Yay! We’re in Rome again! And we’ve even got all of our luggage back!
We set out relatively early on Sunday morning. A taxi to Edinburgh airport at 07:00, to catch a flight at 09:15. The plane was quite small, and we had window seats. The caterers were on strike at Charles De Gaulle airport, and there was no hot food on the flight. There was some fromage frais, some juice, and a bread roll, none of which Alex was terribly happy about eating. He grunched for a bit longer after this mealoid before falling asleep for the rest of the flight; he was out cold when we carried him off the plane in Paris.
(Note to self: Paris CDG airport is not a place you want to let a baby crawl around unless you’re happy for him to get utterly filthy, and for him to be sticking discarded cigarette butts in his mouth. Pretty airport, but basic cleanliness–let’s not even go as far as hygiene–is not their top priority. And no changing facilities in the men’s toilets, either.)
The flight to Rome was a re-run of the Paris flight, except we decided not to even try the cold mealoid. It gave us just that little bit more space for Alex to throw himself around in.
By the time we got to Rome, we were thoroughly ready to get to the hotel, rest a little, and have something to eat. No such luck, though. We stopped off at the toilets before going to pick up our luggage, but when we got to the conveyor belts, neither of our bags were there. We looked all around the area, and waited for a while longer, but in vain. They were gone.
Sudden flashback to two years ago, when we were last in Rome. Our flight didn’t get in until late in the evening (on schedule, though–not because it was delayed), and my bag was missing. Abi had hers, fortunately–only mine was gone. And we didn’t get it back until our way back from Rome: it had ended up in Heathrow with no luggage tags, and it was only with some measure of luck, and some very helpful British Midland staff that we found it.
Since then, we have made a point of sticking to three key rules when packing for a trip:
- Always stick a piece of paper, or luggage tag with your name and address on it inside your bag. The lost luggage people do open the bags, and if all other tags manage to get removed, this one should still be there for them to find.
- Always cross-pack your bags. This way if one bag is lost, at least you both have half your clothes & stuff to go on.
- Always pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, and at least one change of underwear in your carry-on bags.
Unfortunately, rule 2 is no help when the airline loses both your bags, and we forgot about rule 3 this time.
So we went up to the lost luggage department, left our details, and hoped for the best. Last time round, British Midland furnished us with a very pleasant toiletries bag each, containing spare underwear, toothbrush, toothpase, soap, and even some deodorants. This time, nothing. (Points against Air France, here.)
At this point we were starting to dread that this was going to be a repeat of our last trip in other ways, too: last time in Rome, we arrived at our hotel to find that they had no record of our reservation. Fortunately, this was because of administrative incompetence on their part. They had booked us into their (slightly more up-market) pensione instead of their severely basic backpackers hostel. Not that they told us that at the time, though. It meant trudging through the Termini area of Rome at a dodgy hour of the morning. Not the most pleasant thing in the world.
But luck was on our side here. Pensione Panda had our reservation. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a cot for Alex. I had asked for one when I made the booking, but the telephone conversation was half in English, half in Italian, and some misunderstanding must have happened. We’re nothing if not competent improvisers, though, and so we put him together a small bet made of a folded-up spare blanket and bedcover. We put this in a corner, and walled a third side in with a small bench turned on its side. Perfect!
We had been too tired to query the lack of cot when we arrived. But we checked with them the next morning, though. And althought they didn’t have a cot as such, they installed a single mattress in the place of our makeshift bed, all nicely made up with sheets and a pillow! For all three nights so far, Alex has slept all the way through the night. (Last night he kept us awake with his coughing fits, but at least he slept fine.)
So there we were in Rome, with no luggage. But because of our previous experience, we knew just what to do! There’s a department store called Upim just next to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, where last time I’d bought replacement clothes for the whole trip. We got us some clothes to last us through the day, because we were still hoping that our bags would be returned to us. (Surely all tags couldn’t have slipped off both bags. We reckoned that they had been mis-shipped somewhere together, in which case they should be findable.)
And lo! Before the end of the day, as we were back in the hotel getting ready to go out to dinner, there was a knock on our door, and the hotel receptionist was there to tell us that our luggage had just been delivered! Most excellent!
Since then (and even before then, really–Alex has taught us to be quite flexible) we’ve been having a great time. Last week, the weather forecasts were saying that we’d be getting clouds and possibly some rain. Since we’ve been here, we’ve had nothing but glorious sunshine. It’s only today that it’s been really warm, though. 26 degrees, yum….
(Oh, and somewhere on the trip to Rome, a wee carton of orange juice burst inside our bags, and all over my mobile phone. We discovered this around the same time as our luggage failed to arrive, so imagine how happy we were feeling around then. It looked like the phone was a deader, but fortunately since it has had time to dry out, it has recovered most if its fundtions. The keypad is still flaky, though. But on the good side, I never cancelled my phone insurance from the Carphone Warehouse when I first got my phone almost two years ago. So if it does’t get any better, then I should have no problem getting it repared for free, or getting a completely new phone as a replacement.)
All is well. Rome is lovely, as always. I’m wearing shorts. Alex is wearing a red floppy sun hat and banging himself on the forehead with a piece of plastic he’s just managed to remove from the air conditioning unit next to me here at EasyEverything.