Day 15 – 11/07/2017 – So, from our initial outset of walking from Calais, France to then using the train network to continue our journey by visiting Cities across France, Switzerland and Italy, being thoroughly spoilt by staying in hotels rather than the ‘coffin’ tent and campsites has been a whistle stop tour! Our life prior to this adventure, such City breaks would have been a well researched and planned week-ends away using the precious 20 day annual leave allowance from the daily grind that pays the mortgage for a house whereby we spend less time in than the office…Figure that one out, if you can! In the 15 years together, we have not made the time available as often pushing these trips to the back of the long list of ‘things to do’ to now having visited them in under 2 weeks! It has been a full on and have to say, in need of some ‘rest & relaxation’ time by the beach and balance the mind, body and soul by simply being in the spiritual Maijella of Abruzzo.
So we leave Pisa behind and head across the spine of Italy towards the stunning Adriatic Coastline to Pescara. Our route will take us through Firenze and again the train is of exceptional standard, the U.K. Network could be learn from our European cousins! I was desperate to use a bathroom and not one to generally use public toilets (however this is easily overcomed when travelling) I head to use the facility…The train may have been clean but upon entering the room the room smelt of urine, floor was sticky luckily I had toilet paper with me…I pressed every possible button, panel in sight, but do you think I could get the toilet to flush? Nope…so, slightly I’m arrested and hoping no one was waiting to come in, I hastily leave the room and descreetly ask G to go visit the toilet and see if he can work out how the toilet flushes! Luckily, there were no other passengers in ear shot…G came back having realised that once you leave the room the toilet flushes automatically! (The pan was empty when he went in, thank goodness!!) drama over…😳
We had to change trains at Faenza with a 1hr wait so we went to have lunch at the station restaurant. The connecting train arrived on time and an air conditioned compartment train with allocated seats. So back packs on trying to walk the narrow passageway in the hope that no other passengers were coming in the other direction…so we locate the compartment and can only see 1 seat available in the 6 seated compartment. So, we slide the door open and explain that our seats are in here, a young Italian lad confirms that his seat is occupied by another passenger hence him sitting in one of ours and the woman sitting in the other seat just shrugs and mumbles in Italian! Great, so this is how it is then, we are currently blocking the passageway so no one can pass, well it would definitely invade ones personal space if they do try…the conductor arrives asking the problem and we explain that our seats are here but 1 is already taken and no one seems to want to move, if it was a short journey I would not have bothered, us English do not like to make a fuss in general and I’m not one for a scene…but I am not standing in the passageway for the 3hr journey…she asks for tickets and turns out that the strugging, mumbling woman’s seat is actually in the compartment next door, she however, wanted to sit next to her friend hence not moving…well she spent the remainder of her journey in the passageway on her phone, suffice to say the journey was peaceful as the other passengers had earphones in and or slept. The weather outside was extremely hot so the aircon struggled to keep the compartment cool, the sunshade was down the whole journey so no view out the window, trying to stretch out was impossible due to the close proximity of the other persons legs/feet. Having to then look out of the door when the passengers opposite decide to munch their way through their food in front of you! I could not wait to get off this train…
We arrived at Pescara and now needed to get a bus to the Airport where we had booked our car hire. We had not realised at the time of booking that we could have collected the car from the local office outside of the bus/train station…so we now try to work out which ticket we need to purchase and then which bus to get…is nothing ever simple? It is ridiculously hot and trying to keep calm, Struggling to understand which bus we needed I interrupted a couple of a Italian bus drivers in conversation and got told the stop number. Once on the bus, the driver was clearly having a bad day as he was very irratic in his driving and lacked any patience with passengers even pulling away from the bus stop having seen a passenger running for the bus! We eventually arrive at the airport thank goodness and go to the car hire desk, within a few minutes we were in the car and on our way up the mountains, oh the joys of having a car is bliss!
We arrive at our little retreat and there is work to be done in order to set us up, it’s July and its extremely hot as Italy is experiencing a heatwave which began in June, so land needs attention as is overgrown as usual and the house is like an oven and needs airing and cleaning…we manage to get organised within a few hours and then relax with a few glasses of wine under the portico, watching the sun- set over the Gran Sasso Mountain range whilst discussing what we are going to do for the next un-expected stay of 3.5 Mths in Italy!