Saturday, June 20, 2009

BlogThis Challenge - Holiday

This week's Blog This Challenge is about Holiday Nostalgia:

Everyone loves Holidays. Everyone has had a holiday - be it a great big backpacking adventure, a luxury weekend away,a caravan trek as a kid with the family taking in Big Bananas, Big Prawns, Big Pineapples et al, Camping in the neighbours yard under the stars for a few nights. Elaborately planned holidays, impromptu 'let's get out of here' holidays. Blog about a holiday you've had that stands out - adventure, relaxation, family, friends, disaster, hilarious events! Who were you with? Where did you go? What made it so memorable? Share a photo if you want!

I have been really lucky to travel to loads of countries and wonderful places. I have a head full of fantastic holiday memories - Christmas time in New York, skiing in Switzerland, eating and drinking our way around Tuscany, sailing around Croatia, eating weird and wonderful Swedish food, driving through the stunning Scottish highlands, Athens and the Greek Islands, a
wonderful week in San Sebastian, and too much of France and Italy to recollect in a short list!

But one thing really stands out in my mind. Not because it was the most beautiful, the most perfect, or the most interesting. But because - at the time - it was heart-racing and terrifying, and in hindsight, is the hands down funniest thing to ever have happened to us on holidays in o
ur little lives so far.

The scene begins in Italy - on a two week Tuscan adventure. Being Australian, in Europe, and for a reasonably short period of time, naturally we tried to see as much as possible. And somehow, a day trip to Pisa and the Cinque Terre - from Arezzo, on totally the other side of the country! - seemed like a wonderful idea.

Our hosts at the gorgeous Il Torre - a beautiful old restored Tuscan tower home with stables - just shook their h
eads in disbelief. But we weren't to be deterred. Off we went!

And we made it. It was wonderful.

Saw the Leaning Tower, boarded the Cinque Terre's train, had the most amazing fresh seafood lunch, and managed to get to all five towns.

We boarded the train back to Pisa with plenty of time to get our rented car out of the multi-story carpark and start the looong drive back to Arezzo.
Or so we thought.

The train stopped. Perhaps for some reason. Perhaps for no reason at all. It just stopped. We had a lovely lovely view. But with a crowded train, in the middle of summer in Italy, with no air-conditioning, it started to feel a little hot after a while. After 40 or so minutes it was just plain uncomfortable.

The mounting stress didn't help matters. All I could think about was our car, locked in a carpark that had a very clearly spelled out closing time, and what on earth we would do if we didn't make it back in time.

But then we started again. Sweet relief. Smiles, laughs, "oh, we're so silly - nothing to be worried about - hahaha". For about another minute. And then we stopped again. For another half an hour.
By this stage, we were starting to feel rather concerned because we were still 4 towns away from our car, and we had about an hour until the carpark locked. Which would have left both without a car and hence without anywhere to rest our weary sun-drenched heads. (Also, no clean underwear, or a toothbrush... urgh)

And so it continued. Stop start stop start for nearly 2 hours in total. I was a mess. A hot sweaty ball of stress.

We eventually made it back to the main train station with literally 3 minutes until the carpark closed, but we still had to actually get there!

Thankfully, taxis were easy to come by. However, my Italian is far from understandable, as was the driver's English. We managed to write down the address of the carpark and he slowly nodded his head and set off at a leisurely pace. What happened to crazy Italian drivers who all think they belong in on the F1 circuit??? Perhaps they take it slower in such a beautiful part of the world. I don't blame them actually.

Anyhow, I can't describe how panicked we were. All we could think about was getting our car out of the carpark before it was locked in for the night. I didn't know what else to do but to try to communicate to our driver just how much of an 'emergency' situation we were in.

How did I do this?

Oh, very sensibly. I simply said "emergency, emergency, emergency" - but wait for it..... in an Italian accent. Yep, that was my secret weapon. That is, "emergenceeee, emergenceee, emergenceeee".

Oh no.
Oh yes.
That was all I had in my moment of panic. The sum total of what my poor little brain could muster in such a situation.

Finally, I remembered 'pronto', and that did the trick. We got there, but it was about 4 or 5 minutes after closing time.

Now, to this day, I have no idea if it was luck, or an incorrect sign, but we screeched up, raced out, literally sprinted to the paystation, where were were greeted by a girl laughing her head off. She was laughing so hard at us she couldn't breathe.

We must have looked like a panicked, ragged, sunburned, hot, flustered mess. We couldn't even stand upright, let alone speak, pay or otherwise. Which was fine for the moment, because neither could she. I think we made her day :)

But we made it. We got the car, drove back to Arezzo, and that was it. Such an anti climatic ending. (Except for the certificate our hosts had made on their home computer and presented to us upon our arrival home - exclaiming an 'award for the most ambitious travellers they've ever had stay with them').

Whenever I think about this I laugh out loud. It is absolutely hilarious in hindsight. And all that panic and wasted energy for nothing! And as if we wouldn't have sorted something out! We had our trusty guide book and a perfectly functional credit card.

And let's not forget my wonderful Italian..... "emergenceee!!!"
Oh dear. Funniest, funniest holiday story of my life. I hope I never forget it. It brings a smile to my face every time.


  1. oh wow! great story xx

    iv always wanted to go to europe - hopefully one day i will.

  2. I would love to hear more of your travel stories, you have visited many of my must see places, one day for us.

    Great story.

  3. Oh thats too funny. I always have a laugh at the Amazing Race contestants that take to stressfully shouting "Go Faster" in ridiculous accents, hoping for a shred of understanding from bemused drivers!


Thank you for posting! You've just made my day :)