I check the board, "Gate announced at 6:20." Cool, cool. Departure is 7:15, announcing a gate 30-40 minutes in advance is standard procedure in Europe. I go to get a coffee and croissant.
After snarfage, I check the board again. "News at 7:15." No mention of a gate announcement. Checking further, no other flight is showing any anomalies, so something is funky with mine. A few minutes later, I get a text telling me my gate. Cool, cool, everything must be above board again. I get to the gate, and the board there doesn't show a departure. BUT, there is staff present. She announces the flight is delayed because of a strike in Rome.
What the fuck? I've heard of wildcat strikes, but a strike in one city, affecting flights on a random day? I chose to be phlegmatic about it. I really don't have anywhere to be, do I? I do what I'm trying to do best: Kindle and Chill.
About 5 minutes before scheduled departure, it's announced the flight will be leaving approximately an hour late. I guess the strike lasted about 43 minutes. I guess the ATC personnel wanted more time for their espressi? Who knows. All I knew was I was on my way. Smooth sailing, y'all!
Flight(s) were uneventful - as all good flights are. Landed in Catania. Since I didn't have checked baggage, I walked out the exit to be intercepted by security. She asked me questions I couldn't answer. Mainly because she asked in Italian, and I'm a Stupid American who doesn't speak anything but 'Murican. (OK, I kind of can, almost, partially get by in Spanish Spoken Like a Child®). After some intervention on the part of another security officer, I discovered they were asking where I was coming from. I replied, "Rome." They then let me by. It was several minutes and I was already outside, when I realized they probably wanted to know where I originated. I wonder if I would have had a different result if I had said Lisbon? I may have been redirected for a Covid test.
Onward and northward I went. By bus. Again, fairly uneventful. But, holy shit, that bus barely fit some streets and the hairpins? We had to back down on one to allow another freaking bus to pass the other way. On one turn, we swung wide, as needed, and the oncoming car darted inside our turn to get out of the way. Wow. That took some cojones de acero. My faux pas of the trip was to push the button to be let off, just as the bus was turning into the terminal and coming to a complete stop. End of the line. Duh. Oh well. I thanked the driver, taking him by surprise I think, and hopped off, double slung my bags and started walking.
Several hundred stairs later, I'm looking at a closed and locked steel gate. This is where I'm supposed to be staying, but I have to say, it didn't look particularly inviting. But this was the place: Residence Terra Rossa. Courtesy of a former exchange student (Hey Brando!), who's mom owns it, I was offered a deal I couldn't pass up. Beside being on Sicily and if Family offers you a deal you don't pass it up, it was simply an offer not to pass up!
I saw a button for Reception and pushed. After a few minutes, the sally port gate opened, and I walked through. Into a dark courtyard. Huh. A man approached and asked (again) questions I couldn't answer. Turns out he is from Romania, and his Italian isn't much better than mine. After a lot if back and forth using Google Translate (I'm not sure of his reading ability either TBH.), we figured out the situation, and he showed me to my accommodations. Ice cold, but not unexpected. The heater was running, but it had some significant space and chill to overcome. To my delight, there was a bottle of wine, some bread, chocolate and coffee in the kitchen. I was set for the night and morning. But for the time being, I was more than happy to simply burrow under a blanket, sip some wine and watch some Netflix. I'll hit the town in the morning.