Off to Italy for the pizza and pasta and a portal to the past through Siena and its history. Our flight to Rome was through Dulles International where we helped a lady and her three children off the plane. The woman was traveling with two children who looked to be about four and six and one baby strapped to her chest. On her back was a backpack and in her hands a large purse and diaper bag. The older kids were very friendly especially when Bob questioned the big bag of goodies the oldest was carrying. It was for the next BIG flight, he said excitedly. They were cute and I'm glad we didn't have to run for our connecting flight so we could help.
Bob had snagged us two seats against the bulkhead (the area of the plane where there is a wall) for the flight to Rome. The advantage was a lot of leg room for our eight hour flight. The disadvantage was being near one of the restrooms. Fortunately it was the first class restroom and wasn't terribly busy.
Longer flights with United have meals that come with them but usually the airplane food is, well, airplane food. This flight was a real treat. I had a delicious ravioli entree and if I had stayed awake, it would have been followed by some sorbet. I opted to take my PM medicine and set about trying to fall asleep. I managed several hours in and out of it and was happy to have whatever shuteye I could get.
After a coffee, croissant and a yogurt, we landed at the airport near Rome and began our next leg of travel by bus to Siena, about three hours away. We opted for the bus because of the cost as well as the opportunity to see more of the countryside. A train is sometimes difficult carrying luggage and we had three pieces. Our Siena trip would be followed by a cruise so we weren't traveling as light as we'd like.
Once we established where to pick up the bus, Bob grabbed a panini and coffee and I sipped a glass of orange juice in a cafe as we anticipated over an hour's wait for the bus. As we sat in some seats with a view of the bus stop, we watched three vans and a car of Polizia unload. I wondered what was going on. They didn't seem to be in a hurry so it wasn't an emergency. What were they preparing for?
In this day and age a group of police, some carrying automatic weapons, is a little unnerving.
As we stood waiting for our bus, we suddenly understood. Off to one side down from us a group was singing and clapping some sort of protest I'm guessing. As they moved down an alleyway, the police were right behind them. We boarded the bus. I'm going to assume it all went peacefully.
Our bus ride of three hours was not as interesting as I'd hoped. Perhaps that's why we kept falling asleep or maybe it was the effects of jet lag mixed with PM meds and the wonderful motion of a bus ride. We caught a few more zzzzs before finally arriving in Siena, an old medieval walled city in the Tuscan hills. Our first views were breathtaking.
The bus dropped us at a central bus area and we went about looking for a taxi. I saw one on the other side of the street and raised my hand in the air. The driver nodded and waved back but continued on--I assumed to turn around. We waited ten minutes and decided he wasn't coming back. Crossing to the other side where it seemed there were more taxis passing, we hailed the next one we saw. He pulled over and what followed was a wild toad ride to our hotel. The streets are very narrow, full of tour groups, and of course zig zag through all sorts of old roads and alley ways.
We arrived unharmed and checked into a beautiful hotel, Hotel Athena. We were greeted warmly with, "Oh, it's Mr. Robbins' twin!" and knew my in-laws had arrived. I apologized up front for whatever may lie ahead with the twin-thing and they all laughed. Oh, they just didn't know. . . .