A new journey

IT COMES when you least expect it. Love -- the love for travel. The wanderlust was once more sated as I got another shot to revisit familiar places I fell in love with and new destinations that has long been on the bucket list. I am one lucky man for having a friend like Tenny A. who nodded to letting me along his family to a European adventure.

The plan was to meet them in Rome, four of them flying from the US and three of us from the Davao. With flight schedules coinciding, it would be a Buon giorno, Roma, arrival for the groups arriving an hour apart at the Fiumicino Airport.

From Davao, we opted not to take the Manila route to Europe to avoid the hassle of transferring airports lugging our luggage. Through Singapore would be wise with a single carrier taking us to and from our destination. Personally, I wanted to try the Silk Air-Singapore Airlines tandem and enjoy the impeccable award-winning service the company is known for.

The journey will be long and taxing with almost 24 hours of travel, waiting time and layover in Changi Airport included. But always on the first leg of any journey, excitement trumps exhaustion, sleep will be evasive.

It took more than five hours to get to the Lion City from Davao with a brief stop in Cebu. As usual, Silk Air’s A320 aircraft was manned with an efficient crew (more stewardesses than any other airline I was able to take) very visible the entire flight.

We arrived in Singapore at 7 p.m. and the flight to Rome will be at 1 a.m. the next morning. Now what to do? Changi Airport is impressive. It’s like a small town with gardens, a shopping center, restaurants, a transit hotel and a slew of lounges exclusive to the business/first class passengers of airlines and a few others open to all passengers for a fee.

You can bide your time by exploring the complex and amusing yourself with its varied offerings (the art table was enjoyed by both kids and adults) or just stay put in a comfortable area and grab some z’s until boarding time.

At half past midnight, we started boarding the Singapore Airline aircraft with a warm smiles meeting us. It was not surprising why this airline is consistently voted as the best airline in the world. The crew was charming (and was consistently so the entire flight. I wish the regional and long haul flights of our very own carriers can train their crew the same way) who were very attentive to all the passengers, and this was just coach. Imagine the service on the forward section of the aircraft, I can only dream (but I’m crossing my fingers) that one day I will be on that side of the plane heading to Paris.

Like I said, sleep was elusive and the library of in-flight movies kept me company, of course, the feeding never stopped as the crew offered this and that for the next 14 hours. Diet busted on the first day and I was not in Europe yet.

After crossing time zones and flying for hours, touchdown Rome.

On foreign soil, the American and Pinoy contingents merged making the family whole. Warm hugs and kisses were exchanged and the first leg of the celebration— Tenny’s parents golden wedding anniversary—commenced.

Even with the lack of sleep, we were ready to take on this Italian city’s abundance of sights and cuisine like gladiators.

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