in the time between flights in the lounge rather than at the departure gate!
After our brief Dubai stopover we were screened again and boarded our third flight in 24 hours to continue our epic journey to Rome. This leg was also entirely uneventful. Although we were now trying to stay awake to be on Roman time we just
didn't seem to be able to keep our eyes open and dozed a fair bit despite our efforts to be wakeful. At one stage we almost missed being fed due to being asleep!!
We finally made up some time in the air on this final leg of the journey and landed in Rome only about 15 minutes later than we should have. After disembarking we caught the skytrain to the immigration hall where all the non-EU passengers were inadvertently ending up in the EU passengers queue because the other section appeared to be closed. Wrong, it was actually open to process all the non-EU passengers, but there was not a single sign or staff member to alert passengers to the fact that it was the non-EU passengers queue. At least we weren't the only ones who ended up in the wrong queue!!
Once we were in the correct queue we had to negotiate the most ridiculous amount of zig-zagged tape to reach the immigration official directing passengers to the booths to be processed. You would think that when hardly anyone is coming through that they could change the tapes to allow a more direct route to the immigration booths? I'm fairly sure that they were all having a pretty good laugh at all the non-EU citizens being corralled through the tapes like cows through a cattle run!! Once we reached the booth we were given a fairly cursory glance before our passports were stamped and we were sent on our way.
Next stop, the baggage carousel. Thank goodness our bags arrived in Rome at the same time that we did. It is always such a relief when the bags pop out onto that conveyor belt. Bags in tow, we proceeded through the 'Nothing To Declare' lane at Customs and then out into the arrivals hall where we were looking for a driver with a GAFFNEY sign. After such a long journey we were very pleased that there was someone at the airport to pick us up and drive us to our hotel.
At 9.00pm the traffic between the airport and central Rome was pretty light. The use of indicators to change lanes appeared to be an option only though. I've never seen so many vehicles drifting from one lane to another without giving any indication of their intent!
We checked in at the Hotel Regno without any difficulty and we were escorted up to our room on the fourth floor. We have ended up in a room with twin beds ... as so often seems to be the case in Europe. Not to worry, the room is otherwise quite adequate and it won't kill us to sleep in single beds. After unpacking a few things we ventured out to get our bearings. The hotel is quite near the Trevi Fountain so we headed that way to discover that the fountain is currently undergoing restoration. Actually, this was only a surprise to me as Bernie said that he was aware that the fountain is closed for restoration work until the end of 2015. This information was probably shared with me, but I mustn't've been paying attention!
After buying some bottled water we decided that it was definitely time to get some proper sleep laying down in a bed rather than only semi-reclined in an airline seat. Even a slightly too firm single bed is a much better proposition for sleeping than an airline seat! We have a tour of the Vatican Gardens booked for 9.30am in the morning so really need to re-charge our batteries for that!
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