Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Inglorious Volcano!

Inglorious Volcano!

By Christopher J Davies

Imagine if Quentin Tarantino could solve everyone's flight problem with an alternate ending, just like he did when Hitler is killed in "Inglorious Bastards". He could have Lt. Aldo Rained fly a bomber directly into the volcano and cap it off with a major payload of TNT.

No that is not happening quite yet. Although the major European carriers are wishing for such a miracle as they are bleeding through billions of Euros.

St.Peters Square at sunset

My wife and I have been stranded in Rome since Saturday April 17th, playing the waiting game. Our carrier, our favorite airline, Lufthansa is overwhelmed with passenger requests and unable to give a clear picture of when we can expect to leave. They have no crystal ball.

Darcy on our terrace at The Hotel Hassler

When we first arrived in Rome, we stayed at the trend setting Hotel Haussler which is located near the Spanish Steps.We were there as members of the press to write a review which will be the way quite favorable. A room at the Hassler can cost more than 1,500 Euro per night.

For the second night we moved to the Hotel Dei Consoli, which was located just three blocks from St. Peters Basilica. The rooms were compact as a river boat but well appointed and modern. The staff were amazingly courteous and helpful. When we arrived it was a little surrealistic at first as the power had just went out in the Borgo area of Rome. The desk manager asked us if we heard about the volcanic explosion and that airports would be closed in Europe indefinitely? We decided to go to lunch in hopes that the electricity would be restored. When we returned, we were elated that the hotels juice was back. But the desk manager dropped more strange news on us about a "fireball" in Iowa. He played a video showing a meteor crashing into an Iowa. With all of these natural disasters, I am wondering we are headed towards a real 2012?

So after 4 wonderful days in Rome, we decided to "make lemonade out of lemons" and move down south to Naples. Hotels are lower priced and Naples is on the sea. We have never been there before. And since it is also the birthplace of pizza, we decided to see if we can taste the difference.

When we arrived at Rome's Termini (train station) it was filled with lines of thousands of Europeans trying to get a train to somewhere close to home.

We are now in Napoli discovering a much different and authentic Italy. Prices are more reasonable, streets are narrower and historic sites are abundant. We are staying at an amazing, recently restored hotel named Decumani-Hotel de Charme, which was a Bishops home. The owner is in his mid thirties and committed to creating a epicenter for arts and culture. Our deluxe room is spacious with 15 foot ceilings and a beautifully tiled modern bathroom with Jacuzzi tub.


The news on TV today shows that Lufthansa has just started to return 15,000 stranded Germans from the US back to Germany. The customer service lines in Italy and America are busy. The website has little info. It say's do not go to the airport. It instructs us to call the customer service lines.

In the meantime, we have just returned from a wonderful lunch at Naples #1 Pizzeria, Sorbillo. It was orgasmic. It was the first Pizzeria that I visited that had a wait list! www.sorbillo.it

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Stuck" in Rome, waiting is hard to do!

Greetings from Rome, Italy!

My wife Darcy and I are stranded in Rome, hoping to get back to Denver ASAP!

We have been traveling throughout Italy since April 7th. We are the publishers of Wine Country International magazine and also produce the Denver International Wine Festival. This year, we decided to attend the VinItaly show in Verona, which is the second largest wine show in the world, with 154,000 attendees this year. We also visited several other cities to produce stories and radio podcasts about travel, wine & cuisine. On this trip we visited Florence, Lucca, Castello Banfi in Montalcino, Perugia and Rome. We have been in Rome since Wednesday, having the time of our lives.

Darcy on the terrace of room 501 at the Hotel Hassler

For our first night we stayed at the Hassler which is found in the book "1000 things to do before you die!". Mr. Wirth the owner treated us like royalty. Our room #501, was one of the best locations in the hotel with an amazing birdseye view of the Cathedral and The Spanish Steps.

Ancient Rome

We were booked to fly back to Denver today on Lufthansa Airlines (Saturday) but like everyone in Europe, we are in limbo as no flights are taking off due to the volcanic ash activity.

It has been a little difficult getting information, but fortunately Lufthansa Airlines is providing the most up to date information via Facebook (a lot more info than Lufthansa.com). As a journalist who writes about travel, wine and cuisine, I have learned that optional travelers insurance is a great value. I am very happy that we purchased travel insurance from Travel Guard. We are covered for up to 5 days for flight interruption/delays.

I am attaching a few photos from our trip to Rome. For now, we plan to make the best of our extended trip here in Rome. Today we visited the Antiqua Attica section of Rome and visited the Catacombs of Domitilla. The catacombs are located about 25 minutes outside Rome, but are easily accessed by a bus. Our handy "Frommers Rome Guide" and "Lonely Planet's Rome City Guide" have provided fantastic inside information.

I will blogging from Rome until I get on a plane for home. It may be several days or weeks before flights resume. The volcano is still spewing ash.

Christopher J Davies

Tags: Europe, Rome, Italy, Flight delays, Volcanic Ash, European flights, travel blog