And I Think To Myself... What a Wonderful World.

May 6, 2010

As with any job, there will always be good and bad days. The other day I was flying a chaotic turnaround to an undesirable destination wondering what on Earth possessed me to ever want this job. The flight was overbooked, the passengers were far from friendly, and we were rushing to clear the cabin, battling turbulence and demands for more whiskey. To make matters worse, we had a medical case involving one of the crew members. At the end of the day I headed home exhausted and relieved that it was over. The next day I packed my suitcase and headed to Milan, Italy... restoring my belief that I lead a glamorous and exciting life. This layover would be just the refuge that I'd needed from the consistent 40 degree days in Dubai and my miserable turnaround flights earlier in the week. I was lucky to be flying with the lovely Sanjana (who I'd explored Munich with and done a turnaround with two weeks earlier) yet again. She's been here a month longer than I have, and already she was the most senior crew member in economy class. We were joined by two even newer crew... Maria, and Medhi, who was extremely excited as it was his very first layover. After a long 6 1/2 hours we landed in Milan and caught the bus to our hotel. The entire flight, I'd talked about my plans to order a pizza from room service. When I got to my room I convinced myself that it was unnecessary, as I wasn't even that hungry. It took a great deal of willpower, but I went to bed instead. The next morning I met the rest of the economy crew and we set out for what would be a great day of sightseeing and of course, eating. It was 14 degrees and lightly drizzling rain. Bundled up in my winter jacket, it was the perfect temperature. My inability to tolerate the cold makes me almost embarrassed to call myself Canadian, but in my defense I practically live in a sauna. I'd expressed my need for caffeine, so we stopped at a nearby cafe for breakfast. I sipped my super-strong cafe latte as I ate a deliciously sinful chocolate croissant. I'd had a great workout at the gym the day before, so I felt entitled to consume even more for the duration of the layover. We headed to the metro station to catch the train to Duomo. Sanjana and I had been there before, but it's just as spectacular seeing it again. I took the same photos that I'd took 2 months earlier, still in awe of the amazing architecture. We headed inside and stared at the beautiful stained glass windows and ancient pillars. The cathedral was built in the 1500's, which is hard to even comprehend for someone like myself who grew up in a place where a 100 year old building is considered ancient and usually deemed a historical site. Despite the mass crowds of tourists, it was still very peaceful and spiritual inside, as people from all corners of the world paused to light a candle and say a prayer. We spent awhile inside to take it all in before heading back outside to fight off the men trying to sell us bracelets and corn to feed the pigeons. "Free gift", they'd say, tying a bracelet to your wrist. Once it's securely tied on, they demand 4 Euros for a piece of string. We strolled through the beautiful shopping center, passing by Louis Vuitton, Prada, and in the center of it all... McDonald's. We wandered down quiet side streets, taking photos of beautiful colorful homes. Mehdi was especially excited about the abundance of fancy, expensive cars. The light drizzle had turned into a steady downpour of rain, and I was the only one with an umbrella. We hopped onto a tram, unsure of where it would take us. Once the rain had died down we got off at a stop near some stores. We set out in search of lunch and after a great deal of walking with no luck, we came across a cafe where we confirmed that they served pizza and pasta,and headed inside. Sanjana, Medhi and myself decided upon the seafood pasta while Maria ordered spaghetti. As we sat there in the cozy cafe indulging in amazing food, we realized just how lucky we were... this is our job. After we'd stuffed ourselves full of pasta we ventured out again, in search of the palace that was marked on our map. The fact that Maria speaks Italian definitely made the day a lot easier for us. She stopped numerous people throughout the day asking for directions. Once we'd been shown the way, we proceeded down the street until we found the palace. It wasn't a fancy, beautiful castle as I'd hoped that it might be, but it was interesting to see regardless. I was overjoyed to find that it was complete with a moat and a drawbridge... just like a real faiytale! I read a few signs to discover that it had been around since 1335 or some time ridiculously long ago. Upon exciting the palace (I say that as if I'm someone of great importance), we spotted what I'd been waiting the entire day for. Hello, Gelato... so we meet again. We each grabbed a scoop and ate it as we walked through a beautiful green park with beautiful green grass and lush green trees. Oh, how I miss nature. Couples sat on park benches and kissed on bridges, making me yearn for home a bit. Sometimes it's hard going to beautiful and romantic destinations when my boyfriend is thousands of miles away. I reminded myself that one day I'll travel with him and that we'll be one of those annoyingly cutesy couples walking hand in hand through the park. Earlier in the day, Medhi was set on seeing everything and not stopping until it was time to fly home to Dubai. By mid-afternoon, he was exhausted and ready for a nap. We found a metro station and a very helpful old lady saw us pull out our map and rushed to offer assistance in perfect English. She told us which train to catch, where to transfer, and how to get back to our station. We thanked her as we rushed to catch our train. As with most layovers, our next stop was the grocery store. I filled my basket with cheese, pasta, pizza crust, and strawberries, along with many other items that I ended up placing back on the shelves after realizing that I was getting far too excited at the thought of Italian food. I convinced myself that I didn't need to buy the entire store. Everyone else was in the alcohol aisle, stocking up on Italian wine. I thought of buying a nice bottle to bring home for my wine loving grandmother, but realized that I know nothing about buying wine, and that even if I did, the bottles were all written in Italian. Once we were content that we had everything needed, we headed back to the hotel. With a few hours to spare before our pickup time, I took a quick nap to enable myself to stay awake until early the next morning. Once I woke up I headed to a cafe to grab one last espresso, along with a delicious panini sandwich. I got ready for my flight, applied my red lipstick and headed downstairs to meet the rest of the crew. En route to the airport I caught a glimpse of snow capped mountains in the distance. It was a comforting sight to a homesick Canadian girl. The flight back was great, and I watched a beautiful sunrise over the wing of the aircraft as we started our descent into Dubai. Once again, I've had another amazing layover in another beautiful city. I'm not sure that this part of the job will ever grow old. Ahhh, la vita รจ bella!


Amber Cavers said...

Do yourself a favor and buy some good quality Olive Oil. Mmmmmmmm. It's so cheap there, compared to here. Jealous of you food adventures. I miss eating my way through Europe! I wish I was able to grocery shop all over the world!

Arslan said...

You never wrote about your trip to Pakistan. I hope it was good.

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