So I find myself the other day lazing on a Greek beach in twentysomething degree heat, days away – worlds away even, from the European winterlands and I suddenly realize I have seriously neglected my duties as dedicated blogger – not to mention my duty as responsible daughter, granddaughter, friend, sister to all of you who I would expect are on your deathbeds with worry not knowing if I live or if I die between countries (pizza enduced heartattack perhaps?, fatal fall from ‘titanic’ pose at the head of the ferry maybe? But Im sure youve thought of them all).
And so here I find myself now, sorting memories from gelato-fuelled hallucinations to put your worried minds at ease.
I think last you saw me I was wandering the Cinque Terre…. After several days of beautiful weather walking between picturesque towns, I caught a ferry from Genova to Sardinia with visions of sundrenched beaches in my head. Dreams, mere dreams they were, as I was find after a torturous 10 hours on a heaving ferry. Yes, Sardinia has towns and traffic and stray animals and dodgy areas just like any other place. Well the town of Alghero does anyway – I cant speak for the rest of Sardinia as I really didnt see much of it at all. Because it was only AFTER stranding myself on the island that I decided to phone around discovering to my dismay that there was only one hostel open on the whole island. That hostel being the one I was at, a 15 minute bus trip out of Alghero which is really nothing too special anyway. Add to this the windy wet weather, and my uncanny ability to forget all about siesta time only to find myself in an empty town with no open food suppliers of any kind day after day, and you may gather that my time on this island wasnt exactly the idyllic experience I was after. (I seem to have this strange relationship with remote islands in that I am almost compulsively drawn to them, often to my detriment)….
Infact I felt I did little more than wait. Wait for the weather to get better. Wait for the bus. Wait 4hours for the supermarket to open. After 4 days of waiting I could wait no more and resigned myself to leaving the island. In an attempt to make my journey from hell to the island worthwhile I caught the bus down to the southern port of Cagliari (two buses actually, after a memorable stranding in a town with a closed bus-station and townsfolk who knew nothing of buses) along a route that gave me a glimpse of the sort of experience Sardinia might be, if it were summer and if I had a tent and if the camping grounds were open, basically if I wasnt so stupidly illprepared and unorganized.
In Cagliari, the weather picked up and I spent a couple of days sight-seeing, visiting the famous torre d’ elefan (or something which translated means Tower of the Elephant and which is famous for its elephant), spying on flamingoes and partaking in other similar animal based activities. The day I checked out of my room at 10.30am, I spent wandering a deserted beach in the drizzle, then bunking down in the supermarket entrance, waiting to board my ferry at 6.30pm. I waited for 8 hours that day. Is that not enough? No. I sat on a bench from 6.30pm where I could see the ferry arrive, and watch with growing emotion, the de-boarding of too many trucks and the boarding of too many new trucks for 4 hours. FOUR HOURS late the ferry left. All in all I waited a total of 12 hours. During my 5 days on Sardinia I calculate I may have waited as many as 2 of those days. It seems the universe is determined to teach me the virtue of patience. Or less teach so much as force me to succumb to the virtue of patience – insanity being the only alternative. I hope I have learnt my lesson.
Tired and impatient, I arrived the next afternoon in Napoli. I’d heard stories about this city. Horrible horrible stories. Stories featuring mopeds, and mobs of bedraggled children, cross-footpath traffic and piratical taxis, and the unfortunate traveller to Naples being trampled, maimed, snatched, overcharged by all of the above. I had visions of myself in all these situations, and with not one but three bags to hinder my movement and escape. So as I left the safety of the ferry I composed myself. Look crazy. Yes but not tooo crazy. Just enough to make anyone with less than honourable intentions to think twice, but not quite enough to be arrested for disturbing the peace. I am obviously rather convincing in such a role as I was neither arrested nor maimed. And on approaching a pedestrian for directions I was quickly approached by two more English speaking pedestrians offering their help (with the intention of actually aiding me, or rescuing my victim from ‘the crazy lady’ I do not know). My crazy lady persona went out the window a short time after when the rain started to come down forcing me to don my bright blue ‘look at me Im a tourist’ jacket – perfectly exceptable outdoor wear in Germany, but not so in fashion-conscious Italy. Anyway I made it to 6SmallRooms, the hostel that would end up being my refuge from the city for the next week.
Naples is a city that has to be experienced to be believed. Not that its is unbelievable, but more that its very hard to describe to anyone who hasnt been. Its dirty, its loud, it smells, but its also buzzing with energy. If I were to use a simile, thus proving my schooling wasnt for nothing, I might say that Naples is like a beehive. Or to use a metaphor that might be more appropriate in this case, Naples is a volcano waiting to erupt. The further in you go, the more intense the activity is. Buzzing and boiling and alive. And after a while this gets to you and you want nothing more that to crawl away and curl up in your safe little haven at 6SmallRooms – somewhere relaxed and removed from the hectic pace of life outside.
So thats Naples. Love it? Hate it? Cant decide.
In an attempt to remove myself from the city for a while I took a short excursion to Ischia island in the Bay of Naples, saw a few beaches, then headed back to the city.
From Naples to Bari, from Bari another damn ferry to Corfu. And thats all for today kids, tune in next time when we talk about GREECE, the number 5 and the letters G and D.