Well it feels like a year since the last blog update but it’s only been a couple of weeks or so. I hope you’ve all been well.
Dedications: This blog post is dedicated to Pub Club. I had a truly great weekend with them last week. I’ve never laughed so much. They were disappointed / rude about not getting a shout out in the blog last time so: many thanks to Sweet Cheeks, Hot Buns, Wet Pants and Cupcake for coming all the way to see me, several hundred miles from where I actually live 😉
So the weekend went like:
Trains: There were a lot of trains. Pub Club, in their hatred of Ryanair, decided to take the Eurostar from London to Paris and then Paris to Milan. All in all over the course of the long weekend, they spent 15+ hours on trains. My journey was relatively quick in comparison: 3 and a half hours from Ancona to Milan. Pub Club, knowing me as the font of all knowledge, asked if train tickets bought ages before a journey were cheaper than tickets bought on the same day. I checked the train website and confirmed it was the same price regardless. Pub Club ignored me and bought their tickets beforehand anyway. Imagine! Un-trusting bunch. I was hurt that they didn’t believe me. And even more hurt that when I bought my ticket on the same day, I had to pay 20 Euros extra <sigh>.
Milan Part 1 (Thursday): We stayed in the Navigli region of Milan. When I tell Italian’s this they say “aw, nice” (well, not really, they say “che bello!”) but, making our way through the graffiti-ridden, desolate backstreets to the industrial unit where our apartment was, I had to keep reassuring myself that the area was just cool and “edgy” rather than dangerous.
Cinque Terre (Friday and Saturday morning): We headed out to Cinque Terre the next day. Cinque Terre consists of 5 coastal towns and is absolutely stunning. After waking up at 6am for a 3 hour train journey from Milan to Monterosso (the most northerly of the coastal towns), we got a connecting train to Riomaggiore (the most Southerly town) where we were staying, and then headed straight back out to Monterosso to make our way back to our apartment in a relaxed and leisurely fashion. There is a walk between all of the coastal towns (6 hours), or you can take the train (6 minutes).
We had intended to take the train. Hot Buns had other ideas and embarked on an evil scheme to kill us off, luring us into following him with “let’s just take a 10 minute wander to the next town, I think there’s a pub up here”. Thirty minutes later, there was no sign of a pub, only a stream of exhausted looking people coming the other way wearing full hiking gear, laden with water and open mouthed at our audacity to conduct the same hike wearing flipflops, beach wear and with no water. We were at a loss: return the way we came or plod on desperate and exhausted in the hope of salvation? We plodded on (past a sign indicating there was another 1.5hrs to go). Finally, two hours into starting our “10 minute wander to the next town via pubs”, we made it to Vernazza. We learnt a couple of important lessons that day: 1) Be prepared and 2) never listen to anything HB says. HB learnt that evil deeds do not go unpunished.
Having said all that – the walk was spectacular and I highly recommend doing it. I’ll be going back there and doing the full walk and investigating the towns properly at some point. It’s very touristy though – it was almost like being back in London with the amount of English speaking people. If you go, watch out for your bag – there are pickpockets.
Milan Part 2 (Saturday afternoon and Sunday): The next day we headed back to Milan to the same apartment we were in on the first night. The trains for that stretch all seem to consist of 6 seater cabins which was cosy. Perhaps a little too cosy for the old lady sharing with us who had to endure hours of an insightful and thought-provoking game of “would you rather…” and “if you had to choose between…” (for the uninitiated, an example being “would you rather have your fingernails pulled off or two of your teeth removed?” ). Anyway, I sincerely hope our fellow carriage passenger couldn’t understand English.
We decided on a cheap night on the Saturday and had pizza and nibbles at the apartment and then attempted to go out on the town. However, there are no taxi companies in Milan that: a) answer the phone or b) don’t hang up on you if they do actually answer so we didn’t make it to the town, only the balcony which was I think probably just as / more amusing.
Sunday was cultural – we headed to the Duomo (cathedral) and had a look inside and then made our way up to the roof (7 Euros each) which has some great views of the city.
Alas we didn’t get much time in the main city before heading back to the apartment to pick up luggage and make our way to the airports (me included – I’m writing this from the dank, drizzly and grey UK now!). Myself and Wetpants formed an economic splinter group and went with Ryanair whilst the others went with British Airways. Ryanair were such a pleasure to fly with as ever. I lost my passport in the airport, I thought that was quite apt given my loss of the passport on the way out too. I wish I had been born in an age where my passport could be a microchip embedded in the back of my neck. Knowing me I’d probably still lose it.
I’m back in the UK now and it’s been busy! I’m sorry to the folks I’ve not had a chance to see – I’m back again at Christmas and hope to be able to see everyone I couldn’t get around to this time. I’ve got my nan’s car (bought I should add), much to her distress! It’s a Fiat – I’ve told her it’s going back “home” to its cultural heritage. She seemed to be mildly happier with that. Anyway, only one incredibly rude company will insure me to drive the car over here and in Italy. I didn’t want to go with the Rude Company. I wanted their business to fail and I wanted it to be because I didn’t go with them. But I need car insurance!!! So, I’ve had to swallow my pride and go with them. Grr.
This week will be one of sorting things out, seeing people and getting some practice driving the car. I need to plan the route back to Italy as well! Any tips welcome 🙂
Right, onwards and upwards – hope you’re all well.