Throwback: A Rocky Start to Christmas in Italy

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This year the weather has thrown us all for a loop. I have seen photos of a blanket of snow in Charlotte NC and seen the destruction that has occurred along the East Coast. We ourselves in Madrid have not been spared; however, we have not seen anything close to the extent of the US.

With this weather it is not that surprising that my parents’ flights to Italy for our family Christmas vacation were canceled (I am not 100% sure that this was the reason for the cancelation, but it goes well with the rest of the story). Fortunately, due to some fast thinking they were still able to get on a later flight with a different company and make it to Milan late Sunday evening. Just one whole day later than planned.

Andrew had a battle of his own, specifically a blizzard that delayed him over three hours. He would make it to Germany only to miss the connection and to be placed on the next flight out to Milan.

For those of you who have been to Milan know that there are two different airports. I had no personal difficulties getting to Italy since the weather was perfect in Madrid. Instead I arrived right on schedule, but not to the airport that I was expecting. I landed in Linate when I was scheduled to meet my family at Malpensa. However, I was so absorbed in reading the proposals to our conference that I did not realize I was in the wrong place until well into the afternoon. Clearly Linate has a comfortable waiting area.

Once I figured it out I learned that there was a direct bus connecting the two airports. Perfect, I thought: I will just take that and wait in the right airport for my family. I walked up to the man and asked in English when the next bus left and he looked out the window and said: it just did. Great! When is the next bus? In two hours. But if you’re in a hurry you can always hire a car. No I was in no hurry. I had plenty of time on my hands, since no one in my family was getting in until late in the evening. And suddenly, Linate was not such a nice place to wait.

Eventually, I got onto the bus and within an hour was sitting in the terminal of Malprensa it was already close to six pm and Andrew should have been arriving within the hour. Passing over his messages that included his flight number and staring at the arrivals board, I realized that he was landing in Linate. I quickly told him to go STRAIGHT to the office and try to catch a direct bus, but the last one left before he got off the plane. Instead he rode two different buses, but eventually made it Malpensa just in time to meet my parents.

Since they knew that they were going to be much later, I was told to go and check into the hotel, which sounded like a nice reprieve from all of the airports I had been in. Our hotel offered a free shuttle, which picked passengers up outside gate 16. This seemed rather simple, too simple for how my day had been going. I marched outside gate 16 and found two other Chinese businessmen who were looking to go to our hotel. After waiting 10 minutes in the cold, one of them decided to call the hotel to see when the next shuttle would come. He was told 3 minutes. I am not sure if he heard 3 minutes or the other person actually said 3 minutes. I was not on the phone. But we waited 45 minutes in the cold standing on the curb wondering what had happened to our bus driver to make him 42 minutes late. After seeing the schedule for buses, I am inclined to think that he was told 30 minutes and the driver was just 15 late, but again, I was not in that conversation, so I will never know.

At this rate, I was barely ahead of my parents. I was exasperated and tired and the only thing I wanted was a hot shower, a good meal and to see my family.

Fortunately for me all of those things occurred that night. Andrew arrived first and then my parents and I have not been so happy to see all of the Mills’ in one place. We ate a quick but hearty meal in the hotel restaurant and then headed up for a good night’s sleep, since we had another busy travel day ahead of us to get to Florence.

Images from the train station in Milan:
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