Brighton - Italy - Coventry
I'm sitting in the lounge of the Kenilworth Peacock Best Western, failing to focus on work.
I haven't blogged in ages - lots has happened!
Time to record some of it.
Last month Emi and I successfully packed all of her things into boxes and moved to her storage unit in Brighton. We're both people that make full use of our time... which is a nice way to say that we both tend to do certain things at the last minute.
So our last day in Brighton was a bit of a sprint, moving boxes, stuffing a storage room, driving around town, losing and then finding a leather jacket, cleaning her kitchen and room and finally going to the Airport to spend a night in a Yotel cubicle, which was a fun romantic reminder of a night train we took to Cornwall roughly one year ago...
Foggia and Angri
We caught a plane to Bari, where Emi's brother in law picked us up and drove us to Foggia, where Emi's old room in her mum's place was to become our home for the bulk of October. Still decorated in pink and yellow, two single width beds and stuffed animals... a sweet echo of my fiancé's childhood.
I met everyone and they were lovely. Mother, brother, sister, aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews. I was made to feel very welcome, kisses and good food everywhere. Emi's little niece, the adorable Portu, renamed me Nanni - almost the same as my sister used to call me when we were little. If I'm not careful, the nickname will stick and that will become my identity in Italy...
In addition to walking around Foggia and meeting the family, Emi and I also made a couple of trips to Angri, the town near Naples where most of her family still live and the place we are planning to get married - in a castle! We drove all over the neighboring region to look at possible venues for the reception afterwards, eventually settling on one which we'll be announcing soon enough.
Angri itself is a lovely little town, set in a valley surrounded by steep lush mountains, with the Vesuvius itself in the distance. Pompei is not far off, and Naples is the biggest nearby city. I really enjoyed walking around the little town, having a café normale and cornetto at the Ribo, sitting in the park, having drinks in Via di Mezzo. I am looking forward to showing my family around!
I've been to Italy many times, but this trip is the first time I have felt comfortable driving in this country. I think biking and driving in traffic in Dublin, followed by getting accustomed to the insanity of Latin America, prepared me well for the anarchic frenzy of Italian traffic. Road rules aren't so much rules as guidelines here, you have to assert yourself and be patient and prepared... freaked me out before, but this time around I rather enjoyed it and appreciated some of the subtleties of how drivers communicate with horns and lights, gestures or smiles.
Biella and Omegna
A brief holiday from our holiday was a trip to the North of Italy, to the town of Biella. Emi had to go there for work, but we also spent time walking around and exploring. It's a lovely town, in the foothills of the Italian Alps. The cooler temperatures were refreshing, as was the lack of mosquitos. And it was very interesting to get a glimpse of Emi's work life and colleagues!
After Biella we traveled even further north, to the town of Omegna which is on the shore of Orta, one of the Italian lakes. There we visited a friend of hers and played tourists on the lake for a couple of days, before flying back to Bari via Milan.
Kenilworth and Coventry
My third trip involving Bari airport meant saying good-bye to Italy and hello to London Stansted.
The Stansted Airport Lodge failed to impress by overbooking our room and shuttling us from one hotel to another in the middle of the night, and then trying to hit us with a Booking.com cancellation fee for not showing up. Not impressed, Desalis Hotels - you guys suck. Except for Carl, the manager of the Stansted Skyline Hotel, he's really cool.
For the past few days Emi and I have been happy residents of the Peacock Best Western in Kenilworth, a sleepy little town just South of Coventry. We chose this location because we expected to be house-hunting in Coventry, Kenilworth and Leamington Spa. It turns out Leamington and Kenilworth are overpriced and a bit overrated for carless city kids like us, while Coventry itself has some very nice neighborhoods and a lot more going on. This is a welcome reversal of our poor first impression of the place.
So this afternoon we're submitting an application to rent a very nice house in Earlsdon, Coventry!
And tomorrow we head South to Brighton...