Messages From Beyond

2nd May 2015
“Can You Hear Me Mother?”

Europe Flight 2015

I really must work out the perfect pre-flight diet to eliminate, or at least minimise, internal gaseous build-up on long flights. Still, wafting odours assure me I am not alone with the problem and trying to restrain oneself leads only to gut pain. And what did the in-flight meals contain? Oh, chick peas, lentils, broccoli and onions: all good gas-producing constituents. Apart from that, the flight/s (one more to come as we’re on a train into Rome Central to kill a few hours before the third leg of this marathon 19 flight-hours journey ) were mundane. The additional two and a half hour transit time in Abu Dhabi was far too long in our tired state, but the 8 hour stopover in Rome gives us plenty of time to take a train down town and to wander its early-morning bustling streets.

Etihad isn’t a bad airline and their staff are wonderful. And, I must say, what gorgeous gels they hire, what!

The flight from Rome to Bologna is on a domestic Italian carrier. The airline is based in Genoa, north of Rome, and is called Genitalia.

Heheheheheh. I’m choking. This was but a joke told to me recently by brother Tom and I have had great fun retelling it to all and sundry. The reactions have been interesting too, including shock-and-disgust from those who believed me.

OK, it was really Alitalia.

In Rome we remind ourselves through trial and error of how to get the best priced coffee. We had forgotten that we shouldn’t sit down at a table and/or get table service, but to order and consume the coffee at the bar (otherwise the price goes up fourfold). Later, Rachel resisted buying some great Italian-made fashion sandals at a great price, and I didn’t resist buying a casual jacket at another shop. Oh, Vatican city? The Cistine Chapel, etc.etc.? Hey, gimme a break. Italy is full of such architectural wonders.

European Flight 2015

On the leg from Abu Dhabi to Rome I sat next to a rangy, long-flaxen-haired and bearded middle-aged Australian. I noted his forearms looked particularly strong. He duly revealed that he was a shearer. I suggested that he could probably shear 100 sheep a day. He replied that his best is 340 in a day – that is a commendable physical feat – but admitted that one of his team could shear 400. The shearing season is coming to an end in Oz, so he and his gang come over to Italy to shear a rural circuit for the northern summer. They earn 1 Euro per sheep sheared – cash – accommodation and food all found. I mention the fact that these sheep retain their tails as opposed to Aussie sheep; it seems this breed is mostly the Sarda – a milking sheep – and they must not nick them while shearing as the flies will immediately bite and infect them. He and his gang usually finish the season by spending a week or two in Amsterdam followed by a couple of weeks in Thailand before heading home. Clearly, it is exclusively a masculine-type lifestyle, yet, though I am physically well past it, it still sounds enticing.

Ultimately, and typically for Europe, we breeze through Immigration and Customs and are in and on our way. The seemingly light treatment by both these departments does have us wondering once more about the OTT and precious attitude Australian (and NZ) authorities have to visitors.