Educational travel blog
November 12, 2014
By Julian Moseley
The day a tour group arrives overseas can be so many things at once; tiring, stressful, nerve-wracking on the one side; fun, exciting and joyous even, on the other. It’s essential that things go well from the outset, as first impressions are lasting impressions, as they say. Having dashed like mad all day yesterday around ancient Rome, ducked into a couple of internet cafes, drunk several cappuccinos and delved into numerous maps and documents, I feel like I’ve done all I can in terms of preparation for the group’s arrival. I have that feeling one gets before an exam, when the cramming and revising are over and you’re walking into the exam room. This is the moment of truth - you’ve placed your bets - les jeux sont faits!
Breakfast in Italian is “Prima Colazione”, the “first meal” of the day. If you find that hard to remember, bear in mind that in English we have a very similar word - collation - which, besides referring to boring things like libraries and computer science, can also mean exciting things such a “light meal” or a “light meal taken on a day of fasting”. That little gem of information allowed me to determine that on an Air France flight I took once between Paris and London, we would be lucky enough to be served a “light meal”. In the end, we just had small packets of peanuts tossed at us, but it was pretty thrilling, nonetheless. Prima colazione at the Gran Hotel Palatino is quite lavish, but being a fine example of self restraint, I simply partook of juice, coffee, fresh fruit salad and a couple of croissants. After checking the group’s flight arrival time once more, it was imperative that I should head out for the airport at once - we don’t want to be late now, do we??Mamma mia, che disastro!!
Getting to Fiumicino Airport (or “FCO”, as the cognoscenti say) is abbastanza facile (quite easy). You walk to Termini station and (after thinking about Mussolini, of course) catch the Leonardo Express, which takes you there in about 30 minutes. I love that word,abbastanza. It’s so easy to pronounce, is nice and long (four syllables, no less!) and gives the impression that not only are you intelligent, you also speak half-decent Italian. You can combine it with other adjectives and it makes a whole sentence, almost: abbastanza bene - abbastanza difficile - abbastanza caro - the variations are limitless. “Julian, que pensi della pizza quatro staggioni?” “Abbastanza deliziosa, Giuseppe!”. Pretty impressive, huh?
Whist sitting on the crowded train my mind toys with various scenarios. What if, on my way to the train station, I was robbed - or lost - my wallet and cell phone, an everyday occurrence in many cities? It would be a disaster! How would I get to the airport with no monetary means at my disposal? How could I call for help, with no cell phone? Who could possibly assist me, a hapless stranger in town? What about my Subway loyalty card, with only one visit to go before I get a free sub? Gone! The group would arrive at FCO with nobody to meet them. The coach would be waiting without knowing who to pick up. There would be fearful calls to the USA, panic calls to various European offices, people would be brusquely dragged from their beds, coffee would be spilt. Fear, threats and recriminations would jump around like popcorn in a pan for about 20 minutes, before a solution was found. It would all work out fine in the end of course, but for a while there, things would be a little crazy. But grazie a Dio that didn’t happen. I am now at the gate, the flight has landed, my wallet and iPhone are still in my pockets, and the coach is waiting just outside. Ingrid, the French teacher from Grand Rapids, the same Ingrid I traveled with 20 years ago, her husband Bob and some 20 students, are presently plucking their suitcases off the belt. They have no idea that it’s me who’s waiting for them on the other side. It going to be a big surprise ….
passports Educational Group Travel partners with teachers across the United States to provide high-quality educational travel experiences to their students. Educational tours visit destinations around the world - primarily France, Italy, England, Spain and Costa Rica - at low, guaranteed prices.
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