An afternoon in Ancona

I am on a boat in the Adriatic Sea, being mistaken (by Greeks) for an Italian. I should be pleased. Perhaps I said ‘machiatto’ with a convincing accent. Or perhaps my hair looks styled now that it has been unwashed and filled with sand and sweat.From Ancona the ferries go to Greece. They also go from Brindisi or Bari (that is my travel tip for today) but Ancona was close to me, so to Ancona I went.

I am always a little apprehensive at setting off alone again, which is what I did this morning. That is not a well constructed sentence. Still, my diary is unlikely to ever form the basis of an English grammar course, so it is not that important in the scheme of things.

Apprehensive but smiling. Because (I think Paul Theroux and I have similar travelling philosophies – if I might be forgiven for even attempting to put myself in such company) travelling is best done by oneself. At least it is for the kind of trip I am looking for right now. A mix of history, sight-seeing, laughing and introspection that I think it best embarked upon alone.

Sometimes going somewhere you have to go is not so bad. And Ancona fits into this category. It is an interesting place to wander around. There are enough tourists that there are signs in English, but not enough that I actually notice them. There is an old town, a set of city walls (which cleverly use the sea as the fourth side of the wall and save a lot of bricks), and a cathedral (with nearby bar) in a commanding position on the hill overlooking the picturesque harbour. It is easy to get lost in, easy to get found again, the bank machines work and the gelato sellers are tolerant of people who speak no Italian.

Travelling on this boat is a lesson about the influence of monopoly on prices, and therefore about captive audiences (although has anyone else noticed that popcorn is very reasonably priced at Canadian movie theatres?). At times like this, as I sit here with the Adriatic steaming past (or it would be if this were a steamer) I console myself by saying that I will only ever do this once. So if I spend a little more than I want to now, that is all part of the experience. I hope that it does not rain, my open deck space will be quite uncomfortable if it rains. Still, maybe that will be all part of the experience as well.

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