I spent last week in sunny Genoa, Italy attending the First International Conference on Open Source Systems. Overall it was a great trip, and I’ll describe it in a few blog entries here. This should keep my readers from lamenting about my lack of content as of late.
I should have realized that something was amiss when Kristina and I walked out of Robinson Town Center on the way to the airport and saw a couple of F-16 fighters flying around the area. Pittsburgh’s Airport is also home to an air guard wing or something like that. The site is also on the list of locations to be closed, because let’s face it, it’s not exactly the most strategic location on the planet. In order to raise the public awareness of the issue they decided to throw together a rather last minute airshow at the airport. Only problem, is that I didn’t know this on the way out to catch my 4:20pm flight to Chicago for a 6pm flight to Munich.
Checkin was painless. Pittsburgh’s airport always tends to move traffic through security pretty fast. I’m pretty happy with it. I made it to the gate and was able to see all sorts of planes doing fun airshow type stuff. I thought this was a little odd because surely it conflicted with the airport’s regular duty schedule. Surely enough, about five minutes before we were supposed to board my phone rang, it was Orbitz telling my flight was delayed. They hadn’t made the announcement at the gate yet, but did so a few minutes later. Our incoming plane was circling for an extra 20 minutes before they could land. Sensing that I may end up spending the night I Chicago, I asked if I would make my flight to Munich, they gate agent said yes.
Well, I did make the flight to Munich, but only because I ran from one end of the B-Concourse in O’Hare to the other end of the C-Concourse. I was “that guy” who held up the whole plane. Of course, this meant we left Chicago late. Normally I would think that you could make up time on a long international flight, but we ended up arriving almost an hour late, despite only leaving Chicago about 10 minutes late. To make things worse, the flight attendant announced that we arrived at 9am, when really it was 10am. This caused me and a few other people to have to run around in the very nice, and very German, Munich airport.
The final flight was a tiny little puddle jumper over Switzerland to Genoa. It was the first time I flew in a prop plane in about 8 or 10 years. Landing was fine, despite the rain storm pounding Genoa. Getting inside I saw that my luggage wasn’t there. Somehow between my English and German and their broken knowledge of both I was able to file a missing bag report. More on that fun later. Unencumbered by luggage, I proceeded to the Porto Antico to check out the Aquarium and tourist stuff.
The Aquarium in Genoa is the largest in Europe and costs about 13€ to enter. It took me a little over two hours to walk through. Which means that for larger groups expect to budget around 3 hours (the signs say 1.5 - 2 hours, maybe I’m slow). Overall it was a pretty nice aquarium with a large amount of information on the native sea life around Genoa and Liguria. Not too many coral reef exhibits, which is a bit of a change, but somewhat missed. Honestly, I probably could have gotten a similar tropical fish experience by driving down to my local PetCo.
After the aquarium it was time for next adventure, finding the hostel. Unfortunately, I hadn’t yet gained my “Italian Legs” and was still really uncomfortable. I knew from the tourist info folks what bus I needed to take and where to get it, but not how to take it or what direction to take it. Through my pitiful Italian skills I was able to explian to the bus driver that I was looking for Ostello della Giovenetu. He started speaking really fast and I asked him to point where I needed to go. Apparently I got on the bus going the wrong way. After a 35 minute bus ride up the hill on the correct bus I arrived at the hostel. It was a relief to speak English again and understand people, which I had really poor luck with before. The view was splendid from the hostel, but my luggage still wasn’t there.
I needed to really rethink how I thought while in Italy. A couple of key notes. First of all, unless you’re in tourist areas, don’t expect people to understand English. Where I was in Genoa, I had better luck with German than English. Secondly, Italy is a bit more relaxed and low key. Italians don’t form lines. They just sorta mass around. They don’t stick to time schedules. Stuff just sorts of happens. Reminds me of a whole country populated by Jef Fockler‘s. Once you adjust stuff goes a lot easier.
ps: For my photos from Italy, if you’d like to see the larger versions of them let me know. I’m not posting the full size versions of the panoramas because most are VERY large (5000+ pixels wide and around 8-10MB).