Technically, the airport I’m covering here isn’t in Italy. Not even technically. It’s in France. There’s no arguing it (although according to the family friend who accompanied us to the airport because he happened to have an follow-up appointment for his recent laser eye surgery in Nice that day, it used to be part of Italy. So we’ll go with that.)
And to be perfectly honest, technicalities and land borders aside, it’s all continental bloody Europe isn’t it? And it’s all ridiculous, over-complicated and unhelpful. So here you have it. The final instalment of this unexpectedly popular blog: The Pale Girl’s Guide to the Airport.
A couple of years ago my best friend and I got really into the song Dragostea Din Tei by popular late 90’s/early 00’s Moldovan pop trio O-Zone and for some inexplicable reason insisted on playing it on loop for hours at a time. As you can imagine, it didn’t take very long for the late 90’s/early 00’s Moldovan pop euphoria to wear off and after a few intense days of learning the Romanian lyrics off by heart in their entirety, we moved on to bigger and better things.
As I have previously mentioned, the Italians take their beach time pretty seriously.
Many of those who don’t have permanent residences on the coast have holiday homes which they somehow have the disposable income to take months at a time off work and migrate to every Summer. In fact, the Italians love the beach so much that they have a bank holiday dedicated entirely to working on that crucial tan.
Perhaps the thing I was most excited about before coming to Italy was the prospect of all the delicious food and wine I was going to consume. Anyone who is familiar with the size of my thighs will know that I like my food. I’m the girl who makes a cake using butter rather than margarine and then proceeds to inhale the whole thing in one sitting. I wouldn’t call myself fat as such, but I certainly like eating more than I like being thin.
And for a while the food was great, it really was.
Before I begin I must apologise for the content of this blog. I have avoided writing it for a long time now, fearing it inappropriate and pretty gross. But I can no longer hold back. The world needs to know what’s going on in this supposedly developed continent.
Almost as soon as I was old enough to use the toilet by myself, my Mother did what all good English mother’s do and taught me how to hover above the seat in any public facility. This is a practice which has served me well, from those early public toilet days, to portaloos at festivals and 2am club bathrooms but nowhere as much as it has in continental Europe.
So now I consider myself a LONGTERM resident of Italy (i.e. I’ve been here a month) I think I’ve pretty much got the whole thing sussed out. Being the generous person that I am and following the IMMENSE success of The Pale Girl’s Guide to Monaco (i.e. my friend Erin liked it and my Dad ACCUSED ME OF FUCKIN’ PLAGIARISM) I decided to give my readers (i.e. my friend Erin and my Dad) the low-down.
Monaco. A tax haven with the highest GDP per capita in the world. Home of the rich and their various modes of transport. Did you know that it is compulsery for every citizen to own at least three cars, two boats and one helicopter each? According to the ever reliable Wikipedia, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world and boasts the highest life expectancy rate at a whopping 90 years old (this may be a good point to mention that my Great Grandma is celebrating her 100th birthday next week…so, you know, put that in your pipe and smoke it Monaco).
If you’re planning to take a trip to the bright lights, glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo and its famous casino then you will find this blog to be a major disappointment because I didn’t actually make it that far. Being the loser that I am, I succombed to heat exhaustion halfway down a cave (this is 100% true) and had to go home, a disgraced tourist. If however you want to know how not to spend a day in Monaco then this is the blog entry for you! Lucky!
Anyone who knows me moderately well knows that I really like trains. Not in a nerdy anorak kind of way, I hasten to add. I don’t hang around stations with my camera waiting to snap locomotives or discuss the glorious age of steam on forums, I just genuinely really like trains.
Everyone knows the real reason I tell my parents I have a phobia of flying is because I’d much rather spend five and a half hours and £86 getting a train home from university. Less people know that sometimes I deliberately choose routes where I have to change trains because it’s more fun that way. Oh the delights of Doncaster Railway Station! And what I don’t know about the waiting room at Retford isn’t worth knowing. In fact, the only place I really don’t care for at all is Birmingham New Street. Nasty place, avoid at all costs.
I would go as far as to say that I am an expert when it comes to rail travel. I even know exactly which seat to reserve in order to achieve maximum comfort and convenience. One should aim for a disabled window seat; you get more leg room, pleasant views, you’re right by the toilet and more often than not you’re opposite a luggage rack so there’s that peace of mind that no one’s going to make off with your suitcase. There’s also the added bonus of being close to the doors so there’s none of that “Excuse me..can I just get…excuse me…could you..” business that one experiences with a mid-aisle seat.
When I was a little girl I was terrified of lifts. I can pinpoint the exact moment when the fear started, in a grimy multi-story carpark in Bristol. You’re probably expecting me to tell you a horror story about how I got stuck in the lift for hours and thought I was going to die but no, a genuine phobia-starter like that wouldn’t have suited my melodramatic 10-year-old self. In fact, to be fair to lifts, it had little to do with them at all. It wasn’t the hideous moment when your stomach lurches when it starts moving, or being in such close proximity to strangers, or even the worry that you might vomit or fart or something equally hideous. No, the reason I was scared of lifts? The smell of urine.
That’s right. The moment I stepped into the lift in the multi-story carpark and that unmistakeable stale smell hit me I thought ‘shit me, I shan’t be doing this again’ (or something to that effect. It’s unlikely that I actually thought it in those exact words because somehow they don’t seem to befit a 10-year-old). As I got older I experienced other lifts, better lifts, lifts with mirrors and shiny walls and lots of space and even alarm bells in case you get stuck and think you’re going to die, and I realised that lifts weren’t so bad after all. They provided a handy alternative to stairs, an opportunity to sort your make up out and even a fun place to shag in if you’re adventurous. So the lift fear disappeared and all was fine. Until now.
10 years on and there’s a new fear on the block. This time it doesn’t smell of urine, which is ironic seeing as it made me wet myself.*