Friday, January 26
1992 part 1
No more school! Finished, forever! The summer stretched out in front of us, emptily, tantalisingly full of promise. C and I knew exactly what we were going to do, it had been planned for the last three years, since we had last left Italy in our matching ‘Music on the Rocks t-shirts’, clutching photos and addresses of the boys we had met.
Our plan, of course was to spend the summer back in Positano and the best thing about it was that we would be going WITHOUT PARENTS!
The cheapest way to get there was by train, so we borrowed ourselves some rucksacks and stuffed them full with leggings, cut off jeans, paisley shirts and tie dye cotton trousers. As usual we made sure that everything we packed could be worn by the both of us, therefore doubling our wardrobe. C’s mum called a friend in Positano and booked us the cheapest room they could find. It was ludicrously expensive for two eighteen year old girls, we wouldn’t be able to stay for more than six nights, but we figured that we would manage somehow.
So, early one chilly English morning we slung our rucksacks onto our backs, inter-rail tickets in hand, and walked to the local train station. As the train left London, heading towards Dover on the coast we whooped in glee, still not quite believing that C’s parents would not be waiting at the hotel for us when we arrived. As the train left the city and sped through the countryside we chatted excitedly about how soon we would be reunited with Ciccio, Peppe, Enzo and the others, whether Sveva would be there, and that girl Madelena who we didn’t like at all. The train journey was going to take a couple of days, we almost wished we had flown there.
With an inter-rail ticket we actually had the freedom to travel all around Europe for a month. We could have gone anywhere, expore cities, beaches and unknown lands. All of our friends were travelling around Europe, we had had countless invitations to meet in Greece, Prague and Lisbon, but we only wanted to get to Italy. A month seemed like such a long time, Positano was calling us, the rest of the world could wait. We would travel later…if we felt like it.
When the train pulled in to Dover station we carefully found our way to the right ferry and boarded as foot passengers. On board we made friends with a bearded trucker who let slip that the long distance lorry drivers had a special room where there was free tea and coffee. So we roamed around the ferry until we found a discreet door with a small HGV sign on it. We walked in and helped ourselves to free drinks, loudly telling each other to hurry as ‘Dad was waiting in his lorry’. We ran out giggling before anyone could question us.
The connecting train to Paris was old-fashioned and slow. To while away the time we started up a conversation with two other backpackers, two boys just out of school like us. They weren’t very interesting and weren’t very interested in us, but they were going to Rome, so we all had to cross Paris to catch our connecting trains from a different station. But by the time we arrived in Paris, and found our way to the other station it was too late, the last train to Italy had already left. We hadn’t planned on staying in Paris, neither had the boys. We had no map, no room and no francs. Dejectedly we wandered around the streets, trying to find somewhere to stay for the night, but it seemed that the city was fully booked.
Eventually we were offered one room with four beds in a small hotel along a typical French cobbled street. We tried to explain that we weren’t together, but there were no other rooms to be had. So we took the risk of sharing a room with two boys we had only just met, knowing that our parents would kill us if they ever found out. But the boys were just two innocent backpackers, and it all worked out fine. That evening we sat in our room, up in the eves of the old building, gazing out at the hazy sunset over the rooftops of Paris, sipping from the neck of a bottle of wine, contemplating what to do the next morning before the train to Italy left...
at 7:59 PM