THE WANDERING ITALIAN

How I came about sitting in Munich rather than Paris is a mystery that only Air France can unravel. Air France and my instincts for trusting how the Germans run their affairs compared to their French cousins.

The smell of disaster became apparent the moment I tried to check in the night before my flight and I couldn’t, apparently because a mechanics’ strike was affecting AF’s operations. And my flight was delayed two hours. Upon entering the departure gate, the smell became a stench. Perfectly coiffed French nationals manning the desks were, alternately, screaming at each other and at the TSA officer who was trying to get a passengers’ list. Fat chance. The plane that came in from Paris, presumably checked by the striking mechanics, was much smaller than the amount of passengers booked to travel on it. Unions in France and Italy are the best at disrupting traffic which is why, when asked whether I wanted to transfer to a Lufthansa flight and be re-imbursed $200 (ok, I haggled on that one) I jumped like a kangaroo, amazed that none of the other passengers were following. Ok, the Germans might lack savoir-faire, charm and elegance but their planes run on time. From the splitting head ache inducing AF gate, the LH serenity was apparent. I was checked in swiftly, the plane was brand spanking new (and some clever engineer at Airbus has finally figured out to put the toilets downstairs instead of close by to the poor fuckers sitting in the back, kept awake by slamming doors and wafting odors). I watched Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhall take off their clothes in “Love and Other Drugs”, then  Ambien did its trick and I slept for 6 hours. Which is why I am now sitting in Munich, sipping the most expensive watermelon juice in the history of juicing, disregarding common sense that, in the wake of a bad e.coli outbreak in this part of the world, should keep me away from anything uncooked. Oh well, why not live dangerously?

This trip didn’t start under the best of omens. Leaving Ottie at home is always heart wrenching. At the first sight of the suitcase being dragged down the stairs, he became sullen and despondent, turning away from cuddles and then, right when I was about to leave, a rattlesnake came out of the daisies, intent on sunning himself right in the middle of our backyard. Really, Ottie better be careful because I couldn’t deal with another life threatening condition 10,000 miles away from him.

On the upside, my recently erratic mood has already lifted, content to be sitting at another airport, in a city I haven’t visited in 20 years. Unlike the rest of Germany, Munich  is jovial and possesses a sense of humour I never experienced in Berlin or, say, Hamburg.  I remember exploring it in the dead of night, with a musician I was on tour with, the cobblestones street and the medieval monuments strangely inviting, even with nobody about but our shadows, huddled together to keep warm.

Sometimes I think I am at my happiest when I travel, a bit of a blessing and a curse because my feet get itchy more often than my work schedule and my wallet will allow.

Well, on to my next destination, a shower and a comfortable bed. And, hopefully, my luggage.

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