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On returning to the apartment from the Vatican, we began our preparations for the flight home.  We were still enjoying Italy, but looking forward to the comforts of home.  We packed clothes and made sure we had clean ones for the next day.  We took out trash that was starting to smell kind of nasty. 


Back to the Apartment
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Master Bedroom and Bathroom
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Drying Room
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We took a break around dinnertime and ate at the justifiably well-reviewed Baffetto Pizzeria up the street.


Baffetto Pizzeria

Bob and Nella, Full of Good Pizza

We got a good night’s sleep and ate as much of the remaining breakfast food as we could the next morning.  We took out the remaining food and the last of the trash.


Packed and Ready to Go

We left the apartment key as we’d been instructed, exited the apartment and rode the little elevator back down to the ground floor.  We took the door out to Via del Governo Vecchio for the last time and dragged our luggage down the street to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, where we’d noticed a taxi stand on our previous adventures.  We boarded a taxi and had an uneventful ride back to the Fiumicino Airport we’d passed though on our way to Naples all those weeks ago (actually just a little more than two, but it seemed longer).  Our return route home was planned to be the same as the one that had brought us to Italy, except in reverse:  a first flight to Toronto, and a second flight to Los Angeles after a short layover.  We got into the Air Canada check-in line for our first flight with plenty of time to spare, and everything seemed to be going according to plan.

 The remainder of this narrative serves as an example of some of the things that can go wrong on a trip like this, even when things seem to be under control.  There’s nothing all that unique about them, and many people certainly have much worse experiences to relate.  It may seem like melodramatic moaning and it probably is, but for the sake of completeness, it would be unconscionable to exclude it.  Those without the necessary patience should go look at something else.

 As we were waiting in the check-in line, one of the airline employees came walking along the line, explaining something in multiple languages.  When she got to English, we discovered that our plane had a mechanical problem, and it would be necessary to get another one.  This would take some time, and it was expected that we would be departing about five hours late.  We did some quick mental arithmetic:

Flight delay = 5 hours
Planned layover = 4 hours
5 > 4
So ….. ?

As visions of spending the rest of our natural lives in Toronto flashed through our heads, the airline spokesperson said we shouldn’t worry about the lateness of the flight, as the airline would buy us all lunch.  This wasn’t our first concern, but would eventually have occurred to us.  When we got to the check-in counter, we asked about the layover issue.  We were told that if we missed our second flight, the airline would put us on the next flight to LA.  We asked when that would be.  They checked and told us that it would be tomorrow morning.  We asked where we were supposed to sleep, and they told us that the airline would spring for a hotel room (actually two rooms, for the four of us).  This sounded marginally OK, though it was an unplanned extension to our vacation.  We used a voucher they gave us to find lunch, which was at a place called Foodland.  The good news:  an extra meal in Italy!  The less good news:  airport food.  But at least we had plenty of time to eat it.

 
Foodland

After hanging around the gate for a long time (and watching a couple of on-schedule flights use it in the interim), we finally got a plane and took off for Toronto, 5 hours late as it turned out.


Provisioning the Plane

The plane was faster than expected, but not fast enough, as the flight to LA had already taken off by the time we landed.  We claimed our luggage and went through Canadian customs and were given meal vouchers for dinner and breakfast, to be redeemed at the Four Points Hotel near the airport.  To get to the hotel, we needed to catch a shuttle bus at a specific numbered bus stop.  We headed for the stop and noticed a crowd of about 50 people clustered around it.  A shuttle bus was there too, but it was just leaving.  As we waited for the next shuttle, we noticed that some of the people looked familiar.  Apparently they’d been on our flight and were in the same predicament as us, and all of us were being sent to the same hotel.  The next shuttle was a long time in coming, and we wandered down the curb twenty feet or so, just to be out of the crowd.  After about a half hour a shuttle bus pulled up and stopped directly in front of us, rather that where the bulk of the crowd was.  We got in.  As it turned out, this was a good decision, as this was the only shuttle to the hotel, and it could only hold about ten people at a time.  The round trip took so long because even though the hotel was near the airport, the shuttle had to circle around most of the airport to get to it from the pick-up point.  Some more mental arithmetic told us that some of the crowd at the curb would be waiting for more than two hours to get on the shuttle.  But not us.

 When we arrived at the hotel, we were given two rooms and pointed toward the hotel dining room to redeem our dinner vouchers.  It was about twenty minutes before they were to stop serving for the night, though.  At this point it occurred to us that all of those people still waiting for the shuttle were holding worthless dinner vouchers.  But again, not us.  We quickly dropped our luggage in the hotel rooms and returned to the dining room, where we were informed that they were about to close, and they had nothing to serve us except chicken nuggets.  We weren’t that hungry and the chicken nuggets didn’t sound very appetizing, so we said never mind.  We asked when they started serving breakfast, and they said at seven.  Our flight in the morning was to leave at eight, so this didn’t seem practical, especially since we had no control over the shuttle schedule.  So our dinner and breakfast vouchers both seemed to be valueless.

We returned to our hotel rooms and started wondering if we could change our flight to LA to a later one, so we could eat breakfast and not be so rushed.  We called Air Canada, and they said no problem and booked us on a flight at around noon.  We informed Philip and Connie about our unexpected good fortune and told them they could sleep later, for which they were grateful.  They had been checked into a smoking room (all that was available), but the smell didn't seem to be bothering them.


Hotel Room View
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Downtown Toronto

Pearson International Airport

In the morning we went down to the dining room (in the same clothes as the day before) and saw that they had a nice-looking breakfast buffet.  We presented our vouchers and were told that they didn’t cover the cost of the buffet, and that we’d either have to pay extra or order a la carte.  We grumbled that we hadn’t been able to use our dinner vouchers, and now we had to pay extra for breakfast, at which they brightened up and said they’d be happy to take the two vouchers to cover the cost of the buffet.  We took them up on this, and buffet was quite good.


Nella at Breakfast

Bob at Breakfast

It occurred to us later that the hotel had fed us one meal and charged the airline for two, which would explain their sudden fit of hospitality, but we were beyond caring by that time.  As most of the guests had caught an early shuttle, the bus was sitting out in front of the hotel when we were ready to leave, and we were the only passengers.


Connie and Philip at Airport


Connie's Hotel Review
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Nella at the Gate
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The check-in and the flight were uneventful after that, and we were very happy to see Southern California once again, celebrating with In-n-Out burgers on the way home.

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