Bergamo, the unknown gem

Trip Start Sep 23, 2007
Trip End Oct 26, 2007

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Ciao from Bergamo, Italy.
Getting here was quite an adventure. A word of advice to anyone planning to visit Istanbul: Avoid the second airport Sabiha Golcen. It's on the Asian side, a long way from the city centre. It's an international airport in name only. Normally you're required to check in for an international flight 2 hours ahead of the scheduled departure time, right? Here w arrived on time then stood around for an hour with no counters open for Myair flight to Milan. When we arrived there were maybe 30 people waiting to check in, by the time they got around to opening counters for our flight only 50 minutes before departure all passengers were waiti and then it was a stampede to check in, so late comers got in ahead of those of us who were on time. This was compounded by the poor attitude of the "information " desk people who couldn't give a s*** about informing passengers as to what was going on!
Finally we got to the counter and my suitcase was 2.5 kg over the allowance while Claire's was well under (bloody souvenirs!). They tried to charge me 50 Euro for excess baggage! Well after being treated so poorly for over an hour we told them where they could shove their 50Euro! In the end I had to go behind the scene, transfer some items to my carry on bag and have my case reweighed. 18.5Kg! Phew! 5 minutes before departure and we're rushed through passport control and onto a bus. Hang on, isn't that the Myair plane 40 metres away? Sure enough, the bus moves off and stops some 30 metres on and it's everyone off the bus and onto the plane! Fair dinkum, it was a circus! The Turkish government needs to do something about this joint!
90 minutes later we're on the ground at the Orio al Serio airport, just outside Bergamo. When we booked originally this flight was scheduled to leave Istanbul much later and arrive late in the evening. Because we couldn't then face the idea of an hour long bus trip to Milan I booked a hotel in Bergamo. This is not a usual tourist destination but even after Myair changed its schedule we decided to stick with Bergamo.
Glad we did! The city's divided in two: there's the "new" city on the flat and the old walled city perched up on a high hill over looking the new town and the surrounding plains. The bus from the airport runs up the main street and up the hill into the "Cita Alta". This was a beautiful mediaeval town with buildings dating back to the 12th Century and built on ancient Roman and Celtic ruins. The most beautiful church was the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, with fantastic frescos and bas reliefs on the walls and ceilings. Also on the walls were ancient tapestries. Unlike so many other treasures there was no entrance fee, no queues and no barriers between us and the artworks. Fantastic!
The people of Bergamo seem not to eat out at night, there are lots of bars and cafes but few restaurants serving meals. A bit of a difference to Istanbul!
OK, tomorrow w e're off to the Cinque Terra. I don't know whether we can get wifi connection there, so until we can we might be off air. Ciao!
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