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Friday, April 22, 2016

Getting to Italy

I was composing my account of the travel while in flight, and the file seems to be gone.  I’ll try to redo the basics of what I usually report.

First, we had a regional jet flight from Kansas City to New York LaGuardia. We’d been unable to check in online; it turned out the reason was a space in our last name on our passports, which was different from how American Airlines had it.  The flight went well, although we can see LGA’s bad reputation.  We hoped to get a Lyft ride, using a friend’s promo code, but I kept running into failures, for a weak connection or whatever, and went back to our established relation with Uber, found that car in the chaotic traffic in front of the terminal, and got a good ride.

At JFK we got in at a time of light activity for that terminal.  At a set of kiosks, a man started to help as Margaret asked for a wheelchair and we needed to recheck our bags.  There was a wait for that and, although we already had our boarding passes, we ran into the problem again of the space in our names. 

With the bags checked, the wheelchair assistant got us through security, chaotic even at that time of otherwise light activity at that terminal.  We were still six hours before departure, and planned to go to the Admirals Club, buying a 30-day membership, which would be useful also on our return.  I already knew that one of the two clubs was under renovation and we went to the other one, but precisely because of that renovation, the lounge dragon (term in common use) told us that they were not selling 30-day memberships there.

If we’d known that, that might have changed our plans not to leave the airport.  The attendant offered to have us stay in the wheelchair lounge, back in the other concourse.  He described it as comfortable, but when we got there, it had the atmosphere of a doctor’s cramped waiting room,and we were quickly out.  We found one place to sit down for lunch, stayed in that quiet concourse for a bit, then we went back to the other concourse with our gate, and the time didn’t drag on too much.

We had the excitement of boarding a transatlantic flight.  A large number of the passengers were Hasidic or other Orthodox Jews, we later learned on an extended family reunion trip to northern Italy.  We’d ordered one special meal, served quickly as there was a large number of special meals.  We got a decent amount of sleep.

We landed at Milan Malpensa and got to the gate at 8.30, 10 minutes late,and were hoping for everything to go well to make a train from the airport at 9.43.  We had a wheelchair waiting, and a big advantage was that attendant took us through passport control in the crew line, letting us bypass a long line.  Delivery of bags was being held up because the carousel was getting too full with the passengers still at passport control.  We eventually got the bags, and the attendant got us to the train station with time to spare.  He had me go to the staffed ticket window, where the agent, working for Trenord, only sold the tickets to Milano Centrale.  There was a machine for selling the tickets with seat assignments from Milan to Genoa.  I used the credit card that I had set up with a PIN, which that machine asked for.

The ride to Centrale went well, arriving at a track at the edge of the station.  With 45 minutes for the connection, we wanted to stop for a cappuccino, which appeared to call for leaving the platform area.  We got that, and re-entered the area, which now requires showing tickets.  Our train was the Thello, which continues into France.  That train went well, with a delay at the end.

We arrived at Genova Piazza Principe.  There was an elevator from the platform to the underpass, and we found our way to the via Andrea Doria exit from the station, just across from our booked apartment building.  We got the building manager, who showed us to our booked apartment, which looked fine.  The journey was complete.

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