Getting from Mantua to Melbourne requires stamina, patience and a certain amount of sleep deprivation.
Our trip began freakishly early on 13 March. We drove to Verona airport and parked the car at a car park called StoptoFly (recommended by our travel agent). It was a bit difficult to find and created a degree of unwanted stress.
We flew from Verona to Rome with Alitalia. The plane interior was old and tatty but the flight left on time and the attendants were efficient and courteous. (On the return journey, from Rome to Verona, the plane was dirty as well as old and tatty.)
Rome airport (Fiumicino) was a jolt to the system. We immediately felt that we were in a foreign country: Romans are a race apart from other Italians. Northern Italians can be quite me-centred at times but the Romans take arrogance to a new level, strutting about talking VERY, VERY LOUDLY. Actually, I quite enjoy listening to the way they speak; it’s so different to the more measured, more censored tones of northerners. The content of their conversations, however, is equally as mundane (in the airport anyway).
And the Romans – once again I make a sweeping generalisation based on observations at the airport – turn coffee-making into a musical with much rattling of cups and saucers and clinking of teaspoons.
But if you want to see a high proportion of people dressed inappropriately for air travel (white clothing, skin-tight trousers, vertiginous heels, every item of apparel bearing a chic brand label) then Milan Malpensa airport beats Rome Fiumicino soundly.
Anyway, after waiting around Fiumicino for a few hours it was FINALLY time to catch our Cathay Pacific flight: destination Melbourne via Hong Kong flying economy class.
SUMMARY OF FLIGHT
Aircraft: Airbus Industrie A340-300 (Rome to Hong Kong; Hong Kong to Rome); Airbus Industrie A330 (Hong Kong to Melbourne; Melbourne to Hong Kong)
Seats: very comfortable with adequate leg room for persons of average height like me. However, I cannot get any decent sleep in an upright or semi-reclined position.
In-flight entertainment: I watched a total of 9 films: 6 between Rome and Melbourne and 3 between Melbourne and Rome. They were:
- An Education (very average; full of clichés and one-dimensional characters);
- Twilight Saga: New Moon (hilarious);
- Me and Orson Welles (rather good);
- Up in the Air (good);
- Inglorious Basterds (very entertaining);
- Extract (amusing);
- Fantastic Mr Fox (cute);
- The Invention of Lying (annoying); and
- Revolutionary Road (even more annoying).
I also played some of the in-flight games: the word games, the trivia games and memory.
Food: I like that Cathay Pacific don’t exaggerate the portions or the number of meals (unlike QANTAS). However, between Hong Kong and Melbourne they served us something that resembled a sub-standard Chinese take-away. The other meals were fine.
Temperature inside the aircraft: Bloody freezing!!!
Advice to fellow economy class travellers: dress like an onion (in layers) and bring all the sleeping aids you can lay your hands on.