Lately, this sort of questionnaire is popular among travel blogs: a Travel ABC, where a travel-related question is asked for each letter of the alphabet. I’ve been nominated by my fellow blogger Stephen at Monk Bought Lunch, so here’s my go at it!
A: Age you went on your first international trip
The very, very first time, was to Chamonix, France, with my parents, when I was about 10. It was actually only a few hours as we were spending a week holiday on the Alps in the north-western region of Italy, Valle d’Aosta. The indelible memory of those few hours (and also the only one) is my father speaking French to someone from the car window.
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where
Beers are really pretty bad where I come from, so this leaves me plenty of choice abroad. One of the nicest beers I have ever tried is a Belgian beer called “Zinne Bier”. It has some very unique taste to it, it’s not too heavy and, cherry on the cake, “Zinne” means “boobs” in Italian.
C: Cuisine (favorite)
(Bias alert!) Is there another possible answer to this question than Italian? Too often, Italian cuisine is very badly represented abroad. I regularly stumble across stuff I have never heard of back in my home country, or recipes that are too much adapted to the local taste. Italian cuisine is much, much beyond what everyone thinks it is. Any town, any little village has its own thing, delicious in a different way than anywhere else in the country. Oh God, don’t even get me started. (Bias alert finished.)
Fantastic news: I got my backpack Ferrino back!!
Last night, immediately after the update, we enjoyed one more little hour chilling out and then it was time to leave Agra to come back to Delhi. We left around midnight, and the journey in the dark was definitely more enjoyable this time, the only downside is that for the second night in a row I had almost no sleep, but that’s ok. We even stopped for a delicious Chai (an Indian beverage, similar to tea) at a random stand on the way.
Let’s now switch to the present tense to make you feel more part of the action.
We arrive at the airport around 4:30. We actually wait for two more friends who are going to join the trekking party, and at about 7 I walk to the Aeroflot office, a door in a labyrint of corridors. I had the number that I had called yesterday, the agreement was that I should call back today after 8. I dial around 7:10, and someone is there. “Call back TOMORROW MORNING, today is Sunday and the office is closed”, is his first reaction. “No, wait, lissa: I will fly to Kathmandu in 3 hours, I need the bag now!” — “Uh, ok, wait in line”, and he disappears.
After 8 minutes of waiting I hung up. I dial again and it’s busy. I dial a few more times till the phone begins to consistently prompt “Network Error”. Temporary panic. I look at the receipt of the mishandled baggage declaration: there is another number. I dial that one. The same guy as before picks up. “Hey, it’s me Fabio again!” — “Call this other number, the lady will tell you what to do”, he says, and I frantically note the cyphers down. But oh, I realize after the conversetion, it’s an Indian number, I’m not sure how to dial it, what’s the prefix etc.
A door opens on that corridor, it’s an angel disguised as cleaning boy. He helps me out and passes me on to another angel, this time disguised as a secretary of another fly company. We call together and somebody does reply at the other end: it’s indeed a lady, who after asking my name instructs me: “Come to Terminal 3, Arrival gate 6, I will be there and give you the bag”. Joy! I rush to Terminal 3, find the 6th gate, but another, terrible obstacle stands in the way. The military guards.
If you thought that Fort Knox was a well guarded place, come check out the Delhi International Airport. Every entrance is patrolled by armed soldiers, very reluctant to listening and not keen to sympathize. Take into account the Indian Employee Moltiplication FX that I mentioned in my previous post, and you’ll have this situation:
After the run, I’m standing outside the Arrival Gate 6, passport and baggage claim in the hands of an old imperial defensor. No way I can get in. I try to call the lady again, but it doesn’t work. I’m losing precious time and I’m seeing the meeting fading away. The guard sends me to Gate 5. As I walk I give peeks through the glass to see if any lady is holding my bag.. I spend some more time with the gate 5 guard, who in the end tells me to go to the Departure Lounge. “But I have an appointment here”, I begin to explain, when all of a sudden… Gate 6 opens, and a girl in hostess uniform, comes out surrounded by a glorious light pushing a trolley which carries the shiny Ferrino! “I realized that there are too much formalities to let you inside, so I thought I’d come out”, she explains. Imagine yourself my feelings at that moment!
I check the content of the backpack and nothing is missing! During the operation I notice a few extra stickers on it, probably added in Moscow once they realized the mistake. In particular, this one appears on almost each side of the backpack:
PS: last minute update. I’m in Kathmandu, Nepal, now. We’re leaving tomorrow for Jiri from where we will start our 17 days trek that will bring us to the Everest Base Camp and back. Therefore I won’t probably be online for the next 3 weeks, as we’ll have no electricity whatsoever. I wonder how is it going to be! I honestly can’t recall the last time that I’ve been 3 solid weeks away from the internet! So you have three weeks to fill my mailbox up, hope to find lots of stuff and updates from you when I’m back. Ciao everyone!