Saturday, 31 March 2012

Home again with a considerably broadened mind and heavier suitcase.

Hello everyone, I am back home. Jetlagged, of course, wildly tired, and endeavouring to become accustomed to not taking off somewhere else in the next day or so.

Good heavens, it is such a long way across to the other side of the world, and back home again. All that sea to cross. So many countries to fly over.

It is good to be home, despite the jetlag, and the petty worries of wondering where I left the key to the front door. It was cleverly attached to the other set of house keys. I have been out to buy bread, milk, and fruit and vegetables. The Chinese star jasmine was riotously overgrown, and has been pruned already, and I have been back less than 24 hours.

The iPod would not send most of my messages, and although hotels provide WiFi, they seem not to have computers for guests anymore, and thus I have been badly out of touch. Typing with one finger is a frustrating activity.

My hundreds of photographs are now on the computer, and need to be labelled, edited and their number severely reduced. Hours of endless fun lie ahead.

Some highlights, until such time as I recover the energy to remember and write about the trip. Regrettably, at the end of each day I was too tired to write an account of where we had been and what we had done.

  • Flying over huge snow-covered mountains.
  • The fact that the sign at the luggage area at Milan airport described exactly how to get the bus to Turin.
  • The Egyptian Museum at Turin. And the Palazzo Madama.
  • The River Po.
  • Managing to buy a CD-Rom of an Italian-English dictionary which works on a Mac. I just stumbled across this shop in Turin (while rather lost, due of my completely peculiar and incurably defective sense of direction).
  • Attaching myself to guided tours of various museums and churches.
  • Revisiting Florence and five of my favourite churches, and managing to do some retail therapy there, all in less than 24 hours.
  • Getting a better hotel room in Florence after I complained about having to lie on the floor in order to see the buttons on the safe.
  • Not missing any trains.
  • Not causing a very serious security problem at the airport.
  • Getting a window seat on the flight from Rome to Reggio Calabria, on the side which enabled me to see the smoking volcanic island of Stromboli, and to take a photograph of it.
  • Having a fabulous view of snow-covered and slightly belching Mount Etna, just  a few miles across the water from Reggio.
  • Seeing incredibly rugged and rocky scenery in Aspromonte and NOT getting trapped in the snow (the driver reversed a long long way until he reached an intersection where he could turn). 
  • Seeing some gorgeous and very old churches, ruins, monuments, and the scene of the famous defeat by Hannibal of the Roman army at Canne.
  • Exploring the vegetation (a subject which most of the group and various guides knew remarkably little about. They are now slightly better informed. It was no trouble...)
  • The food. The drink. And the wonderful Italian peppermints.
  • The guided tour itself, our leader, and all the members (except for one very strange man).

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Panic! Don't Panic!

Conditioned responses are all very well, but there has to be a way to switch them off, surely! Candles can be blown out, electric lights switched off, but my body is now extremely apt to fly into panic mode at the least provocation. This morning's attack was triggered by the news that the larger sum I am paying to the family had not arrived in the trust account, and then of course I had to telephone them to find out what they were doing. I am now assured that it will be there tomorrow morning, so have calmed down somewhat, but my heart is still pounding away rather too energetically for my liking. On my return I will have to tame this automatic panic reaction.

Never mind. I  am dining with a friend tonight, and apart from that, am letting my panic bestow itself on my packing. All these last minute decisions!  What can I do without? How many pairs of shoes do I need? Suppose it rains heavily all the time? Suppose it snows again? Suppose it is much too warm? Suppose all these conditions apply, and therefore a wardrobe for all seasons seems the prudent way to act. It looks as though it will be the larger suitcase that comes with me. Which books and how many of them should I take? Should I select books I think could be left behind in Italy? If they can be left behind, why bother with them in the first place? Decisions, decisions!

I had to go out today to return my library book, which I did not finish, being engrossed instead in a Maggie O'Farrell book which In this life (thanks, Isabelle)  recommended, so while I was at it, so to speak, went to the nearby mega-complex and bought yet another shawl, in fetching shades of pink and blue. It was my intention to get purple, but there were no purple ones available. How the mind can trick you into quite unintended actions....

By the time toiletries, cosmetics and medicines are all put into the luggage, the mind seems overcome by details. Which is doubtless why I sit here composing, instead of Getting On With Things.

Time for dinner and a glass of wine.

I shall return later!

And here I am back again, after a very pleasant farewell dinner with my friend. I almost got her lost on the way home, taking off completely in the wrong direction, but somehow we realised that going downhill was not the way to go. Why do things look so totally different when it is dark, and, more to the point, why does my brain get so totally addled so easily? If I cannot find my way home from two blocks away, how will I manage to walk around Turin?

Here's hoping. Buon viaggio a me!