When I was in Taormina on Friday, I overhead someone at the café saying “ci sara’ un temporale” (“there’s going to be a storm”.) With such amazing sunshine the whole day, I assumed he was joking. In the end, there was indeed no storm that day and the weather held up beautifully.
After dinner last night, I headed out again to the centre, where a giant TV screen had been set up to show matches from the World Cup. Last night, it was Spain vs Holland, and a crowd had gathered in the piazza watching it. It was around half-time when I arrived. Many people were wearing Spain shirts though there seemed to be a lot of Holland supporters as well, judging from the reaction every time a Holland player started attacking. There was a whole group of Indians sat in front of the screen and for some reason they all seemed to be Holland fans–no idea why! It was a fantastic game–Holland unexpectedly won with the incredible score of 5-1. It was nice watching the smug Spain team get a good thrashing. 🙂
Finally, a decent night’s sleep on the sofa-bed here at the apartment. I got up at 6:45, feeling a bit lazy, and decided what to do. I’d thought about the possibility of taking a trip to Mount Etna, or at least to the immediate area, and there was a bus leaving at 8:15 in the morning from Catania central station, and returning at around 4pm. However, I’d also found out that you could take a train from one of the metro stations further north at any time of day. I decided to rest a bit more, spend the morning seeing a few places in Catania, visit the market for a bit of shopping, then head to Mount Etna in the afternoon.
Last night, I arrived at Naples around 11pm and waited for the overnight train to Catania. When I got on, I found that the compartment was designed purely for sleeping in. In other words, you couldn’t possibly sit up straight. It was unbelievably small, with three bunks (I was on the top one), and a small cupboard hiding a sink and mirror for freshening up. I was hoping to have the place to myself, but soon a young Chinese (I assume) traveller also turned up. I thought that was it, when another man, whose Italian smacked of a North African accent, enquired if there was a free bunk available. I said yes there was, or at least seemed to be, but was immediately suspicious, since I assumed that these bunks all had to be reserved. My suspicions were confirmed immediately when the stranger confessed that he didn’t have a ticket and hoped the conductor wouldn’t arrive to check. The Chinese man didn’t speak Italian so didn’t understand what was going on. I felt quite uncomfortable with having to sleep in the same compartment as this person, who was most likely an illegal of one description or another. What if he tried to steal something? Unheard of? Was I applying prejudices? Unlikely, since even if the man had been Italian, the very fact that he said he didn’t have a ticket raised questions.
My host in Lugano had let me know that she’d be leaving for work around 8am, so I decided to make sure I was up and ready by then so I could say goodbye. I set my alarm for 6:45 but in fact was up long before, tossing and turning in bed. No idea why–the night before had been very easy. Anyway, at some point I fell back to sleep and had some absolutely bizarre (though realistic) dreams that had absolutely nothing to do with the journey. Anyway, moving on.
I arrived at Lugano train station at around 11pm last night, and of course by then it was completely dark. Leaving the station, I used the GPS on my phone to make my way on foot to the apartment where I would be staying. I’d rented a room through Airbnb, so I knew it would be a room in someone’s house. On the way there, a car with a group of loud young men honked at me, and one of them called out: “Ciao bello, vai in centro? Tu con la valigia!” Yes, I was the one with the valigia (luggage). No idea what that was about! :-O
I got up at 4am this morning and was at my nearby tube station by around 5:30am, waiting for the train to take me to King’s Cross St Pancras. As soon as I was at the station, I realised I’d made a fashion faux-pas by wearing a black belt with my brown suede shoes. That’s what happens when you get dressed in the dark!