Day 1: Thursday July 22nd, 2004 Read Short Version

Short Version Instructions: Only read every other paragraph.

Bekki drove me to the airport, and apparently I'm flying through Chicago to London, which is weird since my ticket doesn't mention that. Lucky me though, there's crappy weather in Chicago and my flight is delayed an hour. Eventually we got in the air and everything was hunky dory, including my very plain Bistro Bag sandwich. My 2 hour layover was cut into a 1 hour layover, so I scarfed some lasagna at the food court and then got on the plane. As we pulled out from the gate, it started raining and thunderstorming. We ended up 37th in line to take off (seriously) and waited with the engines off for about an hour. Thankfully they started the movies so I watched Starsky and Hutch to pass the time.

Thumbs Up: Starsky and Hutch outtakes Chicago to London was a pretty long flight. I had some beef thing with rice and green beans for dinner, and slept a little. Heathrow airport wasn't horrible, I was slightly nervous about my bags getting transferred, but the baggage ticket said Milan so I figured it was taken care of.

Thumbs Down: The transportation system at Heathrow To begin with, we had to walk down those stupid stairs instead of through a jetway into the airport. Then we boarded a bus which took us on the scenic tour of the airport underworld. We eventually ended up at an escalator which took us through customs, then through another maze of corridors to wait for another bus to take me to a different terminal.

Thumbs Down: Heathrow not posting gate information
until 30-40 minutes before the flight
I waited around playing Metroid waiting for my flight information to be posted, and when it finally was I had to walk for like 15 minutes to the end of the terminal. In the plane, the passengers were considerably louder and more rowdy, due to most of them being Italian. We also had a few screaming babies. After sitting down I conked out and slept nearly the entire trip, skipping the meal and beverage services.

Thumbs Down: Signs in Italian I was told that I needed to take some free shuttle to the train station in Milan, which is oddly 50 minutes from the Milan airport. I changed some money, got my bag and deduced that I needed to get to terminal 2 to catch the shuttle. I found my way outside, where it was at least 90 degrees, and waited in the shade with a few other people for 20 minutes for the airport shuttle to arrive.

Thumbs Up: My ears decompressing &
sounding like a distorted 808 bass
This shuttle took a scenic route as well and wasn't air conditioned, which meant a long 15 minutes. At terminal 2, I wandered around looking for the free shuttle without much luck. After seeing a bus leave that was going to the train station that costs 4.50, I decided it was the right bus and got a ticket and a Fanta (I would have gone straight for the gelato but there wasn't any in this terminal).

The shuttle bus took about 50 minutes and was pretty boring. We hit a lot of traffic, and I dozed off a couple of times. I decided that when I got to the hotel, I was just going to go to sleep and skip dinner. Eventually I got to the train station in Milan, where I procured a taxi and he took me the few miles to the hotel. I think "gratzi" was the only thing I said to him the entire time.

Thumbs Up: Good timing Luckily as I walked into the lobby, everyone else was congregating to go to dinner. Tyler took me up to our room to dump my stuff and I changed my shirt and went back downstairs. We walked about 5 blocks to this clock-obsessed restaurant where we had a set menu of bologna on crispy pita, pasta with tomatoes and an oil sauce, thin slices of meat with salad, and lemon-strawberry slushees.

Tyler, Tori, Jessie and I (which of course is our little clique) then bolted out of there and went to McDonalds for more food(!). I didn't get anything but the practice of Italians cutting in front of you was in full effect. We then went back to our room and played cards and talked until about 12:30, then went to sleep.