Happy, happy, happy (excuse me, Pharrell Williams, he of the silly hat). The last two weeks have been a wonderful whirl of sights, food, wine and walking, walking, walking. Lots to talk about and so many fond (and waist-expanding) memories!

It was a long boring flight in an ‘Options Plus’ seat not much wider than the lid of a toilet, as well padded and with far less leg room. On the way to Italy, the woman sitting to my right was a twitcher. I think she was Italian so she had to at least have flown to Canada before. I popped in my new sound cancelling earbuds and lost myself in Diana Gabaldon’s Dragonfly in Amber. I’d read the series when it first came out in the 90s but oh my goodness, I love being immersed in the story all over again in the audio book (I’ve overdosed to book 3 and now my inside voice speaks softly, with a Jamie Fraser Scottish burr). Ummmm. Never mind, that’s another blog.

After our ‘supper’ of miniscule chunks of white meat in a bright red sauce with a sticky white goo on top of pasta the consistency of melted cheese strings – billed as chicken parmesan (may the gods of Italian cuisine forgive Air Transat) – I downed three melatonin. They’re my sleeping aid of choice for long trips. A split of sparkling wine (don’t you dare call it Prosecco) and two glasses of wine later, I was dozing off when she started her seat dance. First it was the elbow slipping past her half of the armrest and landing on either my arm of my side. I tucked the cover of my neck pillow between my body and her for protection. Then her legs started jumping as if she was practicing a tap dance routine. I wadded up the free blanket, muttered something rude and burrowed closer to Hub, who had the aisle seat. A seasoned traveller, he was deeply asleep.

When I awoke a few hours later, she had changed seats and her male companion was snoring softly, sitting bolt upright beside me, keeping to his personal microspace. Not so bad. I’m accustomed to snoring. I went back to sleep.

IMG_5598Our arrival at Fiumicino was uneventful. We’d booked a car and driver to take us to our B&B in downtown Rome and getting through passport control and immigration was so damned fast we got a chance to stand around in a swirl of arrivals and departures, cabbies, tour touts and pickpockets and men and women in all sorts of religious garb, including bright blue and pink.

Outside the airport though, it was mind-boggling. You’ve heard about Italian drivers – how they all think they are Formula One racers and drive the same way? Well, it’s true. Whether it’s the courtesy carts inside the airport terminal, the tiny Smart cars that zip around like lice, the Vespas (aptly named after wasps), trucks and what have you, it’s totally chaotic.

Traffic lights are just a suggestion. There are no rules when it comes to parking. Pedestrians bring out the blood sport in drivers. Tucked into the cool leather back seat, Hub and I gawked at the action honking and whipping by around us. Yes, we had arrived in the Eternal City. Let the adventures begin!