Wow! That's basically all I can say at this point. The travel to get here ended up taking two full days. Thirty-five hours to be exact. It wasn't supposed to be that way, but all it took was one delayed flight and we were screwed. Thank goodness we brought a heart for adventure and great spirits, because this travel was not for the weary.
On Thursday night Kasey and I were busy packing and so anxious for our trip, that we honestly did not leave much room for sleep. We were to bed by 1am and up by about 7am. I thought to myself before sleeping so little, that it might be good because then I would sleep on the 10 hour flight. Unfortunately that did not happen. For some reason, probably excitement, I did not sleep at all on the flight. I used my time wisely and was able to finish editing a wedding, blog a wedding, and get some other sessions edited up. I was the only annoying person with their laptop out in the pitch black plane at 2am, but there was work to be done and I could not sleep.
On our way out of Salt Lake City the flight was delayed, but only by 30 minutes. I thought for sure that our captain would be able to make up the time and it would not be a big deal. I was wrong. We landed in Amsterdam with only 35 minutes to get from our gate to our next gate and pass the passport clearing station. Luckily we were the first row behind first class and everyone was so sweet to us and let us off the plane first. We ran, and I mean sprinted from our gate to the gate we were supposed to be taking off at. Mind you, we each had a backpack and each were each carrying/rolling/dragging my 45 pound camera bags.
I once did track, although running was never my forte. I even tried to take up running last year. I would run a solid 10 minute mile and make it about 4-5 miles at a time without completely crapping out. However, this run through the Amsterdam airport in a sweatshirt, carrying close to 80 pounds of luggage and under stress had me literally dying. Several times I had to tell my mind to not give up. I had to remind myself that the pain was temporary and once I made it on that flight, everything would be fine! Wipe the sweat and keep going!!! Worst two miles of my entire life, and my Apple Watch died on the plane so I didn't even get to see how many calories I burned, lol!
We rounded the corner, our gate in site at this point, 9:28am and flight leaves at 9:35am. "One last stretch, do not stop now," I reminded myself. Then it happened. We were intercepted by Justine, my assistant photographer and friend, as she said, "You missed it. They closed the gate 10 minutes early on us. I'm so sorry. Great effort guys." NO! I literally dropped my bags and tears started to well up in my eyes. Two miles of excruciating running through the awful maze of Amsterdam Airport and they closed the gate on us 10 minutes before the flight was going to leave.
Honestly, I didn't know what to do at that point. I was extremely sweaty- I know, how gross. I was out of breath and out of energy. By that point, I had been up going on 24 hours and I just didn't have anything left in my tank. I gave myself a few minutes to recover and then we started talking options. The next flight to Rome from Amsterdam was in eight hours, so we needed to figure out what to do. We considered a few options- find a lounge and sleep (sleep sounded amazing), or make the most out of it and exit the airport and go explore Amsterdam. We chose the latter.
We used lockers in the airport to lock up all of our carry on items. As photographers, we don't like to check our photography gear because we want it in sight at all times to ensure it makes it safely to our destination. We had a total of six carry on bags with us, but one locker was big enough to fit us all in and for 12 euros we were off to Amsterdam. We took a train to downtown, although we had no true plans. It was pouring rain and chilly; we also brought no coats. I had a light cover up and Justine had a thin sweatshirt, but Kasey had nothing. It did not stop us. We waited until the rain was a sprinkle and ventured out.
The red light district is something that has always peaked my curiosity. It is still hard for me to believe that it is real. We walked around and saw all the gorgeous architecture and then decided to pop into a restaurant for breakfast. Breakfast was fine, although nothing to brag about. However, it was wonderful to sit down and have a real meal for the first time in over 24 hours.
After we explored a little longer in Amsterdam, we decided to head back and prepare for our flight. Luckily, the next flight was on time and relatively easy. I will be completely honest and say that I don't even remember pushing back from the jetway. I was so tired, that I fell asleep before they even gave the safety speech!
Rome! Finally! We made it! The luggage retrieval and rental car process were very simple, which was such a relief at that point. Driving was...interesting. However, not as scary as people had made it sound. It seems as though there are no laws in Italy. They drive how they want, when they want. So in other words, we made great time. The drive from Rome to Ravello was originally saying 3 1/2 hours, but after one simple wrong exit, our drive turned into over four hours. It was approaching 9:00pm and we knew that by the time we reached Ravello we would not be able to eat, so we stopped at a McDonalds. I have never been to a busier McDonalds, and especially not at 9:30pm. It was jam packed! Of course, we were the only tourists because it was just off the highway and not in a touristy area.
Piece of advice, learn this phrase before coming to Italy, "Non parlano italiano." People will riddle off Italian to you, and if you are like me you will stare at them with wide eyes and shrug and shake your head to show you have zero comprehension. However, luckily we have found that most do speak some english and are very patient with us! The only time we ran into a silly issue was when Kasey asked where the "bathroom" was in the airport. The man shook his head and said, "You cannot take a bath here!" So Kasey said, "I'm sorry, I mean, a restroom." The man shook his head again and said, "You want to rest?" Finally Kasey realized what the man was referring to and said, "Toilet?" The man finally understood what he was referring to. In the Netherlands and Italy, it is "toilets".
The drive was long, but not terrible. It would have been better in the daylight, but thanks to our crazy day that was not possible. The road to Ravello is one of the craziest roads I have ever driven in my entire life. Thank goodness Kasey was so well rehearsed at driving a manual transmission, especially up the steep hills! I could have never made it without him.
I woke up early this morning. Kasey and Justine are still asleep. I will probably regret waking up this early, but my body was ready to go, so I listened to it. My first plan is to take a shower. I don't know if you've traveled 35 hours straight without a shower, but let me tell you, I have never been more ready for a shower in my entire life. The next plan is espresso and exploring! I can't wait to see this beautiful area in the daylight. The view out of my window is absolutely stunning!
Ciao for now,