Wednesday, November 02, 2011

An Italian Job

Ahh Naples. I loved Naples. Stunning architecture and outstandingly pretty fountains. All of it was covered in graffiti and I didn't really appreciate how charming it was until I got to the very boring north, but still. I adore it now.

However, it's a very stupid place. I spent everyday asking how the Italians ever get anything done. No systems work, no information you ever get is correct and nobody would ever follow any of the guidance they didn't get.

I wanted to go to a town about 30 minutes away on a train. This town had a castle which was good enough for me. So I go to the train station, as you do if you want to catch a train. I'd learnt this lesson well.

Every station had automatic ticket booths. This was awesome as I had to have very little do with the locals who spoke a form of gibberish. It certainly wasn't like any English I'd ever heard. Except the machine wouldn't give me a ticket. Why?? I looked at the queue for the ticket office. It was long. I queued for 30 minutes.

"Tecketo to castle-o, pleaseia"



"No. Outside."

At this 
Pint I could make this a very short story and you'll see why later but this is my blog and I don't feel you'll feel like you're getting your money's worth by a short story.

I go outside. There's a shop with a sign saying tickets. I queue for 10 minutes.

"Tecketo to castle-o, pleaseia"



"No. Outside."

"I've just been outside. YOU are outside"


I go outside. There's another shop with another sign saying tickets. I queue for another ten minutes. I'd got to the station at 10 and thought I'd be on a train by 1020 at the latest. It's nearly 11. 

"Tecketo to castle-o, pleaseia"



"No. Outside."

"What?? This country is pissing stupid"

I go outside. And as I look around properly, never my first option on the first attempt of doing anything, I see there are five or six of these little shops all with a simple sign saying 'tickets'. No sign saying what tickets they actually sell just "tickets". So I go bouncing around this train station like a pinball. Tommy had nothing on me.

It was only when I got on the train I discovered and realised I could've bought my ticket ON THE TRAIN. I spent longer buying the ticket than I did at the castle. But it was cool.

And if this was the only time this had happened it would, by definition, be an isolated incident. But, predictably, it wasn't.

I was on Sicily, architecture, fountains etc graffiti etc and wanting to go to Vulcano, a glorious island with a particular feature. Any guesses?

So I get to the ferry point at 12 and go strait to tourist information. 

"What time I'd the ferry?"

"330 down there". Points.

"Ooh, time to waste. Let's go find tea"

I wasn't talking to myself. I was with two Dutch women who played to type and paid for their own tea.

3pm comes, they go their way in their car, and I walks to the big building that says 'tickets'.

"Ticketo, Vulcano, pleaseia"

"No." Points down the dock. I see nothing.


Off I go. I'm following a chain link fence to a prtacabin. There are various boats. You might've guessed that bit. There's a security guard at the gate stood mooching around the portacabin.


"No". Points back the way I've come. I walk back. Maybe I missed it. It's been known. Nope. Nothing. I've missed the ferry but that's fine. I was told there was another one at 6. So I wander up and down this dock. Nothing. I go back to th ticket office. He noise it's down here. I go back to the security guard. There's been a shift change. New guard!

"Vulcano. Where? Pleaseia" I was ready to drag him around this dock. It was at least 36 degrees and my bag still weighed 20kg at this point.

"Here". Points to the portacabin.

"What??" I'm more bemused than angry.

Ok. I go to the window.

"Ticketo, Vulcano, pleaseia"

"No. Not today"

"Not today? Six!" I mime gratuitously.

"Not today. Tomorrow"

"What the fuckity fucking hell?"

So me being me I gave up, said fuck it and went to the mainland instead.

NB my Italian wasn't quite this bad but I did at certain points put 'io' on the end of English words and was perfectly understood. No lie.

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