Craig Gibbons' Lifeblog lifeblog://tri.eat.net

9Sep/050

Bella Italia

This past bank holiday week, Laura, I and 7 others took our collective selves over to the Italian Riviera for a week of proper hedonistic living-it-up. Never having been to Italy, I was very excited to finally be visiting the land of leaning towers and it was with no small amount of excitement that we departed the UK via Heathrow on Friday evening. After a brief stopover in Frankfurt and nearly missing our connecting flight due to, well, sheer laziness really, we arrived in Nice, France where we would be spending the night before driving over the border into Italy towards our final destination of Rapallo.

In my experience, a vacation is usually filled with various logistical challenges and we had out fair share the moment we got off the plane. We booked a hotel near the airport in Nice for the night we arrived, but upon looking at the booking confirmation, we discovered that nowhere upon it was the name of the hotel printed. No matter, the address was there and so we set off, bags in hand, across the airport car park, grass and adjacent highway to our hotel. The details are a little fuzzy from this point on, blind rage does that, but as an exercise of my consumer rights, I’ll just say this; never book anything through AirportHotelGuide.com (not linked because they don't deserve higher page rank).

The next day we headed back to the airport to pickup our rental car and once again encountered adversity. The line for collections was roughly equivalent to the number of Liverpool FC fans in Nice at the time and it was some hours before we were on the road in our little Fiat Panda, sounding like a truck with its 1.3 litre multijet diesel engine. After a brief stop in Monaco and a few other spots along the Cote d’ Azur, we eventually hit the highway and experienced psycho Italian drivers first hand. Speed limits mean nothing to the Italians who seemingly believe that just because all roads once lead to Rome, they now own them all and therefore have a birth right, ratified by the pope in Rome and sanctified by God in heaven, to ride their chariots, mostly 1.3 litre Fiat Panda multijet diesels, like demons escaping from hell down the motorway. So after a few close shaves, some obscene hand signals and aggressive use of the horn, we arrived in Rapallo, our final destination and a charming little coastal town about 8km away from the famous town of Portofino.

From that point on, the universe must have decided we had paid our dues and just about everything went right. The villa was awesome, the weather was great, and Italy was everything I ever hoped it would be. For the first time in a long time, this vacation actually felt like a vacation instead of a temporary reprieve from the grind of every day London life. With everything left behind, midnight swims, G&T’s at 11AM, sun tanning, ocean swimming and generous amounts of fine Italian cuisine were the order of just about every day. In short, Italy was awesome and a destination I shall definitely return to one day, hopefully not too long from now.

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