(IN ENGLISH, BECAUSE I WANT TO TELL MY FELLOW JEFFERS ABOUT THIS, BUT I DON'T HAVE THE ENERGY TO RE-TELL
EVERYONE I WANT TO HEAR IT IN JUST A COUPLE OF DAYS...)
Woke up this morning, feeling seriously better than yesterday and even a bit better than Tuesday.
I'm thinking "fine, this day might be the start of something good!"
Booooy, was I wrong...
it starts off with me, having done all the small pre-errands that are always necessary when going away for a while,
re-entering the Stockholm Central Station about 20 minutes before the airport shuttle takes off (and of course
it's between this and the next one that the only more-than-half-an-hour-gap of the day is set), my backpack's
right shoulder strap bursts, when it gets semi-stuck in the metro line gate.
No time to shop for a new bag, I figure I'll just have to take it and remind myself to look for a new one in
Milan or Florence. The fact that it gets seemingly heavier for each step (and mind you, I've been ill since
Sunday, so I'm not exactly my strongest self. Even 6 kgs are heavy to carry these days. Plus the laptop I also
need a free hand for...
The next bad experience comes on the plane. I get in line quite early, therefore I also get to board quite early.
Or well, I should have. The Ryan Air assistant asks me to pack the laptop bag into the backpack and
I try to explain that "I'll attach it to the flat side of the backpack when I stove it into the overhead
compartment". She looks at me like I'm nuts and says, with her supposedly top notch reprimanding-mother tone of
voice: OH NO, SIR! YOU DO IT NOW! I'm too exhausted to argue logically so I just step aside to start attaching
the laptop bag to my backpack. Then she just HAS to push in a "YOU KNOW THE RULES, SIR!"
I flip, look her straight into the eyes and mutter "thanks! I'd almost forgotten how totally non-service-minded
you low fare personnel are". Then SHE flips: "DON'T YOU TALK BACK! YOU KNOW THE RULES!"
(I know I do, you just unprovokedly told me so, only moments ago...)
Well, anyway, I'm on the plane which doesn't seem to get quite quite full. I'm almost daring to hope that I
will have the three-seater for myself for the journey...
About fifteen seconds after the "...boarding completed" message is heard, two very funnily dressed men force
themselves between me (I always do aisle) and the seat in front before I can even react. The leg space on
Ryan flights aren't exactly overdone, even without other passengers in between.
At first, I get cranky. I had my hopes, and to top it off, they smell. Reek. A lot. Grotesquely. Like they haven't
showered for weeks. Or actually, only one of them. Of course the one in the middle seat. And, may I remind you
that I've got a cold that I caught almost a week ago. My nostrils are jammed. I couldn't even sense the aroma
of the coffee I had a couple of hours before. And I still get repulsed by the odour.
Well, I try not to give it any thought, I turn away and put my speechbook on. Only with one headphone plugged in,
since I don't want any further illogical arguments with Ryan Air staff members about "electronical equipment being
hazardous during taxi". That's when I hear the, in my ears, weirdly sounding jibberish from my co-seaters.
That's when I spot it. They have put on headwear that gives me really orthodox-religious vibes and they finger
on some kind of rosary-looking object while mumbling in a language I, when eavesdropping properly, vaguely
recognize as Arabic. Normally I suppose this wouldn't frighten me a bit but the kind of weak, paranoic state
of mind I am in, combined with the fact that within a radius of three rows, there are six or seven more people
doing the same. And they all (those that I could spot without it being too obvious) had the same
photocopy-page from what I assume was the Quran. And they all tapped their fingers and stomped their feet lightly;
classic nervous-tells. Plus that they were all checking their watches about once every five minutes.
I kid you not, I was freaking terrified, convinced that this would be my last flight. Mentally, I even went as
far as almost coming to terms with dying. I tried to make up plans for how I would possibly be able to send
a last text to both Alex and mom, telling them I love them and so on. I've experienced light-paranoia before
but this was something completely different. I'm rarely scared of anything but this almost ripped my soul open.
Of course the poor muddle-headed (do not confuse with mud-blooded!) men were just afraid of flying and prayed
to their supposed Savior to protect them. And yes, I did consider that alternative. I just couldn't convince
my brain to believe in it.
Writing this also takes all the sauce I have left, so I'll just briefly cover some details I really remember
(most of the flight is nothing but a blur): I'm afraid to go to sleep, because if I am the only one noticing
all this, they shouldn't get me that easily. I don't dare watching mobile movies or play around with my new
SonyEricsson Satio (review is a-coming), because I don't want to do anything that habit-wise or in any other
sense can provoke something (believe, I'm usually NOT let's-call-it the un-provoking kind). I remember longing
for turbulence so that the fasten seatbelt-sign will light up. Although almost elbow-tackling me in the back of
my head each time, I really enjoy the moments when a service crew member parks the snack car close to our seats
- because then my fellow travellers cannot get up. At least not without it being suspicious. And so on, and so
Imagine the relief when the plane lands and I get out - alive. Shook like hell, but alive. The 45 minute bus
ride into Milan is not even half a match. I'm just so excited to be able to go to my 500-metres-from-the-central-
...after I stood in line for a train ticket for tomorrow for THIRTY MOTHER--- MINUTES. Why I didn't just
buy it tomorrow? Well, because the train departs at seven in the morning and I don't know my way around Milan
Central Station - or the usual queuing time. Good choice to wait it out tonight, though. Why didn't
I just buy
the tickets off the Internet, back home, you say? Well frankly, beloved reader, because Trenitalia are a bunch
of [insert bad word]. That (this) is why.
(The linked post is in Swedish, but use Google translate and you'll understand fairly...)
I use at about 20% the map I've printed but mostly my eyes since I notice that Milan hotels near the Station
seem to be very fond of very, very big signs. I localize Hotel Cristallo quite soon.
- Buona sera, I've made a reservation for tonight. Nilsson.
The man behind the desk looks at my sweaty, snivelling self like I'm some kind of bug in his fancy (not so fancy)
parlour (not so much of a parlour).
- Sorry sir, no booking for a Nilsson. How did you book?
- Via [website name].
- Do you have a confirmation number?
I hand over my printed map, where I've also pasted the address in-case-of-taxi-need and the confirmation number,
to avoid situations like this one.
- I'm sorry, I can't find your reservation. Do you have a receipt?
- Yes, I have a combined confirmation and receipt in my e-mail inbox. Can I check my emails on Wi-Fi here?
- Of course Sir.
So I detach my laptop bag from my backpack, put it on the counter and I fire it up. When I'm denied Internet
access I look up and ask the scornful man in a badly fitting coat jacket and a strangely arranged tie why,
he looks at me like he's trying to hide a smile and says "Internet access is not complimentary". I'm sensing
my blood starting to boil.
- I don't want to send Facebook messages or watch YouTube, I just want to check my e-mail to show you the
- Sorry Sir, no exceptions.
- Fine, give me fifteen minutes access. How much?
- Minimum is one hour, Sir. Five euros.
- Then give me a freaking hour. And make it quick!
And very well, in my inbox there is a confirmation. For Cristallo. For October 29th/30th. Single room. And the
e-mail also contains a confirmation on about 50 euros having been debited my American Express credit card.
In short, what happens just next is this: he manages to pull out my booking and tries to not-at-all with
suitable modesty explain that my booking must have "slipped". And the only room they got left is a double room.
With king size bed and bathtub. For 130 euros.
- We apologize and we can offer you this room for only 70 euros extra instead of 80.
His eyes doesn't even look like he's apologizing. More like he just wants to focus on the Inter-Catania match on
the radio in the background.
After the day I've had and then this on top of it all, I'm about two inches from jumping the counter and
start punching his teeth out. I do however manage to restrain myself. Don't ask me how, because I honestly
I don't know.
- With all due respect, that is not an apology. That is nothing but a lousy offer. It's 9:30 PM, it's not like
you'll see any more new guests that will come now, take a 130 euro room, only use the bed and the shower and
then leave at 6:30 in the morning. I can pay half the difference because I don't want a fight. I just want
to sleep. I won't even mind that I just payed 5 euros for five minutes' Internet access. 40 euros and I take
that room for the night, okay?
- Sorry Sir, I cannot do that.
- Do you have ANY other room?
- No. (Not even "Sir" this time.)
- Okay, bye then. If I don't find ANYTHING else within an hour, I'll come back to sleep in your lobby.
The next hotel (only 100 metres away) would cost me the about same, but then it was a room with jacuzzi. Not
to mention it was a 4+ congress hotel (Cristallo 3). Still too much though, for both me and JEF Sweden,
so I excuse myself with having to get something to eat (which is in fact true, I'm so truly hungry
now that I have serious plans on roaming the mini bar...) And Internet access is 20 euro extra for three hours.
On to the next hotel, Bristol Hotel, just across the street from the Central Station. I see the four stars and
the super fancy lobby, so I'm almost turning around before I even stepped in. Luckily I didn't. Now I'm here.
Queen size bed double room was all they had, but the nice man did some tricks (or not, I don't care if he
straight out fooled me; he was at least seemingly service-minded) so I could get it for 100 euros. Including
unlimited Internet access.
Still too much (over 11 euros per hour I'm gonna use it!), but I had no damn choice. My whole body screamed
"beeeeeeeeeed!"; "reeeeeeeeeeeeeest!" and other ugly words. The breakfast doesn't start serving before seven
so I asked with a smile if I could have another 10 euro off since I'm departing before then.
He turned my request down - but, the key: he did it in a nice and professional way. Such manners means a lot.
So now, here I am. And at least the half-litre Pellegrino bottles in the mini-bar aren't more than 2,5 euros
apiece. I was afraid they'd be 6-7 or something.
Ladies and gentlemen, this was my saga "The One-Day Journey from Bloody Fucking Hell". Based on a true story.
Any real-life character resemblance in this story is completely intentional.
And I also notice that there is a risk that I've lost my bunch of keys...
Tomorrow: towards Florence. The best? The rest of my days in Italy just C A N ' T get any worse!*
(*Knock on wood...)
Etiketter: ilska, JEF, resor