97 Days Adrift in Europe
Part One – Leaving on a Jet Plane (to Bologna)
Leaving Australia for three months in Europe, even after 60 years of travelling I am still able to be hornswoggled at peoples’ attempts to make their holidays as unenjoyable as possible.
What do people take with them? My ‘hold’ luggage is just under 10kg, for 3 months away, and of that at least 2kg is shoes and miscellaneous bits of electronic crap such as adaptors designed to deal with the fact that, 140 years after the first electricity networks and 42 years after the first mobile phone, the geniuses that run our societies have still not managed to adopt a universal electricity socket or recharging socket in electrical devices.
There is a rule which airlines apply, in Australia, that the more people who need to check in the fewer check in desks are open. The couple in front of me have now been occupying one of the two open check ins while they debate what to do with
For Australians air travel is the modern day form of the Inquisition. You can’t escape it. The people who work in the air travel industry want to know everything about you and are determined to punish you for even the most minor indiscretion or infidelity. Every single aspect is designed to hurt as much as possible with as little logic as possible.
Still, there are strategies to ease the pain and get a degree of revenge, providing you are prepared to withstand the Julie Bishop type ‘look of death’ from fellow passengers. Yes, the errant passenger that the desk staff have been frustratingly calling for ten minutes â€“ that is me. Because if you are the very last passenger to board you can take the pick of any empty seats, knowing there is no one else behind you. For this it is worth holding up an entire plane load of passengers and being thought a dickhead by everyone watching you coming down the aisle.
Ten hours after boarding we descend into Bangkok. The Thais have, very cleverly, managed to build a brand new airport that looks if it was built in the 1960s. They appear to have let loose some crazy Soviet era architect with an instruction to leave no spare bucket of concrete unused. The contrast with Dubai’s new airport could not be starker. Here, some petty tyrant clearly decided that too much marble was barely enough, preferably enhanced by falling water or plants. It is a luxury hotel without beds though I’m sure those exist somewhere.
We are heading for Bologna. I admit I had never considered, in my ignorance, visiting Bologna. It won the lottery when Emirates offered $1400 return fares to a choice cities in Europe…Amsterdam (cold), Paris (cold), Stockholm (cold)…..Bologna (warm). So here I am in what turns out to be one of the world’s oldest contemporary cities dating back as an urban centre to the Etruscans.
As it turns out this is a great choice. Bologna is relatively small, elegant, interesting, beautiful. I have found an AirBnB, in Via del Pratello not 500 metres from the main square where each building is older by itself that ten of Australia’s oldest buildings.
To get to the main square I must pass on foot down an old cobbled street, forcing myself past a line of cafes, bars and restaurants all full of carousing Bolognans busy ensuring nothing sleeps before 3 am and nothing starts before 10 am. Life as she should be lived.
From here I pass along the Via Ugo Bassi, one of Bologna’s famous colonnaded roads. The colonnades were added when the city became the world’s first university town and the students were a
The city also boasts a myriad of ancient towers which rich families build, so fa
A circuit of central Bologna by bike takes only a matter of hours and you can hire bikes just of the square for a few euros…following the landmark towers, canals and churches. All topped off by a long walk up under the 666 arches of the world’s longest colonnaded street to the famous Madonna San Luca.
The full archive of the selected images used in this post can be found on Flickr below: