Biking Italy The Italian Job Uncategorized

Encounters with a tranny granny

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It may all look very lovely but at the end of the day I’m tired, hungry and need a bed for the night

It is 34 degrees. It is late and we are in a big city. We have no hotel for the night. We are having a row in the middle of the street about what to do. Stuart wants me to ask at a four star hotel for a family room but I’ve just been turned away from a similar one by a snotty receptionist.  While I’m shouting, in English, I’m also wondering how I’m going to communicate in Italian to find us a hotel at all. And it’s the night before a bank holiday, although we don’t know that yet. We have cycled sixty four kilometres and have no food supplies and haven’t eaten for hours. We also have no cash left and need to find a cashpoint. It’s getting very dark and we have no bicycle lights. Stuart is now shouting in English and German. It appears to be my responsibility to find us a hotel.

Frustrated, I cycle off and turn a corner. There are lights in the distance so I make for them. It’s a little bar and one star hotel. I hop off the bike, no easy task in this heat, and grab the phrasebook, cursing myself that I didn’t bother learning some Italian before we came into the country. For some reason we assumed it was the same as Spanish and we would get by on the fly. It isn’t. And why would it be?

As darkness descends a slight panic sets in

I cobble together some basic Italian and ask the woman at the bar, with very short hair and an earring, for a room. She doesn’t seem to understand my hopeless Italian, as she speaks back in very fast German. Too fast for me. But it seems natural to slip back into the bad German we have been speaking for a month, so I negotiate in this language. She takes me to see a room. It’s very basic, but expensive, but we have no other option. The toilet and bathroom are filthy. I leave the room to sit outside the bar in the heat and wonder if children are allowed in bars at night.

I’m now dripping with sweat, hungry, and thirsty, so I proceed with my guidebook to the bar to order a drink. Every phrase needs every new word looking up, and I flick through the little book feverishly. At last I have enough words to ask for a beer. The bar woman answers my request again in German, filling two very small glasses with her lean muscled arms. I can only conclude that she thinks I am German and that I can’t even speak my own language, let alone hers. Next to me at the bar sits another blonde woman who has had too much to drink. She begins to speak to me in Italian that is way too loud for such a small bar. Keen to placate her, I nod, saying ‘si,’ the only word I do know without looking it up. Suddenly, her hands are all over me, on my back, around my waist, running up and down my arms. I know enough Spanish to realise she is calling me a beautiful little girl in Italian. Then behind the blond wig, defined bone structure, and green halterneck top, I catch sight of her face. It is masculine. It is not young. I’m being assaulted by a trannie grannie. She is shouting ‘beautiful girl’ as she moves in to kiss me. The woman at the bar tells her to simmer down and passes me the two beers over her head, signalling for me to make my way back to the patio.

As ever the kids remain oblivious to the real drama

I stick ten euros on the table and grab the beer. Outside the kids are playing hangman and want to know what I have found them to eat? I drink my beer in one gulp, tell them its time to go in to town, and don’t look back in case granny is interested in showing me around.

In town we find a panini for the kids, but go without ourselves due to the cost. Everyone is out on the streets in the heat and it’s a party atmosphere down by the river. There are hundreds of tiny metal locks on the wall by the water and back at the hotel Stuart fetches a guidebook to see what they are. He can’t find anything about them, but does note this was a former Austrian region that became Italian after World War One. Much of the population still speaks German and holds onto their Austrian character and dialect quite fiercely. I realise that it hasn’t been necessary to speak a word of Italian all night, and that asking for a bed in pidgeon Italian probably only got the trannie granny excited. I swear, in one language only, and kick the bed.

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The Family Adventure Project. Ideas and inspiration for an active and adventurous family lifestyle. From everyday adventures to once in a lifetime experiences. Stories, images and media produced and published by Stuart Wickes and Kirstie Pelling.

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