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Published: June 26th 2017
When trying to think of a novel start to this blog (or
should that be ‘start of a novel…!!!) Roisin suggested that we begin our journey from work. If it wasn't for my bad back I would have jumped up and down
with glee for this was a splendid idea. (5 lines in and I've started to write in the style of Enid Blyton!!!)
Due to my bad back, Roisin packed both cases and dragged them down stairs and loaded them in to the car. On the morning of our departure, my back was giving me problems so she drove the car to work.
It transpired that in her haste, Roisin had forgot to pack my black dickie and my cuff links. Disaster!! This meant that, in spite of my bad back (I think it is a trapped nerve!), I would have to walk to M & S, all of 400m, to see if I could find cheap replacements. The cruising clientele don't seem to notice such things. I've been walking around in a Primark pair of patent leather shoes I bought for £10, 4 years ago. No-one gives a second glance.
Some colleagues weren't aware that
we were travelling straight from work and made such comments as ‘Oh! I couldn't go on my holidays straight from work. I much
prefer to go from home!!' I
can see the point if you have to leave at 3am in the morning. Unless you worked in an all night takeaway, then I agree, it would be pointless but our plan was to leave work at about 3pm, drive down to Gatwick where we would stay overnight or our flight to Genoa tomorrow at 10am. I can't see the difference if we leave from work or from home!
As it turned out, Roisin didn't only forget a few of my favourite things (oh no, now I'm starting to quote ‘the Sound of Music!!') but she forgot something much more precious…her mobile phone!!
We brought our departure time forward to 2:30pm, said our farewells to those colleagues who knew we were off on our travels once more whilst shouts of ‘Blimey, you have more trips abroad than a Blue Peter presenter!!!'
could be heard as we made our way through the revolving doors and across the tarmac to the waiting car. We agreed to head back to
pick up Roisin's phone and my dickie etc…thus saving both my bad back and wallet the shared pain of having to buy new stuff!! So I guess technically, we did start the journey from home rather than work!!!
Have I mentioned my recent ailment??!! Now you may have an inkling that I am starting this holiday with a less than 100%!f(MISSING)it back. In the time honoured fashion of TV movies, when the show is running short of ideas they tend to start off with a situation then flash back to how the said situation arose.
2 DAYS EARLIER….
…. On a national conference in the heart of Lincolnshire, a brisk stroll in the surrounding countryside in the late afternoon sun, clambering over farmer Giles' 5 bar gate, my trailing leg got left behind as it whacked against the top bar of the obstacle. I attempted to leap the gate with an agility of a spring lamb instead I managed to ‘slam dunk'
with the grace of a leg of roast lamb!! If it wasn't for landing flat on my back, the pike tuck with 2-½ twist was something Tom Daly would have been proud of!!
Whilst laying on the gravelled ground writhing in agony, one of my caring colleagues told me not to move. ‘That's sensible advice',
I thought. ‘Until I have been checked over I don't know what damage I may have sustained.'
I soon learned that that the reason I was told not to move was that she could run and fetch her camera!!!
Fortunately the biggest thing to take a fall that evening was my pride. No bones were broken but I had been left with a back spasm and this has now led to a trapped nerve. There are those that say, that evening, I was touched by the hand of God. But the only two witnesses are sticking to their version of events so the question still remains…'Did he jump or was he pushed!!??' The word on the Street is that it is Karma as I was heard to say, on approaching the offending obstacle, ‘That looks like one Bastard of a gate!!'
That was then and a little ‘shove' wasn't going to let it stop me enjoying cruise number 9!!
We arrived at the Menzies Chequers hotel in Crawley just before 8:30 pm after a
very uneventful but pleasingly (for a change) road-incident free decongested journey (OK, I know it is not the opposite of congested as in the context of ‘traffic' but its late and its my first day on the job!!), the painkillers have kicked in and whilst only half of us are looking forward to the flight to Genoa, I know for sure that 100%!o(MISSING)f us is looking forward to being reacquainted with our old friend the MSC Lirica in a few days time. Friday - 26.04.2013
The flight from Gatwick went as smooth as could be expected. There were no queues at the security point and I wasn't even asked to take my shoes off. Just as well really as later that evening I realised I had a huge hole in one of my socks. Despite me putting forward an argument that there was still some life left in them, when I woke up the following morning they were not where I'd taken them off. They had found their way to the bin. I wonder how they got there??! Unfortunately, the bin is where they stayed. Never mind. I'm sure I brought another pair with we somewhere!!!
While sitting adjacent to the flight gate after having passed through the ticket collection waiting for the shuttle to take us to the aircraft, a lady approached and asked us if we were on ‘the cruise'. ‘Yes',
‘Can you tell us what happens?'
asked the lady ‘Did you book your flight through MSC?' ‘Yes',
she confirmed. ‘You should be met by an MSC rep. Where are you staying?'
‘Nowhere. Came the reply. ‘We go straight to the
ship' You'll have a job', started Roisin, ‘the ship
doesn't come in until tomorrow!!'
At this stage, I
interrupted. ‘Which ship are you on?' ‘The Orchestra',
was the response. ‘Ah, that explains it.'
We both sang in unison. ‘In
began Roisin. ‘You'll be met by somewhere at the airport.
‘What about our luggage',
asked the lady. ‘do we
need to collect it?' ‘From the carousel, yes,'
Then continued, ‘but
once it is on the coach, you should not see it again until it is outside your cabin.' Thank you',
said the lady and headed back to her companion.
Spooky!! How did
she know? It wasn't as if we were the only ones waiting for the aeroplane. There were a few hundred people in the same situation. How did she know? I checked in case there was an obvious ‘tell'. Nothing! Nada! No MSC tag hanging from our hand luggage. No MSC pen stuck behind my ear!! No ‘his' and ‘hers' MSC shell suits! Why us?? What did she see that stood out from the crowd?? Maybe she recognised us from one of the cruise forums? Or perhaps she's a reader of
the ‘blog'. If you're reading this, lady….How DID you know??
Whilst these thoughts were whirling through my mind, a few hairy biker types had appeared….then a few more. Soon we were in the midst of a hairy biker convention. Zippers and leather filled the waiting area. I don't understand how half of them successfully passed through the security scanners without setting the alarms off. Maybe there is a special dispensation for hairy bikers! Not that I have anything against hairy bikers but I hope our cruise isn't a themed cruise, that MSC stage from time to time. If it does happen to be themed, I hope it is not
a hairy bike theme for 2 reasons. Firstly, beard apart, I'm not hairy and secondly I'm not a biker!! Now if it was a Tellytubbies theme!!! I certainly like watching the telly…!!! Tinkie Winkie and I both came to the conclusion that there must be a Moto GP in town!
The flight took 2 hours and the next stage is to take the bus to Ferrovia Piazza Principe, the main railway station in Genoa.
Walking in to Genoa arrivals hall we saw the lady who only a few hours before had singled out Roisin and I as cruise types. She was being led across the hall by a smartly dressed rep holding a bat aloft with the letters ‘MSC'
blazed across it. I overheard the lady as we passed within earshot. She did not see us, as she was deep in conversation with an elderly gentleman. She said that immortal icebreaker: ‘Is this your first cruise?'
I guarantee, it doesn't matter whom and where you meet someone. This question will be asked at some stage of the conversion.
Bus tickets in to the city centre are either purchased from the driver or in advance from a machine.
Have you ever been abroad and trying to queue for something while the locals just seem to be surrounding the thing you are trying to queue for? Do not be alarmed. This is quite natural, especially in Europe. It is not in their psyche to form an orderly queue. However, they are not trying to push in either. Europeans, and in our case, Italians, seem to have a heightened sense or awareness and know where they stand in the ‘pecking order'. This was the case whilst queuing for the bus tickets. My awareness was not as heightened. I was now in the front row of this ‘unorderly queue' when a smartly dressed gentleman signalled me to advance with a wave of his hand and said ‘Prego'.
I am not use to someone giving me this kind of hand gesture!! I moved to the pole position and swiftly followed the on-line instructions. **Word of warning**: Do not try to buy 2 tickets at the same time as this has a tendency to bugger up the machine. It took longer than expected and I was now starting to be the recipient of other types of hand gestures from the on looking
The bus took us past the MSC cruise terminal where we saw, not only the MSC Orchestra but also our first ever cruise ship, the MSC Opera.
The beauty of Genoa airport is that it is only a 20-minute journey in to the city centre. A 5-minute walk from the terminal and we were checking in to The Comfort Inn, Europa.
Time to freshen up before heading out back to the main train station. Having been to Genoa twice before, we decided to take a trip to the outskirts of the city. A place called Nervi. While doing our customary research prior to this vacation, I stumbled on this hidden gem. The seafront promenade, in Nervi, is known as the Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi and is built into the rocks that drop dramatically into the sea. The 34 minute train journey only cost €3 return and having checked with Trip Advisor, discovered out of 300 comments, 199 had marked this attraction as excellent while 88 had marked Nervi as very good. This left 13 who only felt the experience was average! There is no pleasing some people. Even if Doctor Who himself personally chauffeured them to watch
a plasma storm in a spiral planetary Nebula from the highest mountain on Androzami Major they would probably say it was just ‘alright'!!
The weather. since our arrival has been thinly overcast but not grey and a fairly mild 18C (66F) with a light breeze.
Despite there being a distinct lack of tourists, the hawkers were still out in force along the Passeggiata stopping anyone they heard speaking a foreign language. The usual array of Gucci and Ray-ban were on display as well of an assortment of beads and bangles.
Whilst sitting at a promenade café watching the MSC Orchestra as it sailed in to the distance, a persistent hawker tried to peddle his tatty jewellery in our direction. He started at €25 for one piece of crap. If the entire world were a stage as it was in the eyes of one Bart (Shakespeare not Simpson!!), these vendors would definitely be the proverbial villains. As he wouldn't take no for an answer, I found myself starting to haggle. I managed to get him down to €6.75. Just when he thought he'd make a sale (it was still way overpriced…by about €6!!) I told him to piss
off! You wanted to stay to play your stupid game. I played your stupid game. NOW DO ONE!! I didn't catch what he muttered as he walked away (although I did recognise the hand gesture as similar to those made at the bus ticket machine!) but I'm sure it wasn't ‘Bah, foiled again!!
It had been another long day. We ate dinner at a restaurant called Trieste opposite our hotel; the same restaurant, 14 months earlier that was a pre theatre meal to an Andrea Bocelli production.
My back was still tender but I felt there was more movement than I had recently experienced. At least if I'm still hobbling or shuffling along after boarding the ship tomorrow, I will just merge in to the background as this sort of movement becomes commonplace among the majority of cruise guests!!!
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