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Published: August 8th 2019
The 4am alarm disturbs our peaceful sleep, and we awake to prepare for a long day of travelling to Segovia in Spain.
The man who checks our luggage in at the airport tells us that he has checked it right through to Australia, and we can pick it up when we get there. He then looks up to see our rather worried looks and quickly corrects himself. He says that his body is at work but his brain is still in bed, and that work at this time of the morning should be “illegal”.
Our flight to Milan is nearly empty, so the doors close quickly and we start taxiing well before the scheduled departure time. An old lady in the row in front of us turns to us and asks “Milano, Milano?”. A flight to Rome was scheduled to leave five minutes before ours and she thinks she’s been put on that one by mistake. Nothing we say is going to convince her otherwise, so she flags down one of the flight attendants and they seem to have a bit more luck at putting her mind at rest. I suppose it’s alright for flights to leave early as long as all the passengers that booked it are safely on board and accounted for. I’m a bit less sure about trains and buses. I suspect Mr Jones mightn’t be too happy if he turned up at the station at 7.58am one morning to find that his regular 8.01am commuter had decided to leave at 7.55am.
We notice a large vineyard right next to the busy runway. I wonder if the jet fumes would have any effect on the flavour of the wine. Neither of us know anything about wine, so I’m not sure we’d notice a slight diesel smell hidden in amongst the other aromas.
We arrive in Milan and transfer to our flight to Madrid, then test out the Madrid Metro to get from the airport to the station we need to leave for Segovia from. I decide to have a first brave go at testing out my Spanish by trying to order lunch. I am feeling very brave until I get to the counter where nerves take over, so I decide to revert to asking the girl behind the counter, in Spanish, if she speaks English. I’m very nervous. I’m so nervous that instead of asking her if she speaks English I ask her if she speaks Spanish. She gives me a look that suggests she thinks I might possibly be the stupidest person on the planet. I think I need to practice some more.
As we wait at the station we get an email from the hire car company we used in Sardinia, an Italian mob called Noleggiare, advising us that they have decided to charge us more than 500 Aussie dollars for alleged damage to the car, and for not returning it full of petrol. We filled it up last night and drove straight to the airport this morning, and didn’t see any other petrol stations on the way, so that seems a bit odd, and we couldn’t see a scratch on the car when we returned it, so that seems a bit strange too. We Google reviews of Noleggiare. It seems that they do this to virtually everyone. They get down in their hands and knees to identify “damage” marks that are invisible to the naked eye, and then hit up their customers to get them repaired, although apparently most of them never get repaired, mostly because there’s nothing to repair, they just pocket the money. I’m not happy, and kicking myself that I didn’t read the reviews before I booked. I wonder how companies like this are allowed to stay in business. Issy says we should try to contact the hundreds of reviewers who’ve reported this happening to them and launch a class action. I’d pay a lot of money to watch a fired up Issy tear strips off a mob of Italian scammers while they cower in the dock. I write my own review of Noleggiare, and start to feel slightly happier. Only slightly.
Segovia’s station is out in the middle of nowhere and a long way from Segovia; I’ve known airports that are closer to the cities they serve. Segovia’s apparently been here since before the Romans, and I’m pretty sure railways came later, so I’m not sure what the rail company’s excuse for this is. On the way in we pass the spectacular Roman aqueduct which is one of the three structures that Segovia is famous for, the others being its Cathedral and Castle.
We wander down into the city’s main square, Plaza Mayor, which is dominated by the spectacular Cathedral. It’s now 9pm, and we’re hungry, but none of the restaurants seem to be serving food, just drinks. We remember from being in Spain previously that Spaniards eat late, and we wonder if perhaps we’re just too early for a meal. We consult the Google machine for help. If it’s to be believed, the Spaniards eat six meals a day. No wonder their economy’s such a mess, everyone's too busy eating to have time to go to work. Mr Google tells us that the meals include tapas from 8.30pm to 10pm, followed quickly by dinner from 9pm to 11pm. Now we’re totally confused; we’re here in the middle of both tapas and dinner hours but no one’s eating. We’re beginning to wonder whether Segovia’s still part of Spain. Maybe the Segovians have twigged that four meals a day is enough and they’ve decided to give up on anything after the mid-afternoon snack. We do eventually manage to convince one restaurant to knock us up some tapas, but we go back to our hotel as confused as ever about Segovian eating habits. Hopefully it will all become clearer tomorrow.
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