Monday, 10 May 2010

The wheels on the holiday... come off

So, Gentle Readers, there we were in Milano (also known as Furniture World), contemplating our return to Water World, when the volcanic eruption causing havoc throughout places further west of us, hit.  Suddenly, in a flurry of activity (not necessarily volcanic), the airports started closing down one by one, and it looked like it might get a bit ugly.

Back to Venice we trotted, to wait it out.  The email from EasyJet was apologetic, but clear.  "Sorry, your flight is cancelled.  Click here for a refund".

Plans?  Well, I thought we'd be better off in Rome than Venice, trying to get out of the place, and as Mr G was thoroughly fed up with Water World, it seemed like a sensible plan.  Hmmmm... anyway, after seeing the queue to deal with a real person in Venice station, we managed to negotiate the vending machines and get tickets for the trip to Rome on the 19th.  We arrived in Rome in good time, though the train was a lot fuller than the first time we'd done the journey, and with a lively air of speculation - on a lot of topics - eating, sleeping, travelling - drifting up and down the carriage.

Rome Termini was a zoo.  We hadn't needed to brave the ticket office before because we'd ordered our initial journey tickets on the internet, and so were able to go straight to the platform and on to the train.  This time, there was a lone woman standing in front of a barrier, with a sign on a piece of A4 paper (297X210mm), saying in Italian that "all trains to Northern Europe are full until 23 April 2010".  

This poor woman did not speak any English.  I speak enough Italian to buy food, wine, bus and train tickets and fabric, the essentials of life, really.  Not enough to negotiate the 20 other angry, tired, frustrated, foreign, people surrounding this woman bombarding her with questions, and certainly not enough to deal with the incredible Italian talent for getting your face in front of whoever you want attention from.  Whoever said "Italians don't like to queue" was exactly right.  Except for train tickets, apparently.  There must have been 1000 people in that queue.

Anyway, we made a reverse call to the "Don't leave home without us" people, who found us a hotel in Rome.  They couldn't get us any train tickets, though, because, like anybody who buys them 'not in Italy' has to get them from an agency, and they were just as stuck as we were.  Interestingly, the nice chap we spoke to was very keen to help us with a hotel but didn't want us to talk to the local "DLHWU" office.  Not sure why...

So, after the thunder and hailstorm, and after a very nasty previously frozen Panini, we got a taxi to our station, round and round the one-way streets of Rome.  Taxis are amazingly cheap in Italy, and the (woman) driver helped us with our bags and avoided collisions, crazy tourists and other taxis, all for E10.00.  Bargain.  

So, we spent a fabulous, but frustrating additional five days in Rome, explicitly not going to the Vatican Museum, but doing other things, like spending E41.00 on two Gins & Tonic in the hotel's fabulous bar:

And finding this just round the corner:

And on our last day in Rome, going for lunch at the fabulous place where we'd had this the first time:

Yum.  And I had one mouthful of this:

before Mr G had his wallet stolen by a very clever young man who slid into the seat behind him, reached round into his jacket's secret pocket, and helped himself.  I can't quite understand why he didn't also take Mr G's passport, but, thank the Absent Gods that he didn't.  

It was quite irritating enough to spend the rest of the afternoon going from the restaurant to the Hotel (room key?  In the wallet!) to the Carabinieri, to the hotel Bar, where even the E41.00 Gin & Tonics were not enough to assuage Mr Golightly's extreme irritation with himself for being so careless, and for that very clever young man, for being so clever.

So, the next day, we got on the train!


  1. Oh wow! Quite the makeover. I like it!!

    I'm glad you were able to find refuge in the midst of all that chaos. There were stories of people sleeping at airports here and much was made of the Royal Navy getting involved in bringing people back to Blighty. But obviously only for the folk that live here!? The intrepid tourists having to overland to the seaports, the schools closed for lack of teachers (now everyone knows who went to Cornwall and who went to Bermuda!). I was very glad to be at home and not due anyplace else!

    Such a shame about the wallet and the missed part of the itinerary.


  2. Beautiful blog you have.

    Bestest wishes to you.


  3. Aww shame about the wallet. Have to be careful anywhere I guess. Gorgous pictures I'm really enjoying it. Great that you got the extra five days too. Beats sleeping on the platform.

  4. Ah, thanks you guys. It was a nasty moment that put a real damper on our last day in Rome...


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