I never imagined that the story of my first proper trip to Europe would have the word 'unfortunate' in its title.
It started off brilliantly. Italy for 4 months, summer time moreover, nothing could be better. The flight to Amsterdam was quite uneventful. I even managed to get some sleep. Normally, I can never fall asleep on a plane. I was feeling good when I got down at the Amsterdam airport. The wait for the connecting flight to Rome was not too long. When I finally reached Rome, I was in high spirits.
Then it started.
No free wireless access at the Rome airport. Never mind, I thought, I can't expect everywhere to be as convenient as Singapore. The three hours waiting for the flight to Catania were the longest hours of my trip. It can't all be good, I told myself. How right I was!
Catania airport! I wait for my baggage for over 45 minutes. In the end, the only people left at the baggage claim area are a few disgruntled travellers and me. I was warned by a friend that some of his friends had lost their baggage while flying with KLM. So, surprisingly, I'm not too angry at my inauspicious arrival in Italy. I wait in the queue patiently and make my lost baggage report. 'There', I think, 'the bad part is over, now for the good stuff'.
I walk out of the airport with just my hand baggage(a knapsack) and go over to the taxi stand. The taxi driver looks at me apologetically and points at a bus-stand nearby. I say 'I want to take the taxi'. He just shakes his head and continues to point at the bus-stand. He, of course, doesn't speak english. So I don't know if there's something wrong with his taxi, or he just doesn't like the look of me. Anyway, I go over to the bus-stand and what looks like a ticket office. The lady there slowly explains that the taxi-drivers are on strike and gives a ticket of the bus that'll take me to my hotel. I thank her for her help and go over to the bus-stop.
The bus arrives and I show the address of my hotel to the driver. He, of course, doesn't know where it is. I think to myself, 'less than three hours here and I've already had enough bad luck to last my entire stay'. Infuriated, I go back the ticket lady. She double-checks her maps & records and says she's certain the bus will go to my hotel. After looking at the map for a while I go back to the bus, convinced that the bus should go near my destination. Amazingly, in the short time I have been gone, the bus-driver recovers his memory and recognizes the address of my hotel. I finally reach my hotel, having experienced the worst series of glitches I have ever faced during a trip.