Travel

It Ain’t Brindisi Livin’ Free, Or: You Know What They Say About Men With Big Carbon Footprints*

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I woke up at five thirty on my final morning in Palermo. I’d spent the evening before being highly irritated by an odious British cunt shouting at a group of his friends in a bar neighbouring the restaurant I was in. I was moments/half a glass of wine away from going up to him and saying, proudly and cosmopolitanly, “It’s odious cunts like you that are the reason we are a nation abhorred.” I rehearsed intonation, emphasis, tone, between bites of caponata and exquisite mushroom ad pistachio tortellini, whenever my countrymen’s loud sex/smoking/drinking boasts distracted me from the DH Lawrence I was dining with. The guy and his friends were all over forty, and his braggy, bawdy conversation irked me: one of the many things that I fear will one day lead to a criminal conviction is my absolute abhorrence of men older than me behaving like teenagers. Grow up. There is no joy in life, stop pretending there is and it lives inside your fucking balls, you atavistic, women-hating cretins.

Needless to say, no confrontation occurred. Instead, I followed my meal with gelato. Less satisfying, but quite literally in better taste.

So, waking up early, not-buzzing from a fight that never happened, I trundled to the train station carrying my split cheap bag, arriving with time to spare for the three-change cross country train. However, they wouldn’t let me on. Sold out, no standing allowed. I’d allowed the ridiculous Italian love of fucking printing things out (I think I’ve received more receipts in the last three days than in the previous six weeks of travel) to fuck me over. I sprinted, my bulbous green sack gripped in both hands in front of me, to the bus station, where the only coach I could’ve taken to get me to my ferry on time (it being a Sunday) was teasingly wiggling its mechanical behind out the exit as I reached the ticket booth. Fuck.

I stole a bus ride back to the hostel, irritating the night porter when I forced him to wake up during his working hours and let me in. I checked my options. I couldn’t cancel the ferry. I couldn’t cancel the Greek hotel I’d booked. I couldn’t fly from

Palermo to Athens for less than 500 pounds. All I could do was fly to Milan and then fly back south again to Brindisi, paying only twice as much as the train would’ve cost, and the journey, despite travelling the length of Italy twice, taking ten hours less.

So I pissed all over the environmental credentials I’ve never claimed to have** and took two domestic flights in a day, spending 90 minutes in the chic Milan Linate airport. It was raining, there was contemporary design, Wi-Fi wasn’t free, no one was sleeping on the floor… I was back in Northern Europe. I ran south.

And I am fucking glad I did. Because, for once, I have made a gold level weird travel decision. The ferry ride from Brindisi, Italy, to Patra, Greece, has been stunning. Passing borderline fantasy islands, granite, tree-covered mountains poking out of an alarmingly blue sea, warm sun, a cooling breeze, a bar without a queue, yachts sailing alongside, secluded beaches, rugged cliffs, hillside villas, fishing trawlers shaking in the wake… It has been a beautiful day, I have seen some incredible geography.

And now I am beginning my last night alone before being joined for the end of the trip by my long term exclusive lover***. Lock up your feta, Patra, Scotty’s hungry!!!

_________

* What “they” say is that men with big carbon footprints are unprincipled, unethical, backwards and selfish. Which is perhaps true of me, I’ve only got one principle left that I’ve managed to rigidly stick to. Well, not rigidly, I have one principle that I’ve managed to flaccidly stick to. (I’M TALKING ABOUT MY PENIS!!!)

** Just as I’ve never claimed any pro-animal credentials, despite having been vegetarian for seven years. I think all snakes and other genuinely dangerous/ugly animals should be exterminated, I wear a lot of leather, I’ve paid for other people to watch bullfighting in my keenness to go and I’m anti fox-hunting purely for classist reasons (but rigidly so), and in fact would relish the opportunity to watch a cock fight. Vicious things, phwoar. Talons. Like a real life Jurassic Park.

*** I never quite know how to refer to “my girlfriend”, as I find that all the familiar terms sound either sentimental, unromantic, patronising, twee, teenage or possessive. “The woman I live with” would perhaps be a second choice, but I fear that doesn’t quite advertise my romantic/sexual unavailability enough.

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