Yesterday was a very long day.
On Monday the 2nd I woke up, completed my packing paste, stressed and finally left for the airport at 12:45 p.m. for a 5:25 flight.
Because I don’t like large roads, my navigation system had me avoid all tolls, which meant our journey was probably a little longer than it needed to be, but we made it on time and everything was fine.
I boarded my plane, got my window seat (thank goodness I paid for that in advance) and settled in for a seven and a half hour flight with my noise-canceling headphones and music. Upon reflection, this doesn’t really present a person who would be willing to chat on a flight, and I’m not sure if I’m always that person. Be that as it may. I know I’m comfortable with my headphones, music and occasional dozing.
The first leg of my journey was to Frankfurt, Germany where I needed to change planes during my 2-hour layover. I disembarked the plane and looked for the pier that I would be transferring to. The gate I was in was z and I wanted to be at b. Through a very long maze of hallways, elevators and steps I finally came to immigration which while it moved fairly well did take up a bit of time. Once cleared I again tracked through stairs, elevators and hallways to get to the b gate. I did make it with about 15 minutes to spare before boarding, but considering we’re leading a hundred students through that maze in a month, I have a small reason for concern. Anyway, this was one of the first tarmac boardings I’ve had in quite a few years. When we began the boarding process. We all went through the gate down. More steps out to an articulated bus around many curves and across a large distance of tarmac to get to our plane. Once the bus door opened, we all spilled out onto the tarmac (because we were packed like sardines) and had the option of either boarding the plane on the front or the back by ascending the stairs. I couldn’t help thinking about famous political dignitaries on similar steps, either entering or exiting planes and had an urge to turn around and wave to the masses, but that just would have annoyed the guy behind me. I found my seat and immediately fell back to sleep for my second take off. About an hour later I landed in Milan. There I collected my luggage with no hassle and met my tour guide Carlotta.
We got into a swanky Mercedes and we’re off through the countryside to Lake Maggiore and the town of Stresa. On the way the region became a bit more mountainous and at one point the trees cleared so that I could get a glimpse of Lake Maggiore. The car began a series of switchback turns through an adorable and idyllic Italian town. With each turn, the quaint charm was more and more palpable and the view of the lake became more expensive, it was gorgeous.
We checked into my hotel which is the Regina Palace hotel and dropped my luggage off in my room. Then began the whirlwind tour. Carlotta and I rented a private transfer over to Isola Bella, where we discussed the plans for the chorus tour and the options for what we could do on the island. We wandered a bit and then returned to the shores so that we could do a tour of hotel Dino, hotel Bristol, hotel Solima, the church of St. Ambrosia and Theodore and then hotel Regina Palace. Afterwards we sat at a small cafe and had some water and a few snacks while adorable little birds hopped up onto our table, begging us for a small chip. Quite a few dogs and their owners were wandering around the lakeside Cafe and it was beautiful to hear the church bells. We finally decided it was time to walk around the town a bit and then find a restaurant where I had steak and vegetables. Who isn’t surprised?
I really wanted to start exploring the town and shops but I was on my 25th hour since I had left and needed to go to sleep.
We returned to the hotel but The view was so lovely I immediately left to go walk along the lakeside and take a few photographs.
I woke up early and began packing my things but took some time to stand at my window and look out at the lake. It’s a little gray and misty here today, but I noticed a small boat on the lake with birds swarming around looking for some tidbit to nibble. I got out the big camera and took a couple shots with the fantastic zoom before sitting down to write this. I can’t share those with you because I don’t have the mechanism to download the photographs until I get home, so I’ll probably come back and insert some photos into this post.
Today, I’m to meet Carlotta at 8:30 in the lobby where we will get another wonderfully sleek Mercedes, or similar, and head off to Milan to catch a high speed train to the Venice region. From there we will catch a motorboat to Venice downtown, check into our hotel and begin investigating hotels and venues for the chorus. Ciao!