I am Anthony E. Savvides. This is my blog.

Reflections & adventures of a writer at heart, a journalist by trade and a waiter by night.

Posts Tagged ‘Airport

A look back at 2012, and looking forward to 2013.

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The WordPress.com stats “helper monkeys” (WordPress’ words, not mine) prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

I thought I would share the information with my readers and with all of you who are following my adventures, reading my posts, and the cause for the fireworks below. I never thought this blog would reach such heights. There is much, much more writing to come in 2013, when I will finally finish telling the tale of 2012. I will be honest, I slacked during this year. That is partly due to my return to a handwritten journal, which took me a few steps back from the blogosphere and from my pages here.

I promise you all, though, that more is coming soon. For now, I wish everyone a happy and a healthy new year!! I can’t wait to realize the promise of 2013, and to see what’s in store. Even more, I can’t wait to share the many wonderful things that have shaped 2012. And these tales will be told about the eight months I spent living outside of North America, away from home, with almost two months in Jordan and six in Italy.

2012: what a whirlwind year it has been. On Friday morning, my journey back home, via London’s Heathrow Airport from Rome Fiumicino Airport, kicked off in Germany. On Saturday night in London, I boarded my fourth transatlantic flight, and 21st flight overall, of the year. I landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport at 9pm EST on Saturday night, a mere three hours after I took off from London, according to my watch and thanks to the time zones. It was a long, exhausting, 54-hour trek, during which I was either seated 40,000+ feet up in the air or slouched in some of the most uncomfortable seating known to man, the airport waiting lounge at Rome Fiumicino Airport. What a way to draw the year to a close. On January 5th, I will move back to Boston to begin my final semester at Northeastern University. Bring it on, 2013!

See below for this blog’s biggest hits, popular themes, and what you all enjoyed reading the most. Again, I thank you for following, and I hope you’ve been enjoying it. I know I have.

Cheers, to 2012, and to you all.

-Anthony Savvides

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012, and that’s a lot.

My blog got about 5,100 hits in 2012.

If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Thank you again, to all of my readers.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Another sleepless night in Perugia.

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I arrived in Italy on Sunday morning. American Airlines flight 1585 landed in Rome around 10:20 a.m. after eight and a half hours above the Atlantic and western Europe.

I lingered at the airport in Rome for about two hours, waiting for the bus to Perugia, where I am now living for the summer. While I sat in the airport, cigarette smoke filling the wide corridors, I fished a pair of shorts of my suitcase and changed out of my sweatpants. It was still the morning, but Rome’s temperature had already risen to 30 degrees Centigrade.

From the restroom, I went to a little cafe in the airport and had a sandwich with prosciutto, tomato and fresh basil. Now that I’ve been here in Perugia for almost two days, I realize how overpriced that sandwich was. It had to be, though, right? I was at Rome’s international airport, after all.

The Sulga bus arrived promptly at 12:30 p.m., and after about 20 people boarded, we began the journey north. After a tonsillitis diagnosis, a two-day sprint to finish preparing for my trip, and an overnight flight that I couldn’t fall asleep on for the life of me,  I was exhausted, to say the least. Completely worn out. I fell asleep soon after paying the driver my 22 euro fare. The couple of times that I woke up, I noticed a beautiful landscape all around me. I’ll be here for six months, I told myself. There’s no need to fight to keep my eyes open now. After a convincing argument with my inner photographer, I slept the rest of the way to Perugia.

I arrived and was escorted to my apartment by 5 p.m.

That night, all I wanted to do was sleep, but I only managed 4 hours. Last night, all I wanted to do was sleep. I thought I would be more successful this time. I had a full day of Italian instruction at the university and had dinner prepared by 7:30 p.m. At 8:30, I was laying down, and fell asleep within minutes. Then, I woke up. I felt around the night stand and found my watch. It was almost 2:30 a.m. Fuckhere we go again. Another sleepless night, I thought, angrily dropping my watch and rolling over.

Here I am, five hours later, still awake. I suppose the three-way impromptu google video chat with Matt, Melissa and Kristina back in Boston didn’t help my attempt to fall asleep again. But we laughed, and it was nice to see some friendly faces and to catch up. I gave them a virtual tour of my apartment, and invited them all to come visit me here in Italy.

As the clock ticks towards 8 a.m., I’ll stop my rambling here and head to the university for day two of Italian. Class begins at 8, but not promptly. Nothing is prompt here, and in that way, this place reminds me of Amman.

Ciao, for now.

Written by AESavvides

July 10, 2012 at 5:36 am

Sorry if this is confusing…

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…But, I am still posting blogs that I wrote while in Jordan, between May 10 and June 13. I am also waiting on my professor, the boss, to edit, finalize and publish my third story from Jordan. That should be coming soon, so stay tuned.

In the midst of this, however, I’m preparing for another journey. Tomorrow night, in less than 36 hours, I will board a flight to Rome, Italy. For the remainder of 2012, I will be based in Perugia, Italy. This half-year experience will serve as my final co-op through Northeastern University. I will be working at TuttOggi, and learning the language of the land at the Stranieri (Università per Stranieri), through the Umbra Institute. Coincidentally, as I am preparing for yet another international reporting experience, I noticed that the Umbra Institute is beginning its very own co-operative education program. Northeastern University, always inspiring other higher education institutions to rethink the traditional four-year study program. (Jeez, that just sounds like a commercial. Northeastern is good, far from great. I didn’t mean to sound like a snob, or to imply that Northeastern is the best of the best and leading the way in the field of higher education.) In the spring (read: dead of winter) I will return to Boston for my final semester of coursework.

So, this is a preview of what’s to come, and a warning to you, my readers: in the next few weeks you will see posts here from Jordan, dated, as well as more current, timely posts from my travels in Italy.

I hope you’re ready! It’s ok if your answer is no. Join the club. I’m still packing after a very positive and productive all-nighter.

Written by AESavvides

July 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm

We landed in Amman. It feels so good to be back.

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I had a serious case of deja vu when I landed in Amman on Friday evening, almost one week ago. The airport looked and smelled the same as it did last May. The visa process and baggage claim were exactly as I had remembered them. Although this time, I was not asked to scan my irises when obtaining my visa. That made me feel like less of a badass. It also put me at ease. Apparently, this time I didn’t seem threatening enough. A good sign, for my journalistic prospects and aspirations here, I suppose. (Another good sign: a bird shit on my head when I arrived in Boston, before I met up with the rest of the gang at Logan Airport to depart for London.)

We waited as a group for about 20 minutes to exchange currency before standing in line for about 40 more to obtain visas. I exchanged $23, as I had leftover Jordanian Dinars (JD) from last year. The process was smoother this time around, because last year no one really knew what was going on. And, to be honest, Queen Alia International Airport (still, shock!) isn’t the most organized place in the world. (But really, what airport is organized? Exactly.)

After I paid my 20 JD, had my passport stamped and was officially welcomed back into the country, I ventured down the escalator to the right. Carlene was just ahead of me, and only a handful of students remained at the visa counters.

This piece of luggage belonged to the lady who checked in at the kiosk next to the one I stood at. I lingered just a few moments after my boarding pass had already printed to snap this shot without being too obvious. Lingering and the lack of taps on the screen probably made it more obvious. Oh well. It was a cool suitcase, and I don’t care if it was obvious or seemed weird to her.

Down at baggage claim, just off to the left off the escalator, my eyes were quickly drawn to my spotted bag. This time around, I packed only 30 pounds of shhtuff. That’s 20 below the fixed limit set by Virgin Atlantic. (Also, it just occurred to me that we, as a group, will be flying back to the states on, yup, Virgin Atlantic. But, I stand by my previous post- it’s not my decision. I hate that airline.)

I also noticed an interesting bag that another passenger was rolling around earlier in the day at JFK, pictured to the left. An omen of my future as a traveling reporter? I hope so….

After hopping over the baggage belt to snag my bag before it traveled back around, Laura helped me to spot Sam’s bag. Again, I tried to pull it off of the baggage belt so I wouldn’t have to wait for it to come back around. Moments later, almost as though it were rehearsed, Sam came down the flight of steps. In London she was told that her luggage wouldn’t be put onto the connecting light since she had lost her ticket. Needless to say, she was pretty upset. I was here in the region last year, but most of my peers this year went out and purchased entirely new wardrobes that are deemed more appropriate this culture. Sam was one of those people. When she saw me rolling her bag toward her, a smile immediately stretched across her face. I was just happy to help, and relieved that a missing bag wouldn’t be occupying her mind; there would be enough going on in the coming five weeks for her to worry about.

We all waited there until everyone in the group gathered their bags, and walked through the narrow, short passage to get to the exit. There stood Ahmed, who was our handler last year. He smiled and shook my hand, welcoming me back to his coutry. I was pleasantly surprised that he remembered me, as we did not have any especially memorable interactions last year. This only furthered my belief that this nation and its people are unique, and different than other people I have met in my lifetime.

Over the course of the last five years of my life, I have done quite a bit of traveling. After living in New York for 18 years, I moved to Boston to attend university. Since then, I have gone on a road trip along the eastern seaboard to New Orleans and back. I ventured to San Diego, California, for a brief if unpleasant trip. I went to Germany and the Netherlands with my brother during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. During our time in Amsterdam and Cologne, we watched the semifinal and final rounds of the tournament. In Germany, it was a pleasure watching the fans drink themselves silly after Spain embarrassed them. (In my aunt’s words: the Germans deserved it. And she lives there, among them. And I agreed with her. My brother and I were very excited about a Spain v. Holland final match.) In the Netherlands, people were very friendly after the national team defeated Uruguay, and after my brother and I made clear we were not there from Spain. After the last minute loss to Spain in the finals, though, the people were in a different state of mind: miserable.

In Jordan, the people are always nice. It could be weeks without rainfall in the world’s third-driest country, and the people are cheerful. Amman might be overrun by protests on any given Friday afternoon, but the general population (read: those not protesting) reamins in good spirits. The culture here is a welcoming one in which the people open their hearts and homes to strangers, always. (My host family has done so two years running now. More to come on my new host family later today. And a shout-out to my host family that I lived with last year. I hope to see them again this time.)

The Ammani people are always so eager to help, and so happy to speak with me. I think that’s another reason why I love to be here, both personally and as a journalist. Back home in the states, most of what I write is still for a grade; here, what I’m writing means something, and it means something for more than just me and a professor and the registrar. We are writing and reporting stories that would otherwise never be told. We are writing for a global audience. I am writing for more than a grade here. I’m here to be a journalist first, and a student second, but in Boston that gets turned around. I like it better this way.

Another thing about reporting in the states: people feel so burdened by reporters, it seems. Whenever I call for an interview, or to request an interview, I can usually feel the “ugh” on the tip of the person’s tongue, and sometimes it even comes out. I find it especially infuriating when I am working on a piece for the Huntington News and Northeastern professors say they can’t comment or don’t have time time. In Jordan, people jump at the chance to speak to someone who will listen to them. Reporters don’t roam the streets here. News media in Jordan don’t have the kind of control over information- and the information society has access to- that the American media do. America is a country run, essentially, by the media. (I guess politicians technically run the country, but lately it all seems like public relations and nonsense. It’s on the brink of unbearable.) Jordan is a nation run by the regime of King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein. The media, though a free one, is censored and filtered by that regime, and its government. I’m not going to say it should be one way or the other, but I think a happy medium would be ideal. I look forward to these next five weeks as my input toward that cause.

Here, a bunch of us posed for our first shot of the journey through Jordan. Pictured, clockwise from the top: Gina-Maria Garcia, Brianna Hollis, myself, Christina Bivona, Caroline Edwards, and Jessica Teich.

Note: this post has been sitting in drafts for almost a week now. It’s been modified slightly, since it’s almost a week since its inception. I need to stop over-thinking this blogging business. From now on, they get written, skimmed, and posted. Well, I’ll start living by that after I run through, edit and post the 3 or 4 other drafts that have been written and stowed away in the depths of the wordpress inter-webs since we arrived in Amman. All of that will be up later today, as I play catch up. We now have internet access USB drives, so, expect said posts shortly, after I sleep for a bit.

Good morning, Boston. Utah, here I come.

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To kick things off this early, snowy morning, I think I’ll use someone else’s words.

“I’m a morning person. The earlier I can begin, the better. I wake up knowing what I want to write- when I’m in progress with a story,” wrote Eudora Welty.

I don’t know that I’m quite a morning person by 21st century standards, but I will say that I love the morning, that promise of a new beginning that is realized with every sunrise. It’s a beautiful thing, the dawn of a new day, and a recurring challenge to live life the best way you can.

– – – – – –       _ _ _ _ _ _      – – – – – –

Well, here I find myself once again: packing for a flight that takes off in less than 12 hours. This time, though, I’m flying in the opposite direction, and domestically, to Salt Lake City, Utah. Nope, still a little too early to form real sentences…

“These hards will try hard to define me/ and I’ll try to hold my head up high/ but I see despair here from the inside/ its got a one track mind/ Now I’m sitting alone here in my bed/ I’m waiting for an answer I don’t know that I’ll get/ I’m telling you that these times are hard, but they will pass.” So go the lyrics of one of the newest songs on regular rotation in iTunes. (Obligatory irrelevant fact: play count currently stands at 8, and I downloaded- er, bought- the song on Wednesday.)

Ok- let me just throw this out there- I realize I haven’t blogged here since returning to the United States from Istanbul back in June. But, I’m back. A lot has happened since then, and there’s a chance I will share my adventures of the last six months at a later date. For now, though, I think I will stick to the purpose of this post, which is to make an announcement, of sorts. In the summer of 2012, I plan on returning to the Middle East and continuing my formal education in Egypt and Kuwait, which will serve as a nice second chapter to my summer of 2011.

In just 11 hours, though, I will be taking off for Salt Lake City. From there, I will make my way east toward Park City, where I will attend the Sundance Film Festival until Tuesday the 25th. I could not be more stoked for this trip! That’s a lie- I would be more stoked if I didn’t have to sit through classes (and a 4 hour bus ride to Manhattan) all day before my flight. Expect another post from the airport, or the bus, depending on time. Be back real soon….stay tuned. Sundance should be epic.

Written by AESavvides

January 20, 2012 at 11:33 am

Day one in Turkey: starting all over again

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Note: This post was written on May 26.

We landed at Ataturk International Airport and got off the airplane, after what felt like an endless taxi roll up to the gate.

Some Turkish Airlines jets on the tarmac. We were still taxiing to the gate...

Welcome to Istanbul!

My first day in Istanbul was spent getting through the logistics of starting over.  Part two of the Dialogue of Civilizations program was now officially underway:

-Standing in line at the airport for customs: mind-numbing

-Paying for another visa: $20

-Collecting baggage from the conveyor belt

-Denis’ breakdown of the day (I just wanted to get out of the airport…)

-Waiting for the bus to come collect all of the Huskies from the airport

-Getting dropped off at the hotel

-Denis’ further debriefing about tomorrow’s happening

-Checking into our new rooms

-Unpacking, but not really, since I lived out of my luggage when this trip began in Jordan and plan to continue that trend here in Turkey

…..

This mortocycle was parked in a doorway. I wish parking availability worked like this in the states.

After I “unpacked” and got settled in, Morgan and I went up the hill and down the street to a small restaurant.  We split a margarita pizza for 8TL (Turkish lira) and then ordered a Mediterranean salad.  The pizza was delicious, covered with tomatoes and green peppers, and a lot of oil.  The salad, on the other hand, was not what either of us expected.  The Mediterranean salad consisted of sliced carrots, diced cabbage, two wedges of lettuce, and a few slices of tomato and cucumber with lemon juice and olive oil.  It wasn’t ideal, but was rather tasty.  I spotted Kimberly as she walked by, and she came in and joined us for the tail end of our meal.

We headed back down the hill to the hotel soon after.  I proceeded to take a nap that turned into my night’s sleep.  All things considered, it was a nice, laid back first day in Turkey.  I’m excited about tomorrow’s tour of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia (Ayasofia) and the Grand Bazaar.  I’m not excited about going on that tour with all 32 members of the program, because my professors get way too stressed about headcounts and ensuring that everyone is accounted for.  Hopefully, there will be less of the “mandatory” events scheduled here.  32 is just too big of a group to travel in….

Goodnight from Turkey! More tomorrow…

Written by AESavvides

June 7, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Off to Turkey – travel day

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Note: This post was written on May 26.

Just after 7am, Ryan and I said our goodbyes to our host family.  Mama Munira promised she would call when she comes to visit her son in Queens in June, and I look forward to seeing her again.  We hailed a cab and headed to SIT.  Everyone loaded their luggage onto the big yellow bus, and we headed for the airport where it all began just two weeks ago.  Everyone stood in line for security and headed to the gate.  

Somewhere between the bus and the security line, I lost one of my bags.  It was a gift I had purchased, a beautiful dove carved out of an olive tree.  After realizing I no longer had it in my possession, I panicked.  I asked around at the airport if anyone had seen it, but no one had reported finding anything to the security guards.  Losing this gift, which I bought only yesterday, really put a damper on my mood.  I had some hope, though, that one of my peers had picked up the bag and that I would be pleasantly surprised to find it.  Although some had seen it, no one had it.  Oh well, sh*t happens.  C’est la vie.

After a few hours bumming around in the airport, we took a bus to the middle of the tarmac where we boarded the plane.  It felt more like a bus with wings. There were only two seats on each side of the aisle.  And for such a small plane, there seemed to be way too many flight attendants.  I took my place in row 26 next to Geoff Edgers.

I said my prayers as we tooks off, and bid farewell to Jordan.  

I will certainly miss it.

It was an enjoyable flight.  Geoff and I chatted about our time in Jordan, his trip to Egypt, and our favorite movies while Carlene tried her best to motivate Lila to complete her haiku homework assignment.  I think Geoff lost some respect for me when I mentioned Hook and Home Alone among my favorites, but oh well.  He also scrolled through my ipod, and I definitely lost some points there as well.  When lunch was served, I juggled our food trays to keep them out of Calvin’s reach.  That kid is too darn cute.  What a good sport he was on the plane.

        

While I ate, Geoff went to the back to change Cal’s diaper and Erin stopped by for a chat.

 

 

 

A few hours later, we were flying over Turkey and preparing for landing.

  

Here comes part two of this amazing adventure…. Welcome to Istanbul!

Welcome to Istanbul!

Stay tuned…

Written by AESavvides

June 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm