Easyjet is not a bad way to fly. Certainly it’s nowhere near as chaotic as it used to be. And at eighty-seven feet tall there’s even enough room for my legs in a standard seat. The early doors start didn’t seem to be a worry accept there was an accident on the M25/M23 junction which put us in a bit of a spin. But getting onto and off of the plane was a breeze. Well done Gatport Airwick. We flew into Nice, picked up our Suzuki hire car from some pretty girl behind a desk (can’t remember the name of the company) and spent three and a half hours driving through relatively uninspiring country from Nice to Oria, where our hotel, the Laurito, found itself. We’ve done this part of Italy before; the hills are all white rock and pine green trees, barren but peppered with settlement, much of it run down. To the east the hills hand over to a plain which mixes industry with almost medieval farmland. The vineyards lack the order of Germany or the rustic-chic of France. Everything is covered in a film of dust and everywhere is littered with, well, litter. It’s a forgotten place, seemingly untouched by EU subsidies.
The weather was warm, but not stifling, and the hotel above basic, but not luxurious. A converted monastery (the continuing story of my life..), it was something out of a Clint Eastward film set. Although the pool, which (like the hotel) we had to ourselves, was v special. At the end of a long journey, however, it was an oasis in the desert of travel. We quickly settled in and had an hour by the pool.
The away team that we know include (obviously) the parents of the bride, Richard and Caroline’s daughter and her boyfriend (hopefully arrived here last night after we went to bed) and other Army friends’ (Phill and Denise) daughter, Emily, and her boyfriend Richard who travelled with us on the same flight. We know Emily v well and it was great to catch up with her news and meet her boyfriend.
We left the hotel to forage for a few things in the local town, before reconvening to go out to supper slightly later. Of course, on your feet and unannounced is where you see the true country. The town of Oria is quintessentially southern Italian. Built on a small hill with the cathedral on top shouting power and issuing damnations to us surfs below, the town beneath
is a warren of small cobbled streets, interlocking houses, arches, unsuspecting splashes of floral colour, a glimpsing sun and long dark shadows. It was lovely. The people we bumped into were smiling and kind and the restaurant we found later in the centre of town served cheap, good, local food even if the translated menu included the words horse and donkey. Wine was served in a water jug, and a water served in bottles. Perfect.
Almost untouched by alcohol I drove us home, although like a v badly directed version of the Italian Job, getting out through the maze of tiny streets included going up one way streets, only to have to reverse back down them, more U-turns than a post war British government and eventually a v kind young woman who stopped her car in frustration and said ‘follow me (you idiot)’. I bet the ensuing traffic jam I caused has yet to clear.
Not sure what’s on the agenda today. Breakfast is served soon….I might pop down to the pool quickly for a swim. Luxury.