Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Day One - DDay

My plane left at 6:35 AM on Sunday morning of August 5th. On the night of the 4th I went to La Bella with a big group of friends and had a final going away party. I went home to continue packing and get everything arranged for the trip. At about 3 AM Andrew and Mitchell came by to drop off some GameBoy games I left in Sidney's car earlier and then left. At 4:00 I grabbed a shower and then we left for the airport. My grandparents met us there and Kylie's friend Katie came along to see me off. When I got up to the metal detectors everyone but me got all teary eyed as they said goodbye for 10 months. I waved and went through security and on down to the gate.

I flew US Airways to Philadelphia. On the flight they showed Shrek 3 which was a pretty lame movie. Then they showed some other stupid TV shows. I mostly played Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and listened to my iPod. I also started reading La Bella Figura that my Uncle gave me. I began to watch Umbrellas of Cherbourg but had to turn my laptop off because we began descending. It was a cramped ride with my giant backpack between my legs because it was too big to fit under the seat in front of me.

I landed in Philly and grabbed a slice of pizza and called my parents to say hi and let them know I got in safe. After I finished eating I jumped on the plane to Milan began to wait. We were supposed to take off at 3:25 Philly time but didnt leave until around 4 PM. We were sitting on the tarmac the whole time waiting in line for the other planes. We finally took off and began the nine hour journey across the Atlantic. I talked with a woman next to me who was headed to Sicily to visit family. We watched another crappy movie about a firefighting dog, Blades of Glory, an episode of Frasier, and some lame dolphin nature show that had to be 15 years old because it looked terrible. I got about an hour of sleep the whole time because airplanes aren't really all that comfortable. The air is super dry and stale. It's pretty damn cold in the cabin all the time. People around you are reading magazines at all hours of the night. The list goes on. Oh and also US Airways is a terrible airline. The food was absolutely terrible. The VCR on the plane barely worked and so every video they showed was full of graphics artifacts and bad sound and they needed to adjust the tracking but they were retards and didn't know how. The only real redeeming quality of the flight is that it landed safely in Milan which I guess is the only important thing but for 900 bucks one way I'd like a little but more.

When we finally landed at 6:30 AM Milan time they didnt have a gate for us so we parked out between a bunch of full gates and walked down the stair car to a waiting bus. The bus dropped us off at the terminal and immigration stamped my passport. They guy didn't say anything except "Ciao" and then I got my stamp and kept walking. While waiting for my bags an American couple started talking to me asking about what I was doing in Milan. I told them I was studying in Bologna for ten months and that I'm traveling for 18 days around western Europe before school starts. Their advice to me was get drunk every day and drink all the wine in Italy, sleep with as many girls as I could, go clubbing in Ibiza, and live it up every day. I nodded and told them that that was actually my plan all along and they laughed and took off. I got my stuff and boarded the shuttle for the Milan train station to meet up with Nicoletta.

On the shuttle over I noticed that every other car was a Volkswagen and there sure are a lot of BMWs. SUVs are about as rare here as a Lamborghini is back home. The radio started playing a dance remix of "Tell Me Baby" from Red Hot Chili Peppers. I also took note of the massive amounts of graffiti everywhere and made a mental note to avoid crossing paths as a pedestrian with Italian drivers because they are pretty crazy. Italy has a lot of really cool signs on buildings. I appreciate quality graphic design and Italy has some pretty awesome signs on what would normally be a boring office building. The streets are also filled with random giant holes that are roped off. The streets are narrow and the little cars zip around like bees.

I got to the train station and waited a few minutes before Nicoletta came running towards me. It was nice to see a friendly face. I hadn't really slept in over 37 hours and I was a little spaced out so I blindly followed her through doorways and up escalators until we reached the main part of the station. I called my parents to let them know I got in OK and we waited for our train to get in. The train station is just massive with the strangest ads. One was a guy dressed as a clown with a sad look on his face selling mini hamburgers. When our train arrived we ran to our car and I attempted to put all my luggage up above the seats but my one bag was too heavy so I had to hold it in the 4 foot wide hallway. It took us about an hour to reach Reggio Emilia and I got to see the Italian country side so it was nice and scenic. When we got off the train we met up with Nicoletta's mom and climbed into the Fiat Panda and drove the few blocks it is to her place.

I put my stuff down and talked to her mom for a little bit in Italian trying to remember all the proper agreements but screwing them up anyway and then took one of the best feeling showers I've ever had. She hooked up my hard drive and downloaded my music library to her laptop and we went out into the town to grab some food. We went to the bread shop and got some bread called Gnocco which was delicious and some erbazzione which is the same bread as gnocco but stuffed with spinach and cheese which was also pretty good. Then we went to the horse butcher and got some ground horse meat to make for lunch. We stopped to get something to drink in the town square and I remembered seeing the square when I was looking at Nicoletta's photo album a few months earlier. We got back to her place and her mom had made us lunch. We had some meats and vegetables, then some pasta with bacon mixed in, then the ground horse meat which tasted great. I cracked the obvious joke and said "Next time someone tells me 'Hey, I'm so hungry I could eat a horse.' I'll say 'Yeah I've done that. It tasted good.'" After we finished eating we had some free time so I decided to take a short nap around 12:30 PM before we went back out to get a new sim card for me. That was a huge mistake.

It had been about 40 hours with no real sleep and I think I fell asleep before my head even hit the pillow; like mid air. When Nicoletta woke me back up my eyes were swollen and I couldn't really see anything. It was all fuzzy and blurry. My whole body hurt and I had a headache and I felt terrible. We went to the mall and got a new sim card and then got 2 espressos which reversed the damage done by that one hour of sleep and then headed home. As we were driving I realized that Italians love roundabouts. They are everywhere. Sometimes even next to eachother so you have to do a figure eight to get to where you need to be. It seems silly to drive in circles everywhere but it was kinda fun so I guess it's not so bad but it's strange to get places by driving in circles. On the way home we saw another set of graffiti but this one read "Io e te tre metri sopra il cielo." Maybe two or three of you will laugh at that but for those who have no idea what I'm talking about let me explain. There's this Italian movie made I guess for the tween market called "Io e te tre metri sopra il cielo." It's about these kids who throw parties and rebel against their parents and its just like every other movie but it was still somewhat enjoyable in the guilty pleasure category. So anyway, we learned from Nicoletta that that phrase (Io e Te ...) is spraypainted all over Italy. I'm going to photograph any more I see.

We got back and tried to fix Nicoletta's router to get internet but it didn't like us so we gave up and headed back to the train station to head to Forli where my plane took off for Barcelona. On the trip over I apparently fell asleep while Nicoletta was talking to me mid sentence and now there's an awesome picture of me passed out on facebook. We rode past Bologna and I got to see where I'll be heading in a few weeks. When we got to Forli we went to another coffee shop and I ordered another espresso to keep me awake for awhile to meet up with Debra at Estacio del Nord in Barcelona. Her mom made me a sandwhich and put some of the bread we bought earlier along with it so I had an awesome meal on the flight.

Speaking of the flight, RyanAir is a really great way to travel. They fly to airports that are a little bit out of the way of the main city but the perk is that the flights are super cheap. My trip from Forli to Barcelona cost about $45. Italians hate waiting in line so everyone mobbed the gate and we ran out onto the tarmac to board the plane. RyanAir has no first class seating and no reserved seating so you find a seat and sit down. They dont serve anything on the flight except they do sell snacks (chips, candy, etc.) for a euro or two. The flight was pretty quick and when we landed the whole plane erupted into clapping and cheering for the pilots as we safely landed and began heading towards the airport. I guess they dont do the tunnel to the airplane thing here because I have yet to board or depart through one of those tunnel things. Each place has stairs and then you walk to the terminal.

I bought a ticket for the shuttle from Girona airport to Barcelona's Estacio del Nord (main bus station) and waited for my luggage. The baggage guys put all of our baggage on the wrong carousel so there was a lot of confusion and swearing and angry Italians/1 white guy which means the noise level of the aiport shot up about 30 db. 45 minutes after we landed I got my bag and hopped on the shuttle to the bus station in Barcelona. On the way over I passed a giant glowing Coca Cola sign and a bunch of other neon signs in the city and felt a little bit like Bill Murray in the first couple scenes of Lost in Translation only at least the words were still readable. He had to look at Japanese on the buildings. Anyway, half way through the trip we got to a toll booth and the bus driver didn't stop fast enough and he hit a toll booth arm. A bunch of people laughed and clapped and we sat there for a few minutes while he talked to the toll booth guy. When I got to Estacio del Nord and met up with Debra it was 1:15 AM.

It's now been about 53 hours since I last got a good night of sleep with only about 2 hours of crappy rest. Debra came running at me and we both laughed about how we're meeting up at 1 AM on the other side of the world in Barcelona, Spain. We got a taxi cab and before we could get inside some crazy woman comes running at the taxi driver screaming because he didn't pull up to the front area where they were waiting and he yells back before dismissing her entirely and asks us where to. Debra and the guy talk in spanish and the parts I could understand a little bit. Debra had no idea what the address was for the residence, just the streets its by and the general area. The old guy driving the taxi wanted the exact address but gave in when he knew he wasn't going to get it and drove us over the general area of Barcelona where we had to walk the rest of the way. I met Debra's roommates from kansas university and logged online to check my emails and what the rest of the world was up to and skyped my parents to say hi. I got ready for bed and laid down. I finally passed out at 3:30 AM after not really sleeping for 56ish hours. Not sleeping for that long is strange. I kept hearing different voices of my friends talking to me and asking me questions but they weren't there. (obviously) I also had trouble seeing and figuring out how to do random tasks on my computer. Kinda fun looking back on it but no fun at the time.

It's late, I'm in Spain, that was my day.


I no longer have my US cell phone number. Don't bother calling it because I won't be turning the phone on for 10 months.

Italian mobile: 39 320 762 8531 From Italy
011 39 320 762 8531 From the US

Email: ianmcorrigan@gmail.com

Skype: ianmcorrigan

AIM: ElZekk

Address coming soon.


Gaia said...

aw. glad to have been helpful. and yes, you did fall asleep mid air - the world deserves to know. :D

August 9, 2007 12:46 PM  

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