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The Italy Chronicles – I

March 11, 2008

Well, yep, I’m in Italy. Going to be here for about a week, and reckon it’s going to be awesome. Decided I should write about it, so here’s the first entry I made, scribbled onto an air sickness bag, and then copied into the internet (possibly badly, due to this old and slow computer) for your reading pleasure. Gotta go now, but will try to update this if I can, to beat one big clump when I get back!

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Right now, the woman on the intercom sounds either terribly sick, scary, or possibly attempting to be sexy. I don’t really know, since she’s speaking in what I assume to be Finnish.

I’ve flown into Helsinki from Osaka, as a stopover on my way to Milan in Italy. It’s been interesting so far. Originally I was hoping we’d be flying over China, so I could look down at China going past, and hopefully even catch a look at the Great Wall. However, instead, we took a path right up and over the top of Russia. It’s a route I’ve never flown before, but it was pretty amazing. As we went over the top of Russia, I saw the incredibly inhospitable landscape below.

The plains started to grow mountains, which were covered in snow, until all I could see were white heights. But not so much the peaks I’d imagine, rather, high plateaus with many tiered levels, split by giant gashes in the rock. As we continued, the ice creeping over the window made it tricky to get a good look, but we headed out over the ocean. Or, what should have been the ocean. But all the water was frozen. And covered in snow. The motions of

the sea had caused some cracks to appear, but those fragmentations just emphasised the impressiveness of the frozen floating blocks.

We came back in towards the mainland, and earth started to appear beneath the snow. The terrain looked every bit as terrible and unforgiving as all those American movies make it out to be. All there was was ground, and plantations of pine trees, all covered in snow and being beaten by the wind, which was still falling and blowing hard.

 

 

I got into Helsinki airport, and instantly knew I was in Eastern Europe since all the signs had dots over the vowels and far too many “K”s. Also, all the women seem to be speaking in voices just that little bit too low, and wearing knee-high leather boots that somehow give off a different feel to when the Japanese wear them.

Going through the irritating customs and passport control AGAIN, while transferring directly from one Finn Air flight to another, I had my toothpaste consfiscated as the 120g tube contravened the 100g rule, despite being about half used up. I tried to protest, but apparently it’s the capacity of the vessel which is the problem, not what’s in it. How this makes any sense at all is beyond me. How could bringing on two 100g tubes of dubious substance be less dangerous than bringing on one 105g tube? What do they think that extra 5g is going to do? Especially if it’s NOT EVEN THERE? And for that matter, if the toothpaste is so dangerous (despite the fact that I’d just brought it all the way from Japan on the same airline, quite without incident), how the hell does slipping it into a neat little ziplock plastic bag, and then giving it straight back to me, render it completely impotent? I wonder how many hardened terrorists they’re really catching out with that one. I wouldn’t have minded so much but it was NZ toothpaste which I brought over with me specially since it’s a well-known fact that Japanese toothpaste is made out of brine and tofu. And no fluoride.

I managed to see at least two Japanese tour groups assembling around leaders waving little hankys on sticks (as is their custom), snapping off photos of Helsinkian walls, before getting my awesome Helsinki stamp in my passport (awesome because it’s so incredibly boring, but you can tell they’ve tried so hard to make it look fun) and getting onto this plane to Milan.

Outside, the snow’s gotten harder.

 

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