Today we started our homeward journey..
Part of me was nervous as we had encountered so many quirky mishaps on our holiday so far (i.e missed flight from France to San Sebastian, luggage lost for almost 3 days due to airline sending to wrong country, missed train from Rome to Florence etc).. However, we had allowed a one and a half hour buffer in case we encountered any more mishaps and as you will read in the events that follow, we are lucky that we did.
I knew today would be yet another calorie burning day and therefore a day for sneakers.
Our journey was to start in Tuscany where we would travel by car to Florence (to return the hire car), from there we were to jump on a train to Rome and then get a connecting train to take us to the relevant Rome airport terminal, then be jumping on a plane to Sri Lanka for a two hour stop before boarding another plane to Malaysia.
The fiance (Sean) put on one sneaker, but where was its pair? Argh, the mishaps had already began!! How could we have lost a size 14 sneaker?? We sent emails to the last three hotels from the various destinations we had stayed (i.e. Florence, Rome and Venice). Lucky for us just before starting our homeward journey we received a response from Danieli (from Demori bed and breakfast) in Florence, phew I thought!!!
We could quickly grab the shoe before returning the hire car, however waiting for this email response had eaten in to our time buffer by 20 minutes.
As we got in the hire car we were troubled by the damage to the bumper (refer to day 21 of my Quirky adventure). We miraculously found a hardware store in search of car polish and a chamois… Let me say, it was a challenge buying the polish with everything written in Italian but we chose a product with the closest looking picture of a car being polished and proceeded to spend 10 minutes polishing the car…
This did nothing but make the paint look dull as well as contributing to our already diminished time buffer which had now reduced even further and was now down to 30 minutes, argh!!
We were in desperate need of petrol but there was not a service station in sight so we continued our drive..
Not only was our car running on empty but so were our stomachs as the earlier mishaps had eaten in to any time available to find food for fuel. We seemed to drive forever before finding a petrol station, upon driving in we realised it was a self service arrangement with Italian instructions!!! The decision was made that driving on an empty tank was a safer option than wasting time trying to work out such a challenge!!
We finally arrived in Florence, this place was a maze.. Every street seemed to be a narrow one way street that was either no right or left turn.
We drove past policemen acting as a barrier to stop traffic entering a certain area for what seemed like a million times.. Rather than look suspicious, I jumped out of the car and requested directions to DeMori Bed and Breakfast, I had now entered “Operation Shoe Retrieval”!!
I was given directions and off I ran (yes I said ran… phew lucky I wore my sneakers).. Let me say that I could have given Usain Bolt (fastest Olympic runner in history) a run for his money.. I ran weaving in and out of streets until I finally arrived at the bed and breakfast, I rang the intercom and as soon as that door opened I ran up the three flights of stairs as fast as I could..
Upon answering the door, the host was surprised at the speed in which I arrived and commented “wow, you are an athlete”, I must say I was quietly chuffed 😉 YES!! I now had the rogue shoe in my possession and it was time to sprint back to the car and return this vehicle once and for all!!
We routed the journey on Google maps but was told it was a 20 minute trip, WHAT!!! This was not possible… It literally took us 5 minutes to get from the bed and breakfast to Avis 3 days earlier, how could it now be 20 minutes?? We had two choices, pull a Luke Skywalker and “use the force” (aka wing it) or follow trusty Google which would put us in a time over-draft.. We chose option B, a time over-draft was better than driving in limbo in a foreign country hoping to find our destination..
The 20 minute drive was the longest 20 minutes of my life, the petrol light was on the WHOLE way with the line on dead empty.. My heart felt heavy, it was difficult to breathe, I was anxious and irritable. Yep you guessed it, tell tale signs of stress… I have never felt as relieved than the moment we drove in to the Avis drive way, PHEW!!!
We returned the keys hoping to not be penalised too much for the damage to the car and it seemed like our luck may have changed as the only thing we were charged was 75 Euros for petrol (approx $150 Aussie dollars at the time), WOW, we got off that one easy!!
With our time over-draft we had no choice but to run to Rome train station (again I am thankful for those sneakers) and off we went on our high intensity workout… Note to self DO NOT PACK 20kg of un-necessary items in my suitcase next holiday!! Oh well on the positive I was definitely burning those calories I had consumed the night before.
This was dejavu, we were at Rome train station and yes, you guessed it… We had yet again MISSED our train!! I wanted to cry, our international flight would be boarding at Rome airport in less than 3 hours..
I lined up to ask to change our ticket, the line was terribly long.. The stress was starting again….. Eventually it was my turn in line, the lady at the counter was not very friendly but alas we were put on the next available train which I must add was due any moment!! So off we went running again.. We were still in a time overdraft, I prayed that there to be no issues with this train or the connecting train to the airport and my prayers were answered….
We arrived at Rome airport terminal, phew!! I felt slightly relaxed but still on edge as we were not on the plane yet and our quirky mishap reputation had well and truly proceeded us..
Long story short we walked around the airport looking for customs… Up and down we walked with no clue where we were suppose to be until eventually we realised that the massive line was had passed ten minutes earlier was actually the queue to get to our plane terminal…. The Gods must have been on our side as a line opened for “Australians” to walk through.. Random yes I know!! As we boarded the Sri Lanka Airline flight I felt the most relaxed I had in a long time….