So last weekend I packed up my (very small) bag to go to Bologna to see Anne in Italy. I was very excited as;
1: I've never been to Italy;
2: It has been some time since I have seen Anne in real life as opposed to email; and
3: I've not been out of the country (Ireland doesn't count) for around 18 months and I was in much need of a change of scenery.
On Thursday Laylo, Amy and I set out in the Mini-Mobile straight from work. Our efforts to leave at 16:30 were hampered somewhat by an incompetent but no matter, we're going on holiday and what's leaving half an hour later between friends.
Then I got us lost. And we sat on the big road that goes from London to the M1 via Hanger Lane for around an hour. In the baking heat. With only one window able to open. But no matter, we're going on holiday!
We finally got to our first destination encompassing food and cocktails. I did a historical tour of the city encompassing an abbey, a wall, a really old street, some fake windows and a Tudor house that I couldn't actually find. Ah well. Cocktails will make my historical tour complete. And it did. Out we sat in the English Summer sun. Alas, the calm was punctuated by a very drunk, very odd man wandering around the garden seemingly look for some friends. Please note some friends. Not *his* friends. Luckily my off the cuff intelligence spared us from him sitting with us. I rebutted his advances with the age old, "Errrrrrr my boyfriend is meeting us". Which was a semi lie. There was a vague plan for us to meet him but he got drunk far away instead. Treat em mean, keep em keen and all that.
So the odd man decided to tell 2 of the 3 girls that they were pretty. The 3rd girl was pretty stoic about the rejection. To be honest, he was quite scruffy. However, it was the waggling of his crotch in the 2 lucky ladies direction that was a sight to behold. He added that he would give them "a large portion". It was about then that I truly lamented my quick fire wit and wished he had sat with us.
Arriving home we decided it would be absolutely brilliant to stay up until 1 even though we had to leave for the airport at 3:30. Basically, when I crawled out of bed I actually felt sick. If I had know what would have met us at Stansted I would have stayed in bed.
We had no real option but to fly Ryanair and due to my absolute abhorrence of Ryanair I absolutely refuse to check in bags (It's a long story but the short version is my whole family once nearly got thrown off for being rowdy about duty free, carry on baggage and whether duty free is carry on at all. We were let on but my Irish father was called a racist against the Irish by the Irish man at Dublin airport which, for the avoidance of doubt, is in Ireland).
We put our bags through that crazy machine and it turns out all 3 of us were liquid criminals. No. Really. Criminals. My arse actually clenched when the woman approached me to berate me for daring to take on, hang on, steady yourself, a 200ml can of deodorant. I know. I've let my family down, I've let my friends down, but most of all I let myself down. There is no word to describe the lady (lady is used at a stretch) who checked my bag as a total and utter twunt (or twatcunt, whichever you prefer). It appeared that she was mortally offended by my inability to sift my liquids and took it quite personally as opposed to how I believe a normal person would take it - this is my shit fucking job and I am a drone whose job has the one perk of taking confiscated liquids home that are expensive at the end of the day because I am a badly paid pikey.
She commenced our exchange with the winning line, "Have you flown in the last 4 years?". I won't bore you with all the exchange because I'll start to shake with anger like I did at FIVE IN THE MORNING IN THE AIRPORT. But the upshot was that dry shampoo is a liquid. I also managed to not lose my temper and spoke properly and correctly at all times. Which I know means that I sound really patronising. It's the little things. This meant that when she asked me some inane question and I started answering it fully and politely, pronouncing my words properly and using long words like I was taught at law school, she lost her rag with me and told me to be quiet as she didn't like my attitude. I asked politely, what attitude and that I was actually only speaking to answer her question. Politely. She opened and closed her mouth a few times like a guppy. I assumed that I was allowed to speak from then on.
It was unfortunate for her that really my deodorant was too big and she decided that dry shampoo was a liquid because that's literally all she managed to get off of me to throw away but she tried. Boy did she try. It would not be unfair to say that she kept me there for 10 minutes going through my bag and fucking up my packing. The highlights for me were:
Her attempting to put a packet of bobby pins in the pile of liquids and arguing with me over whether they were liquids. In the end I tipped them out. It's difficult to say whether it was the metallic clatter with which they hit the counter or whether the fact that once they were out they were BLATANTLY METAL BOBBY PINS WHICH ARE SOLID that made her concede defeat.
She then took my sun block which I use for my tattoos and attempted to put it in the liquids pile. Perhaps it was the embarrassment from the bobby pin encounter which made her actually open the lid to inspect the item when I said it was solid as opposed to arguing blindly with me as she had previously. Back it went in to the allowed pile.
Sensing that MAC glitter might be expensive she took a punt and chucked it in to the liquid pile. By this point I thought it easier to speak in small words with as few syllables as possible so I said, "That's not a liquid." She wasn't giving this up easily. Oh no. Who knew a 50 year old woman would be in to red MAC glitter? "Is it a gel?" I replied in the negative. Not to be bested by this well spoken upstart she tipped a little out to prove her point. Negative. No point proved. It was quite clearly just glitter in a jar. I could have told her she was an idiot at this point but I decided against it. I wanted to get to Italy. So I settled for a smug smile.
There was then some debate about dry shampoo as I had assumed it was compressed powder in a can as opposed to a liquid proper but in any event I conceded defeat. As I pointed out to her, this *is* her job. Her specialist subject is liquids after all. She attempted to prove her point by shaking the shampoo can actually in my face (as in if she had shook it, it would have taken out my glasses and an eyeball) but made clear my distaste at her shaking by saying, woooooooooah. She apologised. An apology! From the mardy arse liquid cow! Roll out the banners, this is truly a day for rejoicing! Then I went to duty free.
I've written quite enough about the preceding events so I will cut to the chase and state that the flight was uneventful and we made it in one piece to Bologna. But not quite as liquidy.
Alas, we were unable to check in to the hotel until 14:00 so Anne and her lovely boyfriend, Andrea, attempted to check us in early but to no avail. We dumped our bags and they brought us in to old Bologna to have a wander around whilst they did some errands and we could meet later.
It was fucking boiling. 40 degrees. To have some cover we decided to go and see a church. There was a bizarre lady hanging around the entrance who seemingly couldn't speak at all. As we attempted to enter she tapped us on the shoulders. Ah yes. Old school. No entry to churches unless our shoulders are covered. Whilst this seemed odd as the practice is as antiquated as wearing a hat to mass on a Sunday I whacked my cardigan on. Did I mention it's 40 degrees? Again we tried to pass - the 3 of us not unlike Billy Goats Gruff - but the troll, I mean lady, wanted money for safe passage. Having just got off the plane none of us had anything smaller than a 20. Bollocks. I mean, oh no, seeing as we're in a house of God. Luckily MammyB had given me some change and I chucked a fiver in to her paper cup. In we walked. Isn't it lovely? So peaceful? Who is this man walking towards us shooing us out? It appears he's a priest or a deacon? What is this? It's 12:00 and the church will shut for 2 hours. So we have paid a fiver to come in to a church for 10 minutes. Wow. We were properly shafted. Then I had a think about it and thought about how churches give sanctuary and I've never paid to enter a church. Oh. We were shafted by a gypsy. Great. And it's 40 degrees. And I'm wearing a fucking cardigan.
We killed some time with lunch and managed to go back to the hotel for a nap. Then we got up and went on an adventure in to the hills that surround Bologna. It was beautiful and (finally) just the right temperature although the ice cold bottles of Corona that were thoughtfully provided by our hosts went some way to making the trip more pleasant.
We then drove up to the top of the hills to a massively beautiful church before coming back down and having dinner at Andrea's house on the terrace overlooking Bologna old town.
Finishing dinner we went for a wander around the streets and had possibly the best ice cream I have actually ever eaten. We ended up on sort of palazzo square thing where there was a bar and a DJ. I'm not sure if this has been previously documented but I love to dance. And it was very clear that we were English and everyone else in the place was Italian. Whilst we were going for it a la Lady Gaga the Italians were dancing exactly like that Mystery Jets video I posted a while ago, all 80s foot shuffle. Loved it.
When we made it back home we passed out and got up the next day. There had been talk of this tower and climbing this tower and I wasn't so fussed about the 40 degree heat when thinking about this tower. It's probably because the heat made my brain turn in to mashed potato and forget the meaning of the word tower. Long story short, there are two massive fricking towers that you can climb to see amazing views. Typically, the smaller of the two is leaning so you can't climb it because it's dangerous. So the upshot is this:
See that 4th photo? See that really fucking massive tower on the right hand side? *I* gave money to *someone else* for the "privilege" of climbing *that tower*. Let me repeat that:
*I* gave money to *someone else* for the "privilege" of climbing *that tower*.
I am a fucking mentalist. The only upside is that when I got to the top there was a lovely breeze which kinda made it worthwhile. The view was also pretty special. Then *I* climbed *back down* the massive fucking tower and nearly passed out.
To placate me we went and ate pizza that was actually bigger than my head. And we had one each. And obviously I didn't finish it. We then wandered around looking for a bar and came across one pretty close to our hotel. Off we went inside for some mojitos. And stumbled across a merry band of people who actually wouldn't look out of place in what I imagine the Voltari from those Twilight novels were like as teens. Or maybe a Dan Brown novel extras. They were wearing robes with lots of badges attached and there was a Queen (as in a woman in charge, not a screechy gay man, although she was pretty fucking screechy) and they were downing red wine. There was some sort of hierarchy and it seemed that a man with no hat, no cape and no badges but who was part of the group was being slung out of the bar because someone superior to him decided he didn't want him there. Now I can't speak Italian so I'm sure you're wondering how I know this. I know this because they were pouring red wine on his head from a great height and he looked pretty cross about it. Where as in London this would have been sorted out with some fisticuffs and a night in the cells this is evidently not how they roll in Italy. Out came the screechy Queen (imagine Queenie from Blackadder. Yes? You're there). She screeched a bit and he fucked off. Done. And then we headed home to ensure that the spectacle we had just witnessed was us not tripping our nuts off from intense heat and pizza overload.