THURSDAY, AUGUST 13
Got up early to catch the train to Naples. I really like train travel. It's easy to navigate, clean and comfy. No matter what scenery drifts by the window, I find so much looks like home. Fields of corn and wheat, little ponds and dirt paths, all manner of farm animals and the glorious sun looking over it all. I have just caught my first glimpse of Vesuvius. We do not have that in Canada.
Naples is a dirty little city. For all the sweeping and laundry hanging over balconies and strung across alleys you would think it would be. This amuses me. The streets are very narrow and I have no idea how traffic signs work. Apparently the little green man is not walking. He is running. It is an option, even a dare to try to cross. It's like the lions and the Christians. These Italians would love me to step into the crosswalk of death. Most of these little cars are at least missing mirrors and sport all manner of dents that I can only assume are from bodies bounced across piazzas.
There are lots of handsome, dark googly eyed men and Italian women confidently clicking their high heels along this cobblestone I can only seem to stumble on. The tourist women who try to imitate the Italians look like cripples hobbling and lurching in their knock off heels.
I wandered through little alleys and shops for a few hours until I came across a massive fish market. I hate the smell of fish and I hate the taste of the slimy little bastards even more. When I was little my dad tried to force this crap on me. I saw no need at all to consume such horror and every Friday of my childhood we had Fish night Fish fight. I was happy to trade dead fish for spanking and starving. My mom really liked me and took pity on me one fine Friday. She was busy at the stove cooking the vile flesh in molten lava and called me over. Without a word, she plopped a glob of batter into the oil and smiled. It fizzled and fought until it found it's place on my plate. A perfect imposter. At first, I started to gobble it down. Who doesn't love flour and water saturated in hot oil? When the king looked at me with obvious victory in his eyes. I realized I had better do my best I hate this crap impersonation, so I gave him the satisfaction of watching me pretend to choke it down. The ruse continued until I was old enough to learn to just stay away from home on Friday nights. Trying to navigate a fish market in Naples is like trying to get the hell out of Ikea. I am sure there are people who have been trapped in those stores for years, wandering like Zombies now from bedroom to kitchen to bedroom to kitchen.
I'm out. I can breathe again, but I feel completely violated. My rule when lost, and I most certainly am, is to remember to get a map next time and to park in a restaurant, act like I am not, and regroup.
There are little cafes everywhere and they all sound like Babel to me. So many languages singing together and I cannot eavesdrop on any. There are honeymooners everywhere. I am the only one alone. Oh the pitiful looks. I hear an American couple arguing. Another two sit and stare bored and tired of each other. They are probably thinking this would be great if they were here with someone else. I enjoy being alone. I am quite shellfish that way. ;) If there was someone with me, all day long I would have to ask, "What do you want to do today?…what about now?….what about later?" I do as I please and I rarely give myself grief over the agenda. It reminds me of a golf trip with a bunch of women regularly cued up to call their spouses. I had a spouse at the time, but I envied Fargo who did not. She stood smiling and waiting all smugly like only a happy singlet can, so I forced her to call herself and leave a message telling her she was fine and was having a great time. She said she was probably pissed because she didn't answer, and we carried on such nonsense the whole week. Fargo, you better pick up something nice for yourself or you're gonna get an earful when you get home…etc etc.
I sip my wine and relish my first Italian pizza. It did not disappoint and reminded me of my pint sized Italian grandmother whom I could not understand, but who enchanted me. We went to her house every Sunday for dinners of pasta. She would give us each a shot glass of wine and we would pretend to be drunken fools. There were seven children in our family and she and my grandfather were wonderful to us all. After dinner we would pile into the living room, sit on the floor and eat fat cheese sandwiches with warm milky tea. We watched My Favourite Martian followed by The Ed Sullivan Show and eagerly awaited Topo Gigo to say goodnight. I was taller than my grandmother by the age of 9. I remember her offering my sister (who loved animals) a fat chicken. She was so excited and we both nodded enthusiastically YES PLEASE! With that, she smiled, broke it's neck, handed it over and toddled off toward the house. Her suggestion for dinner was lost in translation and we have both been scarred for life by a tiny little Italian.
Back in my hotel with my brand new map. Here's a travel tip: If you download a great map of Naples in Canada, bring it with you next time. I'm sitting up on the rooftop bar contemplating the odds of hard boiled eggs for breakfast.
TO READ MORE OF MY EXPLOITS CLICK ON THAT TINY LITTLE ARROW AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE. THEY ARE IN REVERSE ORDER SO THE LAST PAGE IS ACTUALLY THE BEGINNING. ENJOY!