Gate 32 at HK International airport, the thought of spending the next 12 hours in a metal cylinder being propelled at about 800 km per hour with about 300 odd other burping farting, snoring humans in a cramped seat doesn’t excite me, but it has to be done to get to the main stop of the trip in Italy.
The pilot is a Pom and seems to be a bit of a comedian, Genelle is definite that he dropped the “f” bomb. We’re at the back of the plane with Il Gruppo in a loose group, the plane is really full so I fire up the Bose noise cancelling headphones and successfully cut out the jet noise and the burping, farting and snoring noises.
The travelling group leaving Dubbo on Saturday morning.
The only distraction is the nudge on the arm when G wants to ask a question or comment on a movie she’s watching. I take the headphones off to listen to what she has to say, dutifully, and the booming noise outside of the cocoon of noislessness of the headphones means I can’t hear her, I know she thinks I’m deaf but the headphones are like being in a quiet calm room with no distractions. The music from the IPod or the sound from the movies is clear and resonant. A Genelle is clear and resonant on many things but certainly not quiet.
A short doze and a punch in the shoulder wakes me, I had the noddies, head tilted unconsciously left into Genelle’s space – reminder to self not to do that again as will mean another bruise on my arm. The map says we’re south of Ulan Bataan in Mongolia, some Russian and Silk Road names like Tashkent underneath us on the map and still 6-7 hours travelling to go. As usual sleep isn’t that easy so I read my Red Cross Store $2 Jack Reacher book until the sun starts to catch up with us about when I see Kiev and Moscow on the map with Milan out the back, 3 hours 40 minutes to go.
Note to self 2, go easy on Dave today, I don’t like to admit this but I think I was a bit harsh yesterday, and being a smartarse ( that’s me I’m referring to!) doesn’t make me feel comfortable. Other people are better at it and probably feel less guilty. But he tests me all day, clearly unhappy about the issues raised yesterday, he’s somehow been offended and looking for a little retribution so I think I’ll keep my head low. That said, he does make good blog fodder, even if he doesn’t say or do anything I can just make it up.
Milan is a refreshing 12 deg C, so the pilot says, that’s a tad chilly after Hong kings humid mostly 30+ deg C.
We land at 7.30am through cloud and it looks misty and wet. We straggle off the plane into Milano’s Malpensa airport, join the long line of non Euro passport holders and eventually after a very cursory passport check we’re in Italy with our bags. A short walk to the Treni Stazione to catch the Airport Express to Milano Centrale. Buy tickets at the vending machine fo13 Euros each, validate them, get on the train and it’s about an hour into Milan.
Milano Centrale is a magnificent old building, very impressive. We upset the train station cafe waiter by not giving him an order after buying our food and coffees at the counter, then picking it up at the counter. We then make him happy by buying more coffee and arrancini, with a tip to pacify him. Genelle, John and I then head downstairs to the Tim Telecom store to buy Italian sims for iPads and iPhones for local contact numbers, as with a lot of things in Italy there is not much urgency and we just make it upstairs to join the group and get on the train. Minor panic for some.
Seating sorted in carriage 3, bags stowed and we’re on our way to Florence at around 300km per hour. The country is pretty green, a change from what I heard was a hot dry summer. 1st Class is good but the wifi doesn’t work very well. Florence station is busy as usual and we duck over the road for a drink. The Olympic Class shopper, Ali and I head for the streets for a quick reconasance mission while the others drink beer – big decision for me beer v shopping? I pick shopping and we leave Santa Maria Nobella Station for Medici Chapelle, the San Lorenzo Leather Markets before getting on the train to Camucia/ Cortona.
The 5 drinkers do make some derogatory comments regarding a small faux pas I make regarding the time our train leaves Florence, but as writer of the blog I have the right, now enshrined in common law, to chose if negative comments are published, especially about me.
We race over the road, into the train station and onto the train, the last leg to Cortona.
We reach Camucia train station at 3.30pm. Francesca is there to meet us and drive us up the hill to Cortona. We truly are felling stuffed, it’s been about 30 hours since we last showered and have been travelling for about 24 hours of that time.
Driving into Cortona is like putting a comfortable old shoe on, the place feels like it’s easy to like. Its scarily steep and the streets are narrow cobblestone lane ways, old rock buildings and character that is very hard to explain to people, you have to see it.
Bags stowed in our rooms in Dolce Maria B&B, we go for a walk and look over the valley to Lago Tresimino, the back for drinks and nibbles at a cafe on Piazza Adela Republica, then dinner at Nesson Dorma.
Dinner is quiet, Genelle has the noddies and nearly goes to sleep at the table, Andrew is almost as bad, so they walk back to the B and B. Dave and I have a quiet grappa before doing the same. We are buggered. Tomorrow is a chill day, sleep in and going no where
Ciao from Tuscany ! We made it