Goodness me. I was totally in awe of Justyna’s road post, and in between thoughts of how insane she was, I started scanning my memories, wondering if I’ve ever been on any dangerous road trips. Then I dug up my old travel journal, which lurks in the bowels of my computer, too cringeworthy to read, too singular to delete. It recounts tales from my backpacking moment in my early twenties, and mostly features paragraphs like this:
“This morning I got a cappuccino and biscotti for breakfast and went to check out the main drag of Salerno. I made my way down to a sunny park by the water, and was seated there happily until some middle-aged man decided it would make excellent conversation to pinch my cheek repeatedly while beaming and crying ‘molto simpatico!’ or similar.”
In between tales of encounters with affectionate middle-aged men, there are gushing descriptions of scenery that are CHILLINGLY similar to those travel emails our parents’ generation have started sending.
But there is also a veiled reference to what is in fact the most dangerous road trip I ever took. While I was sitting in Siena, bemoaning the endless galleries of gold leaf and crushed lapis to my journal and praising the ordinary sunshine like the Philistine that I am, I was approached my a rotund, balding, middle aged man. For whatever reason, I accepted his invitation to go to a nearby wine cellar and try some Tuscan wine. The wine cellar was a beautiful and historic (and public) one, so no nasty surprises. He professed to be a chef at a local restaurant who just loved hanging out and meeting international visitors.
When he heard that I was travelling on to Rome the next day without seeing more of Tuscany, he was horrified, and offered to take me on a tour of the surrounding villages. Purely because I was too broke to afford to see them any other way, I merrily agreed.
The villages looked like this:
We had an aperitif and a snack in one of them, and drove around the hillsides at dusk. My diary includes a painful description of the hills’ “improbably mathematical regularity”. We then returned to Siena, to his HOUSE, still unaccompanied, where the poor fellow cooked me dinner from delightful fresh ingredients. His story of being a chef did seem to check out.
Then he offered me a reiki massage, at which he said he was also very proficient. I declined, and was driven home.
That is all that happened on my most dangerous road trip ever. I conclude that I don’t really deserve to be alive, so anything that happens from now on is pretty much a bonus.