Kissing Ban


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Europe » Italy » Sardinia » Alghero
July 31st 2019
Published: August 1st 2019
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Today we have a long day of travelling to Alghero in Sardinia.

Our train looks like it goes straight from Tours to the Paris airport, so we won‘t have to endure any of the Paris stations. This is a good thing. We’d heard that Gare du Nord is generally regarded as one of the most dangerous places in Paris. When we went through it last week it seemed to be well populated with some fairly desperate looking types of every race, colour and creed. One man wanted well over a hundred dollars to take us about five kilometres in a taxi, and I’m pretty sure someone tried to pick my pocket as we hauled our luggage around in the searing heat. Montparnasse station wasn’t much better. We sat down to have a drink and a snack at a cafe and found that all the tables and chairs were bolted to the floor to prevent over zealous patrons from running off with them.

One good thing about travelling by train is that you don’t need to go through security screening. Well I suppose this is a good thing; I’m not sure why the world’s security authorities have decided that terrorists aren’t as interested in blowing up trains as they are in blasting planes out of the sky, so we can only hope that they know what they’re doing. I appreciate the efforts of the security authorities to keep us safe, but I still find the process of going through security screening at airports all a bit daunting. Just in case anyone from a security agency hasn’t got anything better to do today than to monitor obscure travel blog sites, I want to assure them that this isn’t because I like blowing up planes. There seem to be some inconsistencies in the process depending on where you are, which is a bit worrying. Sometimes they make you take your camera out of its bag so they can check that it isn’t filled with explosives, and sometimes they won’t even let you carry your flimsy boarding pass through the scanner, so you have to put it in a tray and hope that it doesn’t get flicked away never to be seen again. I wonder what explosives you can store in a boarding pass. One thing I really dread is having to take my belt off while I’m trying to juggle everything that I have to take out of my pockets, and then risk being laughed at because my pants have fallen down. And the very worst thing of all is when they make me take my belt off and stand in front of a full body scanner with my arms in the air, because if I do this my pants are almost guaranteed to fall down. After thinking about this some more I decide that I should probably invest in a pair of pants with an elastic waistband.

Issy really doesn’t like travelling days. She’s looking a bit glum as we stand on the Tours station platform, so I try to cheer her up by bending down and giving her a peck on the cheek. I immediately break into a cold sweat. The article I read a couple of days ago about strange French habits and customs said that it was illegal in France to kiss someone at a train station. Apparently it’s perfectly legal to play tonsil hockey anywhere else in the country, but not while you’re waiting for a train. It seems that this law was introduced when the rail authorities started to get a bit tired of their trains being constantly delayed by amorous couples getting locked in passionate embraces as they struggled to cope with the thought of being torn apart from each other for a few hours. This all sounds very French. I don’t think we’ve held up any trains with our brief dalliance, but I check for security cameras and move away from Issy quickly just in case.

We arrive at Paris airport and catch our flight to Milan. We are in the third row, and there is a curtain in front of us that separates us second class citizens from the upper classes in the front two first class rows. As we start taxiing the crew decides to shift the curtain forward one row so that the previously upper class types in row two have now been relegated to the cheap seats with the rest of us less worthy passengers. The types of seats they‘re sitting in haven’t changed one iota, but the value of their fares has probably just gone down by a factor of about three. I’m not sure this makes a lot of sense.

We land in Alghero not long before midnight and collect our hire car. The road into town from the airport seems very dark and we struggle to see where we’re going in the pitch blackness. The car that seemed to be following very closely behind us suddenly puts its blue flashing lights on, passes us and signals us to pull over. We’ve only been driving here for about ten minutes and now I’m about to get arrested. The two policemen don’t seem to speak a lot of English but it doesn’t take us too long to pick up the message that they think it might be better for our own safety and for that of the other motorists if we drove with our lights on.

We enjoy food and beer at a restaurant on the waterfront promenade. My pizza is "sensazionale". We’re definitely in Italy.

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