We returned from our weekend in Verona home to the Mountain feeling refreshed. Less than 24 hours after getting back we were jaded by the Mountain. We booked a hotel for the next weekend away that night. This made everything better.
We decided to go to Padua. Padua is only a 40 minute drive from our Mountain. There was absolutely no geographical justification for booking two rooms for two nights in a hotel. However, there was a spiritual justification. Our souls needed an urban retreat.
We booked an actual hotel. A hotel. We arrived joyful. For the first time in two weeks we went to bed independently. No landlady, boss or Italian “Daddy” or “Mammy” seeing to us. We were grown-ups again. I celebrated by throwing my clothes on the floor as soon as I undressed. I felt like an 18-year-old on his first night in Hall. FREEDOM!
We went for dinner, but then went straight back to our rooms. It was essential to maximise hotel room time. I gloried in the feeling of hotel carpet between my toes. There’s no carpet like a hotel carpet. I turned on BBC world and completed the Herculean task of untucking the blanket. You know a hotel is good when you need a platoon of Russian soldiers to untuck the blankets.
There was a bidet (one of those little ass baths) in the hotel bathroom. We had a bidet in my house when I was growing up. But we were never allowed to use it, so I’ve never tried one before. In the hotel bathroom, there were funny little towels hanging above the bidet. I asked my friend about them. She confirmed my worst and best suspicions. The hotel had provided two branded towels for my ass. Actual ASSHOLE TOWELS. With the hotel logo on them. Someone had sewn the hotel logo on a towel for my bottom. Mad.
I googled how to use a bidet. I love new experiences. Apparently you can face either way to use a bidet. You can squat on it like it’s a toilet or mount it like you’re a cowgirl. I chose the toilet position. It was fun, but not as much fun as I had hoped.
I didn’t use the ass towel, choosing toilet roll instead. Because it’s 2014.
I attempted to use the hotel pool, but it was full of babies. Guests are excluded for the benefit of baby swimming classes every Saturday morning. I miss water. I’m going to find me a pool as soon as I can.
On Saturday, we saw Padua, doing a bus tour with a group of disgruntled Germans. Padua is pretty. And also ugly. It’s more of a “real” city than Verona. I was really only interested in the pretty bits. It also has studenty bits which I loved. Young people with funny hair smelling vaguely of hash and hope make me happy.
We saw an amazing chapel with super-old frescoes by Giotto with a friend of mine who lives in Venice and two of his friends. I was overstimulated by the company and vomited words excitedly at them all. They had no idea what we were talking about when we told them of life on the Mountain.
On Sunday, we went to see the great Basilica of St Anthony of Padua, the saint people pray to when they lose something. It’s an awesome church. At the souvenir stall, I managed to find a little model of St Anthony holding the Baby Jesus and covered in glitter. Baby Jesus is covered in glitter too. It’s my favourite thing in all Italy.
With heavy hearts, we spent our last hour in Padua sitting in a park, reminiscing about life Not on the Mountain, contemplating returning to the Mountain. If a psychiatrist had passed by, I have no doubt he would have been concerned about both of us. Professionally concerned. We were not looking forward to the Mountain and our next week there.
We took the train as far as Vicenza. When we arrived there, we discovered that the train strike meant that the last train to the little town where we work was cancelled.
We rang our boss. She was having dinner, and so we were told to find something to entertain ourselves until her husband was free and then he’d drive in to Vicenza and collect us.
Joy! A reprieve for us. We found a lovely bar and ordered a spritz. And another one. We got slightly drunk. Or “brillo” as they say in Italian. And we smiled. An extra hour away from the Mountain.
We climbed into our Italian “Daddy’s” car, slightly drunk, relaxed, and ready to return to the Mountain.