Yes, my friends, I’m back! And I’m already on my way.
My trip began last night, with a positioning flight to NYC, where I met D. In the real world, last night was remarkable for the nightmarish terrorist killings in Paris. Today I saw pictures of so many monuments decked out in the colors of the French flag, as a show of solidarity, including One World Trade Center, just blocks away. Remarkably enough, the Empire State building, usually lit for the appropriate occasion, was dark, in mourning and deference to the taller building to the south (note that there are pictures of the ESB lit up in commemoration of Paris – these are not real).
As I watched the news reports I reflected on my upcoming trip, in February, to Istanbul. Most of you didn’t know about this trip, and when I last alluded to my February travels, the plan was to go to Paris. But that trip fell apart, so I substituted Istanbul. I have had friends and family express concern about my safety in Turkey, but frankly there has been more recent terrorist activity in Paris than in the former capital of Byzantium.
Still, that trip is months away. Back to the present!
I haven’t previously used New York as a stepping-off point for a trip, but that worked best this time. Thus it is that I woke this morning in the West Village, just off of the Hudson River, to the faint sounds of the street below.
The Empire State stands, poised with elegant grace in the sky to the northeast.
As the afternoon drew on, D and I departed to Penn Station and the Long Island Railroad, eventually boarding the AirTrain for a painless trip to JFK.
On the AirTrain I caught this image of the Manhattan Skyline, with One World Trade Center to the left, and the Empire State Building standing vigil to the right.
And with that we were at the airport. A seamless check-in and security check (suprising given recent events) were followed by visits to the Alitalia and Air France lounges. We found that the AirFrance lounge was newer, with hot food, and much busier, whereas the Alitalia lounge was quieter with more electrical outlets. Overall the Alitalia lounge felt more Italian than the Air France did French.
The chinotto in the Alitalia lounge set the tone perfectly. I’m ready!
And then the time had come for us to board our plane. I tried to speak to the crew in Italian, but my skills are very rusty. The rhythms are coming back, and I mostly need time. Time that I won’t get in this brief visit.
But where am I going? Italy, of course – I’ve basically said that already. More specifically, I am off to Bologna and Florence. These are two old favorites, but D has never been to either. I know we will repeat some experiences, but I have vowed that others will be new. So remember to keep watching, dear readers, because Butterblogger is astir, and mischief is nigh!