Helen in Europe travel blog

my wonderful Lecco hosts Salvatore and Marcella

It was time to say farewell to my lovely Budapest host, Maria. She kindly offered to hop on the bus with me to take me to the airport bus stop. As she is over 65 public transport is free - well that's one advantage of old(er) age! With my one trip bus ticket and airport bus ticket (350 and 900 Ft) that came to a total of just over $6AUD. It did mean experiencing the sardine treatment on the bus as more and more of us were forced on. Fortunately the man I was nearest didn't seem to mind that my suitcase was pressed against his body; it was a balancing act with no room to move around, sticking your knee against your suitcase whilst holding onto a pole, keeping your modesty and not ending up body to body. But it saved money!! Budget day it was; with Ryan Airlines, the departure lounge stay was short lived, and the passengers were ushered into a large tin shed and made to stand in queues while before walking out onto the parched tarmac and boarding the plane. We got there at least. After mastering the act of ticket purchase at both Milan-Bergamo airport, I continued to follow Salvatore's instructions and looked out for the arrival of the bus at the train station. Assuming everyone was getting off there, I politely allowed the woman in front of me to get off first. But no, she just shuffled around and stayed on so I needed to act quickly! I only managed to extend my arm, holding onto my handbag outside the door when it closed!! I was unable to open it on my own, so I did the only classy thing possible - screamed out'help!!!' eventually the driver re-opened the door and I was freed; phew! I had only minutes to purchase my ticket to Lecco (or wait another hour), no Italian but I managed to do this, find the platform and make the train with several minutes to spare. Oops, I forgot to validate my ticket in the punching machine! Fortunately, the train inspector was very forgiving and simply wrote the date on it. So my first experience with Italians was that they are very accepting and forgiving. How lovely it was to be picked up at the station by the lovely Marcella and Salvatore. After a quick car tour of the city and an experience of Italian driving (giving way seems to be an option; getting in first is more the norm) I was introduced to the house that would be my home on and off for the next month. Then there was the promised Italian dinner! At first, I thought we were just having cheese and bread -which would have been fine; but no, there was more!! We had small courses of pasta and fish and a small dessert, with three different types of wine. Salvatore seems to do the baking and is amazing at it. Then I talked to them about their dancing and asked for a demo! With full belly, then, they suggested that I have a go! So I danced with Salvatore with Marcella instructing and showed some basic mastery of the foxtrot, to which Marcella encouraged with 'Bravo, bravo!!' This introduction to Lecco and Italy was such a unique way to enjoy travel and cultural exchange.

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