There’s something almost inevitable about sitting on a plane, having been told you’d be delayed, at the end of a runway, far, far away, knowing you could have gained an extra hours sleep.
You sit in your less than comfortable seat, legs scrunched up like birds nest noodles, and contemplate your choice of travel.
It’s particularly annoying when you wake up at 4am and have to change terminals then go through security before getting a coffee. It’s even more irksome when your bags get sidelined for inspection because, it seems, sugar shows up as a liquid.
Actually, a woman behind me was told her bag had a lot of liquid in it by a surprisingly friendly security guy sporting a rather thin, plain mohawk. He asked her to open her bag. He was right about the liquid.
She must have been a sales rep for liquid make up. And she’d put all her samples in little plastic bags without realising you’re only allowed one plastic bag and it has to be outside your luggage. I don’t know what happened to her bags of liquid because I was headed for Starbucks.
A double espresso later and I was almost human. Then, like magic, I was joined by Darren, John and Lorna. Anthea I could see, queued up at Starbucks along with 50,000 other desperate caffeine addicts.
We compared notes then headed for gate 101, a fact not lost on John and a precursor for our long wait before takeoff.
It gave me a chance to consider my morning so far. I spotted a few odd things. A couple walking to their departure gate carrying old style bags without wheels and the youngish guy sitting in front of me who used the airplane toilet four times during our two hour flight. Both seemed equally unusual.
I watched an episode and a half of a rather haunting German series called Dark but my eyes gave up through the second one so I switched to Leon Russell and closed them. The flight remained uneventful.
Having landed late, John was given a glimpse of the advantage of standing near me at customs. He suddenly became my carer as a kind chap indicated I should hobble along to a quick clerk. Anthea and Darren suddenly claimed they were with me as well but the man was unmoved. Apparently I don’t need four carers.
We could probably have done without the two hour wait for the Alibus but otherwise, arriving in Naples was the usual fill of traffic, noise and life. And the smell of freshly ground coffee.
Possibly the best bit of waiting for the bus was the couple in front of us. She was searching through her handbag for something. Disappointed she looked at her other half and asked him what he’d done with the hair grips.
The man gave her look that indicated he had no idea what a hair grip was. She told him, her anger rising, that back at the hotel she had told him to put them in her handbag.
The man decided his best course of action was to remain silent and vaguely unsure about the whole thing. This proved correct (made me think they’d been married a long time) and she soon gave up on him.
My main thought was for the poor hair clips in the hotel.
The bus did eventually arrive and about a thousand of the waiting tourists clambered aboard along with a very rude woman who barged in and managed to jump the queue, much to the annoyance of the driver, his mate and the rest of the queue.
The crawl through the Naples traffic was inexorable but about perfect. As Darren said there’s something romantic about it. Whether that’s the fumes, the beeping, the loud Italian conversations, the crumbling buildings or everything hodge podged together, who can say. But it works. For me and Darren, anyway.
The walk to our accommodation was long and arduous with added heat, but eventually we arrived and headed up to the 6th floor to a modern, spacious flat. The view was splendid. As was the beer we finally found a little while later.
After a short rest which was strictly a little more than a short rest should really be, we headed out for dinner.
Discounting the hordes of tourist trap terrazzo, John finally decided on Oh Vesuvius and we all had excellent pizza and a rather less than eloquent wine. (Red wine fresh from the fridge with a slight fizz takes some getting used to.)
Also, I noticed that Thomas Cook folded today.