My travel diary 2023 - Italy and maybe somewhere else in Europe

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  • Two Sundays ago I was fiddling with Google Matrix, Skyscanner, Booking and the like in the hope to find a decently priced flight to Italy to visit my family during Winter school vacation. However, I couldn't find anything south of $2,000 and with a decent layover (I couldn't care less to get a long layover and visit Paris/Madrid or London after a 13-hour flight).

    As I moved the return date further into August, prices went down. I finally found a flight with return date 8/18 for about 1360 USD with British.

    My route is EZE-LHR-MXP.

    It seems a deal now, but I was flying for less than 8-900 USD five years ago.

    At EZE, the departure gates were moved upstairs AFTER the arrival doors. You no longer have to go upstairs after the check-in gates.

    It wasn't very well signalled downstairs, but we had plenty of spare time so we walked to the correct spot. There are two escalators and there are two people checking that you have a ticket to ride it. So, I said goodbye to my husband and went upstairs. There was an ENORMOUS labyrinth to get to the first police check, where another lady checked my ticket and told me to scan it at the automated gate. At migraciones, I just had 10 people ahead of me but the procedure is quite long as they take your picture and right-thumb print. The security check was a breeze and you can now pass with over 100 ml water bottles (I had read about liquids no longer being forbidden due to new scanning machines a while ago - still, this doesn't apply in London, so don't count to bring your wine with you if you have to change plane in the UK).

    The plane was packed as usual, in all three classes. I wasn't impressed with their business, which looked very similar to their premium economy as far as seat comfort. It wasn't a full reclining seat, there was a bigger leg rest and you could recline the seat more than in economy, but that was it.

    There was a stewart with a tray full of mini glasses with something bubbly (champagne?) and something alcohol free (orange juice, I suppose). Unfortunately he was just waiting for us ('the commoners') to walk past to tend these drinks to business flyers, as I told him "fancy!" and he said "indeed but not for you". A very unfortunate answer, and I refrained to reply "I don't need to pay an extra $1000 for a glass of orange juice, I can buy it myself, thanks.", but I walked past and sat in my aisle seat, central row.

    The snack area at the end of the aircraft was very bare, with just plastic glasses with water and a juice (apple or orange, depending on what bottle was being opened by the hostess). It was a big waste of plastic - other airlines provide more drink options and let the passenger serve themselves. I drank 3 glasses of water on a row and used 3 plastic glasses. Ouch!

    We had saltines and Walker shortbreads as snack. Shortbreads are tasty but quite a heavy snack considering you have to sit for 10+ hours.


    The cabin staff was a mix of British, French, Russian people. One didn't speak any Spanish, which is quite odd considering she was working the BUE-LHR route and she was assigned economy class.

    The layover in London was 1.50 hr and the gate of my second leg was announced just 30 mins before departure. I was arriving and leaving from Terminal 5, however I discovered from the in-flight entertainment system that there are three gates within the same terminal, and it takes 15-20' to walk between them (or 10-15 by train). Heathrow was chaotic as ever and if it wasn't for the price, I wouldn't have chosen to have my layover there.

    In Milan all was as usual. My passport was checked by machines and I was spared the 'pleasure' to be greeted by the annoyed Italian policemen.

    I haven't travelled around much as I fell in last night. Where I am, at my mother's, it is a small town with just over 10,000 inhabitants and it is quite depressing. Most stores have closed and everything has moved to larger supermarkets and mall. The houses are run down as people don't have the money to pay for those. Money goes for food, vacation, clothes, cars and expensive upgrades mandates by law.

    I will travel some more in the next days and I hope to see places doing better than here. The people are also very dead inside. I went to a photo reportage event at the local library and it was 2 hours and 200 pictures presented by the photographer. No one asked any question, the room was dead silent and overall it was just a free alternative to Netflix to most.

    I am so glad I left this place for good!

  • I only flew with Alitalia once, but it was 4-5 years ago, on our way to New Delhi. The seats were terribly uncomfortable, like riding a city bus. My husband refuses to fly on Alitalia/ITA since then.

    To be honest, I was expecting more of British Airways. I had fond memories of their flight from Milan to NY in 2014. It was almost empty, we could lie each on a free row, the food was delicious, the place was dead quiet.

    I am told that ITA (rebranded Alitalia) is no better than the old Alitalia. I believe the aircraft are still the same and they just gave it a facelift.

    That said, the airfare has gotten really expensive, and the route Argentina-Europe-Argentina has always been more expensive than Europe-Argentina-Europe.

    An Argentinian friend was commenting that since airlines stopped offering to pay tickets in installments, flying to Europe became impossible for him. And he is a language teacher, so he is not just please but also work. I asked if the institutions where he teaches wouldn't cover or fund his study trip, and his gesture explained it all.

  • When I jump on a British Airways flight and am greeted by the British crew, I'm back in Blighty and couldn't give a toss if they speak Spanish. All I want to do is peak English with my kin, so to speak.

    I had an interesting encounter while queueing at the boarding gate. The man in front of me was clearly British, he looked a lot like our UK Man . He had an Argentinian passport in his hand, and lurking at his whatsapp he was receiving long texts in Spanish. However, when I asked him in Spanish what group they were calling, he replied to me in perfect English.

    I am not sure about what was going on... I know I don't look Argentinian, but I don't look British, either.

    Anyway, there were several Brits on board, a couple of Irelanders and a few Italians, but most people were Argentinians.

    My remark on the hostess not speaking English was just that it seemed to me a poor performance by British Airways to select a person that doesn't speak any Spanish at all. The man sitting in the row in front of me spoke no English, and their interactions looked like two tribus meeting in the jungle, with hostess saying "mmmh.... comida" and pointing the end of the aircraft and signalling with her finger "later". She did the same for BEBIDA mimicking drinking from a glass.

    It is Spanish, FFS. Not some exotic language. I couldn't help noticing that the Cabin Lead was keeping an eye on her. Our aisle was not very well managed and I could sense some tension between the crew members.

    I forgot to mention that the entertainment system had a huge selection of movies. I spent my awoken times looking at Indian movies that aren't available anywhere.

  • I didn’t realize you were leaving for Italy so soon, serafina - - I missed the chance to wish you Bon Voyage. It sounds like, thanks to the film library, you weathered the trip well, though of course everything about the flying experience now is stressful and without passenger comfort in mind.

    The attitude of the steward serving drinks to business and first class was obnoxious. Airlines can offer extra service to business and first class passengers without treating coach class passengers dismissively.

    I feel sorry for your Mom, living in a town that has become so dreary. I hope you can crack her out of there to do some traveling with you and brighten up her life a bit! And I hope you can have fun when you’re roaming around on your own and with friends. It’s not always easy to return to your hometown, but I’m confident you’ll find the most interesting aspects!