Tag Archives: Jana & Lorna Italy 2016

Jana and Lorna’s Adventure – Part III

Part III: Just about at the 2.5/3 week point!

 

Wow, what an exciting week it has been! I posted on my friend, Giada Valenti’s FaceBook page and told her we were coming to Venice and what could she recommend for us to do or see, but we really only had the one day and evening and we had already planned the Murano/Burano tour. She responded back to go to her favorite restaurant, “where the Venetian’s eat,” she said! Giada is a lovely lady that Chris and I met through PBS last December. She is originally from Venice and now lives between Italy and the US, I think? She is a singer and has a wonderful voice. We got to meet her and she an absolute 1 group w giadasweetheart, talking to all the volunteers and doing selfies with us! She even answers her own FaceBook posts! We actually got to talk to her and asked her if she knew the guys – she did! She said they met up at some event last fall in the US. We said they’d be great together, but she said there were a lot of complications in order to collaborate together. However, she did tell me to say “hi to the guys” if we see them! She even said to ask for the owner of the restaurant; that he is a good friend. I’m not used to being a “name dropper” but what the heck!?

Well, the restaurant she suggested was literally on the island of Venice – across the canal actually from our hotel. Technically, we are staying in Mestre. She said the restaurant was just a 5 minute walk from the train station. So, on Saturday, I spent a good hour or so, trying to figure out where this restaurant was and if we could actually make it there? Brought it up on Google earth maps, etc. and tried to find it. From the way I looked at it, it seemed really far away. I was a bit disappointed to think we could not make it there after all.

Got to work on Monday and one of the guys in my group is Italian and speaks Italian. He came into my office and asked how things were going. I told him about Giada and this restaurant. He had never heard of her, but he helped me find the restaurant. I initially asked him if he was familiar with Venice and he said it was one of his favorite cities! 1 restaurantJackpot! Lol! So, he found it on the map and we realized it was just a 5-minute walk from the train station – however, it was the OTHER train station, not the one near our hotel. But he said you can take the train from one station to the next, for just a few euros or so, across the causeway. Of course – never thought there was a causeway – just like Florida! So, we’ve added that to our itinerary now! Just hope we can get a train back to our hotel.   I hear they eat late over there? He also suggested to make reservations, which I probably will. Our other tour probably won’t get back until about 6:30p or so, and then we literally go back from where we started – unless we just stay on the island, which is a possibility. The restaurant opens at 6:30p, maybe reservations around 7p?

I also heard from Lorna that she got her passport already! Yea! But, where was mine? Ok, got my birth certificate back on Monday, passport must be close behind. I checked online and you can track it. Pretty cool… so, popped in my info and it said it had processed and I should get it about June 8 – Wednesday. Ok, will check on Wednesday. I was volunteering with Chris on Tuesday at PBS, went right after work and I wasn’t going to check the mail at 12 midnight! Went to work and checked the mail when I got home. No passport!? What? Where was it? I was a little concerned….to say the least. Ok, went online again. This time I actually clicked on the tracking number. I didn’t bother before because it said it wasn’t going to be there until Wednesday. To my shock and horror, it said it had been delivered – Saturday! Yes, same day as Lorna’s. But it wasn’t in my mailbox and it was Wednesday! Oh, no, panic mode is quickly setting in. Oddly, when I checked my mail on Saturday, I hadn’t gotten any mail, but that was not unusual, as I don’t much except for junk mail and Amazon packages! Lol!

There was a paper with an 800 number on it that came with my birth certificate, so I called that number. Trying to remain calm, but it wasn’t easy. I did get hold of a live person, which was nice and the wait was not long at all. I explained the situation and asked what do I do now? Of course, by then, it was after 7pm and the post office was closed, so I couldn’t even call them. I was getting frantic. She said to first call the post office and if they can’t find it, I have to declare it lost or stolen and MAIL in this form. Like I’m really trusting the mail right now??? She’s like giving me the address to mail it to. I kept asking, is it online, I’ll get it from there. I was so upset. I was beginning to think this was a sign – a bad sign, that maybe I shouldn’t be going? I called Lorna and she came over for a little while and we shared a few glasses of the red Moscato – Barefoot Bubbly – good stuff! She asked me if I felt any better? Not really, now just tired and tipsy! She left and I played around a bit on the computer and went to bed about 12:30am.

Next morning…there is a distribution center called the Annex and there is the post office. The Annex opens first at 8:30a and the post office at 9:30a. So, promptly at 8:30a, I frantically started making phone calls. First call, got a nice lady on the phone who confirmed that, indeed, the passport was delivered. I confirmed that I didn’t get it! I begged her to look around to make sure it wasn’t tucked in a corner somewhere, or under a box.

It was just about 9:30a, so I called the post office. They did a quick look, and they said it wasn’t there either. The supervisor didn’t get in until after 11a, so call back then. The lady at the Annex said she’d call me back in about an hour, so at 10:30a, I called her back. Sorry, she said, hadn’t had time to look yet. Ok, waiting til 11a to call the post office back. Of course, I was “trying” to get some work done. My boss is so sweet, I think he took pity on me and didn’t ask me to do much at all….he knew I was pretty upset. Ok, getting close to lunchtime, I called the post office back. No luck, they were busy and they took my name to call me back. Suggested I call the Annex again and ask for the delivery supervisor. Called the Annex again and asked for the delivery supervisor. The lady I was speaking with was the manager – lol! And the supervisors were all in a meeting until 1p! Really?? This can’t be happening! Ok, I will stick with her. She promised to call me back. In the meantime, I called the post office back, it was shortly after 1p. This time when they answered, I think they knew my voice by then, she said, oh, you just missed the manager, he went out for lunch, for about 20 minutes. Ok, need to try and get a little work done. Did a few things to make the time pass, called back about 2p, figured that was plenty of time to eat. This time she says, oh, you just missed him again, he’s on his way back to the Annex! Again?? She said to call at precisely 2:35pm, which I did.

In the meantime, I was getting desperate! I often pray to St. Anthony, as I am always losing something! So, looked up St. Anthony again online, and what do my wondering eyes see, but a website where you can put your intentions on and someone looks at them, and prays and intercedes for you. What the heck, I had nothing to lose! I said, “Please find my passport, so I can visit Italy on June 29!” Jana, Detroit. I was literally close to tears at that point. I wanted to be sure and exhaust all of my options before I had to give up and claim that it was lost or stolen. Worst case, I would have to go downtown and have them expedite it. Oh, and while on the phone with the lady the night before from the passport office she says, “oh, we can’t guarantee you’ll get it in time to leave.” Oh yes, panic mode for sure!

It was 2:34p, so I called the Annex, yet again. Got a different supervisor/manager on the phone. I kind of recognized this guy as the one that found my dishes last fall (you may remember I was having terrible issues with my mail being forwarded after I moved?) Anyway, he took me a little more serious than the other lady and literally looked in spots for me while he had me on hold. He verified all that I already knew – it had been delivered, but I didn’t get it, it could be lost, it could be stolen. There were really only two options. One – he checked the GPS – yes, they GPS/track your packages! He said he could tell that it actually arrived at my apartment complex and they indeed delivered it. I was quickly losing hope, dreading the thought of having to send in the lost/stolen form. By the way, you can’t sue the post office – they are protected! I also asked if I had to send in the form if they would pay for it, as it was their fault. He agreed with me, however, he said no, they would not pay for overnight costs! He said, the last option was to call the carrier on the route, right then, and have them take a look to make sure it didn’t get delivered to someone else’s mailbox, etc. I had doubted it was stolen, as there is a bank of mailboxes all with locks. The only person that could have stolen it was the postal carrier! I did find out they had a sub working that day, too. Hmmm….a sub and they stole my passport! Great! By now, it was like close to 3p. I really had to get some work done. There was little I could do, but put my faith in St. Anthony and the manager at the Annex! He promised he would call me if he found any good news today and if not, he promised to call me the next day as a follow-up. Well…. All I could do now was wait and wait until 4:30p until it was time to leave. I tried my best to get a few things done….

Here is your cliffhanger…. Did they find my passport? Was it really stolen? Did I have to mail in the form? How much wine did I drink when I got home tonight? Did he call me back before I left? Ah…the mystery will remain…..for a little while, at least.

In the meantime….SOMEONE emailed me to tell me someone had a friend who was selling 2 tickets to Verona! Gee, maybe they were better than our “in the spirit” seats? No, don’t do it, you are already breaking your budget! Oh, but they might be really good seats?? And this is a one-time shot. We did this for California and didn’t regret a dime of it (ok, maybe a penny….?). Nope, not a penny, nickel, or dime! Oh, heck. I’m a goner! So, I contacted this person. Where are the tickets and how much? Second row and row 30! WHAT? 2nd row!? Did I read that right? Of course, they were 2 tickets and not together. Ok, how much? OMG, 400 euros! The other was 120 euros. Oh, wow, that’s a bit more than I was expecting….we chatted a bit more and told her I’d have to call my friend.

 As you all know me pretty well by now…you can only guess what I did? And that, amici miei is your 2nd cliffhanger!!

 

A presto Italia!

Jana & Lorna – Week 4!

Ok, June 1 – just at the 4-week point!  Did a lot in the last week. My “non” Il Volo related weekend over the holiday weekend was quite busy, but I managed to research and make some decisions. I did take Bernard’s advice and looked into the links he had submitted in his comments. Ironically, I was already looking into Sienna and Chianti.

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The Palio horse race I believe, is not for me. However, I did book a day tour on July 2, and it goes near where the horse race is! So, we will see if anything happens to our tour. On the first day we arrive, I booked a “make your own pizza and gelato” tour in Tuscany. We travel by a mini-bus through the region at about 6p to this villa to make our own pizza and gelato and get a history on how wine is made in the Chianti region. Then we get to eat what we make! Lol! That is on June 30. Not sure how jet-lagged we will be, but I just remember that I couldn’t sleep the first night I was in Germany! The next day is the concert and I left that day pretty open for sight-seeing and museum/church hopping. Wanted to stay as close to town as possible and to the Santa Croce – as we will be so close. Hope to get sightings of the guys, etc. Maybe even be able to listen to the sound check? Of course, probably loud enough, could listen from our hotel!

 

I’m going to be sure to take my VIP passes from the concerts and from the Flight Crew Fan Faire – maybe I’ll get special access to somewhere? As I’d mentioned, July 2, I booked an all day tour into Sienna and Gimignano, and another city I cannot pronounce. It is a 10 hour tour, but we should be back no later than 8p or so, still plenty of time to get to bed and get up early the next morning. We are now spending a night in Venice!

 

Yes, July 3 is Venice day! We take the train from Florence, into Venice, arriving approximately 10:30a. I booked an afternoon tour to the Murano Glass factory and Buranoit’s about a 4 hour tour. Should get us back early evening for a nice dinner, and again, lots of time to get a good night’s sleep. The next morning, we again take the train to Verona, just about an hour train ride from Venice. We arrive by 10a or so and have the whole day to tour Verona. Again, I left the day open to whatever and wherever the moment takes us. I doubt we’ll be able to get too near the Arena di Verona before the concert though?

 

I watched the Verona concert again and was trying to figure out where our seats will be. Well, we will be really far back! We are in the “no cushion/no backrest” zone, but the 2nd row, which is pretty good, and they are assigned seats. We really weren’t paying too much attention when we booked our tickets for Verona, but we will be there in spirit and the guys will be about as big as our thumbnails, if we are lucky! Maybe even our little fingers? Lol!

 

On Monday, Lorna came over and we actually booked our day trips, train tickets, and reserved the car. I am getting a lot of good advice from people who have been there before, so that is nice. Yes, it is getting more real! Still a few decisions to make, but it’s coming along. I found a different train website and decided it would be cheaper to just get direct train tickets for each trip, instead of the Eurail pass. So, that is what I did, and they are first class tickets on the fast trains – they weren’t much more than the 2nd class.

 

The day after Verona, we will be taking the train again to Rome, where we pick up the rental car. We also still need to get our international driver’s licenses from AAA. One of the easier things on our list of things to do. Even though Lorna will be doing the driving, I think I will get one too, just in case….

 

I checked with Dani on the “bug” issue and yikes, there are mosquitoes there! I am going to be fresh, foreign blood for them. I’m a mosquito magnet and I purposely don’t go out at night, if I can help it to avoid them – now I will be outside for HOURS for 2 concerts! Any suggestions on bug spray or repellant? Should I take some with me, or try to buy it there? I was also just reading today that the Zika virus is in Italy! Hope the guys are protected!

 

And gasoline? We really can’t complain about our gas prices here! Dani was saying they are about 1.60 euros a liter! That’s like what, almost $7.00 a gallon or so (3.78 liters to 1 gallon)? Good thing we are renting a very small economy car!

 

Also, had a little anxiety attack on Sunday. As I was creating our itinerary, for some reason, I wanted to double check our seat assignments. So, I signed in on Delta to check our seats. Uh oh, we weren’t in Kansas anymore, or the comfort class either, on our return flight home from Rome! We were in row 18 and that was preferred seating, but didn’t say comfort class. We paid extra for the upgrades, so I had to change our seats back to rows 12/13. We are at least behind each other. Maybe we can switch seats with someone at check-in? Yes, getting chest pains there. I had to tell myself “breathe, Jana, breathe…” I had a few glasses of wine and some aspirin and felt a lot better an hour later! I’m going to check again later, just to make sure we still have those seats!!

 

Also found another Flight Crew member who will be joining us for both concerts. She is from New Orleans. She was also able to book a few of the same hotels we are in for Florence, Venice, and Verona. She has been there before, so it will be nice to hang with someone for a little while to show us around town!

 

Since many of you responded that you don’t want me to limit my ramblings here, I will continue to give you my play-by-play of my planning – all the details! I just hope I don’t pass my panic attacks on to you!

 

That just about sums it up for now – still many things to do, like what to pack, we can check a bag for free, so do I take the 2nd bag? Not used to having to claim luggage… lol! The rest of our trip is fairly open after we get to Silvi, except for an outing to the beach.

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Ok, what is next on my agenda? I have a few things up my sleeve… have to leave you with a little cliffhanger? Lol!  And, what do we have here?  Another empty frame?  lol!

Oh, one more thing… I bought a 128GB micro SD card disk for my phone for extra room for pictures and videos – you think that’s enough?  It was the largest my phone would hold! lol!  Geez, I remember the old days when my PC was upgraded at work and it had a whole 1GB of space on it!

Ciao – Jana!