Continued from Running to Rimini – Part 1
Needless to say, it was too late.
I sat down to take stock. I was exhausted and annoyed, and now faced the prospect of an expensive re-booking and possibly having to spend the night in Rome. What a mess. At this point, I decided to see what I could salvage from the situation. Heading to the Alitalia ticket office, I explained I’d missed my flight and managed to rebook a new one to Rimini–for 8am the next morning. I actually felt quite pleased afterwards since I’d managed to do the whole thing entirely in Italian, without having to resort to English. A minor victory, doing the ‘firefighting’ in italiano!
The next thing was to find out where to spend the night. The Alitalia lady told me the nearest hotel was the Hilton (those Roman gods again!) at the outskirts of Fiumicino airport. I asked her if she knew how much a room was for the night.
I’d practically just spend half that rebooking the ticket. Still, I was tired and just needed to rest. I remember getting to the hotel itself took a long time (or at least that’s how it felt at the time). I had to walk through a whole series of halls and escalators, and then finally take an elevator that led outside to the hotel building.
Arriving at the concierge desk, I enquired about a room for the night. The answer was a momentary bombshell.
“Non c’e’ camera libera, ma…”
There’s no free room, but…
“…e’ disponibile l’appartamento executive…”
The executive suite is free. And guess how much it costs…
With a sigh, I handed over my American Express (!), beginning to feel like I was in one of those commercials where the smartly dressed businessperson arrives at the posh hotel after a long day in meetings. The only difference being that I’d spent the day running around Rome and I definitely wasn’t a smartly dressed businessperson.
And that’s how it was that I found myself spending the night in the executive suite at Hilton Roma Fiumicino instead of a cheap little hotel on the coast of Emilia-Romagna.
Next morning, I successfully (three cheers, anyone?) caught the new flight and arrived in Rimini. Thinking my troubles were over, I went to pick up my luggage, which the Alitalia lady had assured me would have been transferred from the flight I’d missed.
One by one, the other passengers collected their luggage and disappeared, leaving me as the only one left, staring forlornly at the empty conveyer belt as it went round and round. Accepting this wasn’t going to be quite as easy as all this, I went off again to the Alitalia desk to explain what had happened. The assistant asked me to describe what my bag looked like and to leave details of the hotel where I was staying in Rimini. She said that my bag was probably still at Rome and would be forwarded on the next flight. I’d probably have to come back later on or the next day to collect it.
Accepting the situation as it was, I left the airport and caught a cab to my hotel. Missing baggage or not, I decided I wanted to get the holiday started. I checked in at the hotel, apologising that I hadn’t been able to make it the evening before, and went to catch a train to Ravenna. The whole point of my trip to that part of Italy had been to see the famous Byzantine churches and mosaics in Ravenna–the Basilica di San Vitale, Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, the Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, the Mausoleo di Teodorico, and the Tomba di Dante (yes, he of Paradiso and Inferno fame).
Practically forgetting my travel problems, I passed a thoroughly enjoyable day in Ravenna, even managing to take lots of photos with my phone that hadn’t been charged for over 24 hours. On the train back to Rimini in the evening, I began to think about my plans for the next day. I decided I would head back to the airport and see if my luggage had arrived yet–inevitably this would take up half the day. With this gloomy thought in mind, I arrived at the hotel, to be greeted by the manager:
“E’ arrivata qualcosa per lei…”
Something had arrived for me. I was puzzled. What could it be? The manager went into the room behind the reception and soon came out carrying…
I practically went all Italian and said “Mamma mia!”–and yes, I actually did say that! It was such a pleasant surprise. It seemed that the staff at the airport had sent it by courier to my hotel as soon as the bag had arrived. Very, very impressive.
With one snag. I took the bag up to my room and brought out the key to open the lock. That’s when I noticed there was no lock on the bag. In fact, there were even no zip fasteners. It dawned on me with increasing annoyance that since I’d missed the flight, airport security in Rome must have broken open my bag to see if there was anything suspicious in it. More cynical Italians to whom I’ve told this story have said that it was more likely the airport staff were just looking to see if they could find anything valuable in an abandoned bag. Well, unless they took a shine to my M&S shirts, there was little in there for them to make a quick buck off…
A change of clothes (and putting in your phone to charge) never felt quite so good. 🙂