Kragtour’09 – Part 1


*knock knock* Hello… remember me? I’m ba-aaack!

If you missed me, well, it’s all my fault. At first I suffered from a busy busy month in June. Mostly it was work stuff, but it had a tendency to bleed into the later hours of the eve. It was all quite technical and not much fun to share with you all (as-if I had time to, lol). Then I hopped on a plane for a vacation. Which is kind of weird for me – I should say “for us”, since the better half of the household also deserved a vacation and was with me on the plane.

It was a long vacation, lasting just about the whole month of July. Most people /drool at the simple idea of a month off, but we had not been on vacation for 2 whole years, to pile up that much time off. So I’m tempted to say it was a long vacation but it was a long time coming.. and then I’d feel weird again. For us it was weird to go on vacation after “only” 2 years since we were used to go on vacation every 3 years before this trip… So, yeah, I don’t know how to put it.. was it a long vacation long overdue? Was it a huge luxury? All I know is that time moves at a different speed on vacation, and we’re back, and happy, and it was fun.. and I probably have a few stories to share.

Speaking of sharing… keep your eyes on this Picasa album, where I’m going to post our pictures. Some pictures will be quite touristic in nature, other will be more fun and some pictures won’t make much sense, but I had these opportunities of grabbing shots of details or landscapes to be used in Photoshop contests later on, so… Anyways, since the camera saved pictures by date, I will probably upload them in chronological order, and hopefully the pictures will help me remember most of the details of the trip. Most. And nothing private, don’t worry.

Not Pictured: The Trip to Italy

I think I’ve been traveling too much in my life because I’ve completely lost the sense of excitement that is typical of a trip from home to a vacation place. Our trip started late morning on July 4th (remind me one day to tell you what we learnt about booking tickets for a round-trip vs. each leg, and on holidays, right?). We managed to close the luggages (3, fairly big.. plus uncountable carry-ons – ok, the carry-ons were 1 for me and uncountable for her, so uncountable+1), get a cab, an airplane from Gainesville to Atlanta, and a much bigger airplane from Atlanta to Rome. The only interesting part up to this point is that the flight from Gainesville to Atlanta seems to be the only flight that totally freaks me out. As I said, I’ve traveled a lot, and often by plane. I usually don’t feel panic, but that flight.. sucks. It might be the size of the plane (but I’ve been on smaller ones, like the so-called “blender” from Zurich to Genoa), or the messy air between the two airports (try and find half an hour of clean air in the Southeastern summer) – possibly it’s the lack of wine. On the plus side, once we got on the bigger plane to Rome we found out the 2 seats next to us were empty. It hadn’t happened since the 80’s, but we had a lot of space to enjoy. We Watched Watchmen on the way to Rome (meh, 6.5/10 on my personal scale – never thought the story would work as a big budget blockbuster movie anyway).

Once in Rome we hopped on another plane to reach Genoa, our final destination (and my hometown). We landed around 10:30 AM on July 5th (Italian timezone). That’s the fun of flying Eastward: you start your vacation loosing time in thin air. Essentially, it was 4:30 AM (EST) and we’d been flying for 14 hours. Our “day” had started 21 hours earlier, and you might have noticed I did not mention “sleep” during the flight, right? Here’s where I made a tactical mistake, and I shall forever bear responsibility for it: I changed my tune from “I’ll believe it when we’ll get there” to “Now I feel we’re on vacation“. Evidently that was the secret word of the day, or something. Enter Alitalia (the Italian airline), and its non-deterministic behaviour. You buy a ticket. For a flight. Which might or might not take place (we won’t know until someone opens the box with the cat inside). If you happen to be on the flight, an infinite number of outcomes are possible. As a matter of fact, Lost is a simplified version of a typical travel via Alitalia. In our specific case, the luggage of about half the people on the airplane had disappeared. Could have been worst. Like, half the people on the airplane disappearing, or half the airplane disappearing. So we spent some time (couple of hours?) at the appropriate counter, got the rental car (oh I hope I remember to tell you more about the car another time…) and left for our big adventure.

The adventure was actually to figure out how to get from the airport to my house. See, Genoa is strategically placed between the sea and the mountains (strategically, of course, for pre-Roman-Empire times, when you had to worry about pirates and barbarian invasions and such). It provides a nice climate, great views, and an absolutely unsolvable traffic problem. Seriously. One of the smaller towns on the outskirts of Genoa (Nervi, which I’m sure I’ll mention with many more details later on) is essentially a one-way town. There’s a road that goes one-way eastward, and another road that goes one-way westward. They connect at the start and at the end of the town. Miss your spot? Go around, without collecting money at the Start, and try again. Genoa itself is sort of the same. The fun part is that every now and then they switch the one-way directions. So, I visit every few years, land after.. what did we say? 23 hours being awake, with a considerable jet-lag, jump in a car I’ve never driven before (manual shift, of course.. I’m Italian after all), and have to figure out the puzzle.

Somehow I got us from point A to point B without breaking any of the one-way directives (lack of witnesses notwithstanding), and we got home, where my mother greeted us with the second puzzle: how to enter the house. I kid you not. This woman is worried about burglars, as she should be (we had a break-in a few years ago, and she’s at the last floor of the building, which actually makes it one of the “easy” places to break-into). Therefore, she’s installed a few security systems. A few. Because every time she gets worried (e.g. a wave of burglaries in the area, or temporary scaffolding on a side of the building for maintenance work), she adds a new one. This year, to get in the house, we had to unlock 7 different locks and alarms and movement detectors, and more. With 6-hour jet lag, after 23 hours awake. Not a problem. The problem might arise after a night out with friends, but we were still operating in “easy mode“.

I guess it’s as good a time as any to mention a particularly important detail: this trip I had a wonderful time with my mother. That’s absolutely amazing, because we have the same horrible character and have been butting heads for 30+ years. It’s the first time in a long long – I mean very long – time we managed to spend more than 1 hour together without turning in a hockey match mixed with a steel cage wrestling spectacle. I guess that if I could leave anything to posterity it would be this: don’t ever give up, there’s always hope to actually have a decent time with the people you care for. You just have to be incredibly resilient and amazingly lucky.

Details on that may follow one day. For the time being, let’s get day 1 (or day zero, if you will) of our trip to a closure. We drove my mother to her other house (she let us have the main apartment for our vacation while she stayed in Nervi), and made a few calls. The important people were alerted: we were back in town and, from the next day, would be ready to wreck havoc on this unsuspecting place. Little did we know that our best laid plans would work out flawlessly. One hitch involved the baggage. Alitalia called us around 10 PM to let us know that 2 out of 3 bags had been delivered to the Genoa airport. Did we want them delivered at our place? “No thanks, otherwise you guys will lose them again“. So we did a quick run to the airport around midnight (noticed our 3rd baggage laying in the unclaimed pile), found a random pizzeria open and eventually made it back to our lair. Roughly, 36 hours after waking up. I think that night the sleeping pill might have been redundant.

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