As I sit here in our hotel in Revere, MA, by my reckoning we’ve been up since 1:55 a.m. local time when we got up in our hotel north of Milan. So it’s been a long day. I am always confused by the fact that it seems to take 2 hours longer to travel west across the Atlantic than it does to travel east; as a result just as you’re thinking “well, at least this flight will be over soon” you check your watch and realize you’ve still got 4 more hours to go.
Alitalia prove to be an efficient and capable airline. There was no “wow” factor, but nothing went wrong, all their lines were short, and we arrived early going both ways. Milan’s Malpensa airport was a joy to travel through, especially compared to airports like Heathrow and Frankfurt: it’s compact, uncrowded, and doesn’t force you to march through a obstacle course of “retail experiences” on the way to the boarding gates.
As it turned out, our “airport hotel” — Hotel Motel Luna — was 2 km from the shore of the famed Lake Maggiore. Alas we arrived after dark, and hurried off to the airport in the morning, so didn’t lay eyes on it. Another time.
The hotel, although a fair distance from Milan Malpensa, turned out to be an excellent choice: not only was the hotel itself beautiful, clean, and staffed by an extremely capable manager, but it was a straight 120 km/h shot down the highway to the airport, a trip to about 20 minutes with all the planets aligned.
The ongoing trucker strike in Italy played havoc with our plans to return our rental car with a full gas tank: every gas station we passed on the way to the airport had huge 1970s-style lines of up to 25 to 50 cars, in some cases extending out onto the highway itself. Fortunately our car rental agency — Locauto — was accommodating and only charged us regular price for the gas we didn’t fill up. Seems like we got out of Italy while the getting was good; the New York Times reports:
In the northern city of Milan, Antonia Carapacchi, owner of Citta del Sole, an upscale toy store, registered “a distinct drop in sales and clients” in the last two days, the result, he speculated, of parents choosing to use increasingly sparse gasoline on more pressing needs. Unlike clothes or books, he said, toys have only one important season, Christmas, the moment the unions decided to strike. “Theyre going to plunge the entire industry into crisis,” he predicted gloomily.
We’re back to the Island tomorrow, weather-willing.