Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bologna Day 1 - In which I discover the secret to meeting gallant Italian men...

Tonight, the clocks move forward so I get to experience the
joys of daylight savings time (again!) on top of jetlag adjustments. Which is
just fine since I don’t really have to get up early for any good reason tomorrow.
(Yes, Helaine, I know that this is a sentence fragment. More to come :P)

Funny thing is, my iPod, which is my de facto watch here,
did the jump ahead LAST night, so when I got my wake-up call this morning at
9:30, I thought they’d made a mistake and let me sleep in till 10:30. Check out
is at 11:00. So after a very rushed shower and pack-up, I got myself checked
out waaay early— but sadly, not early enough for the complimentary hotel
breakfast. Still the lovely concierge was able to scrounge a croissant for me,
thank goodness!

The train station was only two blocks from my hotel so I set
out with my two suitcases (one of clothing, the other of work-related
paraphernalia) and a briefcase. Termini Roma is huge and crowded and I had no
idea where I was going. Once I found the ticket booth and bought the ticket to
Bologna, I was totally lost. Fortunately, I planned for this situation and
decided to book a seat on a train leaving in an hour rather than the next train
which was leaving in 15 minutes.

It would have been great if there’d been signs saying “Out-or-town
trains this way ->”or any indication on my ticket that I was actually
looking for the platform for the train to VENEZIA (though it did give me the
exact amount of carbon that this train ride would emit). Bologna is just a stop
en route, apparently. Fortunately, an enterprising little man with a trolley
took hold of my bags and my ticket and walked everything over to the correct
platform which was down the end of the station and around a corner. Thank
goodness. 10 euros well spent there!

The ride out to Bologna was lovely and not too long at all. Great
rolling hills with vineyards most of the way to Florence, but lots of graffiti
and tunnels between Florence and Bologna. Once I got to Bologna, the Italian
hospitality really kicked in. See, there aren’t any escalators at the train
station in Bologna – well, none that I could find. And the only elevator I saw
had a big sign on it that seemed to threaten police action against unauthorized
people who dared to use it. At least that’s what I think it said. And I wasn’t
about to find out the hard way. So I schlepped my suitcases down a flight of
stairs to go under the platform, then down a hallway the length of the station,
then stopped at the bottom of another set of stairs up to the surface. Thus
far, I’d had 2 or 3 offers of help from several businessmen (not porters) but I’d
just smiled and thanked them and carried on. I like to imagine that the looks
they gave me were sympathetic and admiring (Isn’t she a trooper!) rather than
just sympathetic  (Look at the crazy lady
who can’t pack light). I wished I had a sign that said “No, these aren’t all my
clothes! I have manuscripts and books here for work!”

So when I got to the bottom of the stairs going up, I was
ready to cry uncle. Fortunately, by the time I was about 1/3rd of
the way up, a very kind gentleman just scooped one of my suitcases up in a free
hand without a word and hefted it up the rest of the way. God love him.

The view from my hotel window

Once I got to the hotel, I settled into my room and went on
a quest for food – my first opportunity all day.

The hotel is right next to the Piazza Maggiore which is really something to behold.

Natalie Hyde -this gelato was for you ;)
I had a sandwich and a cappuccino in an open-air cafe right in the piazza and then found a gelateria.
Oh, I’ll be going back there, for sure!

I’m looking forward to meeting up with other publishing
people over the next few days. It will be nice to have dinner with someone and be social. For now, I’ll just keep exploring on my own.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, that looks SO yummy! I am salivating, salivating I tell you.