Saturday July 2nd
I woke up early and could not wait to get out of that room. I did not sleep well and ended up watching old Italian movies at three in the morning.
For a three star hotel, I was not impressed. The bathroom amenities consisted of a sliver of soap. The buffet breakfast was “ok”. Perhaps it was because I was staying in the older section of the hotel (see previous day’s post on my room), but still, I personally would never stay never stay at Hotel Cervo again!
I paid my bill after eating breakfast and took the next available shuttle to the airport. I was very happy to leave that hotel. I am fortunate that this was my only bad experience during my trip. It’s just too bad it ended up being my last night in Italy. If departing from Malpensa in the future, I will definitely look into alternative accommodations.
Malpensa to Newark
Once at the airport, it took me a few minutes to figure out just where to go. There was a separate area for oversees flights and an extra checkpoint where each person’s name was checked against a list. I tried to peek at the list wondering just what it said about me, but was not able to see much.
Check in was quite easy. The flight was overbooked and they were offering a night’s stay in a hotel and 500 dollars or euros credit (not sure which) for a future flight, but no upgrade to business class. I passed since I would then have to find arrangements in Houston the following night.
After checking in, I went to get my last Italian coffee, bought a newspaper, and then headed towards the gate. I wandered through a few shops and then waited to board the plane.
I ended up sitting next to this woman that was in Italy for two weeks attending a clown workshop in Puglia. She was given a grant for this workshop with all expenses paid, even airfare! Hmm…an idea for a future trip??
The flight was fine except that they did not have my special meal I ordered and the movie screen was not working. I was able to watch the movie for 2-5 minutes at a time and then the sound would go off and a few seconds later the screen would switch to audio station one. This was affecting two rows on the plane. After a while, we all became very adept with our fingers hitting all the buttons to get us back to our movies, holding that remote the entire flight.
The flight attendant came by telling us that he would reset it, and after about three times, he became a little irritated and told us that we were 30,000 feet up and there was not much more that he could do! Yes, we were on an airplane, and thus not on the ground and we did not expect him to be able to solve the problem, but it was the way he reacted that was upsetting. We were not complaining constantly. I guess since it affected about 8 or 10 people, each person saying one thing about the movie screen added up.
I watched Sahara twice, first in English and the second time in Italian, switching back to English during the parts that I missed the first time around. With a little patience, I ended up seeing most of the movie after watching it twice. At least it helped pass the time more quickly.
Newark to Houston
When we landed in Newark, we quickly went through customs and then waited for our bags. I was SO happy to see my bag arrive, since on one occasion I have lost a bag (most likely stolen from Italy) and on another occasion saw my bag two weeks later. I found the place to recheck my bag to Houston, bought a salad and treat at Bon Appetite, and then found my gate. We were told that the flight was full. After everyone was seated, the plane was really empty. I was eyeing the seat I was going to switch to.
While waiting for the stragglers to board so I could make my move, we were told that the Madrid flight was late and many people on our flight were on that flight and so we waited 30 minutes for their plane to arrive. The plane was so nice and peaceful until the people from the late plane arrived. On walked a couple with a crying baby and a screaming three-year old. Once everyone finally boarded, we ended up having to wait 30 more minutes due to a storm down near D.C.
The peaceful, roomy plane turned out to be a full plane with a screaming child and crying baby. Oh well…for a minute there, we were all pretty excited about this flight! At least my movie screen was working and I was able to drown out the noise for most of the flight.
We arrived in Houston an hour late. The walk to the baggage area seemed to be the longest walk I have ever experienced. I think I was just tired from lack of sleep the previous night.
It took 40 minutes for the bags to come out. Once I got my bag, I waited for my hotel shuttle to the Wyndham Hotel. The temperature outside was 100 degrees. I had decided to splurge a little and stay at this hotel. Big mistake! It took 56 minutes for the shuttle to arrive and another 40 minutes to reach the hotel. I was not a happy camper! Because of airline delays, a big group of people boarded my shuttle at the next terminal. They were all being put up at the same hotel for the night due to a delayed flight. This resulted in people sitting in the aisles. I was very surprised that this was allowed.
Because I was the first person on the shuttle, I was the last person off the shuttle when we arrived at the hotel. It took at least 15 minutes to check in (for the express check in). I was so tired when I got to my room that I never left. I never got to enjoy the hotel amenities. Next time, no splurge!
When originally making my reservation, I was told that the shuttle for the airport left every 30 minutes. I called down to the front desk to check on the shuttle, just to make sure, and was not told anything about any changes to the shuttle times. I was told that I just needed to let them know in the morning the time I would like the shuttle.
Sunday July 3rd – Houston to Honolulu
Sunday morning, I took my time getting ready, figuring that I had plenty of time to eat breakfast and then catch the shuttle. When I went down to inquire about the shuttle, I was told that since it was a holiday there would only be one shuttle on the hour. It was Sunday, July 3rd – not a holiday! And even if it was a holiday, don’t people usually stay in hotels on holidays?
Instead of taking the 10:30 shuttle, I had to take the 10:00 shuttle, which gave me five minutes to eat something at the wonderful buffet breakfast where I had a free coupon from booking my stay over the internet. The man running the buffet made sure to tell me that the tip was not included. I was so upset with the entire shuttle experience, I was not about to leave a tip for five minutes of grabbing something to eat on my own at a buffet. The shuttle had just enough room for everyone to fit and I was not the only person upset with the “hourly shuttle” for the holiday.
Once at the airport, things looked up. There was only a very short line of people waiting to check in. At the e-ticket check-in, I slid my passport into the scanner area as an ID was requested. The screen said that I needed assistance. The woman asked me if I had any other identification. I told her “no”. She asked me why not? You would think that the passport would be more important than all other IDs! She started the check in process over again, which somehow did not involve my ID. I checked my bag and found my gate.
During the flight, I sat next to a man that did not seem to understand that the arm rest was neutral territory. I felt squished most of the flight. I was so happy when we finally arrived back home in beautiful Hawaii!!
I was so happy to arrive back home in beautiful Hawaii!!
Time flew by much too quickly I am already thinking about my next trip…
Except for my last night at the hotel near Malpensa airport and my fights home, I had a WONDERFUL WONDERFUL trip! Italy to me is the most special place in the world to visit! I cannot wait to return!! So many places still yet to see. I hope to return again and again!
Final Thoughts & Resources: I moved many of my final thoughts from my original trip report to the bottom of my last post for each area where I stayed. Some of my original resources are no longer available. I have updated my resources to working websites and deleted those no longer working with no alternate websites.
Miscellaneous Final thoughts:
Train travel in Italy: Plan on the train being late and be aware of alternate later connecting trains just in case. I think out of all the trains I took this summer, only two or three were on time and even if the train arrived on time, the train would often sit somewhere on the track during the journey and to would still end up arriving late to my destination. Unless there is a huge difference in price, I traveled 1st class when I could. As a solo traveler I especially I recommend first class when traveling with luggage, whenever possible. First class is usually much less crowded and on most trains, you can keep your luggage by you, instead of having to lift it over the seat or place it on the rack between trains. If buying a ticket at the counter, you need to request first class or you will automatically be given a 2nd class ticket. *I am not including my 2005 thoughts on the reservation system and many of the train types since they have both changed quite a bit. You will now find automatic ticket machines at the majority of the train stations in Italy.
TV: I really enjoy Italian TV! Of course, I don’t spend tons of time watching TV while in Italy, but if I am in my room, I will turn it on. I find TV as one more way to learn more about the Italian culture and to improve my Italian comprehension skills. It was especially interesting to find out more about some of the shows from friends after trying to figure them out on my own… such as Porta a Porta. I could never figure that show out but found out it is quite a popular talk show. Many of the commercials are quite amusing and the game shows are always a challenge to play along with. I actually answered a few questions correctly on the Millionaire show. I also enjoyed watching many of the American TV (telefilm) shows and movies dubbed in Italian and also the older Italian movies, concert specials, a special tribute to the Pope, and my new favorite show, Carabinieri!
Ferry Schedules for Lake Como, Garda, Maggiore: http://www.navigazionelaghi.it/
Funivia – Malcésine to Monte Baldo: https://funiviedelbaldo.it/en/
Trenitalia English website: https://www.trenitalia.com/en.html
Hotel Palazzo Bocci: https://www.palazzobocci.com/en/
Hotel Eden: https://www.hoteledensirmione.it/en/
*My hotel stays were 14 years ago now so things may have changed! Make sure to check current reviews.