You maybe wondering why I didn’t end my Italian travelling blog series with “Our own little Roman Holiday – part five”, well the end of our holiday was a nightmare, and when I look back at our holiday I really, really want to remember all the amazing, good bits with excitement and glee. And our last day in Rome, the getting home part was utter chaos and leaves an awful taste in my mouth, so I don’t really want it linking to my beautiful holiday memories. But I also didn’t want to not include it, as its important to finish our story, even the bad parts. I apologise for the lack of photos – we didn’t take more joy from hanging around an airport. To break up my story of woe, please find some random photos of my beautiful family. 😀
We got all our bags packed the night before, and so all we had to do was say good bye to our apartment, the restaurant and the colosseum as we walked to the metro to return the train station. Where we would get on our transfer to the airport. All of this went smoothly, it was once we arrived at the airport it all started to go terribly wrong.
On all our documentation it advised to arrive 3 hours early, so we arrived slightly before this as we wanted to make sure we got here on time, and I wasn’t sure about the bus transfer or journey time. We couldn’t check our luggage until it was three hours before flight check in, so we waited.
As we waited for this time, a sudden notice in Italian flashed on a nearby screen, and then a time appeared next to our flight. Our flight should have been at 2pm so we should have been able to check our bags at 11:30am. The sign appeared was ritardato 20:30ore, I thought that surely can’t mean that, and sent Mr BC to check it out.
Apparently it was true, we had been at the airport since 10:30 and we were now being told that the flight was delayed for 6 hours from our original take off, and 9 hours from now. What were we supposed to do with two young children in an airport for 9 hours, not the least with a very scared adult who was awfully frightened of flying. I didn’t think I could hang around an airport for that long, there was a chance, I wouldn’t ever get on the plane.
I decided we were driving across country to get home instead, and know this seems extreme and I know in my head it was ridiculous, but a fear is irrational, no one can control it or often explain it, and I definitely have a fear of flying. Getting to Rome, I had a mild panic attack and cried the whole way there, so its really hard to hear when people say “oh, you’ll be fine”, or “you’re safer in a plane than car!”. I often want to say to these people, “oh well, there we go, now you’ve said that, I’m over it! If only I knew it was that easy!” Yes, I know these facts, in fact I could probably give you more facts abut safe flying than anyone, I tell myself them all the time, but I cannot rationalise when I about to board a flight, or hang around an airport with my fear building all around. Which is why, it makes it even harder to hear it from my own husband, I know he was upset by the flight delay too, but as he is not scared of pretty much anything, he isn’t always the most empathic or compassionate of people and as it was a frantic and hectic time, I really needed reassurance and a little understanding. So there we were, delayed flight, arguing, upset, angry and tired. But we thought, as our flight should have been at 2pm, at least we can check in and go to the departure lounge and be a bit more comfy. You’d think so right? You would think the airline and airport would have thought the poor people who are going to have to hang around for at least 9 hours can come through to use the shops, restaurants and slightly more comfortable seating? You, like us, would of course be wrong. As they had officially told us the plane was not taking off until 20:30, we couldn’t check in until 4:30pm.
So we had to wait for 5 hours in the baggage check part of the smallest airport in Rome, it was uncomfortable, boring for the kids and I was still in agony. Also, we didn’t actually know any of this information, we got all this later. For now, all we had been told was we couldn’t check in, had no idea why the flight was delayed and we had no communication from anyone.
We decided to stay, although as I was still unhappy and scared, for a while we stayed in frosty silence. Mr BC is a great man and a wonderful husband though and apologised and all was well with the world, except we were still stuck in Rome Ciampino and our flight was still delayed, possibly cancelled for all we knew. The children were incredible though, I bought us a pack of cards and some colouring books. This entertained them for as long as it could. We had a tiny bit of ,well not excitement but something as we all had to move as some luggage had been left unattended, fortunately it was nothing and we resigned ourselves to the floor again.
Finally, after we had been at the airport for 5 and a half hours, we were allowed to check in, go through security and go to the departure lounge. We spent some money in duty free, we were given a free bottle of water and sandwich, which was the least they could give us at this point. And then we just had more waiting to do, the only difference was the floor we sat on. As it was so busy, with a few more flights delayed, there was no seating available, so we were still uncomfortable but we made the best of it and enjoyed some Italian sweets and biscuits.
Mamma BC seemed to attract the bugs in Italy and had been a bitten a few times, we had bought a insect bite one and cream but the spots were getting redder. I had to take her to airport first aid, and it turns out, some had gotten infected, but the paramedics and doctors were amazing and got her treated and on the way back to, well the floor we were still sitting on.
Finally after hours and hours of sitting on an airport floor, we made our way into the gate, where you guessed it, we had to wait some more. We still weren’t 100% sure the flight would even be taking off tonight, we had no idea why it was even delayed and there was rumours flying everywhere. Finally, we got news that our flight wherever it was, was not going to happen but they had found another plane from somewhere who would return us home this evening. We had to be bussed out to this plane, which the children loved. My fear was building but I had done some research before the holiday into relaxation techniques so I was willing to give that a go, if I could get on the plane.
Finally, we could see the plane, 12 hours and 10 minutes at the airport and we eventually took off. The flight itself was fine, nothing major happened, I even managed to keep my panic slightly at bay. I had my music on my headphones on full blast, I was writing my name, son and daughters name, music lyrics with my left hand the entire flight. I still didn’t relish when anyone moved or turbulence or the fact I was even on a plane but we made it home in once piece, and now we just had to find our luggage, get to our car, which had probably gone over into another day, which I would get charged for, and finally make the long drive home. I think this was the worst part of the day, our original flight should have gotten us to England at a reasonable time, so we could drive home. I could have a bath and go to bed ready for work the next day. The reality was we didn’t leave the airport until gone 1:30pm, so our 4 hour drive home took us to early hours of the morning, and even though I wasn’t driving, I couldn’t go to sleep as it wasn’t fair on MR BC, he was just as tired.
However, we finally made it home and fell into bed. Those first few days at home, I found it hard to remember the beauty of Italy and all our exciting adventures because all I thought about was our nightmare flight home, but now thankfully, I am over the disastrous last day, I probably won’t eve fly again, but now all I try to remember is the fun, exciting and memorable moments we had.
As for our flight, if by any small (I mean minute, almost none existent) chance I ever fly again, it will not be with Ryanair. The flight out was awful but nothing compared to our flight back. The lack of communication, organisation, poor understanding of customers and just general awful customer service will ensure we will never fly with them again.
We enjoyed our holiday so much, it spilled into our six week holiday activities. We made our own cacti terrariums with mini statues of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and St Peters Basilica. I also received my postcard I sent to myself from The Vatican! Ticked that off my list of things I want to do.
Anyway, I would hate to end our Italian adventure on a sore note, so instead I am going to share with you, one more final word on our first proper kaleidoscope adventure. If I could write a love letter to a country, I think Italy would be up there at the top. Everything from food to the art/architecture and the glorious landscapes, it is a truly beautiful country, and I cannot wait to return. Hopefully, on a tour of the wonderful country in our new camper van!!! Keep reading to find our more!