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Lipari, where I left my heart (and my passport)...

After Siracusa, I spent one night in Milazzo in order to shorten my travel day. Hotel Petit is a small hotel, breakfast served on the terrace, lift, good service and amenities, only €47 for one night, single. It is a short walk to the aliscafo (hydrofoil) port, where I took the ferry to Lipari the next day. Milazzo has a row of great fast/street food places, cafes, and Bancomats. It felt great not to rush to one more connection that day, just take a cab from the train station to the hotel (a bus from Siracusa to Milazzo would have been more convenient, logistically). Still working on the final draft of my paper, I found a Western Union with computers but they could not accommodate a USB connection, so I asked the receptionist at Hotel Petit for a suggestion and she unplugged her personal laptop and let me use that.

The next morning, conference paper completed, I left for Milazzo, and the ugly started to come out. I was annoyed that the captain did not announce the ports, I could not find the apartment street address (there was no sign), the Bancomat charged a service fee...I was fed up, cranky, hungry, my worst self. Then Angela, the apartment owner, came to fetch me, and things began to change. Even the long flight of steps to my room didn't faze me. I gave Angela my passport, we began to talk, she made coffee for us, the conversation got deeper and more rewarding, and I left to search for lunch.

Two days later, as I checked into my hotel in Catania, I realized I did not have my passport. I backtracked mentally and got to my handing Angela my passport. Period. The Catania B&B receptionist called Angela, she was out of town but would return that night, but my room had been cleaned and no passport. I prompted the receptionist to ask about Angela's desk, and heard, "Ahhh..." from the other end of the line. Angela promised to call as soon as she checked her desk that night, meanwhile I was thinking of how to have the passport messengered, repay Angela for the expense, and get ready for the conference. In the end I decided I would retrieve the passport the day after my presentation, forgoing a day of field trip activities to go back to Lipari. Angela graciously offered to meet me in Milazzo instead, cutting 3 hours out of my journey.

Presentation went well, the next day I left for Milazzo, expecting Angela to meet me at noon. At this point, we are on Plan C of the Plan A-through-K series. The aliscafo doesn't come. The next one, 90 minutes later, is late arriving, but here comes the aptly-named Angela, my passport in hand. We had coffee and pastry (Rusticando, all natural ingredients, new business venture for a young couple), and we rushed goodbyes. I made the last bus back to Catania Aeroporto, then took the shuttle into Catania. I was a documented person again.

Posted by
2536 posts

Whew, Zoe, what a lot of quick thinking and adapting! Usually I have plans A-D going in my head but "K", I don't think I've ever had to extrapolate that far! Nice save and composure.

Posted by
700 posts

Every beautiful Navajo rug requires one misplaced thread. I hope the rest of your trip is perfectly woven.

Posted by
20686 posts

As they say, "All is well, that ends well." I guess I am overly ritual driven - but the last thing I do every night is put watch, billfold, passport, money belt is the same place in the suitcase. That way, if we are gassed overnight, they might not find it.

Posted by
7736 posts

Zoe!! Great ending - and I'm glad your presentation went well too, lol!

I like Frank's term of ritual driven. I am a work in progress on that but try to recombobulate at night. A few years ago in Paris the fire alarm went off in the middle of the night due to a power failure. I had to fumble for clothes, money, passport, room key, etc in the dark (finally remembered the flashlight app!) which taught me that things need to be in the same place, same order in every room.

Posted by
11613 posts

I am usually ritual-driven, too - suitcase is packed by the door, daybag ready for last-minute stuff to pack, neck wallet checked - oops, forgot that one! Actually, I didn't open the pouch to check, it just felt right. Wrong.

RE: Catania receptionists: they could not have been nicer. And I think paying in advance went a long way toward establishing identity.

Posted by
5537 posts

Oh my Zoe!!! So glad you are no longer a sans-papiers as they call them here in France.

Posted by
4522 posts

Wow Zoe! Thank goodness for Angela meeting you half way!

Years ago when visiting Santorini, the B&B host took our passports when we checked in and kept them
"hostage" until we paid our bill upon departure.

I love what Vandrabrud said:

Every beautiful Navajo rug requires one misplaced thread. I hope the rest of your trip is perfectly woven.

May the rest of your journey be joyful and trouble free, mia amica!

Posted by
490 posts

WOW quite an avoidable adventure...but at least Angela was willing to meet you along the way...glad all ended well for you!

Only in Italy do they want to keep my passport to copy down my information...never France, never Germany, Denmark the list goes on they just write down the information on the spot and hand it back... Just last fall in Rome at a large hotel they wanted to keep it, I said use the copier behind you and give me back my passport. A few hours later I am at the long curved front desk asking for some information, and I glance over and see my passport page sticking out of a folder with my happy face and information for the world to see, so I asked for the manager and explained that this was not secure and they did take care of it.

Wait the 5 or 10 minutes with the front desk person while they do their paperwork, just say you need it right away for the bank or something, to seem agreeable but not going along with the drama of their paperwork issue. :)

Posted by
6211 posts

Anyone know why they cannot just take a copy of a passport and return it immediately (I can even provide a color copy)? I have to confess I don't like anyone holding onto the passport for fear of forgetting to get it back. Why do they insist on holding onto it? What purpose does it serve? I've had every iteration of passport holding, copying and immediately returning, etc. possible and it seems to vary by place and hotel staff.

You've had to gone through a lot of hassle for a very avoidable incident (not that it's entirely your fault at all - it's a crummy process that leads to errors).

As for Lipari, I did not go there..but my friend did, and reported back that the ferry was not on schedule and was hours behind. I don't expect Italy to run like Germany, but it would be nice sometimes if some (transportation and communication) aspects did function a bit better.

Posted by
980 posts

Wow, Zoe! That's quite the traveler tale! Kudos to you for thinking quickly to resolve the problem.
I don't like leaving my passport at the reception desk either, although I will for an hour or so while I get settled in my room.
In Dubrovnik a few weeks ago the hotel/apartment lady simply took a picture of my passport with her phone. It was so quick I almost didn't see her do it. ( did hope she deleted it after she copied down the information...)

Posted by
20686 posts

Don't worry SharYn, your passport contains less information than your driver's license. What about all those copies that Italian hotels routinely make these days. I will bet they are not shredded.

Posted by
11613 posts

Thanks, everyone. I have never forgotten my passport before, it was a big lesson. I almost never am asked to leave it, either, but once in awhile I am. I blame the conversation and coffee for both of us forgetting.

Posted by
120 posts

Thank you Zoe for a wonderful reminder about passports! I would also like to say this was written beautifully. I swear, it felt like the beginning of a really good book! Like I was getting to know the character. :)

Posted by
1854 posts

Zoe, this is a particularly timely posting and reminder for the upcoming summer travelers in that you are one of the more experienced and consistent posters who obviously travels a lot and parcels out terrific and valuable advice to others. Even the very best prepared travelers can make rookie mistakes from time to time. I add to the many well-deserved kudos for solving your problem in the best possible way. Good for you!! And also congratulations on your well prepared presentation. If you enjoy a glass of wine, I hope you treated yourself to a good one after all this drama. Well done!

Posted by
20686 posts

It probably should be a bottle. This reminded me of a irritating habit (according to our sons) that my wife had when we traveled - I have gotten use to it. Every morning before we head out the door she identifies every bag and loose item we are carrying - 5 bags, 2 jackets, ! hat, etc. Every time we move from one activity to another, sitting down, after eating, on the subway, she would say, COUNT, and everyone. self included, had to say 1,2 3,4,5, 6,7,8. indicating the number of loose items they had their hands on. In 20 plus years of travel mostly with the boys and now by ourselves, we have never left behind a bag, a camera, a hat or anything. What is interesting ??? Now our son and dil do the same thing when traveling with their two girls.

Posted by
11613 posts

Andi, I thought it might be helpful for the summer travelers, too! Experience and repetition are fine, but like tossing a coin, they don't change your odds. Thanks for the kind words, too, Andi and Katie.

Frank, kudos to your wife!

And I had a glass of prosecco as soon as I got back to Catania.