The Italian Job travel blog















Pronounced lechie.

A three hour tour... I'm pretty sure Galligan didn't get toilet stops for a three hour tour. What do you think?

We have had to stop for the little old ladies... And the little old men. We waited for so long I thought I'd have to go too but I withstood the temptation. The true colours of the people are slowly emerging.

We have a lady from tassie who not only knows everything but butts into everyone's conversations and is a dobber. She tries to be the teachers pet but I secretly think the guides are on to her. Constantly complains that things aren't good enough. Hard to get a decent perspective on her moral high horse!

We have a Maltese lady who walks like an Oompa Loompa. She's the one who was asking me the million questions about the kettle. She's nice enough but as thick as two short planks. In Rome she bought a sheet of stickers thinking they were stamps. Warned us all about the 'scam'. There was no scam. She's as thick as a brick. Blind freddy could tell they weren't stamps. The crack up is that she paid 30€ for 10.

Then we have little Ol' wine drinker me... The 75 year old who's every sentence starts or stops with I'd rather be drinking whisky. She's ok Lost her eyebrow pencil today. Personally I think she'll look better with the eyebrows God gave here rather than the 'I'm really surprised' eyes she normally has.

After that we have Monica who is scared of her shadow. She is a Commins dream. Subscribes to all kinds of superstitions and conspiracy theories. She's also a gossip. She told everyone I was unwell last night so I've had 20 enquiries about my health. She doesn't wait for the answer... She's so busy flitting about and never shuts up long enough to take everything in, that she gets things mixed up and is a constant state of confusion.

Then there's Helen. She has a baby voice and theatrical hands but in a stupid way. She's scared of her shadow too. She fancies herself as a bit of an English lady. In 2013 she had a broken wrist and in a separate accident a broken ankle so I understand her fear but she's a pain in the behind. She's very special. Her husband misses out on stuff to tend to her. Has the patience of Job that man. He's a nice enough guy. Don't really know him because sucks up the oxygen and the energy.

Then there's Phillip, the teensy weensy gay man who Kevin said he hated. For the he people who aren't sure what happened to him - he found his own way back so he's with us again. However he told David this am that he met a local young man who is going to show him around tonight... A private tour. I said to David we might not ever see him again. I don't think it's a good idea. He could get bashed, robbed, gang raped... He's pretty flamboyantly gay and tiny. I'm pretty convinced it's very naive to go out tonight with someone he doesn't know on his own. I don't know whether his intentions are nefarious or not, nor do I know the intentions of the young man but my whoop whoop sirens are going off. He's 64 and very lonely. Admits to looking for live in all the wrong places.

Graham, the single guy who is 58 and looking for miss right... Well he's a disappointment. He took photos in the Sistine chapel and in the caves yesterday. he also takes the breakfast food so he doesn't have to buy lunch, and he doesn't pay for the toilet stops. That's just scabby. I was interested to hear Kevin complain about it given he is always looking for a way to get something for free or at someone else's expense. So it must be very bad if Kevin is offended.

The others are almost all so inoffensive so as to be exempt from my unkind tongue. Pam is married to Paul. He's the coeliac. He has it so bad that he's become more intolerant of gluten the longer he's been off it. I think he's nice. So is she... Just a bit quieter. He's got a good sense of humour.

There's Jen and Don... They are retired school teachers... She still sounds like one... You know.. The slow d liberate speech, pronouncing everything correctly and mouthing the vowels. Private school upbringing I'd say. Have designer travel gear on. Always looking immaculate. Very nice people though. It was Jen who started the story about what's in my bag because of the things I pulled out to help her with when she was really sick. Their friends Jill and graham, known as collie, are also school teachers. They all met on a previous tour and are also travelling with Monica. I don't know a lot about them. They are more reserved.

Lastly there's Pam and Peter from highton in geelong. They are both so short they are almost little people. He seems nice... She's a mouse. He and I had a conversation about organised religion. He agrees with me that it is the hugest con perpetrated on people since Santa Claus, Easter bunny and the tooth fairy, but even those three don't continue to press their falsehoods on adults.

The guide is a younger woman of either 32 or 38. Depends who you ask. I think 38. She has a 2 year old who has been left with her partner. I'm not sure if she's new to guiding but for sure she knows nothing about this part of Italy. She's also scared of creatures being in her room. Right now we are staying in the caves at Matera still, and the locals say they are at a steady temperature but that's just not so. Some rooms, including mine get the sun allay and into the evening. Obviously also including hers. So the dilemma every night is whether to shut the windows... No fly wire.... I've decided to leave the bathroom open and close the bedroom for fear of flying things etc. She apparently found a long worm thing in her room on the wall and ran out in her nightie screaming and Kevin raced out to help her. Eventually a real man turned up and removed the worm from the wall. Last night a freak out over a scarab beetle. So a little bit flighty but a very decent human being. The other day she said to Julie the complainer that she would listen but was going to limit the reports back to the hotel management to emergencies. I'm pretty sure I snorted trying to swallow my laughter.

She complained about staying in caves but yesterday told anyone who would listen that Bunnik should try harder and why didn't they organise for us to stay in the cone houses. This is the woman who doesn't want yo be in a cave. Can't win. I've had to give her more of my special adhesive pressure area tape today for her foot. I should cut a bigger piece and she could use it over her mouth. Would take the pressure off Emanualla. The worst thing is that her mother is/was dying. Yesterday she was minutes from death and we were expecting her to be distraught today but her mother has done s Lazarus and today has been showered, ate brekkie and been discharged to a nursing home. That's how we deal with bed blockers in the public health system in tassie, move them out and make them someone else's problem. Someone asked her whether she would leave or should leave because of her mother and she said why should I. Pretty much sums her up. Her ego is as big as Texas.

A beautiful young woman called Ana showed us the basilica and the cathedral. They were both beautiful in different ways. I took some photos but by the time I get home I won't remember why I thought they were significant.

The three of us went for lunch, but Kevin decided he was having Maccas and stuff us. David and I eventually decided to go next door and I had an aperitivo platter with an Aperol spritzer. It's the orange skin liqueur that goes with soda or prosecco. Definitely not gluten free but no time to be precious. It had mini bits and pieces of deliciousness. Kevin ate his Maccas under the table like a fool. I also had a lecce coffee. Espresso over ice with almond syrup. Yeah... Nah.... Don't need to do that again.

Back in the bus and off to Ostuni.

So I'm a bit unclear about this. Although we hear everything about three times sometimes I still have no clue. In Italian incompetenti. (Clueless) I thought we were having a tour but we got there, walked up a frigging big hill..... I thought we were there waiting for the guide but then Emanualla gave out 6 maps between 24 of us and started leading us up another hill. However it was clear even to me that she had the map upside down. Eventually she asked and yes we were going the wrong way. Down we went and up the opposite way. We walked up to a cathedral that we could pay to go in... Uptake zero. And an hour free time. I'm at a loss to know what we were doing. So we did what we do... Tried to get away from the group for a bit. We headed down a nondescript lane to see the view and were immediately followed by everyone. Angelo and Carmel wanted their photo taken and I volunteered Kevin. A mistake as more people lined up. I felt bad as then Helen and frank wanted their photo taken and didn't know how how to use their own camera so we lost 15 mins while Kevin sorted it out. We headed off down some other streets and found a cafeteria. I wanted an iced coffee and the boys said yes they would too. I looked at the menu and said they have cold coffee (Espressino Fredo) but I'm not seeing iced coffee so I asked the man who said yes. I said to the boys I'm not feeling confident that we are getting iced coffees and sure enough black coffee came out in liqueur glasses. I felt it... It was cold. So I tasted it. It was a cold espresso loaded with sugar. It was delicious. Kevin and I had two each.

The others followed us there too so we moved on and walked slowly up and down streets. We ended up in the square and had gelati. I had coconut and coffee. Magnificent.

We wandered to the meeting place and when Emanualla started counting people and looking around for the ones not there. Next minute Phillip bolted up to us like he was doing the 4 minute mile. He was furious. He said we aren't missing. We have been sitting over there for 15 minutes and we told 5 people to pass the message on. He had a little spack attack. I took him aside and let him debrief because he was getting ready to blow his stack at some of the group.

Additionally Paul gave Julie a piece of his mind over photographs. She rushes in and pushes her way forward as if something that's been there for 2000 years is going to vanish in the next 30 secs. So he had a go at her. She bit back, he had a second go. She backed off. However... Then of course he was the bad guy so his wife gave him a mouthful. Poor guy can't win!!

Back on the bus and a three hour trip to get home.

Graham reclined his seat to such an extent that Carmel was jammed into her seat. Paul has a photo that he will send eventually. It was so funny. But also so terrible. What a selfish Pratt.

On the way home we passed the jupiter2. Remember lost in space. I'll put the photo in.

I've had a bit of a chat with the boys. I asked if I should join them for dinner or if they wanted a night alone. They said I was always welcome. They are already talking about a trip to Japan. I'm pretty sure they have absolutely no insight into what they do. Not sure how to broach the subject more but might if an opportunity arises.

I forgot to tell you something funny that happened on our way to the Vatican. We stopped outside a church to hear some info and Carmel sat on a pillar bollard thing that closed off a street. A car came along that had an automatic opener thingie and the pillar things disappeared into the ground with Carmel still sitting on it.... Trying to stagger off it. It was a private street for official cars. Her face was priceless as it didn't make sense to her as the car came up behind her so from her point of view it was just sinking. Maybe you had to be there but it was funny.

Got back just after six to Matera. By the time we walked back to the motel via the restaurant to make a booking and also backtracked to the supermarket it was 7.15. Our booking was at 8 and lucky because it turned out almost everybody went to the same restaurant as us but earlier.

Emanualla ate with us tonight which was nice. Conversation didn't always glow quite freely but still it was good. The others came up when they left to complain about the meal etc. When we left she asked the waitress what happened. Apparently when the waiter took out the calamari one piece of calamari and the lemon fell on the ground. The waiter placed the plate and picked up the stuff from the ground and returned with a new piece of lemon but not an extra piece of calamari. I guess she will get their version of it tomorrow. I swear our group are petty.

Anyway now she feels guilty that she should have eaten with them instead. I told her just to say thanks for the feedback and that she wouldn't recommend the restaurant to subsequent groups which would make them happy and if she did or not that was up to her. She laughed and laughed and practised saying it . It seems she can see how that can be useful.

So now it's late and I have an early start for a five hour trip tomorrow to Giardini Naxos. Hoping all is well at home and you are enjoying the stories. I don't feel as though this trip is as entertaining as some of the other ones.

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