After a half-day at work I picked up the rental car, headed home, and relaxed for a few hours before leaving at 4:30 pm for Newark for a 9:30 flight. The limo drivers were right – it *did* take three hours, and another half hour to get from the car dropoff to the terminal. So, we sat around for about 45 minutes before boarding; no complaint - I'd rather have it that way than the other.
Our flight was... uneventful. I ignored the meal Alitalia offered and tried to get as much sleep as I could - Judie, psyched for the experience ahead, opted for both the meal and the movie. I can't say that I definitely slept, but I think I got some rest. At 3:00 in the morning NY time, which was 9:00 Italy time, I roused myself, wandered in the dark to the lavatory, and did my AM prep routine of wetting my face, shaving, grabbing an orange juice, and generally trying to convince my mind and body that it really was nine in the morning, not three.
We arrived in Milan only about 15 minutes after the scheduled arrival time, which with a more than two hour connection was actually a plus! Milan is a modern cosmopolitan airport with all the amenities you'd expect, so we were able to spend the time not buying things at the shops and just generally playing tourist and gawking at the sights. We did, however, turn the first of our lire into some drinks to help us kill the time. My attempts at sleeping during the flight seemed to pay off – I was slightly more awake than Judie, so I took advantage of this sentience in part by purchasing a 1000 lire phone card and using it in an internet access kiosk to check my email... a bit clumsy with a keyboard like the front of a microwave oven, but it worked.
The Milan-Venice run was only a 35-minute hop.. I asked about an enroute cockpit tour (a privilege grantable by European pilots but prohibited for their US counterparts), but the flight was too short to permit it (Actually, the cabin crew never got back to me).
Venice airport was considerably more dated than Milan – if it were in the states, it would look like it was in the 1960s. But so what? The first indication that we weren't in 'Kansas' any more (apart from everything being in Italian) was a guard walking a german shepherd in place, treadmill style, on the luggage conveyor; the dog climbing over the luggage sniffing it for pirated software. It might have been interesting to take a photo, but not wanting to spend the first days of my trip in jail, I opted to decline the opportunity.