Friday, 4 February 2011

Monday 31 January - the coach from hell

We woke up far too early, way before the alarm.  Being far too excited about going home and our day of travelling ahead, not forgetting, of course, that we had a full day in Rome planned too, I got up and started the usual clattering around, oblivious to the noise I was making.  Hiding in his semi-sleep state, KP's distaste of my morning habits was becoming a little evident from the grumbling and muttering coming from under the duvet.  I was clearly making far too much noise and chaos for his over sensitive "I don't like mornings" ears.  Tee hee hee.

Eventually, however, he did get up and do the very masculine tasks (far too difficult for mere females) such as turning off the water and electricity, whilst we waited for Ian to pick us up to take us to Chieti Scalo for our coach to Rome.  How very exciting!  A coach, a couple of trains and a plane to come!

The coach was absolutely rammed.  Hey, this is going to be fun!  Lots and lots of people to watch.  Our strategy for getting a seat was for KP to sort the bags into the hold whilst I was to leap on as soon as the doors opened.  Leap on I did, like some deranged mad woman and elbowed my way upstairs only to find just a small selection of single seats.  Bugger.  Not quite so much fun after all.  Now we're going to have to spend the next three hours sitting next to some nose-picking smelly stranger, and not even be able to look out of the window.  KP's not gonna be happy....

At least it wasn't this bad (quite)
A short while later, a bit of a cuffuffle began and I was turfed out of my prized, hard won, seat.  Surely I wasn't that rough with my elbows?  Surely they're not going to throw me off the coach?  Looking very lost and bewildered, a kind stranger explained to me that all the seats are numbered and reserved.  A quick look at our tickets showed we should be sitting in 3 and 4.  How was I supposed to know that?  The numbers, where they existed at all, were under the seats.  Not obvious at all.  So we went downstairs, tails well between our legs, and started the turfing out process of our seats 3 and 4.  The driver was ill amused.  Not wanting to cause any further chaos or upset, we accepted his suggestion that we settle into two seats that weren't 3 & 4 but which were still together.  Yup, that's fine.  The cloud then came down and we drove all the way to Rome in a real pea souper with no views at all.  Oh dear.

KP muttered and grumbled all the way to Rome about how I've made him go on the coach from hell when we could, quite easily, have gone the 30 minutes to Pescara for a simple flight home to Stanstead.  But who wants to go to Stanstead?  That's just boring.

We eventually got off the coach from hell at Tiburtina and then, after a bit of confused tourist aimless wanderings, we found our way to the train station.  A train now to Fiumicino airport was needed so we could leave our bags in the left luggage.  So off we trundled.  Stopping at every single stop.  None of the toilets were working and I was absolutely bursting.  This is just getting worse and worse.

A short cut down the Spanish Steps
We finally made it (with my bladder in tact), dumped the bags and grabbed a shuttle service into the centre of Rome.  Now this was fun!  The guy driving was a total lunatic.  This is how you drive through Rome!  He knew all the tricks and short cuts, neatly weaving in and out and cutting everyone up.  Absolutely brilliant.  At one point, he even made a sharp turn to the right and shot up the tram lines!  Gumball rally eat your heart out!!!

Piazza del Popoli
Having done all the usual monuments a few times now, we decided to hit the north western section of the city and explore the shops and the parks.  Our crazy driver dropped us off at the bottom of via del Corso and we walked its entire length, diverting every now and then down fascinating little side streets with far more interesting shops.  I managed to find a great pair of sunglasses, which KP kindly treated me to (thank you KP), and tested his patiene to the limit by trying on loads and loads of boots.  Unfortunately the only pair that were any good were different colours (one having faded in the sun).  Tempting, but no.  KP, on the other hand, resisted the smart designer shops and chose instead the immigrant street sellers and bought some strange splat things that you chuck hard on the floor.

We wandered briefly round the Spanish Steps before finally stopping at a bar in the Piazza del Popoli.  Beautiful spot.  And what a great time to visit Rome.  January.  Not too cold, quite warm actually, beautiful sunshine and barely any tourists.  Not a single American to be seen or heard.

We worked our way back to the station via parks and leafy avenues, stopping at a little pizzeria for an early supper along the way.  By 7.30pm we'd found our way back to Fiumicino via another train, retrieved our bags, checked them in and settle down to sit out the interminable wait for our delayed flight.  The actual flying I love, everything else is just so uncivilised.

1am and we were finally home, walking through the door to the most unholy stench.  Deep joy.  The fridge-freezer has gone off and a joint of decomposing beef has bled everywhere.  

One for the morning.

And then for the next exciting phase of Kokopelli.  Lots to do now before we go back in April :-)

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