Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rome Airport...Some Impressions

I was in Rome airport for a 3-hour layover. It's huge - that was my first impression. I walked off the plane following signs to the second gate and amazingly enough - and thanks to the excellent signs, found a free shuttle to the next terminal.

My next flight left for London from Terminal G. I'm not sure if this is a new terminal - but while it was well built, there were several things that struck me, one that bothered me, and one that delighted me. 

Bothered me - no free Internet. If small Israel can afford to give traveling passengers free Internet, so can the massive Rome airport. As we took off, relatively on time this time and with an amazingly empty flight (thank you, Alitalia, for the extra seat to Rome and the extra two seats to London and the wonderful, attentive flight attendants), I counted seconds between take-offs. From the few I saw - about 4 - they were taking off every 65 seconds or so - for that, Rome, you can give free Internet.

One funny thing happened - well, funny because it was daytime, funny because even the workman was laughing and funny because the flights continued to be processed - but there was a blackout in Terminal G that lasted at least 20 minutes (full for 10 minutes, quite a large amount for 20 minutes, and then elements for more than an hour and a half). People couldn't pay for their food in restaurants (or so they told me) and so were just asked to pay a bit (what they could, I guess, without giving change). The restaurants definitely lost money there. Some of the monitors came on, the escalators, the stores and advertising areas, and other monitors remained off even an hour later. 

And the amazing thing was how much Hebrew I heard on the one hand and the sight that is so common in Israel but I was astounded to see it there in Rome. Early, early evening - I saw several Jewish men form a cluster and my first thought was...no, no way...

They were looking around - as Jewish men often do at that hour. One man signaled to another - 2 - as often happens. They were 8, they needed two more to form a Jewish quorum of 10 men, a minyan. With a minyan, you can say certain prayers. Someone wishing to say the mourner's prayer for having lost a close relative, must gather a minyan.

They began looking at the sun and pointing - they were searching for the direction - to Jerusalem. And then, there in Rome airport, they prayed. I was enthralled; I was proud; I was delighted. I looked at the faces of the people sitting nearby - many were staring at the Jewish men. They had quietly gone to a side wall but were clearly gathering attention.

I watched for a few minutes - no matter where we go, they announced to the world, we are what we are, we do what we must. This happens all over Israel, every day - I loved seeing it in Rome.

I landed late last night in London. I'm having the hardest time speaking English. Hebrew phrases keep coming into my head. When I was told so sign the landing pass, without thought, I signed it in Hebrew. When I signed the hotel registration, I did the same.

This morning, there's a light rain in London. I love it. Rain. I'm likely the only person nearby that is so happy to see the clouds. I tried explaining it but was told that I should be hoping for sun (I didn't tell them, but no way - I want the rain!).

On to Manchester shortly...and more impressions.


motherof4 said...

Manchester - I was there 2 weeks ago for Shabbat and the sun was out! For 3 whole days! They said is was the second this year they'd had good weather.
I've been lurking on your blog for a while but never guessed you were from Manchester.

Marion said...

No, Terminal G is not a new terminal. Ugh, the Rome airport! We hated it, found it difficult to navigate (with several young children) and were less than happy with the Alitalia ground staff. (The inflight crews were absolutely fabulous.)

lorraine said...

Thank you for sharing your adventure. It is not only enjoyable for us to read it is a nice record for you, written with a narrator voice. Do you write in English or does this translate the content? Enjoy every moment of your journey and keep telling us about it.

A Soldier's Mother said...

Hi Motherof4 - I'm not from Manchester - I've actually never been in England (or Rome/Italy) before. First time for me.

Marion - I so hear you...I was happy with the Alitalia staff, though wasn't thrilled we took off late and the plane wasn't in the greatest of condition.

Lorraine - I write in English - I'm originally from the States. I wish I could write fluently (and correctly) in Hebrew. At this point, while I am relatively fluent in verbal skills, my written skills are roughly at the fourth grade level. That's when I started having trouble helping my youngest with her homework. By 6th grade, I gave up trying because I was just holding her back :-)

Anonymous said...

Look at the variety of head coverings in your photo! I am sure I spied a paper napkin! (aka serviette)

That is the other thing, everyone joins the minyan

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