On December 14th we departed South Africa headed for Italy where we will be spending Christmas. The morning of the 14th was pretty normal other than packing our bags. We have become really good at the packing up routine, so this was not a big deal. Peter wanted to head down and surf one last time, so Stacie and I went along with him in hopes of getting a couple of last photos. Unfortunately the swell was up, so it was a rough go for him. This break is not particularly well suited for beginners so we both struggled, but Peter stuck with it and kept trying, even after breaking a board, which I thought was great.
After surfing we packed up and left our wonderful house around noon for a 4:30 flight. We still needed to return our wetsuit and stop by the Green Room to place our sticker. We loved this place and thought it would be the perfect place for our sticker.
After our errands we headed to the airport. We took a few wrong turns, refilled our rental and still made it to the airport well in advance of when we needed to be there. I resolved to always leave early on travel days in order to remove stress - it has been beautiful.
Our itinerary was Cape Town, to Johannesburg (1 hour layover on the plane) to Istanbul (3 hour layover) to Rome where we would pick up our car and drive 3 hours to Montalcino. In total, if we did not have any delays the total travel time would be 28 hours or so. Fortunately we did not have any delays - everything was perfect (except a couple wrong turns on the way to Montalcino) and we arrived safe and sound around 3:00.
We traveled on Turkish Airlines and my Star Alliance Gold status provided us with access to the CIP Lounge in Istanbul Airport. If you ever get the chance you should go to Istanbul just for this lounge - its crazy.
We met our local host Mauro at his hardware store. His name is pronounced MAR - O, but Peter and Lea did not like that name, so they decided to call him Mario while we were waiting for him. When he showed up he was driving this tiny little motor cart (I will post a picture later). I jumped out and introduced myself. He was very kind and welcoming and then said follow me. I jumped back in the car and when we were taking off, Peter said "hey it's Mario Cart!" I am not sure if it was jet lag, or hunger, or the windy roads, but that comment got a big laugh out of all of us.
After checking in at the apartment, we hurried to the local grocery store for supplies and came home to an early dinner, fire and a movie. We were beat, but overall one of our longest days of travel could not have gone better.