My toes are cramping from curling them, my teeth are aching from clamping them and my stomach is in knots. I’ve given up with faux braking and am assuming the fetal position.
There is no need to seek out a theme park for a thrill ride. Any Italian road will do, whether on foot or in a car.
Boldly striped pedestrian crossings meant to give one the right of way appear to be optional for the motorist.
Once across the busy north/south road along the promenade in the seaside town it was tempting to let one’s guard down only to be taken out by a cyclist on the cycle path.
The promenade was no sanctuary for the unwary as cyclists sought their thrills weaving in and out of pedestrians or taking a high speed direct line to watch unsuspecting pedestrians leap left and right like a bowling ball down the middle of the pins for a strike.
We fared no better in my (new!) car. Himself braked for a cyclist who cut in front of him then he swerved as she proceeded in front of him completely oblivious while talking on her phone. When he swerved left to avoid her, a car came out from a side road on the left and having avoided that a whole family stepped out onto a pedestrian crossing in front of us.
I assumed the autostrade – being wider with no pedestrians and limited access – would be less nerve-wracking.
We watched a car full of young lads tailgate a motorcycle to within a meter of him. The motorcycle was boxed in with nowhere to go. As we were all doing 80 mph, we willed the motorcyclist to hold his nerve and not fall off.
The style of driving here is to stay as close as possible to the motor in front whether traveling at 15 mph or 80 mph. A 15 mph rear-ender would be annoying. At 80 mph it would be deadly.
The tailgaters on the autostrade – predominately BMWs, Mercedes and Audis – given an open road are easily motoring at 120 mph.
I’m going to close my eyes now and pretend I’m not in the car.
Okay. Awake now. We survived. Toll to be paid. Himself pulled up to an automated toll booth. Great. Cash only. Oh wonderful.
I inserted the ticket I’d taken at the start of the day (remember we are in a right-hand drive car in a country of left-hand drive cars so tackling tolls is my job – lucky me). The digital readout was €28.50. A ten and a twenty. That should be easy.
I tried to insert the ten. It wouldn’t go in. I turned it over. Nope. I turned it around. Nope. And over. Success!
The machine sucked in the bill, spat it out again and it blew away! I couldn’t open the door as himself had thoughtfully pulled up to the toll gubbins as close as he could so I could reach. He pulled forward at an angle so I could squeeze out of the door in my bare feet (no time to find flip-flops). In my panic I hit my head, knocking off my sunglasses (****!) then chased the bill down the road.
Back in the car:
“You have to! I can’t reach!”
“There’s a car behind me!”
“The barrier’s still down!”
He did back up. Now what?
We certainly didn’t have €28.50 in coins. I tried the ten again. The machine sucked it up and I slapped my hand over the slot. It didn’t reappear. I tried the twenty and slapped the machine again with more than necessary vigor. It disappeared too and change tinkled out.
I think the toll machine is related to our SatNav – another long tale of woe to follow.
The same three cars were still at the toll booth in the next lane as our barrier went up and we drew away.
So it’s not just me.
Or is it?
Where’s my sofa? I want to go home.
The photos in this post, taken in Numana, Italy, are completely irrelevant to the subject matter here and are purely to keep me in a calm frame of mind as I read and proofread the post.