Part 4: Nine flights and five countries in ten days…what was I thinking?

Day 7

I woke up a little tired and a little sad that I was leaving Athens. It’s such an amazing city. But, I was also very excited for Germany and Italy…and more time in Dublin!

My host drove me to the airport that morning. Hugs and goodbye’s were given and received with an invite to come back anytime!

The flight to Germany was a little bumpy, but good. I arrived in Cologne, Germany. Quaint little town. I had a six hour layover there before taking another flight to Italy. The long layover saved me over $100 on my plane ticket from Athens to Italy…score!

When I arrived in Germany I got a bus ticket and rode it into town. Food and beer was on the docket for the day!

Ate at an awesome German restaurant. When I ordered the waitress didn’t even crack a smile, she was harsh and to the point…I loved it! And there was an older gentlemen sitting in a booth across from me complaining in German while shaking his head and glaring at me…loved that too! I even thought to myself that they both were probably related to me since I am mostly from Germany.

I will say, it is very interesting that in other countries when you ask them where they are from they give you one country, the one they were born in. But if you ask Americans, they don’t say they are from America, they give you a full history lesson about their family and how many generations away from those countries they are. Why do we do that???

After crackers, bread, cheese, pickles and a few tasty German beers, it was back to the airport! I saw lots and lots of bicycles…and they didn’t seem too worried about them being stolen. Only a few of them were chained up!

While waiting for the plane to start boarding I partook in a few German beers…yum!

Once on the plane my traveling partner asked the flight attendant if we could sit in the back seats of the airplane since they were empty and we would have more room. The yelling and stern German flight attendant said, if there is an emergency, you will have to move. Those are for emergencies.

So we sat there, and watched as she yelled at all the other passengers. It was…awesome!

By the time I landed in Italy it was after 7:00 pm, and it was dark, and I was exhausted from traveling all day. I found the rental car company, and upon giving my name at the counter I was told that I was at the wrong airport…ummmmm, what?

I had booked the flight from Athens to Germany and then to Bergamo. Which was the closest airport to my host family’s house. Well…I was somehow routed to the Milano airport. Lord knows how that happened, but it did.

So, the car was rented with an extra $100 charge because I had to drop it off at a different airport on the way out of Italy in a couple of days. And because it was more then a few hours to my host family’s house, I had to get a hotel for the night…that and I was overly exhausted.

I found one of the cheapest hotels in the area and booked it. It was a quaint little bed and breakfast in the outskirts of Milan. It was a very odd room. When you came into the room you had to put the room key card into a slot in the wall so that the lights worked in the room and there was a slightly frosted window between the bedroom and bathroom. You could see right into the bathroom. I had a room like that in Las Vegas before, but never expected to see it in a cute bed and breakfast in Milan, Italy…what are the chances?

The front desk had frozen dinners for purchase, and I was able to take a few German beers from the airport in Germany with me to Italy…dinner!

I couldn’t figure out how to turn the heat on in the room, and it was cold, but I didn’t care, I was so damn tired that I slept like a log. That is until around 8:00 am in the morning when the maid used her key card and just walked into the hotel room. Scared the shit out of me! I yelled HELLO? and she quickly exited the room.

6,506 steps taken in day 7

Day 8

Once awake, I showered and went down for my free continental breakfast…yum! It was so good! Then to the room to pack and then out to the car.

To drive in Italy, or most international countries, you have to apply for an International Drivers Permit. They are about $20 plus shipping and handling. It’s recommended that you start the process of getting the permit about a month or so in advance. It is good for up to one year. In the United States, International Driver Permits are only issued by the American Automobile Association and the American Automobile Touring Alliance, and the State Department recommends against purchasing an IDP from other outlets as they are all entirely illegal to purchase, carry, or sell.

To say that driving in a foreign country is weird is an understatement. You take for granted our roads and rules here in America. There are a lot of round-abouts and very skinny roads over in Italy. Driving thru Milan was a little scary. The roads are so narrow that you think you are going to hit all the other cars passing you. I parked at a parking garage and walked around Milan for a couple of hours. It was cool to see all the stores, and the restaurants. Very expensive, but cool!

Then it was off to Bercia, Italy to my host’s house! The Autostrade is the freeway I took to get there. It is a nice big road, but it has lots and lots of tolls! When you get on the Autostrade you need to go through a toll both. This toll booth has different types of lanes; Telepass, Carte (credit card) or the lane with a picture of cash and coins. Unless you for sure know that you have the Telepass on your car…don’t go thru this lane. Unfortunately this was the lane that I went thru, and it wouldn’t spit out a ticket, and there may or may not have been lots of honking being heard behind the car.

Well, the gate finally just went up and out of the gate the car went. The problem didn’t become clear until you leave the Autostrade, that’s when you pay for how long you were on the road.

What should have happened…the carte or the picture of the cash and coins lanes…those were for me. And when you go through those lanes the machine spits out a ticket for you. So that when you leave the Autostrade you then go to whichever lane that describes how your going to pay, stick in your ticket and get charged. The costs weren’t too high, but I can totally see them add up if you were traveling a lot.

Once I was getting the hang of these toll booths I then made fun of someone else who had to push help because they didn’t have a ticket. I can not confirm or deny there was some honking coming from my car…tourists.

When you don’t have a ticket the charge is over 89 euros…ouch. Because if you have to push that help button to tell then that you don’t have a ticket, they spit one out for you. But, you can send an email to the address on the top of that ticket and dispute it. Which is what I did. The amount went from 89 euros to 9 euros. Much better!!!

Every once in a while these buildings would appear over the Autostrade…a restaurant and store! So cool! I didn’t stop at one, but I wished I would have just to see what it was like up there!

It was around 4:00 pm by the time I got to Bercia. It was an amazing little town, and my host family had an awesome house! In the same building as their house was a bar. And that’s where we started the night…the bar next door.

Then an amazing pre-dinner, and then an even more amazing dinner…all home cooked! Then it was out to see the sights!

We went to Monte Isola. A little community on an island that you take a small ferry boat to. It was late, and a little chilly so not all the shops were open, but there were people walking about the streets.

We then stopped for some gelato, then back home to get some sleep. I needed to get some sleep…I was heading to Venice the next morning!

15,397 steps taken in day 8

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