Italy – good for company and coffee, absolutely terrible for trying to get anything done. We had a pleasant week, if slightly marred by sickness, and we’ve decided that Italy would not be a good place for us to live long-term.
6/9 Monday Ahhh Italy, there’s nowhere like it. We spent the morning working and the afternoon looking for a cafe with wifi – and I am not joking when I say we spent three hours walking around trying to find one. McDonald’s has free wifi but you need an Italian ID and phone number to use it – eventually we went to the place we’d glimpsed from the bus window as we arrived on Sunday. Thank goodness, their internet was free and fastish and we got a fair bit achieved. In the evening we ate at the hotel and turned in early.
7/9 Tuesday Craig wasn’t feeling too well so I headed to the cafe with wifi alone. I worked for about five minutes when all went terribly wrong – the internet stopped working! I tried everything but to no avail, and stomped home in the rain. There’s wifi in the hotel, but it costs a euro an hour and is incredibly slow. We didn’t have much option though – I paid two euros and got about ten minutes worth of work done in the two hours. Awesome.
8/9 Wednesday The wifi cafe continued to fail us. We had a nice lunch up at the castle with Brendan and Helen though.
9/9 Thursday We finally got around to doing some sightseeing – nothing special, just a wander around the city. We’ve spent time in Udine before, so nothing was new, but it’s a lovely place to look around. Of course, our priorities are firmly established, so we stopped for a coffee and tasty snack along the way.
In the evening, we had dinner with the group of teachers then a bunch of us headed out for a drink in the centre of town. We went to a cafe that was having a “black” night as part of the rather low-key festival that’s going on at the moment. We all wore black but the dress code wasn’t very strongly enforced!
10/9 Friday Our last full day in Italy and our last day of frustration. We had lunch up at the castle with Brendan and Helen – this time we ate pasta. On Wednesday the kitchen had been closed and we just had (very tasty) prosciutto, cheese and bread. Dinner was pizza from a place down the road, and I sat around with the teachers chatting and drinking wine while Craig headed to bed early.
11/9 Saturday The Italian public transport system isn’t bad as such, but we did have to leave the hotel really early in order to be sure of catching our flight on time. All our connections went smoothly though – a half-hour walk to the station, a train ride (we used the last day of our Eurail pass on the 90 minute trip to Treviso) and a bus to the airport. There was time for a couple of games of chess before our flight (we won one each) and the flight was smooth and uneventful.
Getting to Leeds city centre was easy – there’s a direct bus – and we made the most of the free wifi in a Wetherspoons pub before being joined by a couple of locals who we talked to for an hour or so.
We’re couchsurfing here in Leeds, so we caught the bus out to Armley and had a little bit of trouble finding the street we needed. We asked a racist old man in the street, an unknowledgeable corner store owner, and three iPhone-armed cops before we found it.
Our hosts Anna and Joe are lovely, they took us out for a pint and we spent the evening chatting in their local pub.
12/9 Sunday One of the main reasons we came to Leeds was to meet Darren Cronian of My Life in Leeds and Travel Rants. We met him (a little late due to public transport issues) at the statue of the Black Knight and he took us on a grand tour of the city. It’s a really pretty place and we enjoyed wandering around looking at the architecture – a lot of styles are represented and the weather was gorgeous so it was at its best.
We had a tradtional English lunch, which being Sunday meant a full roast in a pub hidden down an alley. We also visited the City Museum and had a coffee in the Tiled Hall, which is an incredible room whose bright decorations were only recently re-discovered after being hidden by shelving in the sixties.
In the evening we managed to get a bit of work done, then watched a movie with Joe.