Every adventure has its joys and also frustrations. This is not about griping because that’s just the nature of the beast. We take them these setbacks with good humour and a little pazienza and they are some of our most memorable moments!
1. The Sim Card…
Getting a prepaid SIM card sounds really simple and straightforward. Well, we forgot we were in Italy and assumed that we’d be in and out of the TIM shop with four shiny SIM cards in 20 minutes.
Nope. I can confirm that Italy is Italy and Italians finds the most comprehensive yet labour intensive ways to do things. We were planning to spend the morning in Catania enjoying a few of the sights whist we waited to pick my brother up from the airport.
We saw the TIM (Italy’s equivalent of Telstra) shop and figured we’d get SIM cards while we were there. We spent the next hour and a half shuffling between counters, passports, papers and cards. It turns out you can’t buy a sim and activate it yourself, it had to be done in store… We got to number three and we got the text that my brother landed. Our relieved assistant tallied everything up and we got out of there.
Moral of the story… Consider the costs of data roaming vs. the cost of precious time before getting an Italian SIM card.
2. The Cursed Car
We have hired two Diesel Jeep Renegades. One of them gave us nothing but unfortunate trouble! First we ran the battery flat because we thought we got the lights but we didn’t. The switch was in an odd place. It was a Sunday. And we had to get to Mass with eight of us. We eventually charged it, and poor Dad drove into brucoli about six times. And we missed Mass.
Then we shut the keys in the boot on our way home from Mount Etna. After a call out to roadside assist, we were told that the fee would be 150 euros, they’d tow the car and give us a new one in three days. It was then recommended by the hire company to smash a window and break in.
So we did. Four of us then drove back to Catania to swap it out for a new one. An hour of shuffling paper work and checking that the colour was okay, we drove home in a shiny new grey Jeep renegade. So far so good with this one!
It is EVERYWHERE. It is gross… I know exactly where Pope Francis is coming from when he says we are turning the earth into a rubbish heap.
It’s really sad, it is an amazingly beautiful countryside that is pockmarked with grotty plastic, smashed glass cigarette butts and rubbish bags. It is not a hard problem to solve: make it as easy as possible for people to do the right thing and teach all the nonnas how to say “tosser” in Italian and you watch… every single shred, bottle cap and cigarette butt will be gone and no one will toss stuff in anything other than the bin.
4. Poorly maintained roads.
Sicily has lots of great autostrada and lovely little Strade Provinciale. They would be lovely if they were maintained to a level that makes oncoming traffic passable and not utterly terrifying and uncomfortable if your car has hard suspension.
Why would I find my native eucalypts annoying? Because the are EVERYWHERE! Here I was looking for a nice change of scenery with different woodlands, instead GUM TREES (and prickly pear cacti). Apparently Mussolini introduced them in the 1930s to dry up the malaria causing swamps. Now they are everywhere around the coast and along the highways. Bloody Australians… You invite them over to do ONE job and nek minute they’re taking over the place!
So that is one complete list! Stay tuned for more…