Overdue in Italy

Okay, so I’ve been ridiculously lax with this and haven’t update you all on my trip to Italy at the start of the month! I know, I know! I’m rubbish and I don’t deserve your forgiveness but if you could find it in your hearts to do so I would be very, very happy!

On the 3rd May, Chrissie and I caught  a coach to Madrid at 8pm to begin our long stay in the Barajas airport for our early morning flight to Bologna, to visit our friend Toby. The coach took a good couple of hours as it went to all the little villages between Salamanca and Madrid, as the night descended the small out of town coach stations started to get a little creepy and if I was in a horror film I would have been terrified for my life as you could easily see some sort of serial killer coming after you! Other than the slight terror that I kept experiencing, the journey went okay and with no problems.

Before we had set off on the coach we had looked up the metro closing times for Madrid as we were going to have to travel from the station in the middle of the city centre to the airport (as the coaches don’t run to the airport after 4pm for some unknown reason!) We had two hours to do the travelling before the lines were closed for the night and luckily we were predicted a travel time of 50 or minutes. If memory serves me right, we arrived at the airport at around midnight, maybe a little bit afterwards. Unfortunately, the metro stop that we had to get off at was closer to terminal 3 than to terminal 1 so we had a lovely leisurely walk down to the terminal.Well I say leisurely, I noticed the travelators and to start off with I just walked them as I always prefer to get to places faster but then I realised that there was no one around so I asked Chrissie if she dared me to run down one and she did and I obliged. I got off at the end and Chrissie was laughing at my silliness and child like behaviour. I wonder if I will ever grow out of the urge to run down them?

Our flight to Bologna was at 6am I think, I can’t remember exact times but the earliness is all that matters, and because of this we decided that we would spend a little bit of time outside of security as there was no point in waiting on the other side when we didn’t even know which gate to go to. So I dared Chrissie to sit in the middle of the floor and she looked around a little shiftily before she walked and sat in the middle of 4 pillars where the TVs were to show all the flight information. To most people it would have looked like we were trying to keep track of flight information but we were just bored and trying to do something fun and entertaining. Because we could see all the flights we were joking about where we really jetting off to, but I can’t remember which cities they were! I’m pretty sure sure that Chrissie was going to go to Russia somewhere! After spending some time playing card games and reading and attempting logic problems, I decided to weigh myself on one of the scales that are joined to the check in desks. This was because all the ones we were sat in front of weren’t being used and I thought it would be a great thing to do. I was actually surprised by what the scales said and also the fact that I managed to fit on one perfectly!

The flight to Bologna was completely full and it was a miracle that Chrissie and I actually managed to sit next to each other on the flight but we did. I managed to drop off for a little bit whilst flying, but it made me feel a lot worse as I couldn’t sleep properly and I got a cramp in my neck. I’m starting to wish I’d bought one of those inflatable pillow things for my year abroad with how much travelling and sleeping on transport I’ve done in the past year. but because of falling asleep I missed the views of the world beneath me as I travelled. It’s one of the few things I really enjoy about flying, I love being able to see everything beneath me as it is so wonderful and different. Plus, watching as the cars and buildings get smaller is always great! Once we got off the plane we didn’t have too much trouble getting through the airport as they don’t tend to have passport control due to the Schengen pact or something. However, finding the bus to get to the centre of Bologna wasn’t that easy. I thought that we would have to buy tickets from this machine but Chrissie went to check to see what was happening on the bus and she called me across because people were just getting on and paying there but when we got on we didn’t buy a ticket, not because we snuck on but because the driver was trying to leave as soon as possible as it is a regular bus service and the one we went on was pretty full. But unfortunately, the bus broke down not long after we got into the outskirts of Bologna. The engine just refused to work and we had to wait for another bus to take us to the central bus station. Luckily it didn’t take too long but Toby found it highly entertaining when we sent him a message to let him know.

We had a few hours to wait before we could check into our B and B so Toby graciously allowed us to keep our stuff at his flat until that time so that we could enjoy ourselves a bit and go for a walk around Bologna before dropping our stuff off. We decided that we would take the healthier option of walking around Bologna and seeing all the sites that way. Although it meant that by the end of the weekend my legs were killing me it made me feel better about eating all the ice creams I’d had there. The good thing about Bologna is that everything is pretty close to everything else, especially in the centre. We didn’t do too much whilst we were waiting to check in as we didn’t want to wander too far but we did get a take away pizza (which was delicious) and went inside the library! The library was amazing! There were so many books and I could have spent all day in there just looking and browsing to my heart’s content but then I wouldn’t have been able to see anything else of the city which would have been a shame.

We were supposed to check in at around 2pm so at half past 1 we decided to go looking for it. But we couldn’t find it anywhere, in the space where it was supposed to be were signs directing you to some sort of fashion business. We had no idea where it was so whilst Toby went back to his so he could fetch us our stuff we tried to look for it some more and see if it was a bad direction from google maps. But it was nowhere to be found! So we decided to sit on some steps in plain sight of where Toby would be coming back to meet us and I connected my phone to the internet to see if I could find any more information about where the hotel was meant to be. I eventually handed my phone to Chrissie to search through google pages whilst I started to follow random people to see if they could help me find the place. Unfortunately that plan didn’t work and I think some people started to wonder what I was doing but when I went back to our sitting area Chrissie told me that she thought it was the building opposite us and she was going to try and buzz herself in and see what happened. It worked! We had found the B and B but we had to wait till Toby got back so that we had our passports ready for photocopying as we weren’t allowed to check in without them!

Once we had settled ourselves into our rooms (dump our things and leave) we went back outside to find Toby and to start our adventure around Bologna. Well it wasn’t really an adventure but it was probably just as fun! I can’t remember everywhere we went as we were walking and talking but it was amazing to see. So many of the buildings looked ancient and as you got closer to the uni the older they looked. We couldn’t actually get inside the uni unfortunately because it was a Saturday but just being outside the oldest university in Europe was an experience. Whilst walking around I noticed something really strange. There was a lot of graffiti on the walls but what confused me was that one person had been writing random quotes in Spanish everywhere. I’m guessing it was the same person as the writing was the same and at the end of every quote was written the same name, but I can’t remember what it was. Although I think the highlight of the day was when I actually got kicked out of a cathedral… I know that Italy is supposed to be more religious what with the Vatican State being inside/next to/ a part of it but I didn’t think that wearing a vest top would be seen as sacrilegious. I just hope all the girls who wander around Paris in their tiny shorts and boob tubes don’t go to Italy to visit the churches and cathedrals as they will be in for a shock!

We went for curry that night! It was the first time I’d had curry like that since I was home and it was pretty good! It’s always so much better when you don’t have to make it yourself. But due to going out for a meal we didn’t get back to our rooms until half past 1 in the morning. It doesn’t seem that late but when you’ve slept for an hour or so in 48 hours you kind of start to feel it. I slept soundly that night and really didn’t want to get up when my alarm went off at half 7! I’ve come to realise just how much I love my sleep because of that experience!

The next day we went for another walk around and ending up walking up this huge hill to see a little church on top and when we got there it started to rain for a bit but afterwards the air felt lighter and less humid than before. Once we got back down into the main shopping area of Bologna the rain started again but this time it was a lot worse and a storm started. Chrissie and I loved it but Toby didn’t seem to be as impressed, I don’t think he is a fan of thunder. As it was getting towards lunch time we decided to find somewhere to sit down and have some food. We found this nice little restaurant on a side street somewhere and had a not to expensive meal. I had an authentic bolognese from Bologna although apparently the bolognese that we eat in the UK is more like a ragu than what is meant to be bolognese. You learn something new everyday. No matter the difference it was still a good meal and I kind of wish that there had been a little bit more of it.

Although we hadn’t eaten that long before Toby decided that we needed to to go to an ice cream parlour and try an ice cream from the best in Bologna, or so he says anyway. And I have to agree that was pretty amazing! I had chocolate and strawberry and the chocolate had just the right amount of flavour and the strawberry was made from real strawberries and a mix between ice cream and an ice lolly! I loved it! I think if there is no other reason for me to go back to Italy the ice cream will be enough!

We had a nice relaxing night, we bought some take away pizzas and ate them in the B and B and we played card games (well Chrissie and Toby did whilst I read) and we talked. It was nice but we still didn’t go to bed until 1 in the morning! I’m surprised I managed to get up on time the next day.

The journey back to Spain was a little bit more stressful than the journey to Italy had been. To start off with we ended up walking to the East Terminal after following a sign for Ryanair only to find out that it had been for check-ins only and not for security! So after walking back we realised we needed to go upstairs and when we did we saw that the line to get through security was ridiculous! I think we were stood in that cue for around half an half or so and during this time the litre bottle of ice tea that I’d drank was starting to affect me but I shrugged it off thinking that once I was through security I wouldn’t have to worry! But how wrong I was! As soon as we made it through security we had to join another line that was for us to board our plan and we must have been stood in that for at least another 10 or 15 minutes. Once we had boarded the plane we were faced with more problems as there had been some problems with passengers trying to bring on the wrong sized bags as hand luggage and we had to wait. I think we were sat on the plane for nearly an hour before we finally took off and during that time I was becoming a little irate. I’m not a nervous flyer at all but when you desperately need to go to the toilet and people refuse to sit down you start to get a little angsty. Luckily we took off in time for me to be able to run to the toilet and not embarrass myself on the plane! Much to Chrissie’s delight!

The rest of the flight passed by without too many problems and I definitely felt better when I no longer had the pressure of g-force pressing against my bladder! But unluckily for us the problems didn’t stop there. We managed to get to the coach station okay and the coach journey was fine until we got just outside of Salamanca. Just by the giant shopping centre on the outskirts of town, the coach broke down. And we were sat on it for around 40 minutes whilst we waited for a replacement coach to take us to the station. Normally I would have just walked the rest of the way as it’s not too far and I don’t mind walking but it had started to rain.

Other than the problems with transport it was a great weekend and I am definitely going to miss the opportunities to go travelling once my year abroad is over.

Hasta la fuego

Lauren 🙂

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