Adieu Arezzo! Yesterday was the day I left Arezzo and here was how I made it to Oxford!
8:00 – Wake up. Pack. Leave landlady, Germana, a thank you gift
9:30 – Walk towards the train station
10:07 – board train: Roma Termini
1:00 – board the Leonardo Express
1:30 – Arrive at Fumucino Airport
2:00 – eat lunch and say my last good bye to Mara.
3:00 – I’m on my own.
The daunting task of traveling alone was definitely life changing. I was accustomed to the first couple of steps. Check my bag in, chug my the rest of my water bottle, place all items on the bins through security then find my gate and wait. But wait. On my ticket it said “G8”.
But I was sitting in D8. After an hour passed–it dawned on me (wow I’m extremely slow). What had I been thinking (what was I on)? I was in the wrong gate area (you don’t say)! I quickly ran around the airport following the signs that led to the G section. I was stopped by border patrol officers to check and stamp my passport before I finally arrived at…a train station, inside the airport. Apparently, because the airport is so grand, some gates (or maybe it was just gate G) was in another sector of the airport. After a short second, the train pulled up and traveling over around 180 km/hr I was able to reach Gate G in less than a minute. With merely an hour before my departure, I quickly walked over to gate 8 only to find out that it was boarding for Taipei, Taiwan. When I saw the gate 8 flight attendant, I held up my ticket but before I even opened my mouth, she surly replied, “I can’t help you. Read the screen”. So I ran around the terminal and found the screen with the departure/arrival times. For some reason, I couldn’t decipher where I should’ve been. Fortunately a Cantonese Chinese lady was standing by me and (praise the Lord) she helped me find my new gate number: G13. When I reached G13 I asked an old English couple and asked them if their flight number matched mine. It did! And the old jolly man reassured me to “not to panic, the flight has been delayed” (spoken with his adorable British accent)!
After three hours (but time changes so it was technically only two), I reached the UK airport. My friend had been waiting for me in her hotel for a couple hours by then–so I quickly rushed to border control. But the moment I arrived. My jaw dropped. a line that stretched and zigzagged for what seemed like 100 meters long was waiting at the border of UK. (not to mention the moment I got off the plane I had to use the restroom) but I waited in that line first because I knew I would lose my spot otherwise. Fortunately, after a good half hour, I had my passport stamped and was ready to retrieve my baggage. (but of course I made a stop at the restrooms because my tiny bladder was running out of patience). When I looked up at the board, I saw Rome and I even confirmed it with another guy who was had just picked up his luggage. But of course (with a slow brain like mind..) after another half an hour of dreadful anticipation, I checked the screen again. My jaw dropped. I was waiting under the wrong flight number. Of course Rome would have more than one flight! I quickly ran to the larger screen (which travel pro tip #20–check the overarching baggage claiming board first and foremost — but this doesn’t have really have to be a “pro-tip” if one has common sense). After retrieving my bad I rushed to customs (which there wasn’t any) and left the airport. But halt–I needed to go to Oxford where my study abroad program would be and where my friend was waiting. But how? I asked another Chinese women (for once, I’m pretty thankful that my mom forced me into Chinese school for like half a decade–this is the second time my Chinese saved my life) who was standing at the bus station, for direction on how I could obtain the ticket. With her help, I bought my ticket and was able to board the “Oxford Coach” (coach is bus in English).
When I arrived in Oxford, near the general vicinity of the hotel, I was dropped off at the center of English’s Saturday night life. As I scooted my suitcase and lugged my backpack, I wondered through the streets of Oxford, inevitably getting lose with Siri’s poor sense of direction. Fortunately, I was in an English speaking country so I asked a local and she gave me the direction with her beautiful British accent. (Okay by now you must think I have a British accent fetish–well…I guess you’re not wrong)
When I arrived at the extravagantly grand hotel of McDonald Randolph, I was blown away by the aesthetics of both people and the place. With paintings of old portraits of past Kings hung on the walls of the dining rooms and a red carpet leading to the top of the staircase, I was in awe for a good second before the man at the desk asked “do you need help?”
My escapade ends with my friend and I wandering the streets of Oxford in hopes of finding an open fish and chips shop at 11:30 pm and when there wasn’t any luck we quickly picked up some midnight snacks (and my dinner because I was beyond famished) and then we watched some British drama before we both fell fast asleep at around 2am.
P.S >> “bella” means beautiful in Italian