08 March 2012

In the land of sunflowers and wine: Part 5

Yahoo! You (and we) have made it to the end of the journey...and just the final chapter awaits now!

For the other parts of this adventures, visit here.

Part 1 Roaming through Rome
Part 2 We get engaged!
Part 3 Checking out the towns of Tuscany
Part 4 Rain Rain Go Away

But as with all true adventures, even our trip home proved to be more eventful than we could have anticipated. Read on and you'll see why....

Day 13  VERONA – LAKE GARDA – our last day! 
Today will be known as the day that I very nearly got run over! Apparently I coughed quite a bit last night and Mark also woke up feeling pretty bunged up so we are a right pair. Had to move rooms for some reason this morning, the lady didn’t say why but we’re not complaining as it’s actually a bigger room. We jumped on the train to Verona (a very stop-start train) and the skies opened as soon as we left Verona train station – it absolutely bucketed down – I nearly got run over crossing the road and this really made Mark crap himself – I basically walked out behind a bus and forgot about the traffic coming from the opposite direction and this Mercedes screeched to a halt about 2 metres away – oops!

We found the Roman arena but it wasn’t open, and then wandered towards the Amphitheatre – then looked at the guidebook and figured out that none of it was open on Mondays – doh! Not great spotting by us on that one.

Anyway after that a race through town ensued to grab lunch (McD’s) and get on a train to Peschiera del Garda (on Lake Garda) where Mark had been keen to go to instead of Verona. Ate our McD’s once we got to Peschiera – it was an awful meal and now I know why I never usually eat McD’s!

We did however find the lake – beautiful and stormy looking across to the mountains on the other side of the lake – we could imagine it very beautiful in the warmth and sunshine but alas we were there in the cold and grey! So there was not a lot to do but get back on the next train heading to Venice. 


We played lots of cards on the way back which passed the time, all in all bit of a nothing day, but as it was wet on and off it was a bit hard to do too much. Anyway we have a relaxing evening in store and back to our local restaurant for our last Italian meal for a while. Roll on Somerset and England! We have had an amazing time but both feel ready for food other than pizza/pasta or McDonalds, clean clothes and to see our family and friends!

All in all a brilliant (if slightly sodden time) – highlights were the Colosseum, Roman Forum, St Peters Church and Dome, Pompeii, the Square in Siena, San Gimignano and Venice – a lot of good memories have been made!

Day 14 VENICE – LONDON – well eventually!
And yet there’s more to our adventure! We had planned to get up at 6:30 to get to the station in time to catch the 7:00 train to Treviso. We didn’t have to be at the airport until 8:30am but due to a National Rail Strike from 9am –5pm we thought we’d better get there early. Caught a bus from Treviso Train Station to the airport and noticed that the buses were also on strike from 9am-12pm and again 7pm – midnight. Got to what must be THE smallest international airport in the world – little more than a tin shed, no shops, nothing. Not long after we got there, the shuttle bus we could have caught turned up with about 10 people on it. I went up to the ticket counter just for a wander as I was a bit bored and to have a look at a few of the maps on the wall. Just then the guy behind the counter said to me ‘You do realise your flight has cancelled and there’s no flights until tonight, don’t you?’ I said ‘No, what do you mean, does this apply to everyone waiting here?’ At which point him and another girl showed me a fax Ryanair had sent through saying that due to the GENERAL transport strike (i.e. not just trains and buses but planes too!) there would be no flights till after 6pm.


Anyway at this stage I was the only person who knew, and the girl behind the desk said ‘Do you want me to book you on the flight at 22:15 tonight? There are only 3 seats left’. I very quickly whipped over to Mark pronto and got our passports and very quickly got her to book 2 of them for Mark and me. 

A commotion then ensued as all the other people waiting cottoned on to what was going on. All the others who couldn’t get on the flight have had to wait to get on a flight at 3pm tomorrow and have had to pay for another night’s accommodation, taxi to the hotel, meals etc. Thank you Lord for being in the right place at the right time.

Ryanair being an el cheapo airline don’t pay for any meal vouchers, accommodation in these situations! Were we ever pleased to have got those seats even though it still meant a 14-hour wait. We basically hung out a the airport till 1pm – firstly we thought about staying with one friend who lives close to Liverpool St, which is where the train from Stansted comes in but then we realised she would be getting up at 4am tomorrow to go off on tour so felt pretty bad about the fact we wouldn’t be coming in till after midnight. We then managed to get another friend to book us a taxi from Stansted to her house in Hounslow (total opposite side of London) for £55. It sounds a lot but we figured that getting the train to Liverpool St, tube to Hounslow, and taxi to my friends house would have cost up to £45 anyway and this way we’ll be right on that side of town and be able to get straight in our car and drive first thing tomorrow! Talk about a mission!

Anyway we decided to head into Treviso for a nice meal, then had another mission trying to get a bank to take just 20 euros out – everywhere we went the machines only wanted to give us a 50 euro note which we weren't planning on spending with just a few hours to go. 

McDonalds proved a life saver once again as we sat in there for 4 hours with a small Coke and a sundae playing Hangman (English football teams) and dot-to-dot. Got a bus back to the airport at 6pm, and made sure that we were the first in line to check in at 8.30pm. The flight back was pretty uneventful, it took me a little while to explain my circumstances to passport control but eventually they let me in. Had a message over the tannoy to contact the information desk (it was 11:45 pm by this stage), and when I did we found out that the taxi we booked was stuck in an accident in the Blackwall Tunnel and he wasn’t moving – great! Anyway we told him to keep me updated – tried a few more taxi companies but the quotes were £70-£100 so settled in tight to wait for the one we had booked. In the end he arrived at 1am, and we got to Rachel’s bright and early at 2:30am! That's after leaving the hotel at  6:30am the previous day. What a long day to end our holiday! To be honest we were just so pleased to be back in the country after thinking about all those poor people still stuck in Italy. We’re going off to get the engagement ring resized in the morning – I can’t wait to finally be able to wear it on my finger!


And thus ended an amazing two weeks seeing the very best (and worst) Italy had on offer.

We started our journey as two young loves, but ended it engaged to be married, and it was nice to return still engaged to be married after a few challenging moments along the trip.

And as eventful adventures go, this one certainly took the cake!

Ciao Ciao!

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