John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Monday 26 September 2016

[Sunday 25 September 2016]

Apulia, Lecce and Vieste - Undiscovered Italy
Palace Hotel, Vieste
20:35–22:45 Ryanair FR8895 Brindisi Airport–Manchester Airport
Premier Inn, Runger Lane South


Your tour manager will advise you of the departure time to the airport to take your return flight.
[i] The original information on the website was:
At the appropriate time you will be transferred to Bari [to Brindisi, in our case] airport for your flight home – don’t tell too many friends or the magic will be gone!

I got up just after 7.30am… Janet got up ca.8am. We went down for breakfast, then back up to do the packing. This is something that Janet does, so I just sat around. She finished ca.10.15am, so we went out. We were going to ask at the post office, just round the corner from Palace Hotel Vieste in Via Vittorio Veneto, whether the stamps on the postcards were Poste Italiane, and indeed of a value for posting to elsewhere in Europe; but the process of taking a ticket of the appropriate category for the appropriate counter seemed excessively complicated, so I thought I’d just post them and hope they would get there. There was no posting box in or outside the post office, though, so we walked down the nearby main street Viale XXIV Maggio, figuring there might be one near a Tabacchi shop — as indeed there was, just across the road from it. We went into a nearby café, “Déjà Vu Art Café”, where Janet had a Coca Cola Zero and I had a caffè americano (10:43 on the till receipt). We looked in the Spar supermarket, called DESPAR here,[ii] for something for Janet’s tea, but the bread-rolls were in packs of too many. We found another convenience store nearby and bought a pack of three, then went back to the DESPAR and bought two bananas. We went to another café, not realising till we got inside that it was where I’d had a pizza slice yesterday (“Café del Moar”), and ordered a Coca Cola Zero for Janet and a 40cl birra alla spina for me. We were served with three small slices of different pizze, and a small glass bowl of lots of little green olives, very strong-flavoured as is typical of olives here. Janet didn’t eat any, so I was left not needing to buy any lunch.

[ii] I thought that it was perhaps a German (“DE”) affiliate of Spar, but according to Wikipedia it’s the original name of the company (Dutch: “Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig”, “through united co-operation everyone regularly profits”). The “tree” logo is there because “spar” is Dutch for “spruce”. “Spar” means “save [money]” in a number of Germanic languages (cf. Esperanto “ŝpari”).

Monday 26 September 2016 — 11:37:22
“Café del Moar”, Corso Lorenzo Fazzini 75, Vieste

Paola had agreed with the hotel late check-out for everyone at midday, with the arrangement with us to set out at 12.30pm; so we went back to the room, emptied the safe, and went down in the lift to the lobby just before 12 o’clock with our luggage. Given the long time it took to wait our turn for the lift when we arrived there, it surprised me that we called an empty lift and went down straight away. Departure was delayed by over an hour when an older man in our party hit his head on the cover of the coach luggage compartment and had to be taken for medical assistance. The rest of us boarded the coach and waited, though Janet and I started a bit of an exodus meanwhile when we went back to the hotel to use the loo. The injured fellow returned with a tubular piece of netting round his head holding a dressing in place. Someone remarked that he looked like a trullo because of it. I had to put my coat and hat on en route because the air-conditioning towards the rear of the coach was so fierce. When we stopped a couple of hours later at an autostrada café/shop (branded “Sarni”; I wondered whether that had any connection with the similar British slang word for “sandwich”). Janet reported the coldness to Paola, so when we resumed the ambience was more comfortable. It was warm when we got off the coach, surprisingly so after the cold conditions aboard. Paola wanted Janet also to write a report of my accident. Because of the urgency of getting to the airport we were given only half an hour (3.30pm–4.00pm), barely sufficient when we formed a queue of fifty people at the single cassa. The system was, as usual, to tell the cashier what you wanted, then take the receipt to the counter. Janet had a Coca Cola Zero and I a piping hot but not very strong caffè americano (15:44 on the till receipt). We arrived at Brindisi airport ca.6.30pm without any further stop, so we weren’t much if at all later than originally planned. We’d have had two comfort stops of longer duration if we hadn’t been delayed. I gave Paola an envelope, containing €25, on which I’d written her name and because Franco was busy unloading luggage I gave her a similar one to pass on to him also. The checking in of hold luggage didn’t take much time, and the security check of hand luggage occurred without incident. Janet was pleased that her bananas and bread were allowed through. There was initially no-one at passport control, as usual, so we had to wait, and wait, till the two armed men from the polizia strolled up. The one who occupied the right booth had a problem with his computer, so the one at the left booth was initially seeing everyone. I was the first to be seen at the right booth, but after he’d put my passport under his scanner and fiddled about with his keyboard and mouse to no avail three times he sent me to the left booth. Beyond the booths was the not very large boarding-gate area. There were no bars or food counters in this part of the airport, just a trio of vending machines at the far end. The left machine had bottled drinks; the right machine had snacks and some drinks; and the one in the middle was of unclear function. There was a TV screen, but this didn’t give any clue about what the machine was supposed to vend. I thought it might be a hot-drinks machine (caffè, cioccolato, and orzo); but there was no indication of this anywhere, nor of how much money one was supposed to insert. I bought two or three items from the right machine. The supplies were arranged in rows within; and when an item was selected, it was displaced forwards till it fell off to the bottom of the machine, where there was an access flap. I just had soft packaged items, but when one chose a bottle of pop it fell to the bottom with a hell of a crash! Just as well the bottles were plastic not glass! Boarding was delayed by about a quarter of an hour beyond the scheduled time. When the boarding gate opened… I say “opened”, but people were all bunched together still having to wait behind a closed door on the far side of the two who were checking boarding passes. When the gate “opened” we edged our way through the crowd to the “speedy boarding” side. But when we got to the man he said, “Speedy boarding, no!” I didn’t believe him at first. “Speedy boarding, yes!” I insisted. He pointed out the words “OTHER Q” at the top of the boarding pass. Still not convinced, before we went shamefaced to the far end of the other queue, I asked someone in that queue if I might look at her boarding pass. It too had “OTHER Q” at the top, though. I was cursing and swearing when we got to the end of the queue. Every other time we’ve purchased extra-legroom seats, priority boarding has been included in the sale. … As we walked across the tarmac, the lone cricket could be again be heard chirruping — I think, the only cricket we heard on this trip. Take-off, scheduled for 20:35, didn’t occur till 21:14 (according to Flightradar24). We put our watches back one hour. I availed myself of the water + toasted sandwich[iii] + Pringles “meal deal”. This time they did have Pepsi Max for Janet, which she had in addition to a Coca Cola Zero from the aforementioned violent vending machine. In addition I had a 185ml bottle of red wine. Janet ate two rolls and the bananas, and I had the third bread-roll. Landing, scheduled for 22:50, was actually at 23:05 (according to Flightradar24). It was cool in Manchester, though not uncomfortably cold, and it had been raining. We went through the automated passport control without undue difficulty, and the luggage appeared fairly quickly at the reclaim carousel. There was a taxi rank outside Terminal 3. Why is it that, when we mention “Premier Inn, Runger Lane South”, we are directed to another taxi, not the first in line?… We checked in and received the little card-wallet with two key-cards in it, then went up in the lift to “the” room (not the “through the looking-glass” room!) — actually, Room 311 — at perhaps 12.10am. I decided to make myself a cup of coffee, and Janet had one too, before we went to bed.

[iii] A so-called “panini”! See what I wrote about being pissed off by the use of “panini” in the footnote at the end of Monday 19 September 2016.

[Tuesday 27 September 2016]

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