We have a rest day. That means a trip to a nearby walled town, Lucca, or a day at the swimming pool at our agriturismo. Yes, Lucca for me.
Many in the group need a rest, perhaps excepting one very fit walker. She is tall and lanky and could walk much more than our group will. She is fast and very good. Really a grade higher than our ‘medium’ level walks. The other walkers vary but all are pretty impressive, all lean (except me after nearly 3 weeks of eating bread and cheese and not walking), all very fit.
My death from coughing? No longer imminent and I’ve almost stopped. Almost but at least it’s no longer for hours every time I lie down or sit up. Phew. Good to be feeling well again.
Well, I thought I was cured until I had to wait at the station for the train to Lucca. No one was there when I arrived. Not a soul.
No cafe, no coffee. Almost all Spanish stations have a coffee shop. The waiting room was a small, dark, unlit room with a high ceiling and a smell of smokers who’d ignored the no-smoking sign, oh, and a ticking clock and a hidden entry step I almost fell down, into the room. Anyhow, coughing in that echoey environment confirmed I’m only 90something percent cured still as I couldn’t ignore it.
Except for my coughing, it was very quiet until two women joined me waiting for the 08:35 train. One used headphones but the extruded noise was loud, very loud. My wait seemed interminable. Partly shared music doesn’t cut it! The other moved outside and walked up and down the platform singing along with her music.
Reminds me. Class and Brits. The Brits are so class conscious! It’s almost embarrassing. I hear 7 British accents and a Canadian when I hear the group and guide. I wasn’t thinking even about class until the recipient of a soft, and subtle, aside about ‘them’. The Brits hear region and class. Class is probably the more important. Doesn’t seem to be educational level but, class, perceived social advantage. Very interesting. Give me a few more days of observation while I keep being thankful I’m an Aussie. Back to Lucca and the day off.
No one, except me, wanted to head into Lucca early. Down a very hilly track from the agriturismo. Past a place where, if the dog doesn’t get you the owner might.
The forecast was for rain in the middle of the day so I figured, go early and return early. The others were going late (in the rain) and returning late for pizza down in the local town. I bought bread and cheese so I can skip dinner with everyone in town. (Will it will be followed by parlour games. 😒 I may not escape. Fingers crossed 😏)
Rain started to fall in Lucca at about lunchtime. Good timing as by then I’d had enough of walking the streets of another tourist mecca with a city wall.
…. cute… lots of cute and the requisite number of my fellow tourists in the main drag. Did I mention cute walls? Yes, very impressive and I’m sad to say I’m over cute things at present. As much as it’s cute, did I mention ‘cute’, it feels artificial. Contrived. People live here and have forever but it’s obviously been maintained and managed for tourists. And that makes it feel aaahhhh cute to me.
As I was catching the 13:32 train back I had some spare time. I ambled back and spend it in the station caf. Its wifi is better than that in the agriturismo and I was part way through downloading iOS 10 anyhow. Finished iPhone update. Still had to do the iPad and maps on the iPhone.
I did like the way three young women were watching a young guy in the caf. He was trying to impress and they were a little bemused by his attempts.
My train was 15′ later than scheduled anyhow so I could have, with hindsight. I gather there is zero sympathy for non Italian speakers or foreigners who are caught. Phew. I did not discover the consequences of not validating a ticket but I won’t forget in future either as I’ll train it back from Pisa to Florence after the walking trip.
Walking back to base from the train station I got lost. Thought nothing of it until I discovered one of the others got last at the same point. So it wasn’t just me, for once.
Two of us are not down doing pizza in the village. I like bread and cheese and gave half to my neighbour who is also not going down. She was tired after the walk up, surprising as she is the very good walker. Getting lost does that to you and she went much further in the wrong direction than I did. Much.
So, I was washing my knife to cut the cheese and, what did I spy in the basin? Scorpion number 3! One in the shower I squashed and washed. The next on the ceiling in the bedroom and so I live in hope it’s gone. Most recent um, went swimming down the plug hole. It looked moribund and only moved a bit as it swirled down, down. Now, was it a third one or the same one as number two? I watch my ceiling now every night. My last two nights in Tuscany will be in a reasonable hotel, assuming they have no scorpions. 😄
Back to the walking group to put another slant on it all for balance. Remember my initial qualifications about how I was describing the group: Brit reserve and Camp Granada? Who do you think is really the reserved one? Silver star if you guessed.
Who is the only one not to have gone to drinkies at 18:00, the only one to go to Lucca very early, the only one to obviously hate parlour games, the one to arrive and leave first from breakfast everyday, one of the two not at a group dinner last night, the only one who often spends time trying to milk a very slow internet etc. Hmmm. See a pattern? Yeeessss. I think I do.
With the Peru group I didn’t ever feel foreign and the odd one out or excluded. I liked the other members right from the start. They all put out from then and the few who knew each other (2 long term friends, a mother-daughter pair) mixed in. Small kindnesses seemed to be more de rigour than with this group.
This group is different. Having 75% the same nationality is part of the difference and, in the beginning some flaunting by those with insider knowledge didn’t help. However, individually, they are all very nice and some, very outgoing and chatty. Some are very smart, some very amusing and interesting, all are different mixes of those sorts of qualities. So, the group is ok after all. 🎉 I’ve not joined in as much as I could have.
In other words, a slower start (Brit type reticence) and a very different feeling. Plus it’s now clear, again, I am not cured yet. So I just don’t feel 100%.