Champagne Trails: All Roads Lead to Rome

The travel cat is on the move again! She has come to suspect bubble baths now, since she has gotten one each time we go on an extended trip i.e. outside of Berlin, but Champagne takes it all in stride and is at peace with the world of bath and transportation.

Travel Cat on the move again ©MTHerzog

By my count, I have attempted to travel to Rome at least three times in the past 12 months but for some reason or another it was not meant to be. Last year around September, shortly after Daddy passed away, Mommy was willing to pack her bags and spend Christmas in Rome. She and Daddy had taken a trip together to the Eternal City back in 1972 on a free ticket that they had won. I was left in Kenya with neighbours at the time, and have resented Rome ever since. As the plane descended towards the airport I was overcome with a great sense of nostalgia, remembering all the stories Mommy told me about her visit to Rome. Yes, it is indeed a continuation of my homage to my parents as I celebrate their lives.

When I resumed my photography in 2013, I briefly considered joining one of the National Geographic workshops in Rome, but somehow the finances at the time decided otherwise. I promised three special people this year that I would meet them in Rome but again, Destiny conspired against me and I got caught up with the move and other technicalities of reconstructing my life.

When my daughter, who studies in Florence, told me she had an Art History field trip to Rome coming up, we decided to make a mother-daughter weekend out of it. I don’t think I could have waited until December to see her again. We asked permission from the professor and she agreed to include me in the group tomorrow as they explore Rome on a gruelling but fascinating Art History itinerary. Eat your hearts out Tour Guides!

This morning Champagne and I were not not as fortunate as last week at the airport when we checked in at Tegel. The woman at the check-in counter had a major bee in her bonnet and decided to pick on me and the cat carrier, saying it was inappropriate and too small. I told her to explain that to her colleagues at several other airports – and airline crews – that fully approved of the astronaut carrier, including the ones in Italy, but she wouldn’t hear of it. So I played the dumb Asian and ignored her. Champagne was welcomed with open arms on the plane and the crew was all over her.

Munich was a completely different story. When I approached the counter to confirm Champagne, as I always do, we were waved through with the First Class passengers and were the first to board. What a difference to the Berliner Schnauze a few hours earlier! Service, it seems, remains unknown at Tegel… Munich may not be my favourite airport, but they do understand customer service and are far better equipped than any Berlin airport will ever be. When we boarded the flight, some members of the previous crew continuing on to Rome recognised us immediately. “Oh, the cat is back! Hello Champagne!” Calling the Miles and More people to take my application for Champagne’s card seriously…

Rome’s Fumicino Airport is a crazy maze and baggage claim is anything but efficient. But that is just the beginning of the adventure. Once you get out, it is like being back in Asia and you are accosted by freelance taxi divers trying to convince you to ride with them instead of the official ones, and there was even a Filipina among them! Since this is my first time in Rome, I was not up to experimenting with the train into town, especially since Champagne and I staying in the Vatican City. As soon as I get my bearings I will venture out with the bus and train system around the Eternal City.


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