It's been a while since I last posted, I know, but I've got a good excuse this time, as my girlfriend and I were in Italy for a good part of my hiatus. This was my first proper holiday in God knows how long, my girlfriend and I were going to celebrate our Birthdays in Rome (yep, our birthdays are in the same week. Weird, huh?) and I was looking forward to it immensely, but the main problem about Rome is the fact that it's abroad and you have to get on an aeroplane to get there. And you can't get there directly from Birmingham International Airport, either, you have to go to Heathrow, which is nearly a hundred miles away.
I'm not a big fan of flying. Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of it; I quite like the bit when you're actually up in the sky. I love looking down at the world from above, seeing coastlines and the tops of mountains and the topside of clouds. It's just a pity I can't sit in a window seat because I'm poor and can only afford to travel economy and therefore end up with my knees around my earholes because I have the audacity to be taller than six feet. Anyway, as I said, I enjoy the actual flying. What I don't enjoy is all the rigmarole you have to go through before you can actually get on the plane. All the checking in and security checks and putting all your bottles in plastic bags and all the general fucking about really gives me a cob-on. (That's a Brummie phrase meaning 'in a bit of a mood')
When you get on a bus or a train, do they ask you to take off your belt first? No. And recent events tell us that buses and trains are just as likely to get blown up by terrorists as planes are. The stuff they won't let people take on, either; Tweezers, for example. If anyone ever mounted a successful hijack armed with just a pair of tweezers, then they deserve the fucking plane, if you ask me. (Not that I had a pair of tweezers, by the way. Anyone who knows me well enough to inspect my eyebrows can testify to the fact that I don't use them!) Don't get me wrong, I know we need security, but there's a difference between security and paranoid hysteria.
So, anyway, we flew from the new Terminal Five, which looks like something out of Flash Gordon, but unfortunately without a bellowing Brian Blessed. Actually, it'd be cool to have him do the Tannoy announcements. You certainly wouldn't ignore them. Typically, as this is England, our flight was delayed for an hour and a bit, but after we got on, it was all fairly plain sailing. Or Plane-flying, if you will.
Two and a half hours later, we land at Fiumicino Airport, and I knew for sure we were in Rome as the woman who checked my passport looked like a Vogue model and I was surrounded by loads of nuns.(Sounds like a dream I once had.) These nuns weren't your normal, boring, black-and-white penguin types, these ones were all in white, except for their wimples, which were navy blue. I suspect these nuns were Tottenham supporters. (if they were indeed Spurs fans, I bet their faith has been sorely tested lately!) Anyway, I get through passport control with a minimum of fuss as I'm from the EU. My girlfriend, however, with her American passport, had to queue for ages with the rest of non-EU undesirables. However, this just meant I had to go and get our luggage, which, as is usual for me, were the penultimate bags to come out onto the belt.
We were picked up by an elderly taxi driver and taken on a half-hour walk to where his car was parked. We were staying in a hotel which was on the other side of Rome, in a town called Ciampino. The taxi driver couldn't find it, and spent a lot of the journey talking and swearing to himself in Italian. Now, I don't know if you've ever been to Rome, but one of the things about the place is that everyone there drives like an absolute nutcase. The speed limit is seen as just a rough guide and stuff like traffic lights and roadsigns are just there to make the roadside look a bit more interesting. It's like Death Race 2000. (RIP David Carradine, by the way. Surely, he should've learned from Kill Bill that the palm technique was dangerous?) The village we were staying in didn't have the big roads Rome does, it just had single-lane roads and dirt tracks and roads that share space with train tracks and no pavements, so sitting in the back of a taxi with a swearing taxi driver who's lost whilst everyone else is doing their level best to collide with you was a bit worrying.
Anyway, after a while, and probably more through luck than judgment, we got to where we were staying, and it was a lovely-looking place. It was an old farmhouse which had been converted into a few apartments. We checked in, dumped our bags and went for a night-time al-fresco dinner. I normally struggle to make any kind of decision, especially when picking from a menu, but the hotel's menu helped me on this score as it only had three dishes to choose from on it. Chicken, beef, or a plate of cheeses. A vegan would be fucked, basically. Anyway, I had the beef, Heather had the chicken and afterwards we drank and looked out over the lights of Rome in the distance. It wasn't the best meal we've ever had, but it was just what we needed.
(Right. I seem to have been typing for ages, and we've only just got there! Serves me right for going off on one about air travel. There's another five days of this shit yet, so I've decided to do it in episodes. Next one soon!)