Thursday, September 13, 2007

The "A" Bus

Ok, back to all things Pugliese! Have I ever told you the story about the bus to the airport here in Brindisi? I still remember when I found out about it. I was sooo happy. A bus that goes from a stop near my apartment almost directly to the airport, it seemed to good to be true. Well this past weekend is the very first time that I’ve taken the bus TO and FROM the airport!!! Yeah for me! I don’t ask people to take me to the airport because I almost always leave on the 6:40 AM flight to Rome and I don’t like getting up early for that flight so I’m not going to ask someone else to do it too. I don’t ask people to pick me up because the planes, naturally, never get in on time. So a taxi or a bus are the only real options, although I noticed the parking at the airport is open again, but don’t get me started on how much that costs.
Anyway back to the topic at hand. The bus is the perfect option. The first bus of the day is actually timed to get you there in plenty of time for the first flight of the day so all I have to do is catch it. So why did everything work this past weekend and not in the past? One reason is in August I learned of the new route. Not from the guy who sells tickets or a schedule but from a little old lady at 5:30 AM in the morning. She sees me at the stop with my suitcase and says the airport bus just went by on the next street over. I’m convinced she’s crazy because the sign next to me clearly has the “A” on to signify that this is where the airport bus stops. About 10 minutes later it becomes evident to me that she is in fact not crazy because there is no sign of the bus I’m waiting for. I jump in a taxi and pay 20 euro to make it to the airport in time to catch my plane. So in August I learned that the route changes. From this I have also learned to look for route changes not at the bus station but to go visit the bus stop a few days before I intend to use it. I check to see if the bus does indeed stop there, because the route could change again by the time I take another flight. The change was incredibly small but nonetheless just enough.
Then coming from the airport to my apartment I learned another valuable fact in August. This is probably the most important lesson for you all out there in cyberspace because you can take this bus from the Brindisi airport to the train station (and to catch the ferries but that's a bit of walk). This last trip was different because I only had one carry on so when the plane landed I went straight out of the airport. Low and behold the bus is right there waiting for me just like I always dreamed it would be. I did a double take because it must be the wrong bus or something. I soon learn why I’ve never seen it because as soon as I get on the driver gets in and takes off. I’m looking back and only one or two other passengers with only carry on have come out of the terminal. Didn’t the driver want to wait a minute or two to see if anyone else was going to take the bus? The moral. People with checked baggage will not catch the bus. Actually I’ve learned that if I want the bus and I have checked bags then I’ll have to be patient. In the past I see no bus and I have no idea if it’s on schedule so I usually break down and get a cab. Now I know the bus has just left and will be back in about 15 minutes. So next time I’ll wait and not pay 20 euros to get me where the bus takes me for 80 cents!!! I even wonder if it’s a scam too because who would take a cab if the bus was there. The cab drivers may ask the bus to “get lost” before the rest of the passengers can catch the bus.
So you all can learn from my mistakes!! One the bus route can change so ask me if you plan to take the bus. Two the bus into town probably has just left before you walked out of the terminal so tell the taxi driver politely, “vaffancula” and wait for the bus. Oh and I should warn you that the ticket will be 1.60 euro if you buy it on the bus and 80 cents if you get it from the tobacco shop in the airport. That’s all.

Also there is supposed to be a Pasta Strike today in Italy to protest the rising price of pasta but at lunch I already crossed the picket lines! Actually everyone was eating pasta so as far as I can see this was the worst organized strike of all time. And here I was ready to eat steak and potato chips all day!


Laura Ottaviani-Chacon said...

I heard about the strike on the news and had to laugh. You might as well ask Bengals fans not to drink beer while tailgating!

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Ah! So you heard about the pasta strike? So well-informed, you are! I wrote a post about it today because I heard about it on the radio late yesterday afternoon and thought it must be a joke...but it wasn't!! In my post I said that you might have found the end to your search for a day without pasta! Har-dee-har-har. Those steaks look yummy, BTW!

Jeff Gromen said...

Laura and Shelley,
It was a little funny because after lunch people starting saying, "Ohh, that's right the pasta strike is today..." Too late guys you have lost the chance to stick to big business.
Now we have 15 days of gas station strikes to look forward too. I'm sure Alitalia is about to go on strike and the trains and.....


Farfallina said...

Had to laugh at your bus story :) Why wasn't I surprised??...

15 days of gas station strikes Jeff? Really? hope you were kidding...

Cynthia Rae said...

Glad you worked out the bus thing. As always, things in Italy are NEVER easy.

I'm such a scab! I am sure we had pasta that day (as we almost always have some sort of pasta at one of our meals). How is it that everyone knew about the pasta strike but me?

ps. Instead of having a pasta strike, we should strike about rise in gas prices. I swear if I hear one more American cry about the price of gas in the US, I will HIT THEM (okay, maybe hit is a little strong). The point is that is still WAY CHEAPER than what we have to pay over here.

Jeff Gromen said...

Yeah, they may cut back the number a little but they spread the days out. 3 days here 2 there. A schedule should come out soon.

No, I think it's ok to hit them about gas. Thankfully I can walk or ride my bike to work otherwise I would be cussing up a storm. Your work also lets you avoid the gas price blues. Italy has the highest gas prices in Europe. Now that's bad!