Our hotel last night set a new record low for the quality of it's breakfast – a coffee and a stale pastry. Based on our experience of the rest of the hotel this wasn't a total surprise.
Still, it meant we were on the road super early and, with only 66 to do, it was clear we would finish very early. It was a bit odd riding with the sea on the left after 750 miles with it on the right but otherwise there wasn't much to distinguish mainland Italy from Sicily. We did glimpse Etna but the summit was lost in cloud of steam or some such.
Coming down a decent hill I deployed my emergency braking system. This is also known as my rack and panniers. A clamp had sheared, allowing the whole thing to rotate around the wheel until it dragged along the ground. After changing my shorts we managed to bodge it using cable ties and this just about held.
We got into Catania around 2pm and then the fun began. First we had to scour the wheelie bins for cardboard, then we had to try and fashion our pickings into serviceable bike boxes. I imagine all this was passably entertaining for anyone watching but it was hot, fiddly, and mostly ineffective work. The results looked ok but any attempt to actually pick the damn things up and they sagged like saggy things.
After 2 hours we had done the best we could and used all our packing tape and the results were still pants. So now all we had to do was call a taxi big enough to take us and the boxes to the airport and get it to go via a hardware shop for more tape. When I claimed we were now fluent in Italian it is possible I exaggerated a bit. Once we had explained it was a book, three words and the first word was 'The' we realised that even charades wasn't going to solve things.
Somehow we got tape and a ride to the airport but the driver took €30 from us for being a pain in the arse. If you think the box looks pants now you should have seen it 2 hours ago!
We are now killing the 3 hours until check-in trying to avoid the chatty Brit standing next to us. He is wearing a bush hat and multi-pocketed khaki trousers and clearly thinks he is some sort of intrepid explorer. We think he is some sort of pratt.
Back to blighty soon.