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Italy: Day One

May 9th, 2004 · No Comments

Day one: An attempted loom

For those that really canít be bothered to read day one this is the summery:
9AM depart from home
10:20PM arrive at the hotel, 12:30AM collapse into bed

The whole travel experience seemed, at least for today anyway, to be defined by eating. Breakfast was toast before leaving the house. Then snacks prior to flying; just as they called for boarding.

Flying within the EU is way easier than flying to North America, which is all I have done previously. In the EU they want to scan your bags and look at your passport, thatís all. Last time we flew to America they wanted eye scans, multiple bag scans, opened our suitcases and generally treated us like we were an ex colonial power that now deserved to be put in its place. Hmm.

Anyway, on the plane they served something that was laying claim to be chicken in mushroom sauce. Personally I think something had found the chicken, beaten is severely and taken its place.

Entry into Italy was so easy, flash your passport to a guy who didnít care, walk in. This guy showed utter disdain for the whole concept of passports, as though it was pure coincidence that he was stood there as a plane load of Brits arrived and had no clue why they were all going past him showing there passports.

And on to the main motorway in Italy, it runs the length of the country and itís heaving as our coach struggles onto it, this is oddly reminiscent of the M6 I left earlier. Our coach then starts to power down it like a scud missile, speed isnít an issue, but steering and braking seems to be against the drivers particular religion.

Our entourage is a 100 mopeds, they circle the coach performing the most insane manoeuvres possible. The Brits sit quite still, lips very stiff, praying that theyíll survive the drive. The scenery was interesting, marred only by the commentary from the driver. He was taking great joy in telling us all about the bad areas in the city and in explicit detail what would happen to us if we walked into them.

Iím not sure I can explain Italian driving. It seems to be a countrywide experiment in chaos theory. There are no rules, no mercy and no pavements. No quarter is given, should you show weakness, like braking or trying to get somewhere on foot, god help you as no-one else will.

Vesuvius is to the left of the motorway as you drive toward Sorrento from the airport. As any imposing mountain should, it tries to loom over the surrounding countryside. Only the loom fails and looks more like a hillock. Admittedly is has been imposing in the past, it was thought to be three times it current height and AD79 was certainly an eventful year but now the loom is somewhat less imposing and I half expected tinky winky to cavort up its side; though I may change my mind when I come to climb it later in the week.

We arrive at the hotel and promptly have our bags and passports taken off us, the passports we get back tomorrow and the bags will be awaiting us in our rooms. My heart sank, I considered the odds of this to be something along the lines of Red Rum winning the national again. My worries were waved away and we were instructed to go to dinner or else.

The menu had an intriguing item called Deep fried smooth hound, avoiding this mysterious wonder like the plague I ordered chicken, and this time it was chicken. Tired and full we retired to our room, Red Rum had failed to come back to life and our bags were missing.

Category: Writing