Day 9 - 04/07/2002 - Italy, London UK

Went to the airport to go to London.

It was good to have some relatives at the airport to say goodbye and got some presents which was nice.  Even Greg scored some presents from my relatives.

Overall, Italy was great.  Spending time with my relatives was enriching and something that I would like to do more of. Also, feeling the love from my parents while in Italy was encouraging. I will miss my relatives, but I will not miss Italy's chaotic driving. I am also keen to see more historical structures as I travel to other European countries.

Air flight with Air One between Rome and Milan was interesting.  We had a hysterical lady sitting in front of us - she obviously had a fear of flying.  I felt sorry for her.  I can relate to her fears - I get similarly hysterical about blood and needles.  They eventually moved her into the cockpit (I presume they did this so that she did not discomfort the other passengers, who were showing a great deal of interest in her distress)

I felt like telling the lady about NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) - which is helpful for many things, including overcoming fears.  I was glad that a work friend, Phil, was able to instruct me through a session before leaving - it has helped me deal with my fear of blood and needles.  For people who do not realise, some a lot of these fears (heights, snakes etc) are based on childhood events that we do not consciously associate with our fears ... anyhow, certain things can be cured (just like how a doctor can help us with medical conditions) - something worth considering for anyone who would like to know more.

Second air flight was different. I had countless kids sitting in front of me - it didn't bother me too much, but the other passengers were a bit disturbed by the noise, rocking of seats and projectiles!  I was a bit upset when a drink being thrown around landed on me! (well a few drops anyhow) - I can not believe this shenanigans was going on during an air flight. The kids kept smiling at me, so it was a bit hard to get too mad at them - I guess all those years of doing youth ministry has given me a bizarre tolerance for childish behaviour. I feel sorry for the leaders of this group - I know how they feel.  Sat next to some guys who were looking after another group of older teenagers (who were much more well behaved) - seems as though there are a lot of school holiday camps where students get to go overseas ... how come I never got to go one one when I was a kid?

Transport to Dennis' house was relatively simple and efficient.  Dennis was really nice and took off half a day to meet us at the interchange station - he quoted us his hourly figure and told us that he wasn't going to do that again. I had to drag all my luggage for a little while, which turned out to be heavy and a hassle, so I ended up repacking my bags for tomorrows Contiki Tour ... managed to leave over 10KG of stuff at Dennis' which will make the tour less of a hassle.  I always over pack and promise myself that "next time" I will pack less ... but I never do  ... maybe this time I will learn my lesson.

Went to a restaurant near Dennis' that seems stylish, but sell glorified shish-kebabs (opened or wrapped) - but the "open" kebabs were like a restaurant meal. I got a satay kebab on rice. Dennis bought me a pint of Belgium beer - very nice. Meals in London are more expensive than Australia - paid about AU$35 for dinner.

On the way home, Louise and Brendan (flatmate) kept talking about getting "fish food" which was very confusing to me, because I did not notice any fish in their house.  When we got home, they got excited about going out to get some "fish food".  It turn out that they were talking about "Phish Food" (gourmet ice-cream).  It was delicious - it was chocolate ice-cream with marshmallows, caramel source and other bits and pieces.  I am craving some more of it already.

Weather in London was a lot colder than I expected for summer.  It was cold and wet - typical London weather, but everyone claims that it has been hot in London recently.  I was confused about how many pieces of warm clothing to take on the tour (if it was going to be as cold as London, compared to the heat of Italy), so I rang Greet & Dominique in Belgium to get a weather report.  Apparently it is cold in places like Belgium too ... so up goes my luggage weight again.

One of Greet's first comments was that she noticed, from the photos in this diary, that I have put on weight (I know Greet will not mind me mentioning this, because she knows I am not offended and there is a point I am going to make). I found this interesting since all my relatives had been saying the same thing to me.  In Italy, I thought they meant that I had grown since I was last there as a four year old child, but now the horrifying reality is crashing down on me - I need to go on a diet ... when I return to Sydney, but for now I will enjoy all the European food to my hearts content. The funny thing about Italy is that if someone tells you that you have put on weight, it is basically a compliment - like they are proud of you. They all practically force feed each other and encourage you to eat more and more (because it is "good for you") - or maybe I just had an exceptional experience.