Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Rome by night and my introduction to 'Valentina'


I really should have told you about my first night in Rome nearly 2 months ago now..........


I arrived at the airport, obviously trying not to look like some kind of tourist. Maybe more like a native just returning from a stint in London. (pah...who was i kidding?) 

After a quick taxi ride and tour of the apartment he suggested we dive straight in and head to Rome for my first italian night out.

With that we raced downstairs, eager beavers, ready to paint to the town red........ and then he handed me a racer red helmet..........



''What is this for?'' I pondered out loud.
''For the bike'' he said as he nodded in the direction of a Yamaha R6, named 'Valentina'  
As i dithered over whether I was going deaf or that we may be hurtling over our first 'language barrier', he had hopped on and started to rev the engine of the beast
 ''I'm sorry I don't understand....you said you were 15 minutes away from the city by the train.....''  
'Why take the train when we can take the bike?' he said. 
 .''Well....umm....I've never been on a bike before......bikes are bad.....?  We get taught that in England by our parents.....'NEVER GET ON A BIKE NANCY....THEY ARE DANGEROUS''  I mumbled......
 ''Well that's strange because in Italy, everyone uses bikes, we're taught that bikes are good....and you're in Italy now so......GET ON THE BIKE NANCY''



This is is 'take the effing helmet' pose....


He didn't say this with anger, can I add. The Big caps may give you this impression. It's more like 'don't be so stupid, just get on the bike....it's no big deal''


So after 5 minutes of trying on the helmet, checking whether i could breathe and a very brief tutorial on how to hold on, I gave him strict instructions to go slow.

Now some of you may or may not know that for some years I have been an extremely nervous passenger in cars. After a couple of wee accidents in England that really should have been nothing, with the flick of a neural switch i found myself with a major fear of travelling in cars. In the early days of this fear, I could not hide my winces, hands over my face and sometimes even shouting out 'CAR!'

Needless to say I was a terrible passenger for anyone to have in the car. As time went on, I became more sophisticated in hiding my twitching hand, belt grabbing and pretending to sleep. (how I could get away with that last one on a short trip to Tesco is pure genius in my eyes)

So after years of avoiding learning to drive, generally plumping for public transport or only getting in a car with my dad, I thought I was managing my fear.

Until this very night. The last 7/8 years had brought me to this point and i couldn't back out.

I hadn't explained any of this to Alessio, because really....who wants to hear what i freak I was?


yamaha R6

On a bike, with no framework to protect me if we crash and with no idea what to expect...
I silent cocked my leg over and tried to squash myself close to him. My logic being that maybe he could be a soft landing for me if needs be. (sorry Alessio)

He then had to explain how to hold myself on, that i couldn't sit directly behind him,...it wasn't that kind of bike.  How i wouldn't be thrown off, how if i felt uncomfortable or unsafe I was just to lean forward and place my hands on the 'bonnet' in front of him.

So with the strict instructions to go slow, he pulled us into traffic
 onto the local high street.  There are two ways to get to the city from Ciampino, there's a main ring road that skirts the city (bit like the M25). You can join this or take the adjoining 'A' road. (via Appia)

So my hope to poodle along the road, taking it easy and looking maybe like Audrey Hepburn were dashed as soon as we hit the highway.





My head whipped, bum in the air, I clung silently to bike, hands firmly placed on the bonnet. The position is not that dissimilar to the 'brace position'.

So did I see beautiful Rome at night, pleasurly cruising around, admiring the basilicas or the river Tiber? Or maybe catch a glimpse of 'il colosseo' all lit up and looking majestic?


rome by night



Did i heck.....


I was too busy trying to shrink my head into the helmet, keep my feet on the stirrups and praying to any god i could think of to spare my life. 
At one stage I was actually bargaining parts of my body with god....as long as he let me live. (I didn't promise to go to church though)
I said goodbye to each of my loved ones in turn, I reflected on my life and counted my blessings...''It wasn't a bad life eh nance? could have done more but all in all....not bad''





to be continued...............in my next post 
(just because it's a long story)

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