It's the last piece in a complicated holiday puzzle, collecting Eldest and the hire car from Ancona airport, and dark clouds are gathering on the horizon. After not one single hitch in our travels plans so far and with sunshine in Amsterdam, heat in Munich, and more heat with extra humidity on top in Venice, both the weather and our luck look set to change.
From shimmering Venezia in the early summer morning, we've made fast and comfortable progress on a high speed train to Bologna, but now there's a delay with the final connection. The train to Ancona is ten minutes late. Then twenty minutes late. Then thirty minutes late…
What's half an hour when you've done 1, 500 miles* across Europe by rail? Well there's Eldest to think of, waiting alone at Ancona airport since early morning when Ryanair disgorged him onto the sun-baked tarmac. He stayed up all night to catch the 6.30 am flight from Stanstead. We always knew he was going to have to sit it out, but it's been four hours now, plus an extra ten minutes, plus an extra twenty, plus an extra thirty...
Finally, forty minutes behind schedule, the train shows up. It delivers us south, hugging the coastline all the way, to our final railway station: Ancona. Hooray! We did it. London to Ancona via Amsterdam, Munich and Venice by rail. How adventurous! How Green! How every one of those miles has somehow etched itself onto my forehead.
But on arrival Husband says, hang on a minute, there's a little direct train to the airport, he thinks, somewhere near here on another platform, if we just wheel our luggage down there and have a look at that timetable over...
NO. The rest of us put our feet down. We've had it with trains. A scruffy Italian couple with a baby, ostentatiously beginning their summer holiday, shoes kicked off, heavily tattooed arms flopping into the aisle, had their beat box set to max on that last one, thudding bass for accompaniment for our last hour and a half, which I suppose is better than thudding Kalashnikov, so we should be grateful. Even Fleetwood Mac at top volume in my lug holes couldn't drown it out. Plus we can actually see a row of gleaming taxis from where we're standing.
And now we are all going to die. The taxi driver is overtaking everything on the motorway on every bend, with one hand on the wheel and the other swiping an iPad. How ironic. Six trains across Europe, now to perish in a car attempting to reach Eldest. Who will tell him?
It turns out the driver is using Google Translate to communicate something. "Rain here at three o'clock!" he shouts.
I look to our right. The sweep of bay in the sunshine, a line of cypresses, the sparkling Adriatic. Really? Perhaps the storm will miss us?
But as the taxi careers down the slip road and we spy the airport ahead, its mass of glass and metal begin to glow in a strange and celestial half-light. And running from the taxi towards the deserted arrivals hall, not waiting for the others, my hair is suddenly lifted and wind-whipped across my face.
I see him. I'd recognise the back of that head anywhere. So now for another airport reunion, family hugs and smiles all round, exchanges of information, accompanied by an ominous darkening. Precisely as Husband is handed the key for the car, the heavens open, lightning cracks the sky, and a deluge to end all deluges begins.
But we don't care. We're together again. We're happy. We laugh. Husband unpacks his jacket from his suitcase, Eldest rips off his T-shirt, and they set off together for the run across the car park in search of the hire car.
Love E x
*I used a distance calculator website for an approximation. The trains were - Day 1: London to Brussels, Brussels to Amsterdam, Day 4: Night train from Amsterdam to Munich, Day 6: Munich to Venice, Day 8: Venice to Bologna, Bologna to Ancona.
And with regards to blogging about Italy what is there to say that you don't already know? Landscape, tick. Culture, tick. Architecture, tick. Food, tick. People, tick. Weather, tick. Really, why go anywhere else?
Next week - home again, home again, jiggety jig.