Bologna to Florence

I love Florence but it seems like everyone else does too so it is very expensive to fly into Florence.  From Chicago a much cheaper alternative is to fly Turkish Airlines to Bologna.  You’ll need to spend at least one night (or more) in Istanbul but that is a bonus rather than a sacrifice for me.  Other airlines also fly to Bologna and a lot times at lower fares than Florence.  Another alternative is to fly into Pisa.  

Once you get to Bologna getting to Florence is easy.  We arrived at the airport and took one of the many city buses that takes you to the train station.  It costs 6 EUR a person and takes you through the whole town so it’s like getting a cheap tour.  Once you get to the train station you can use one of the machines to buy a ticket. The cheapest available tickets the day I was there were 24 EUR.  The only problem is that all the tickets were sold out for a couple hours.  So we had to wait.  There aren’t a lot of things to do near the train station with suitcases.  But we walked down one of Bologna’s many arcades and went to an outdoor clothes market.  You could buy really cheap clothes there.  We also ate some gelatto.  Not too bad a wait but not fun having to wait.  The train drops you off at St Maria Novella, the main station in town.

Another option which we took on the way back is to take the Appennino Shutlle.  This is a great service that takes you from Piazzale Montelungo (right behind the SMN train station) right to the Bologna airport and vice-versa.  It costs 20 EUR if you purchase it online or 25 EUR onboard.  At the Bologna airport you can pre-pay at the Welcome Center.  The shuttle runs the following times:

Florence ——>Bologna

3:50                      5:10

6:10                      7:35

8:10                       9:35

10:10                     11:30

12:10                     13:35

14:10                     15:35

16:10                     17:35

18:10                     19:35

20:10                      21:35

22:10                      23:30

The shuttles are rather small so I recommend  you arrive a few minutes early because at some times they do fill up.  Other times I saw no one on the shuttle.  I do have to say I like the way they treat their customers.  The shuttle we took was completely full but there were 4 girls who had purchased their tickets from a travel agent.  Instead of telling them to wait for the next one and maybe miss their flight, the driver called his supervisor and a cab was ordered.  The company paid for them to be taken to Bologna via taxi.  That is good customer service.  

We were dropped off on the far left hand side of the Bologna terminal and I assume that is where you catch the bus.  I tried asking around but no one seemed to know about it.  The departure times from the Bologna airport are : 7:50, 9:10, 10:10, 11:50, 14:00, 15:50, 18:00, 20:00, 22:00 and 00:30.  Their website is http://www.appenninoshuttle.it

Next time you want to go to Florence see if it is cheaper to fly into Bologna and don’t worry about getting there. 

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Sao Paulo traffic

First of all if you are planning a trip to Brazil to see the FIFA World Cup let me warn you that you might never make out of the airport. The traffic is so bad that you will be stuck at the Guarulhos  airport for most of your first day.

We landed at 11:38 am and din’t make it to my sister’s house near the Congonhas airport until after 4:15 pm. Why? The usual delays of getting through immigration and getting our luggage. But the Sao Paulo exclusive was the line for the taxi. We waited for over 1.5 hours.

We found out why. Even though they had extra cabs working the airport, the traffic was so bad that it was taking the drivers about 4 hours to get back to the airport.

It took us 2.5 hours to get to our destination which normally should take no more than 45 minutes. At least the cab driver was extremely nice. He was so nice that my husband even asked if all the cab drivers in Brazil were this nice. To tell you the truth all the cabies in Brazil were nice. Maybe we have something to learn from them. Be nice to your customers no matter the traffic.  You can’t control the traffic but you can control how you react to it.

Back from Brazil (almost didn’t make it)

I will be posting several things about our latest trip to Brazil but I had to comment on my flight back from Sao Paulo.  It was a nightmare.  I didn’t think I was ever going to get home to Chicago.  

We were on the Sunday flight and every thing seemed to be going okay until the crew came to the gate and just sat there and sat there and sat there.  After a long time they simply left because they were told that the flight was cancelled way before we were.  Of course by then all the other flights to the US had already departed.  Thank you United!!!!

So we have to go back through passport control, get our bags, get in a gigantic line to get our vouchers and get rebooked.  I called the customer service line and they got me another flight on Copa through Panama better than the airport crew but it had a long delay in Panama and I wasn’t up to it so I told them I would wait for the direct flight.  Finally at 1:30 am we made to our hotel.  It was good but they put our whole family in one room even though we had separate reservations.  Oh well.

The next day we get to the airport and we have a gigantic line.  Come to find out that United cancelled the scheduled flight from Sao Paulo to Chicago and just kept our flight.  So they were busy trying to get people from two flights to their destinations.  Simply idiotic.

But we had our seats and got aboard.  But little did we know that the plane wasn’t quite fixed yet.  So we sat there waiting…. When it was finally done we had to wait for air traffic.  So we were delayed a mere 26.5 hours.  That’s a new record.  Thank you United.