I'm watching the special on Netflix about David Beckham. I really know nothing about soccer, yet it brings to mind a story.
Clearly, I am going to turn into Sophia from The Golden Girls when I'm an old lady.
Picture this. Rome, 2006.
The final game of the World Cup is playing.
Italy vs. France.
The score is 1-1
We're standing on the tarmac in Vienna, boarding a plane to Rome. The captain spends the entire flight keeping passengers updated on the match.
I don't know the technical terms for soccer, but the game goes on to a penalty shoot-out in overtime. Everyone is going bonkers. Thank goodness for autopilot because I'm pretty sure the pilot is paying zero attention to the actual flying at this point.
We land safely.
You can feel the tension and excitement in the air as we wait to get off the plane.
Nobody comes to let us off.
Eventually someone brings the stairs for us before running back to the airport to finish watching the game.
All the passengers disembark and we find ourselves in an empty terminal.
I swear...nobody who worked at Rome-Fumicino Airport showed up for work that night.
Our entire flight is wandering around aimlessly.
We finally find a frazzled employee. "Where are our bags?" everyone asks her in a million different languages.
"Everyone call in sick. No one here to get bags off plane."
So, eventually everyone in the airport clears out knowing none of us are getting ANY of our luggage. Some old ladies are crying because they're getting on a cruise the next morning.
This is pre-cellphone days so we look for a payphone. At this point we're positive our driver, Stefano, will have ditched us too.
Wrong. He's Saint Stefano and has been waiting patiently for us the whole time. He drives to the door to pick us up and as we leave the airport---
You guessed it!
Italy wins the World Cup!
Now let me tell you, arriving in Rome when Italy has JUST won the World Cup is something you will never, in a million years, forget.
It was crazy exciting. Millions of people rushed out of their homes and took to the streets, hooting and hollering in celebration. Fireworks were being set off everywhere. Italy's flag waving from every balcony. People climbing ancient statues to hang more flags. Horns honking non-stop. You'd have thought Caesar himself had returned from a successful foreign campaign.
Finally, after basically crawling through Rome, we make it to our hotel which is up on one of the hills overlooking the Vatican. The entire night we're having fun watching fireworks and listening to horns blasting in the city below.
Meanwhile, we assume the airport will deliver our luggage to the hotel the next morning.
Next few days...nothing.
Eventually, in desperate need of our luggage, my husband, Gord, can't sleep and decides he's going to take a train to the airport and hunt for our suitcases himself. 9 yr old Quinton is sleeping so I stay with him in the hotel room.
Gord heads off to hunt for our suitcases himself because clearly the airport is overwhelmed.
He leaves around 9:00 that night thinking he'll avoid all the daytime crowds and tourists.
11:00 pm. He hasn't returned to the hotel yet.
12.00 am. He should be back any time now.
1:00 am. I'm getting worried.
2:00 am. Still no Gord.
3:00am I am in a panic, pacing the floor.
4:00 am he stumbles into the hotel room, carrying ALL our luggage. Let me tell you, we were in Europe a month so there was a LOT.
What we didn't know was that his timing couldn't have been worse.
For...it was the night of the Victory Parade!
Turns out, the train wouldn't go all the way to the airport. However, he finds a cab and makes his way there.
When he finally gets to the airport, the entire terminal is a sea of luggage. Every plane that arrived World Cup Night has had their passengers' suitcases scattered everywhere.
But, Gord somehow found all our luggage and hauled it out of there.
He started to walk, dragging five suitcases down the road for miles and miles. Bumping up and down the cobblestone through enormous crowds of people. Millions. I mean...they were partying in the streets all the way to the Circus Maximus. Not a bus, train, nor cab to be found.
Like a scene from an old Steve Martin comedy, Gord spent hours hauling five huge suitcases from the airport to the city, until he was finally able to get transportation when the crowds began to thin in the wee hours of the morning.
It was so many years ago, but when I hear anything about soccer, my mind drifts back to those summer nights in Rome, Italy--and I can't help but giggle.