Thursday, October 9, 2014

journey back to Italy- Perth to Pisticci

It is not particularly straightforward to go from Perth to Pisticci. This is not all down to lack of money- though I suppose if you had your own jet and a helicopter it would make a difference.....
However this last journey was the first time I did the whole journey from door to door by my own efforts (except for katy getting up at before 6am and giving me a lift to the railway station - I suppose I could have got a taxi.....but was much nicer having Katy drive me.)
So, starting from Perth railway station- waiting beside the wrong train - until a kind gentleman - told us - "it's the one in front dear.." my journey began. This time I had hold luggage which is more than I normally travel with and after a lot of rearranging I had managed to fill a smallish suitcase with almost 20kgs of art stuff, magazines, a lap top, three tin coffee and tea containers, two small vases, various toiletries which are cheaper in Scotland, a big fat jumper and several chargers.....5 calendars, 3 diaries, a murano plug thingy for wine bottles and I can't remember any more. It had a pull out handle and a habit of twirling.
I also had another small suitcase to take on the plane. It mostly had clothes in it and a pair of boots and some odds n ends. Then I had a rather garish handbag which looked like a centurions kilt but was exactly the dimensions allowed as extra hand baggage on ryanair flights. And then I had a hat. I love this hat which I bought when I was feeling a bit flat and wanted something to make me look more fun. Its a sort of female version of a bowler hat - made of felt. I couldn't possibly have packed it as it would have got squashed out of shape so I had to wear it. It didn't stay on very well but I had an arrangement with a kirby grip which I thought would give me time to grab it before it blew away completely.
I managed quite well really to get me and my stuff on to the train and it was a pleasant journey stopping at what seemed like 20 stops on the way to Haymarket. It was on time though and as I had remembered to bring food and drink (In my coat pockets of course) the time passed quite nicely. There was some pretty countryside to look at when it was light  and some swans looking  almost luminous against a black lake. We went over the forth railway bridge which I always think is quite exciting. I wondered what it feels like to live beneath it. I love looking down on the little village at the edge.
When we got to Haymarket I had my handbag slung over my shoulder, a suitcase in either hand and my hat stuck as firmly as possible (not very) on my head and if  I could have I would have had my fingers crossed hoping for escalators. Hurray- there were, and it was easy to just walk out of the station and  20 metres away was the airport bus stop. Luckily it was not a windy day.
The airport bus was slightly tricky to get on and I had to manhandle my luggage to the luggage rack. unfortunately , due to my "absolute necessity" for calendars etc, etc I was physically unable to lift the heavier suitcase above my head - or even waist!
I found it quite a reassuring journey as there is a  display saying how long it takes to the airport so I more or less knew I would be in good time.
Managed to get off the bus and once I got going as long as there was no wind and not too many people I trundled along quite happily wearing my little black hat.
Having not done hold luggage before I needed a little help to understand some machines which did something and printed out a luggage label thingy. Then I took my heavy suitcase to the desk and ( I could lift it conveyer belt high) and off it went. "You do know you will need to put your handbag in your suitcase as Easyjet only allow one piece of luggage " said the evil woman at the desk,  smiling sweetly as she said , "It will only cost you £30 if you book it in now- but it will be £45 if you are stopped upstairs.
I had completely missed that.
I decided that I would make it fit in even if I had to take all the clothes out and wear them to get it in. I forgot to mention that the large handbag had sketchpads, my kindle , camera and as much heavy stuff as I could get in. I sort of hid behind a pillar , took half the clothes out and the handbag took up exactly half of the suitcase. By careful, if hurried arranging, and then as a last resort sitting on it hoping the zip wouldn't burst I miraculously got almost everything in. Luckily I had eaten all the food so my four large pockets in my jacket took the remains.
With an evil cackle and my hat at a jaunty angle I set off for the next bit. That all went reasonably smoothly but I had forgotten to take off my gold pendant so I "beeped" and then had to stand in the body scanner with my arms above my head. Felt a little embarrassing!
Other than my hat having fallen out of the box on to the conveyer belt and nearly getting squashed between  two boxes it was done.
I had time to go have a coffee at Wetherspoons and relax. There was a bit of a muddle with the gates but  nothing to worry about.  I was among the first on the plane and the journey went very smoothly as I put my hat carefully under the seat to keep safe.
We arrived at Stanstead about 11am and I had about six hours to hang around so waiting for luggage was no big deal- it passed the time.
I managed to push my suitcases under a table where I could keep an eye on them in Costa's and had a really delicious soya cappucino. Probably the best one yet.
I have travelled a lot on my own but usually with hand luggage  only and it is quite tricky. Just let me say that toilets are not made to take a person and two suitcases, a large handbag and a precious hat.
The time passed reasonably pleasantly and I was able to drop off my heavy suitcase early and remembering to take off my pendant I got into the departure lounge - which is to my disappointment in the middle of a refurbishment. Luckily I kept going until I found Wetherspoons and a glass of wine and a chicken thingy at a table right next to the notice board so no need to wonder if I was missing something. Bliss!
The same muddle with gates happened again and we all trouped back and forward but again I was among the first on and found that if I put my handbag under the seat my hat fitted perfectly between the bottom of the seat and the bag. like it was made for it.
It was a perfectly nice flight again. Nothing much happened.
We arrived in Bari on time and as soon as I got off the plane I could feel the rise in temperature and the half guilty smile that always seems to spread across my face every time I return to Italy.  Like "Yeah! I am getting out to play again!!"
It took a while for the luggage to arrive but I was in no hurry. Just a bit tired.
I went twice round the airport building with a quick visit to tourist info to find the bus into Bari where I had a room booked in a guest house near the  railway station.
Other than feeling very sorry for the bus driver who didn't expect my suitcase to weigh twice as much  as normal (- I did say - "E molto pessante!") and nearly fell in the luggage hold after it, it was only 4 euros to go all the way into town.
It was dark by now and having got off the bus I was standing outside the railway station trying to work out which way I should go to find the guest house. I am not very good at map reading or seeing the screen on my phone without taking my glasses off .. To take my glasses of I needed to take my hat off.
I was quite tired by now.
I set off in a direction and hoped I would find the place. (this actually was my thinking) About an hour later and in a very bad mood having asked countless people who each - honestly - sent me in a different direction and phoned the guest house - who were not a lot of help as I didn't know where I was. I had found a number 24 in a street I guessed might be the place but then having asked someone in that same street where the address was they sent me off back past the station. The guest house was reputedly 550 metres from the railway station.  So I went back to the station - which I could find...
I got in a taxi and paid 15 euros to get taken straight along a road , one turn off to the left and dropped at - guess where- the same number 24. I honestly thought that the driver was having a laugh but as I peered at the names at the entrance of what appeared to be a block of flats- right down in the corner was written guest house.
I was so happy to finally get there. I would not recommend walking round Bari in the dark, let alone encumbered with two suitcases etc.
The girl who welcomed me in was just lovely, the room was great, breakfast was provided - all set out on a table and all this only cost 20euros .( would have been 22 but she had no change. I had given all mine to the taxi driver!)
I had bought a small bottle of wine on the plane and a chicken wrap so had a delightful picnic in my room. (I think I was ever so slightly hysterically happy to be safe and sound.- and  it might have been the wine too.!)
I had a decent sleep and there was no rush in the morning so had swiss roll and a croissant for breakfast before setting off again.
I went the same way as the taxi. , right at the end of the street and straight along. It took about 4 minutes to the station.
After only about four sets of instructions and then a very friendly helpful cleaner I found the special railway that goes to Matera.  Bought my ticket and had an hour to wait. Passed the time looking for a toilet that didn't involve carrying suitcases up and down stairs. My arms ached a bit. And the heavy suitcase tended to do a twirl and get stuck coming off pavements.
It was a pretty little station. up high. I quite enjoyed just hanging out there. Then the train for Matera arrived and I got on with no bother,  found a place for all my luggage and my hat. By now I had packed my jumper and jacket and was wishing I didn't need to wear the furry boots I had put on in Scotland- but there was no way they would fit in my case . so I was stuck with tee -shirt, leggins, boots and a hat.
Was not a particularly interesting trip- just field after field of olive trees, but as I got nearer Matera the countryside changed and got more hilly. I felt like i was coming home.
I staggered literally up the steps of the station in Matera  dragging my luggage and arrived in the bus station where I bought a ticket to Pisticci. On being told that the toilets were downstairs" HUH!" I  headed off into town to find the nearest cafe where there was a toilet on the same level and someone could watch my suitcases. That arranged it was nice to feel nearly home and enjoy another soya cappucino. I had plenty of time so strolled with minimal suitcase twirling back to the bus station.
I nearly didn't get on the right bus - because it said it only went to Pisticci scalo - but luckily Gianpierro who I know helped me on to it. Then , I had to change buses  and got talking to  Carlantonio who turned out to be a facebook friend of mine and he helped me off again when we arrived at Pisticci.
Next (nearly there now) I got on the little orange bus which goes round Pisticci and got chatting to Graziella who was a friend of Carlantonio.
I got dropped off in the Piazza san Rocco and - last set of steps down  into Dirupo and only nice flat streets to negotiate. On the way said  "Ciao " to three people who had missed me. (How nice to be back.....)
And then just as I was almost at my street - the road was blocked off by a lorry and huge piles of sand so I had to squeeze past scaffolding and builders - dragging my twirling suitcase with my sore arm  - go  back along the street where my artists retreat is - down more steps and then back again- where I met Anna who was looking after my little house- so nice to see her and I arranged to pick up my key,  round the corner - up a small hill and turn and there was my studio. Oh thank goodness!!!
 It all looked great. My flowers were alive and blooming, the sun was shining, I found my key and I was home.
Pretty easy really..........
my room in Bari

station for Matera in Bari

cafe in Matera

home at last

dirupo in Pisticci

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