22.12.2009 - 23.12.2009 -6 °C
My husband, an American, found out the hard way just how resilient Filipinos are and how important family is to Filipinos.
One very early morning in December, my husband and I drove for an hour on dangerously icy roads to Frankfurt-Hahn airport so we can spend Christmas with my family in Italy.
The account of our very own amazing race would be better illustrated with timestamps.
22 December 2009
0400H Hubby and I leave the house in Kaiserslautern, Germany for the airport.
0500H We got to the airport at 5am only to find out that our flight was cancelled due to heavy snow at our destination, Bergamo Airport in Milan. We had to scramble (along with a gazillion other passengers) to get whatever flight was available for that day. We were so desperate that my husband and I decided to just get any available flight to Italy, and just figure it out from there. What added to our frustration were the queue jumpers. My goodness, with the totally unabashed queue-jumping that they were doing, you'd think they don't come from first-world countries!
Dog-tired, sleepy and hungry (although for some reason the airport food looked totally unappealing to us at the time), we waited for our...
1150H flight to Rimini, Italy.
1340H When we got to Rimini, we had to take a bus to take us to the Rimini Railway station.
1500H At the Rimini Railway Station, our plight with the foul-mannered queue-jumpers continued. It almost resulted to fisticuffs (which I would have gladly initiated) had it not been for my husband's calm demeanor. Trying to figure out which train to take (and what time, because all trains were delayed by several hours due to the weather) added to our "Amazing Race" experience. We got train tickets for "no guaranteed seats" to Milan. You have to understand that at this point, we have been without sleep for more than 12 hours. So being on a train for 4 hours with the very real possibility of spending those 4 hours STANDING UP, required all the happy thoughts my husband and I could muster.
1750H to 2150H Rimini to Milan train ride. Yep. You guessed it. STANDING UP.
2200H When we got to Milan, we immediately rushed (which was a feat in itself considering we were each lugging ginormous hard-case Samsonite luggages up and down several flights of stairs) to the ticketing office to buy tickets to Brescia. Just our luck (?), the last train going to Brescia leaves at 2235H. More character-building encounters with several flights of stairs before we got to the right train platform, which was outside and exposed to frigid -6degrees Celsius temperatures. We (with all digits intact, thankfully) made it, just in time.
2235H to 2330H Train ride to from Milan to Brescia. This would have been the end of our Herculean efforts to get to Brescia, finally, had it not been for one simple misstep. We nodded off during the one hour train ride. Frankly, it was a disaster waiting to happen! So we woke up at the Verona Station, the last stop. Sinking feelings set aside, we soldiered on and thought, "Oh, we can just take another train back to Brescia." Oh, how wrong we were. The train we were on WAS the last trip for that day. The next one was at 0520H, December 23. So we spent the night at the train station, huddled close to each other, trying to take naps alternately, because although we'd like our load to be lighter, we didn't want to lose our luggages to gypsies posing as weary travelers. Italy is especially infamous for feather-touch thieves.
23 December 2009
0520H Train ride from Verona to Brescia. The sight of the familiar Brescia station brought us to tears. Finally, "home" is close. From the train station, we took a cab and headed home.
0540H After an epic 26 hours of travel, we were home. At last.
And just like contestants on the Amazing Race, this ordeal brought out the best and the worst in me and my husband. We learned a lot from and about each other. My husband found out that I will never ever tolerate queue jumpers, even if they tower over me. I learned that my husband has more patience than I give him credit for. We learned that we can still find humor in the sorriest of situations.
Our story is something I wouldn't wish even on my worst enemy. But I would very gladly go through all that again, if it meant being able to spend the holidays with family.
The attached picture was taken on Christmas Day, 2009. Now, doesn't this make it all worth it?