Wicked sunburn in Brundisium

Brindisi Travel Blog

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The worst trip and train ride of my life was the one from Rome to Brindisi.  Jesse and I frequently took the overnight trains, instead of having to spend an extra night in town, and up until this point had had no difficulties.  We got really unlucky, because we did not reserve couchettes, or bunks in the cabin.  When we boarded the train, we did not even have a reserved spot to sit.  The train was so full of passengers, that we had to sit in the isle outside the compartments, with our backpacks.  Of course we walked up and down the train, through virtually every single wagon on the train, trying to find just one seat. Nothing.  To make things worse, we were continually groped, squeezed, and hit on.  We were tired, cranky, and just wanted to sleep.  And we couldn't.  The train ride was 8 hours long, and I had to make sacrifices. I stayed awake and kept watch over her and our things, as she just isn't a pleasant person to be around when she is tired.  Well, is anybody?

So, after hours and hours of pure hell, we arrived in the southernmost part of Italy.  In Roman times it was known as Brundisium, and was the port to the East, the Africas, and Greece.  We stumbled south from the train station, the sun was already up and burning our eyes, and we just wanted to find a place to stay.  That's when we met Giovanni, a short Italian guy that was a bit reminiscent of Joe Pesci, and wanted nothing more than to be tour guide to two young american girls...free of charge!

He led us straight to a clean and comfortable Pensione, where we checked in, showered, and headed back outside to find some food. More than needing sleep, we were desperate for sustenance.  Our new friend was patiently waiting outside and led us into a back alley shop, run by a friendly turbaned easterner, where we loaded up on Nutella and cereal, as these were comfort foods we sorely missed. It seemd that all shops and restaurants were still closed, and initially we were doubtful of following a stranger into an alley...but we were not disappointed.

With the broken Italian we could muster with our word books, and the few english words Giovanni could put together, we managed to convey to him that we wanted to find a beach.  Our main reason for coming here was that we just wanted to go swimming in the ocean.  He was kind enough to want to escort us, so that we would find our way; though we really wanted to be alone in our bikinis and got off the bus before he had a chance to follow.  Well, we certainly got off too soon, because though we had the water stretched out along the road we walked on, there really was no beach. Just large, jagged rocks and tide pools.  Nothing suited for walking on.  Believe me, we tried on numerous occasions.  We would make it out there a few feet, with the salt water spray stinging our eyes, and then our feet would begin to hurt incredibly, and we wondered whether we would ever feel any sand at all.  Well, eventually, I just got stuck.  I was standing in the middle of a tide pool, still not having reached the water, Jesse was sitting on the beach towel, and we were both helpless. Let me say here that we were the only people there.  Aside from two kids on a scooter that had passed us an hour ago, there was no sign of life. 

So, like a mirage, a man in speedos suddenly appears in the distance, and rescued me from the tide pool.  He spoke no english, and we no italian, so there was no communication going on.  I was able to thank him for his assistance, and Jesse offered him a cigarette in a gesture of goodwill.  And we puffed on a cigarette with the stranger in speedos, and he just stared at us.  The silence was pregnant with innuendo.  And when he finally did speak up, it was to ask us, in plain and simple terms, if we were interested in having sex with him.  Jesse and I exchanged uncertain glances, then when the meaning of his ficky ficky dawned on us, we began to vehemently shake our heads, telling him in the best way possible that he needed to leave, then giggling nervously because he was in speedos and flip flops, and we were incredibly curious where the hell he came from!  After what seemed an eternity, we decided to pack up our things and go, because our new friend wasn't preparing to leave.  We gathered, upon our arrevidercis, that he was offering us a ride back to the hotel, but we thankfully declined and prided one another on not being so dumb and gullible. 

So, now we were walking along the road, with no pedestrian or automotive traffic to speak of.  The sun was beating down without mercy, and of course we had absolutely no sunblock.  Well, we had not planned on being gone all day. We just wanted to find that oasis, that one patch of sand.  Time trickled ever so slowly as we walked and walked, in an uncertain direction.  And this is when we spied a building in the distance, with people coming in and out.  Our luck! our fortune!  it was a beach!

The cokes the two of us shared were like liquid gold, and we couldn't wait to splash around in the cool water. We dashed through the entrance, onto a small,  fenced in beach, where dozens of families, and middle aged men with guts and speedos were milling about.  We felt like we weren't supposed to be here, but didn't care. We were burned, dried up, and just longed for the water.  I ran straight for the water, and was immediately disappointed.  The water was so salty, it stung my body and my eyes.  The water appeared dirty, and there were so many people around me, I could not have had a relaxing time of it, anyhow.  I don't believe Jesse even got all the way in, she was worried about her contacts.

So, after that bout with disappointment, we started the trek back to the bus stop.  Who knows how many hours later we finally arrived back at our Pensione, but we were like lobsters in the kettle.  Bright red, our skin was scorched so badly that we could barely bend our limbs.  Stretched tightly over our muscle and bone, we threw our linen sheets into the tub and soaked them in cold water.  And that was how we slept.  Nearly naked, wrapped in cold wet sheets, and we slept 24 hrs....

travelman727 says:
If anyone decides to make "National Lampoon, Italian Vacation" movie, this episode needs to be in it. Your pain was our gain :)
Posted on: Jun 25, 2006
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Brindisi
photo by: littlekim70